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Tips for Working with Kundalini Overwhelm and Trauma

February 10, 2020

Our kundalini is like a river, and blocks or repressed trauma are like rocks in its path. Activating the flow can dislodge a rock, or working to dislodge a rock can quicken and change the flow. Either way we need time to adjust.

Note: I’ve created two quizzes just for fun related to the themes of Chakra Empowerment for Women. The first quiz is to help you determine which empowerment might be the most relevant for you right now in your life, and the second quiz is to test your women’s energetics knowledge (or learn about it if you haven’t been a regular reader of this blog!) Enjoy and please consider sharing (tag me on FB, Insta or Twitter if you do.)

I’m often asked about kundalini crises, or about how to safely activate the kundalini. Individuals who have experienced trauma in their lives are often particularly concerned about this, as they may have read, or experienced, that intense sensations and feelings can accompany kundalini work and fear this could be triggering. While I do find this can happen, there are ways to prevent it, and then kundalini methods can be a wonderful part of some trauma survivors’ healing and personal growth path. I’ve also found that some people who have come to me for help with unexpected kundalini surges, without having practiced any formal kundalini activation methods, first experienced these surges after participating in some trauma healing or processing modality.

In other words, kundalini activation can trigger trauma release, and trauma release can trigger kundalini activation. Either way it can feel quite intense, and this post is an attempt to share my own experience of what can help. And first my usual disclaimer: None of this information is meant to be a substitute for mental health or medical support, or qualified kundalini instruction and support.

As a quick review: Kundalini is the source energy that moves through the chakras, and the most powerful of the energies that does so. Formal kundalini activation methods exist within both meditation and yoga traditions, and any energy practice will awaken the kundalini to some extent. Our kundalini may also activate without formal practice, often triggered by dramatic life events or changes in our lives. Really, the kundalini is active in all of us throughout our lives, but in varying degrees depending on the extent to which we are openly working to grow and change. This is what the kundalini is: the energy of change and transformation.

The experience of the kundalini moving through us can be quite beautiful and peaceful – a gentle, warm flow of well-being. But sometimes it feels more intense or jarring, and if we enter into a period in which a lot of kundalini is being released, whether through formal methods or due to life events, over time our body or psyche may become overwhelmed and manifest challenging symptoms. This overwhelm is what is usually called ‘kundalini crises’, and while it is relatively rare, it does happen.

Trauma is categorized by experiences our psyche has difficulty integrating, and from an energy body perspective this means we push down or store away the energetic impact of such experiences somewhere in our energy body. Without getting too caught up in what constitutes trauma and what does not, it’s fair to say that most of us experience events in our lives that our psyche cannot process at the time. If we expand our view of trauma to include secondary trauma (witnessed by us or described to us by someone else) and past-life, ancestral, and transgenerational trauma (trauma in our family history), all of which can impact our own energy body, then this word ‘trauma’ becomes relevant to even more of us. From an energy body perspective, these energies we push down or away are a kind of ‘block’, initially created through self-protection. But when pressure is applied by the kundalini moving through, the block might release quickly, and suddenly these energies we had vaulted away are moving through our being.

Think of energy blocks as rocks in a river, creating breaks in kundalini flow. Those rocks may have been placed there by our psyche as a self-protective measure, or they may be the result of emotional wounds or conditioning. However they got there, they are blocking the flow. Energy modalities engage methods to dissolve or remove them in a conscious way. We might also do it through therapy or other methods that don’t actively involve our energy body at all, but as we change and grow these blocks are gradually broken down and dissolved.

If we make the river flow faster and stronger (the equivalent of kundalini activation practices) we might dislodge the rock even though we didn’t know it was there. Even if we consciously remove the rock (through various healing and therapeutic methods), the river will flow through for the first time and that feeling will be brand new to us. If we aren’t ready for it, or if new sensations are overwhelming or challenging for us (a common response to past trauma), this new flow may generate feelings of anxiety or stress. Then our usual response to anxiety or stress (different for each of us) comes into play, and that has its own impact on our mind and body.

This release does not necessarily manifest as the uprising of repressed memories – a common stereotype of trauma release. While this can happen, more often we just begin to experience intense thoughts, emotions or physical symptoms that don’t feel related to another cause and feel overwhelming to us. We don’t really know what’s happening or why. In my experience many experiences that individuals categorize as ‘kundalini crises’ unfold this way. It is a system overwhelm on a mental, emotional or physical level but because we don’t know exactly why it’s happening, it feels out of our control.

However it has come about, here are some tips for working with kundalini overwhelm:

Slowdown and create space for your being to catch up. If you are working with kundalini activation methods, stop for a time. Don’t ‘double down’ thinking you need to meditate or do even more pranayama etc. Take a break and let your system process and catch up to the changes you have triggered. Return slowly when it feels good.

• Similarly, if your kundalini activation happened spontaneously due to other healing or therapeutic methods you’ve been engaged in, kundalini methods are not the first thing you need. Focus on the next few items on this list instead.

