Though we commonly think of meditation as a soothing, quieted state, there are times in a meditation session that waves of energy or creativity may appear. It’s normal to wonder what that’s about or to want to know how to cause waves of energy during meditation. In this post, we’ll cover the Vedic perspective on energy and creativity manifesting during a meditation session, and we’ll talk about the practice of Kundalini and compare it to the actual experience of Kundalini energy in the body while one is meditating.
What is kundalini energy?
Thom describes kundalini as follows:
“In Sanskrit, kundalini means “coiled snake” and references the lively energy that is everpresent in us all. Knowledge of kundalini and meditation practices date back thousands of years and is discussed widely in Veda, however kundalini meditation in of itself is a relatively new practice, made popular in recent times.
While Vedic Meditation is not a form of kundalini meditation, as you will see from this conversation, a nuanced and comprehensive understanding of kundalini energy will awaken the knowledge of how to identify the sensations when they arise, and most importantly, how one need not force any kundalini awakening at all.
“Kundalini” is the name given to consciousness-energy that unites one’s individuality with The Totality. This lively energy stream enters the body through the soles of the feet, rises through the legs and then pools at the base of the spine. From the base of the spine it moves upward through the spine via a chimney, the “shushumna”, which acts as the conduit through which the kundalini reaches the brain. Finally, kundalini exits the body through the crown of the head. Its effect is to awaken consciousness in the direction of Unity Consciousness, from whatever state of consciousness one is in.
A certain minimum flow of kundalini is required to be conscious at all. Complete absence of kundalini means absence of consciousness in the human body (“body death”). A trickle of kundalini, at least, must occur at all times.
Kundalini Energy Movement
Along the spine there is the ‘chimney’ known in Ayurveda as the sushumna. It’s a teeny tube with a very small diameter: about 1/100th the diameter of a hair. This tube moves through the spine to the top of the head. As Thom said above, all living beings have some degree of kundalini energy, or consciousness energy, moving from the base of the feet up through this teeny tube. For most people, most of the time, the energy moving up the spine is completely undetectable, like the activity of the liver or kidneys is usually undetectable.
In rare cases, a meditator may experience pulsating energy during meditation as the kundalini energy surges through a recently unblocked section of the sushumna.
How Stress Blocks Kundalini
When we are accumulating stress without deep stress release of twice-daily meditation, our capacity to digest and integrate experiences of all kinds is compromised.
One key example is food. When stressed, one of the first body functions to slow down is digestion. In this way, the body reserves energy typically used to digest food for use instead in responding to the external stressors. After decades of accumulating stress, the body is consistently in a state of cutting off adaptation energy for digestion to contribute to coping with stress. This means that our digestion works far less efficiently, and our body is not as easily able to get rid of toxins and excess material it doesn’t need.
Overwhelming emotional experiences which are not properly purified and released can also lead to the buildup of toxins in the body.
Food toxins and emotional toxins result in a product of all undigested material in the body, called ‘ama’ in Ayurveda. Ama is undigested material that cannot be absorbed and has not been expelled by the body.
In Ayurvedic medicine, ama is described as a toxic substance that accumulates in the body as a result of poor digestion, overwhelming emotions, and poor sleep. It’s a white, viscose, sticky substance. Ama is seen as the root cause of many physical and mental health problems and is considered to be the first stage in the development of disease. It is believed to form when the digestive fire (agni) is weak and unable to properly break down and eliminate waste and toxins from the body.
The accumulation of ama is thought to obstruct the flow of vital energy (prana) and lead to a buildup of mucus and impurities in the body. The body cannot use this material for any nourishment, and there is no dedicated place for it to go in the body if it is not expelled like it should be. Ama finds its way into the gaps and joints, and causes inflammation. To maintain good health in Ayurveda, it is important to keep the digestive fire strong and prevent the buildup of ama.
When the sushumna gets clogged with ama, the natural flow of consciousness energy which could come through the body (and enliven our talents) gets stuck. When that energy becomes blocked, it goes sideways and it creates all kinds of behaviors that are relevant to the place of the blockage. There’s a saying in Ayurveda that even if you eat nectar, if you are under stress then your body will turn it into ama, or into poison. This means that all of our Western habits of eating when we are tired, anxious, stressed, unwell, or eating non-food products (processed food) leads to undigested food, or ama, which creates blockages. Ama then builds up in all the conduits (“shrotas”) of the body and prevents energy from flowing easily.
How to Get Rid of Ama
When we practice Vedic Meditation, we practice ama Pachana: “that which burns ama.”
Vedic Meditation brings the body into a waking restful state known as a hypo-metabolic state. Though the body is not sleeping and the mind is awake, the Bija mantra has charmed the mind into its least excited state. This state allows the body to deeply rest even while we are awake. The body is able to rest 5x more deeply than in sleep when we practice Vedic Meditation with our Bija mantra, and the longer we consistently practice each day, the more deeply our body is able to rest.
