Kundalini is a Sanskrit word meaning either "coiled up" or "coiling like a snake." There are a number of other translations of the term usually emphasizing a more serpent nature to the word— e.g. 'serpent power'. The caduceus symbol of coiling snakes is thought to be an ancient symbolic representation of Kundalini physiology.
The concept of Kundalini comes from yogic philosophy of ancient India and refers to the mothering intelligence behind yogic awakening and spiritual maturation. It might be regarded by yogis as a sort of deity, hence the occasional capitalization of the term. Within a western frame of understanding it is often associated with the practice of contemplative or religious practices that might induce an altered state of consciousness, either brought about spontaneously, through a type of yoga, through psychedelic drugs, or through a near-death experience.
According to the yogic tradition Kundalini is curled up in the back part of the root chakra in three and one-half turns around the sacrum. Yogic phenomenology states that kundalini awakening is associated with the appearance of bio-energetic phenomena that are said to be experienced somatically by the yogi. This appearance is also referred to as "pranic awakening". Prana is interpreted as the vital, life-sustaining force in the body. Uplifted, or intensified life-energy is called pranotthana and is supposed to originate from an apparent reservoir of subtle bio-energy at the base of the spine. This energy is also interpreted as a vibrational phenomena that initiates a period, or a process of vibrational spiritual development.
Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati defines Kundalini at two levels: "The cosmic manifestation of maha prana (the great prana) in the individual body is represented by Kundalini. The entire cosmic experience from creation to dissolution is embedded within the folds of Kundalini, hence it is known as the universal energy. On one level it is the macrocosmos; in the form of Kundalini shakti; on the other it is the microcosmos in the form of prana shakti. Generally, however, prana shakti is only partially released from mooladhara chakra through the connecting channels; this vitalizes the mind and body but not to its full potential. Only the full force of Kundalini shakti can awaken all the conscious and vital functions."
Sir John Woodroff calls it "The Serpent Fire." Robert E. Svoboda says "Kundalini has been described as vidyut lata, "lightning creeper," and Pandit Gopi Krishna calls It "Kundalini Path To Higher Consciousness." Zachary F. Lansdowne, Ph.D tells us that, "The Kundalini energy has three different phases: 'coiled,' when not stimulating any of the higher centers; 'serpent of wisdom,' when stimulating one or more of the higher centers, prior to the activation of the basic chakra; and 'dragon of living fire,' following the activation of the basic chakra."
I am very fortunate and blessed to have experienced Kundalini in all its aspects without getting traumatized. This probably happened because I had no prior knowledge on the subject and, moreover, I naturally moved into a state of surrender both to the Guru and Kundalini. I would describe Kundalini as a "Gentle Force." At the physical, mental and emotional level the Energy has handled me with utmost care; stopping when I was apprehensive, resuming only when I was willing and ready. The whole process seemed as though it was being monitored.
I give below a few visual aspects of the Kundalini as I experienced Her:
1 .Kundalini as the Life Force
Kundalini at its most basic state, as the colourless energy that supports the human body in its day to day functioning. The flow of this energy is constant. The human body-mind organism has the potential to activate this energy to propel and enhance its existence towards higher levels of evolution. The free flow of energy is hampered if there is any form of congestion in the subtle body. In the human organism these usually occur in the form of negative emotions which if not resolved tend to solidify, disrupting the free flow of the vital force, thus causing discomfort and disharmony in the system.
2. Kundalini as 'The Serpent Fire
Once this Force is aroused, it assumes a totally different identity. It is no longer colourless but assumes all the colours of whatever form it takes. It is imperative that the trinity of the physical, emotional, and mental dimensions are in balance to handle this aspect of the Kundalini for it rises like a green snake with a fiery cauldron for Its mouth, moving through the subtle body, throwing lava all around; clearing all blocks in Its path. If the aspirant is not prepared for the onslaught, this energy can play havoc with the nervous system.
3. Kundalini the Gentle Force
Kundalini relaxes and assumes a gentle flow once the blocks are cleared, moving freely and energizing the whole body. This beautiful visual which gives an illusionary sense of being showered with flowers is actually reflecting the process of unfoldment which the vibrations and process of Kundalini awakening lead the etheric body through. Arundale, G. S. lends further clarity to it: "What is the nature of the obstruction at the top of the head? It has the appearance of a mass of grains of 'sand', yellowish in colour, through which Kundalini is endeavouring to effect a permanent passage, tearing apart the mass, making a hole through it, a process of some difficulty, some pain, and a certain amount of danger… These grains of 'sand' presumably are cells." Arundale, G. S. - Kundalini An Occult Experience.
4. Kundalini The Dragon of Living Fire
This experience was the one that sent me into a panic state. The rise was sudden in the form of a dark cauldron, the sound that of grating girders and a roaring dragon aroused from its resting place. It took me two days to exercise surrender and a relaxed state of 'being' for Kundalini to do Its work.
5. Psychic attack
At the end of the experience, I realized that the 'dragon' was rising to defend Its abode from a dark cloud of a psychic attack that was threatening to engulf me.
6. Kundalini as Light
The dragon had to transform from an angry roaring form into a beam of Light to move up and dispel the negative energy that threatened to engulf me in the dark form of a descending cloud.
It is truly said, "Without a guru you can practise any form of yoga, but not Kundalini. Before commencing the practices, which bring about actual awakening of Kundalini, you must prepare yourself on the physical, mental and emotional planes. Adequate preparation is necessary to ensure that one has the strength to bear the impact of the full awakening of the mighty potential force within. If you can maintain a balanced mind in the face of mental and emotional conflicts, and you can endure anger, worry, love and passion, dis appointment, jealousy, hatred, memories of the past, sufferings and sorrows, you are ready for the awakening." Swami Satyananda Saraswati - Kundalini Tantra.
Swami Muktibodhananda says that, "If Kundalini is to travel to the higher brain centers, ajna must already be functioning."
My journey started with the activation of the ajna chakra. My experience makes me want to share with all aspirants on the path of Kundalini Yoga the knowledge that it is advisable to have a Guru who has traveled the road himself; to have absolute faith and trust in him and be without fear. All experience is valid and is a process of unfoldment and purification. Relax and enjoy the experience with a sense of adventure and gain a new way of understanding with a heightened sense of awareness.
If you are going through the process consciously and in full awareness, you will find that Kundalini is the gentlest Force. Its love, warmth, tenderness and care no human emotion can match. What you need to do is to let go, be equanamous and 'surrendered' to the Guru principle. The greatest learning happened when I discovered that I had just to ask (in the form of affirmations) and I received, I knocked and new vistas were opened for me, I sought and I found. That is the trick. The process, although complex, once understood is very simple. Yes!
Thus, these visuals in a step-by-step manner helped me to understand the process of awakening as Kundalini energy moves through the etheric body. The process has been revealed in a visual form so that in turn it may be presented as sign-posts for you - the meditators.