Cultivate feelings of comfort and safety. Nest for a bit. To the extent possible, be with people and engage in activities that make you feel nurtured and safe. Bask in these energies to the extent you can – fuzzy blankets, sitcom binge-watching, hot chocolate, a visit home. What brings us comfort is very individua, so really think of this for yourself – what brings forth these feelings for YOU.

Allow yourself distraction. Often when our kundalini is surging, we are sure we need to deal with something RIGHT NOW. Everything feels urgent. Unless you are experiencing a serious health crises, self-harming thoughts, or psychosis, try to allow yourself to be distracted from this urgency. In other words, it’s an OK time to watch funny YouTube videos, or seek out whatever activities will capture your attention. (If you ARE experiencing any of these more serious effects, than please seek professional help immediately.)

Connect with earth and trees. If you are able to engage in a ‘forest bath’ (basically walk through a beautiful forest) in a way that also makes you feel safe and comfortable, then do so. But even sitting at the base of a comfortable tree can help, or gazing out your window at one for a time.

• A little extra protein can be helpful for some to support grounding and the root energy as well. If your diet is already high-protein then this is generally not helpful.

• If you feel restless or overstimulated, experiment with free movement. This might be simply going for long walks, or it might mean dancing or moving around your house in a spontaneous, unstructured way, allowing your body to dictate what you do.

Embrace your normal routine once you feel able to. Routine also soothes our energy body and psyche.

All of these tips are from an energetics perspective – if you are working with a therapist, healer, kundalini yoga, and/or meditation teacher be sure you are also sharing what is occurring for you with them, and that they are open to adjusting/adapting however you are working together. This is the foundation of any trauma-informed work, and anyone you are working with should be open to this. If you are experiencing kundalini overwhelm then you should move forward in a trauma-informed way, regardless of whether you know whether or not your reaction was based on a trauma release.

With time, in most cases your energy body will gradually adjust to your new flow and settle down. At that point you can begin to re-engage with kundalini based practices, or start them for the first time if you are looking to consciously manage the shifts that began. Here are some suggestions for integrating as you do so:

• When and if you feel ready to engage energetically again, first make sure your body feels relatively strong. Establish (or re-establish) a healthy and regular exercise and nutrition regime. This is usually a prerequisite for any formal kundalini activation program, because our body is the conduit for the kundalini, even though it is generated through our energy body. Respect, care for, and nurture your conduit, and it will be able to handle more intensity.

BEFORE any kundalini work, spend more time with your root chakra. This chakra anchors us, connects us with earth energy, and supports feeling safe in our body. The Root Bowl from Chakra Empowerment for Women is a good tool for this, but even simply focusing on red light at your tailbone for a brief time each day, and before any kundalini activations, can help anchor your energy body.

AFTER any kundalini work, engage with your sacral chakra. This chakra helps us process change, and supports flow in our energy body. The Sacral Lotus is good for this, but incorporating movement may be beneficial too. Try standing and swaying with your hands on your pelvis, visualizing the Sacral Lotus or simply a swirl of light in your pelvis, and see it flowing easily and unobstructed throughout your body.

• Notice any tension you are holding physically or emotionally. Are you tightening parts of your body as you engage in kundalini work, or feeling anxious? See if you can gently let go of this and feel free and easy.

• When/if you do experience energetic sensations, attempt to relax into them, and experience them as pleasurable. If the sensations are challenging for you, go ahead and disrupt them by moving on to something else. But if possible, see if you can relate to them as natural. Even simply reminding yourself inwardly that kundalini energy is a natural part of our makeup and growth can be helpful.

Pace yourself – pushing through or going for maximum intensity is not the point. Allow your kundalini flow to be a peaceful and steady stream, not a raging river bringing down trees.

Realize too that you don’t have to utilize methods that formally work with the kundalini at all. Even all chakra and energy healing work does not engage the kundalini. So if it is not for you, that is fine! Find the modalities that are nurturing and transforming for you. And finding the balance between nurturing and transforming is really the key: modalities that feel only nurturing may not foster growth – we need a little ‘stretch’, within our individual window of tolerance, to move forward. Modalities that are all stretch, pushing constant transformation, are more likely to trigger us, or burn us out. So finding the right balance for yourself, and the right pacing, is key. Communicating with any practitioner you are working with is too.

Wishing you a peaceful and gentle kundalini flow!

P.S. Thank you to everyone who has purchased and reviewed Chakra Empowerment for Women. If you have reviewed it somewhere and not let me know, please do! I appreciate the exposure and feedback:-)


2 Comments leave one →
  1. R L Haines permalink
    January 1, 2021 1:48 am

    Dear Lisa! I loved being part of the Chakra Empowerment for Women and look forward to more work in this area. I would love to have more books, especially yours! This has been a tough year for me and I am grateful to leave behind the isolation I felt. I’ve gained insight and an ability to trust people that I hope to bring forward into 2021 for a brighter, more peaceful year. Your class on Patriarchy opened some doors to more freedom and confidence. These are qualities I aspire to and expect more of in my future. Thank you for your research, insights and teaching! May your New Year be filled with successes and joy! Roberta


  1. Ideas for Working with Kundalini Overwhelm and Trauma - KRIPTIQ

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