This deeply restful hypo-metabolic state allows the body to process the stress memories embedded in our cells and actually remove or release them. This means that with each Vedic Meditation sitting, we’re removing the embedded stress memories that keep our body from digesting food and getting rid of ama.
As our body processes stress and gets rid of the excess ama:
- Our body reduces its level of accumulated stress
- We’re less fatigued
- We have a more appropriate appetite: we don’t over eat or under eat
- We can spontaneously digest the food we’ve eaten
- Our spinal channal (sushumna) and bodily energy channels (shrota) become clear channels for kundalini energy to move
When Kundalini Rises
When the ama inside the spine is eliminated, the “Kundalini” rises. Think of it like the fire of life, or life force, rising from the base of the spine to the top of the head:
“When, during meditation, the body gains deep rest twice daily, the digestive system becomes more powerful and ama is dissolved naturally from within all the shrotas, including the shushumna-shrota. The kundalini, which has backed-up in a pool at the base of the spine, is released to travel up the shushumna exactly at the rate that the ama-blocks dissolve from within the shushumna.
So, if a sudden dissolution of ama occurs, then a sudden release of kundalini will accompany that. When kundalini rises suddenly like this, it creates the range of sensations you describe (and others), as it flows up the shushumna. When the flash-flood of kundalini meets a new block within the shushumna, it creates impact sensations, heat, coolness, or other sensations caused by friction, as it works at removing the blocks. This is not unlike a flash flood of river water being released and removing boulders, tree trunks, and other obstacles in its way.
When the shushumna becomes cleared of ama, the sensations of kundalini fade to nothing. In a meditator whose shushumna is relatively clear to begin with, the kundalini rises without sensation and is either unremarkable or not even ever detected as a sensation. Likewise, if considerable purification occurs, then the kundalini will have risen and will remain flowing, but without sensation.”
Though these sensations have become the misunderstood and sought-after part of kundalini in the Eest, they are a side effect and not meant to be the goal. Feeling energy in hands during meditation or energy in chest during meditation does not necessarily mean you’ve risen in states of consciousness or that you’re having an elevated spiritual experience. Feeling energy during meditation indicates stress release, which is good, and it will happen in every meditation sitting you do for the rest of your life whether you can feel the energy or not. These sensations will pass, and we can rest easy knowing the ama is leaving our body.
Ultimately, we don’t credit kundalini with doing anything to us. We always have it moving through our body. There is a saying in Ayurveda that if you had no kundalini rising you would be dead.
It just means that our consciousness is rising as our body releases stress, and our biology is making way for higher consciousness.
“It is important to note that the benefits of a rising kundalini are present, whether or not we feel anything while meditating. Those benefits include more creativity, greater alertness, heightened perceptual acuity, and a healthier body. In short, the many advantages you’ve reported upon…”
Feeling Energy and Remembering the Mantra
Occasionally, stress releases from the body during Vedic Meditation sittings in a way that attracts our attention and generates thoughts. We may feel certain sensations or notice certain memories and emotions arising during our meditation session. Rather than forcing our mind away from these experiences and purposefully focusing on our mantra, we want to let it be effortless and easy:
“Our policy is that there is no sensation that causes us not to be able effortlessly to think thoughts. Therefore, effortless favoring of the mantra, even with these sensations, is a possibility, and is our preference. However, we are not willing to use effort to enforce that preference, so if at any time you seem to be forgetting to repeat the mantra, then do not try to persist in repeating it, do not try to keep on remembering it; it is okay if you lose the mantra spontaneously. When consciously you realize that the mantra is gone, then do come back to repeating it, just as a faint idea, and take it as it comes.
Feeling the sensations of the kundalini is an alternative, any time that the sensation is so powerful that you cannot be effortless with your mantra. It is important to remember that, as your meditation progresses, your ability to experience the Absolute field of Being, along with thinking, is going to enhance. The Absolute field becomes less and less transcendental (beyond thought) as practice continues more and more.
Finally, some Vedic Yoga and Vedic Pranayama (breathing technique), done before each meditation, will strengthen the body subtly and lessen the impact of these natural kundalini sensations during meditation.
Consciousness and Kundalini
In Vedic Meditation, kundalini is a minor side subject. It is one of the ways to look at our own growth of consciousness, like a technical explanation of one of the positive effects of stress leaving the body.
There are many more immediate reasons to continue practicing Vedic Meditation twice daily for twenty minutes, like lowering anxiety, improving adaptability and sleep, and many others. Rather than focusing on Kundalini or on body sensations while we meditate, we want to be effortless and innocent with our practice, letting go of any opinions or judgements about how our body releases stress in each meditation sitting.
If we feel a natural charm toward understanding how consciousness works in the body and in general, we can learn about consciousness itself rather than fixating on the small parts of it’s mechanics included in kundalini.
