Unleashing Spiritual Potency: Keys to Understanding Kundalini Energy


Kundalini ascension feels rather like a trigger-happy sailor shooting a harpoon of light up your spine and out the top of your head, where it expands into an infinite-sided object filled with a luminous sea of interconnected thought and feeling.

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Kundalini is a mysterious concept.

It’s become a widely known phenomenon among spiritual folks of all brands and types, and yet everyone seems to have their own idea of what it actually is.

In a way, the term has become a sort of catch-all for any psycho-spiritual experience that can’t be easily categorized or clearly understood. There isn’t even firm agreement about whether it’s good, bad, enlightening, terrifying, essential, or dangerous.

While it would probably be most accurate to say all of the above, I won’t let myself off the hook that easily. I happen to think that kundalini energy is at the core of our long journey towards Self-Awareness, so I’ll share a few thoughts about its qualities, characteristics, and powers.

Serpents and sex

Kundalini conventionally refers to the force that lays dormant at the base of the spine. Technically, this is an expression of kundalini energy rather than kundalini itself (later in this article, it will become clear why this distinction is important).

Because kundalini is often translated as “that which is coiled,” it is nearly always associated with the serpent archetype (the spiraling path that kundalini energy takes as it moves up the spine also gives it a serpentine quality).

And because the “kundalini serpent” takes its residence in the sacrum area, it’s easy to see why the concept has also become associated with sexual energy. It doesn’t directly relate to sex, though, except insofar as spiritual development and creative force are intimately connected (no pun intended).

Nevertheless, this associative symbolism sheds light on the connection between the Christian demonization of sexual energy and the depiction of the devil as a serpent.

And down the rabbit hole we go…

To put it simply, sans animal imagery and theology: kundalini energy is really just dormant psycho-spiritual power.

It is your sustaining life-force, the latent blueprint of all that you are and are yet to be.

And when your nervous system becomes aware of this power, the experience is nothing short of life-changing. Kundalini ascension feels rather like a trigger-happy sailor shooting a harpoon of light up your spine and out the top of your head, where it expands into an infinite-sided object filled with a luminous sea of interconnected thought and feeling.

Needless to say, it’s good to have a language system for exploring and understanding such a radical occurrence. This is where it comes in handy to think of kundalini as a form of energy or even as some sort of animal totem.

Despite their astounding and immersive qualities, though, these openings are called “glitter at the bottom of the ladder”[1]   by Yogi Bhajan (the teacher who brought Kundalini Yoga to the West). He warns that attachment to this kind of experience is a pitfall that all spiritual seekers should avoid.

Thus, it’s important to move beyond any materialistic conceptions or flashy experiences, in order to comprehend kundalini as a simple and steady principle that unites all spiritual systems.

Getting to the heart of all spirituality

There are as many paths back to Source as there are souls in the universe.

And yet despite the myriad of differences that separate each seeker, creed, tradition, and religion, all paths are essentially united.

There are spiritual motifs and guiding threads, the influence of which we can feel in diverse traditions and practices even before we consciously recognize any commonalities. It is as though all psycho-spiritual cultures possess an underlying grammar shaped from the same assembly language—the same fundamental clay of syntax and structure.

In its simplest form, this grammar is concerned with two things: the passage from one side of duality to the other, and the relationship between microcosm and macrocosm.

All spiritual and religious traditions are oriented in some way toward the movement from beginning to end, ignorance to awareness, differentiation to Oneness. The Christian idea of moving from sin into salvation is a clouded version of the same concept. Even systems and doctrines based around meditation—which strive to avoid goal-oriented attachments—are nevertheless focused on the movement from illusion to Enlightenment.

And likewise, the relation between part and Whole (often called the Logos) is central to all searches for Truth. This principle— that every sentient being is a miniature reflection of the Whole—is one that quantum physicists call recursiveness.

Kundalini is all about these two principles, and thus helps illuminate this universal grammar of spiritual experience. It is at once the principle of differentiation, as well as the guiding force that allows for reunification.

To say that kundalini is a common theme that runs through all of the world’s spiritual systems would be an understatement. It would be closer to the truth to say that it is the overarching structure that allows for all commonality.

It is the principle of evolutionary motion—the containing structure of all dichotomies, and thus the mediator of all possible movement from one to the other.

It is the force that allows the progression from beginning to end, simplicity to complexity, and ignorance to awareness. It is the serpent that devours its own tail (called the ouroboros), the creator and the destroyer (which is why kundalini is so often viewed as dangerous…more on that later, though).

All this grasping language is a feeble attempt at elucidating the Highest Mystery; it is a way of saying that kundalini is your own spiritual potential, and that this potency recursively mirrors the latent flowering of the entire cosmos. 

Because this all-encompassing personal potential holds within it the eventuality of Everything’s unfolding, it’s easy to see why kundalini is so often regarded as serious business.

Let it ground and support you

So here’s how this whole metaphysic relates to your own life: as I’ve said before, when you gain awareness of your true nature, you align yourself with the power of the entire Universe.

Experiencing this boundless power before you’ve integrated the prerequisite awareness can have terrifying consequences (“he who looks upon the face of God shall surely perish,” etc. etc.). Thus, it is advisable only to work with kundalini energy carefully, patiently, and intentionally.

Let your evolutionary progression unfold at precisely its intended pace.

Focus on kundalini awakening as a process of unleashing your ability to live fully, brightly, happily, and gracefully. To quote Yogi Bhajan once more: “The real measure of kundalini rising…is the courage you bring to your life.”[2]

Connect to the current of devotion that links your heart to the Heart of All, and think of kundalini as the love-glue that holds all things together.

After all, an alternative translation of kundalini is “the curl in the lock of the beloved’s hair,” which I like to interpret poetically as the small, beautiful things that make the beloved so loveable.

Never forget all the small and beautiful things that make you and this world loveable. Build a daily practice of holding space for the Love that breathes life and beauty into your being, and you will soon come to realize that you and this love are One.

[1] Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher, p. 177.

[2] Ibid.


Ryan Greendyk

Ryan Greendyk is a conscious internet entrepreneur, writer, kundalini yoga teacher, psychonaut, and sacred space creator. He's pretty fond of tea ceremonies, entheogens, bass-beat wizardry and techno-shamanism, superfoods, gifting, fire spinning, alternative healing modalities, spontaneous outbursts of love, and spending quality time with God and friends. In a nutshell, he's dedicated to delivering others to their highest selves through the creation and promotion of communities, cultures, products, and programs built upon creativity, intentional play, and spiritual self-mastery. He is the Founder of Lightlab and the Producer of Lightlab Events.

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