Editor’s note: For a short time in 2000, Bonnie Greenwell wrote a column for this website called “Kundalini Quest” in which she answered readers’ questions about Kundalini. Here is the column for March 13, 2000.
This week’s question from a reader:
My girlfriend informs me that over the last few months, I’ve begun to tremble and shake so much while I sleep that she has to move away from me or else it keeps her awake. She says all parts of my body are affected, but its especially noticeable in my hands. She says it feels like energy is moving through my hands continuously.
I was completely unaware of this until she told me. It only happens while I’m sleeping, and it doesnt bother me. This is the only sign of Kundalini activity I have.
I’m wondering whether I should start some deliberate practice to develop and channel this energy, or whether I should just let nature take its course. Can you suggest some things to think about to help decide?
THE FACT THAT someone is shaking at night, in the absence of any other phenomena, would not be an indicator of Kundalini awakening. It could be a pranic release, a nervous condition, intense dreaming, the release in the body from a too-stressful life, or other experiences.
However, if the person had presented me with a description of an awakening experience, if he did exercises such as meditation, yoga, or a martial art regularly, or if he experienced strong meditative states where he went beyond concentration into stillness or a sense of unity, then I would be more likely to consider it Kundalini.
So, assuming this person did have all or most of the above experiences, what should he do now? This problem of one with active Kundalini disturbing a sleeping partner or a sexual partner is common. It is very unnerving for the partner who picks up the energy, is impacted by it, but is not comfortable with it. It is very common for the energy to run through the body at night when the body is resting and the defenses are down. One possible remedy, if you want to make it more calm, is to drink some warm milk with sugar and ghee (clarified butter) before you go to bed. (Any suggestions I give should be considered experimental — they work for some people but may not work for everyone.)
Usually, someone in the early stages of a Kundalini process needs to learn something about the meaning of the experience and would do well to study some of the Eastern theories and descriptions related to it. If he is not frightened by the energy, or it is not disturbing his life (except that his partner may need to sleep elsewhere), then I would suggest doing a regular meditation practice, and letting the process develop and teach him. A sincere meditation practice, and a grounded lifestyle, best service spiritual development. Sometimes creative activities such as art, music, or writing help us express it. Kundalini supports the deepening of spiritual awareness, which ultimately leads to peace and the end of the seeker. Many difficult phenomena may arise depending on the persons history and lifestyle. The best support is a balanced lifestyle and a commitment to live ones life in alignment with the vision it brings — that is, if you have a heart-opening or a visionary experience, instead of being attached to holding onto it, ask yourself what you can bring into the world as service to it. (I am not referring to becoming the “next great teacher” — such inflation only serves the ego and cuts off the genuine spiritual process.) Usually creativity or selfless service is called for.
You might also learn some basic yogic breathing practices, which can help guide this energy through the best channels to support your meditation. If you do practices very intensely or push yourself too fast, some physical, emotional or energy problems may erupt that make it difficult to sleep, eat, think, work, or function effectively. It is best to do these things in moderation, because it is hard to overcome the problems once they occur.
You might also look for ways to discharge this energy by running, exercising, gardening, or working with something solid like wood or clay. It seems that sometimes people release the tension they pick up during the day through these kriyas or shaking at night, and it is good to allow them the time to release. You are fortunate that they do not wake you up.
Some people do spontaneous healing when there is so much energy in their hands. Most yogis would tell you this is another distraction from the spiritual path. But if you feel it may be a calling for you, you might wish to study with Barbara Brennan, a hands-on healer who has written several books, or with Roslyn Bruyere, another healer and author, or with others who know this field. Healing can be a distraction that hooks ego and keeps you from further development on the path, but it seems to be a calling for some people. I do not think it is healthy unless you know you will not pick up other peoples energy, unless you are convinced it does not come from you but rather from a higher source, and unless you have some training and a great deal of patience with others. Just putting your energy into someone else can create problems for them unless you have a sense of the best way to do this, and there are several systems that provide a structure that can help.
It is a continual challenge for people to learn to live with the higher vibrations in their body that continue after a Kundalini awakening. Think of it as if the amps have been raised in your electrical system. This is why balance, taking care of ourselves, being in nature, and regular physical exercise all help. We may have to change old patterns to meet the invitation to a new kind of energy flow and engagement with spirit in our lives.
Copyright 2000 Bonnie Greenwell.
Bonnie Greenwell, Ph.D., is a transpersonal therapist and author of three books about Kundalini and awakening.
By Bonnie Greenwell, PhD
Ruth Angela, an Amazon reviewer, writes:
“This book has everything explained, clearly and succinctly for the person looking for clarity about Kundalini awakening. I highly recommend it to anyone who has no idea what Kundalini is or what an awakening means. But it is also very useful for those who have awakened and need to fill in some basic facts and details about the phenomena.
I met Ms. Greenwell recently, and she has a deep and common sense understanding of this topic having had years of interviews with people who have been through this life-altering process. She lays it all out for everyone to understand with examples and a review of commonly asked questions. It could be a primer on the topic. The focus is on practical down-to-earth advice and information. The same information could be in some ancient Indian text, but to a Western reader it would be incomprehensible; Bonnie Greenwell has rectified this problem by covering the thousand questions one would have on this subject in simple straight-forward language. Her first book "Energies of Transformation" was a great help to me and many others who wanted to find out more about this topic. But this new book has condensed everything into a easily absorbed format that can be read both as informational and for future reference. Start here if you really want to get a clear picture of the phenomena of Kundalini.”
This page was published on March 13, 2000 and last revised on June 4, 2017.