What is Consciousness?
Consciousness is Being that has become aware of itself. It includes all that is knowable, that is to say, the Known. It is the capability to Know or be able to gain knowledge. As Thom says, “There is a baseline of consciousness, or Being, a transcendental, that means beyond all relativity, a transcendental absolute state in which consciousness is the Knower, consciousness is the means of gaining knowledge, the Knowing, consciousness is the Known… We live in a universe that is a response to conscious intentionality and inquiry. Consciousness is the basis on which the physical universe comes into being.”
The more we understand how consciousness works and regularly encounter the field of Being that is the source of consciousness, the more we expand our own consciousness. Expanding consciousness in a person means growing their creative capabilities, their knowledge, their volition and power to affect change. It often looks like greater maturity, greater acceptance, improving health and habits and relationships, and a more rapid evolution in a person. As we develop our consciousness, we will react to changes in expectation less dramatically and frequently, and instead, we will see change coming from a long way off and be generally less surprised by the goings on around us and in us.
Consciousness does not create evolution in a person in a linear way. Just like in nature, the river of our evolution twists and turns, slows and speeds up. We may evolve rapidly in one area, while another changes more slowly. All of this is the perfect process of nature and expanding consciousness, and the more attentive we are to it, the more we will perceive the benefits of our meditation practice.
Consciousness’s Role in the Universe
In his podcast on Consciousness, Thom explains why it exists and how it is affected by our physiology:
“Consciousness is basically the thing that makes relevant the existence of the universe. Contemplate this for a moment. Supposing the entire physical universe as we know it, existed but nothing in it was conscious. What relevance would it have?
If there was no consciousness whatsoever, but the Universe itself, as we know it, the planets, suns, moons, solar systems, galaxies, clusters of galaxies, all of that, black holes, everything that we know exists, what relevance would it have, that it existed, if consciousness did not exist?
Well, it would have no relevance. This is the answer to the rhetorical question. It would have no relevance. So, consciousness is that which makes existence relevant. Without consciousness, there is no relevance in existence. Now, we’re getting into something deeply philosophical, but I think you can see where I’m going.
Consciousness is a thing that we can have in certain grades. More consciousness means you can fit a larger number of items into one awareness. A larger number of items can be in one awareness. The capability to be aware of a larger number of forms and phenomena is associated with having a greater amount of consciousness.
…So, consciousness is a thing which, if it is modulated, that means made greater, then there’s greater capability associated with it. Consciousness made thinner or lesser or lower, less expansive, then there is lesser capability associated with that.
And so, we know that a rested physiology, a rested mind, has more consciousness and therefore greater capability, a larger repertoire of creativity, intelligence, and staying power. And lesser consciousness, less of all of those things.
In Vedic Meditation, we have a technique whereby we can isolate consciousness by taking the active mind beyond its fascination with particulate thoughts.”
Thoughts come up in our meditation, and when we repeat our mantra amidst them, they will slowly settle down until the mind merges with the field of consciousness. The mind experiences consciousness knowing itself in that place, and it is the ultimate satisfaction to the minds constant thought-powered search for answers and happiness.
The body is able to rest deeply in that place, 5x more deeply than sleep in the studies performed on this technique. When we practice this technique twice a day every day, then, we are providing deep rest and releasing stress from the physiology, so that the physiology has a greater capacity for consciousness to flow through, or to be governed by a higher level of consciousness.
Just like an inebriated person could not intelligently answer the same questions asked to them when they were sober and fresh for the day, our bodies have more capability when we are rested and taxed by less stress.
So, we have a more rested physiology with our Vedic Meditation practice, and we also have regular contact with the field of Being, which imprints our consciousness. If consciousness includes all knowledge and intelligence in its universal form, the field of pure Being, and we introduce our minds each day to this field, then we will slowly take on more and more of the characteristics of totality and universality. Our individual consciousness will behave more and more as if it is aware of its participation in Universal Consciousness, and that will display in our being and behaviors in positive ways.
Learn to Meditate
As Thom says, “Consciousness, it’s a very, very interesting topic. If you wish to be a master of consciousness, you have to know how to step beyond thought, and to step beyond thought is a ridiculously simple proposition. You learn Vedic Meditation, close your eyes and, within a few minutes, you can isolate that field of consciousness, and allow your individual mind to bathe in that thought-free, full-repertoire, infinite-possibilities field, which lies there at the baseline of your thinking, the source of all your thoughts.”
You can receive a mantra and learn to meditate through the in-person four-day course, The Learn to Meditate course. In it, a qualified instructor will spend an hour and a half with you each day for four days. You’ll receive your mantra, learn how to use it and why it works, and establish a twice-daily practice to calm and inspire you.
To find an instructor or view Thom’s upcoming teaching tours, check out the Learn to Meditate Page here.