Updated: Mar 24
Read through to the end for a real "whats up" about ego and Kundalini.
Odds are, if you're keen on Kundalini energy (ah?...yea, we'll stick with that), you've come across the concept of Kundalini ascension.
Hell, this company is named Ascend. Although, it was more named for the double entendre concept of spiritual ascension and the physically ascension that takes place while climbing mountains.
Have you heard about descent when considering Shakti Kundalini energy?
What could this possibly mean, you are maybe asking yourself? After all, isn't the whole point of working with Kundalini to raise the potent energy up through the chakra system? Isn't the aim of the whole process to spark upward movement connecting the earth and the sky within ourselves? Unite mulhadara and sahaswrara (don't bother with getting hung up on the spelling I've chosen for these chakras -- I'm writing in English, not Sanskrit, so it is always a translation into a language that does not have the appropriate symbols).
Well, of course. Some disciples of yoga will be consciously curating space within themselves to awaken this force, while others will simply be observing Hatha or Ashatanga practices, it is all essentially the same. All that we do in our practice of yoga is the balancing of Ida and Pingala, all that we do is opening the pathway for Kundalini to rise from our earth chakra up to our sky chakra. We connect consciousness and matter within ourselves when we find grace in our practice.
So what is this descent?
Perhaps you think you'd prefer to exist in that heightened space of consciousness once you've arrived there. Certainly, that makes sense to believe that. After all, who amongst us that practices yoga does not know the state of bliss. Who hasn't tasted Samadhi while basking in the afterglow of an asana practice? What's not to love? What's not to wish to stay within?
Well, here's the thing about Kundalini rising. When these two forces meet, you might not actually make a lot of sense to a lot of the people around you. You are going to appear...different.
The things that will make sense to you through this union of Shakti and Shiva, of matter and consciousness, these things will not inherently translate very eloquently to those who have not arrived at this space.
And that's okay! There are places, spaces, teachers and practices that support us through this illuminating (and possibly intense) time of our lives.
Consider the heat that is required to raise Kundalini. Like a volcano, this coil turns and unravels and thrusts itself upward like hot lava moving up Sushumna to the crown chakra. Bliss, visions, understanding the unity of all things.
It is understood that Shakti then begins her descent back down towards Mulhadara once more. This is not surprising, across cultures and faith there is an understanding that knowledge requires ascent and descent, such as with Buddhism, or even the not so astronomically far away Venus who moves through an ascent and descent.
Swami Satyandanda Saraswati says in the Kundalini Tantra, "When kundalini descends, you come down to the gross plane with a totally transformed consciousness. You live a normal life, associating with everybody and discharging your worldly obligations just like other people do. Maybe you even play the game of desires, passions, cravings and such things. May be you play the game of victory and defeat, attachment and infatuation, but you are just play a game. You know it; you do everything as an actor."
So what does that mean? Well, I mean, shy of experiencing ascension and descent within our own physical selves, I believe words can hardly capture the essence of what is being spoken of here. Or at least, they can't lead you to the experience, the word cannot bring you into what the experience itself is.
This is the practice in the end. Or it is a component of the path which the practice leads to.
Kundalini awakening is vast in its expression and experience, it is embodied in great works of art, painting, literature and moments. Kundalini is many things and many forms of the same deep understanding.
So, with all of these thoughts on ascension and descent, I would like to get to the bit that I feel gets lost on many kundalini "disciples". That is to say, the students who are actively pursuing the union of Shakti and Shiva within their physical selves.
True ascension will burn away ego.
If you are a kundalini student and you boast...
If you are a kundalini student and you belittle...
If you are a kundalini student and you...
If you are a kundalini student and you believe that your practice of fire breath, bandhas, white linen and so on elevates you above that of any other practice, you must know right now that you are not following the path of yoga and this belief structure can come only from ego.
And make no mistake, we are always the student. Whether your heart is open, your sushumna clear, kundalini ascended or Shiva fully arrived at mulhadara. Always, we are the student.
Ego is a true reality that anyone actively seeking kundalini awakening must be aware of and honest about. Truly. It is written. See yourself fully in your self-talk and then choose to adjust your practice accordingly.
"Kundalini yoga" is yoga. There is no path that is more righteous or elevated than the another. Kundalini union of Shakti and Shiva is for everyone and truthfully, it is rooted in the study of Hatha, this is why there is Kriya, this is why we study Pranayama.
This is just how it is.
Okay -- that's all for now. Gosh, I did not expect this article to turn and twist into such a powerful last few statements. Upon reading these words back, I cannot help but appreciate this healthy reminder for myself as well.