Spiritual Awakening Vs. Kundalini Awakening – What’s The Difference?
While the two sound the same, they’re slightly different in nature.
The spiritual awakening process (or ‘spiritual ascension‘) tends to be emotional and psychological. Kundalini awakening, on the other hand, is energetic: it’s a surge of energy that may be either gentle and gradual, or sudden and intense.
While kundalini awakening usually comes further down the road after someone has experienced a spiritual awakening, it doesn’t always. As mentioned previously, kundalini can arise suddenly in response to psychedelic drug experiences, sexual encounters, or even traumatic situations.
Another distinguishing factor is that kundalini energy is felt very physically whereas the spiritual awakening is usually more mind and heart-oriented. So while intense vibrations and heat may be felt in the body during the kundalini awakening, during the spiritual awakening there is more of a soulful quality of deep questioning, insight, and transfiguration (some refer to this as spiritual alchemy).
Can someone experience both spiritual awakening and kundalini awakening at the same time? Yes, absolutely. And it’s for this reason that both tend to lead to experiences of the Dark Night of the Soul (or the inevitable after-effect of having felt like one has ‘lost touch’ with the Divine). Ultimately, they are two sides of the same coin.
5 Hidden Traps Of Kundalini Awakening
The kundalini shakti bestows liberation on yogins and bondage on the ignorant.– Svātmarāma (15th century yogi master)
Kundalini awakening is a life-changing mystical experience that can feel magical, ecstatic, and profound. And it is. But there are also many hidden traps we can fall into after we’ve emerged out of the other end.
Some of these traps involve:
1. Spiritual superiority – seeing yourself as “more awake” than others and looking down on those who are not as advanced or still “asleep” (also known as the spiritual ego)
Related: Shakti – (The Empowered Woman)
2. Savior complex – adopting a disproportionate sense of self-grandiosity and specialness, believing that you’re sent to “save the world” (e.g., for those who have undergone kundalini psychosis, this can even mean believing they’re Jesus Christ or the next Buddha)
3. Grasping and attachment – desperately trying to hold onto the blissful experiences of the kundalini awakening and being miserable (even entering crisis mode) when it’s inevitably lost (this can result in spiritual materialism)
4. Spiritual nihilism – taking universal truths and misapplying them to a human level, e.g., “all is an illusion,” “nothing ultimately matters” which breeds a sense of dissociation, emptiness, and cynicism
5. Avoidance – avoiding or spiritually bypassing everyday responsibilities and focusing only on “higher spiritual matters” (this is essentially a way for the ego to avoid growing up and integrating the experience at a human level)
How to Handle a Kundalini Awakening
If your kundalini has awoken and you’re feeling overwhelmed, here’s some guidance:
1. Be gentle with yourself and take care of your nervous system
Likely, your nervous system is going into overdrive if you’re having a painful kundalini experience. Some ways to calm your nerves can include:
- Taking a warm bath with essential oils like lavender (you can also try magnesium salts). If a warm bath doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, try a cold shower. Be mindful and notice how your body and mind respond to the temperature of the water.
- Find something/someone that brings you a feeling of safety. This might be cuddling your dog or cat, asking your partner or friend to hold you, finding a cozy nook in nature, or relaxing in a corner of your house that brings you comfort.
- Listen to calming music.
- Try slow guided breathing using an app like Calm or InsightTimer. (Be mindful of how your body responds. At the first sign of discomfort stop immediately.)
- Ground yourself outdoors in nature.
- Eat grounding foods (potatoes, root vegetables, organic meat)
2. Stop all spiritual practice temporarily
Yes, your spiritual practice might be amplifying the effects of your kundalini awakening. So stop. Let yourself rest. If you crave a replacement practice, try mindfulness as it helps to ground you in the present moment. Read my article on the spiritual emergency for more helpful ideas.
3. Seek out compassionate help
If you still struggle with the kundalini energy being too intense, I strongly recommend seeking out the guidance of a transpersonal or depth psychotherapist. The best guides are those who understand the importance of integrating the mind and spirit (or spiritual psychology).
There are also people who specialize in kundalini awakening help that you can find online – but tread carefully. Trust your instincts. If you feel worse or if you get weird vibes about someone, you don’t owe them any explanation. Leave. Find someone else. You have the right to get the guidance you need.