Kundalini and the Massage Therapist
Copyright 2009, Linda Gertrude Means
by Linda Gertrude Means, Ph.D., CMT
Peacehope Healing Arts, Monroeville, PA
Author’s Note: The information presented here pertaining
to the facilitation of kundalini activity by bodyworkers is based solely on my
own professional experience in
massage sessions with clients. I
have found no other sources
Sharon’s head began to slowly lift out of the face cradle and turn side to side, early in our massage session as she laid prone and relaxed on the table. (Note: all names and personal identifying characteristics of clients have been disguised to protect their confidentiality.) Her breathing became occasionally ragged and erratic, sounding like it was forced through a bellows, interspersed with big vocalized sighs and hyperpnea. I recognized the spontaneous neck movement and the unusual breathing as manifestations of kundalini awakening, which is the deepest form of energy healing. I was looking forward to a powerful and interesting session!
Sharon was a new client at the spa; her husband had given her a gift certificate, she looked at the menu of services and thought, “Esalen massage looks good!”, so she booked an appointment with me. During our intake discussion, Sharon said, “I have been working on my healing process for four years.” She had never received any sort of treatment for a strong whiplash suffered in a car accident about twenty years ago. Over time her whole back became involved, to the point of chronic pain and arthritis in the hips and lower back, in addition to neck pain, for several years. Sharon started seeing a chiropractor four years ago, and the lower back and hip problem cleared entirely through the magic of craniosacral work. But she still had chronic neck pain, going into the right arm, and sometimes complete numbness in the right hand. I observed that the neck and shoulders were hunched forward, her habitual posture from years of pain. Sharon told me that she was ready to heal the old injury.
I agreed to help her using Esalen massage mixed with shiatsu. With Sharon lying prone, I began the session making quiet contact with my hands on her neck and head, inviting her energy field to open to my touch. Within a couple of minutes, Sharon’s neck began to move. The movement was big but easy and fairly fluid. Even lying in the face cradle, Sharon allowed her head to lift and turn, side to side and in every direction. This continued for the whole duration of the session, in prone and supine positioning. Sharon didn't try to restrain her movement or breath, nor did she say anything about it, she seemed to be okay with what was happening, so I didn't feel a need to say anything about it either. We just allowed. I felt blessed by the sacredness of the experience.
At the end of the session, Sharon was ecstatic, she kept laughing and hugging me. She said that the pain was completely gone, and that she felt like a different person, her neck felt normal for the first time in twenty years. She noticed that she could straighten her upper spine, saying, “I don't need to hunch over any more!” Sharon told me that she had been to another therapist for Swedish massage, and her neck started to move spontaneously during that session, but the therapist kept telling her to stay still, so she suppressed the movement.
Sharon’s session was my first experience in working with a client’s spontaneous kundalini activity during a professional massage treatment. I had previously worked with a friend during his kundalini awakening, using a crystal on his body to help move kundalini through blocked areas. I was also informed by my experiences of kundalini activation in my own body, as well as years of reading about kundalini in yoga literature, all of which enabled me to recognize this phenomenon when it manifested during Sharon’s massage. Even now, after repeated kundalini massage experiences with several clients, I am still in awe to be in the presence of kundalini awakening at the massage table.
Kundalini awakening has been understood as a yoga practice for thousands of years. Kundalini is traditionally characterized as a form of energy, usually dormant, coiled like a snake at the base of the spine in the root chakra. Kundalini awakening occurs when the sleeping serpent moves out of the root chakra into the sushumna, the central energy channel which runs through the spinal column. As kundalini moves upward, chakras are activated, blockages are cleared, psychic senses open, and deep transformational healing occurs on every level. The awakening of kundalini is an evolutionary process of spiritual growth and holistic healing. Kundalini works with an innate intelligence that knows the path to optimal functioning of the human organism; it carries the possibility of realizing our full potential as enlightened human beings. For me, kundalini activation during a healing session seems like the ultimate realization of Esalen Massage, which is a bodywork practice intended as a tool for facilitating and accelerating human healing and evolution.
Kundalini yoga is the body of knowledge which was developed to stimulate kundalini energy. Practitioners of kundalini yoga aspire to awaken the movement of the sleeping snake, using yoga asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing practices). Kundalini awakening can also happen spontaneously, with no effort or knowledge on the part of the experiencer, occasionally in response to powerful energetic events such as childbirth or trauma, and occasionally during energetic bodywork treatments. Kundalini may also be awakened through the practice of shaktipat, which is an energetic transmission performed by a spiritually enlightened master.
Kundalini awakening is often marked by the occurrence of kriyas, which are spontaneous movements of the body, sometimes seemingly random, sometimes moving the body into classical yoga asanas or mudras. Sharon’s spontaneous neck movements during her massage session were kundalini kriyas, and her breath pattern was also a kundalini manifestation. Although kriyas may look like convulsions, they are often experienced as comfortable and welcome, and may be accompanied by ecstatic feelings or profound spiritual experiences. In my personal experience, and in the descriptions of others who have experienced kundalini kriyas, there may be the feeling of energy gathering in one part of the body, which builds to the point of finally shaking or jerking the spine, legs, arms, or face. With my massage clients who experienced kundalini activity for the first time, even though it was a new and unusual experience, all of them recognized it as something beneficial and allowed it to occur during the session without commenting or questioning.
During that initial kundalini session with Sharon, I simply observed the movement without trying to engage with it in any way. It made sense to me that the movement occurred in Sharon’s neck, because that was the site of the injury that she intended to heal, and I have observed consistently that kundalini activity tends to manifest primarily in the areas of chronic tension or pain, old injury, or in the region governed by the chakra related to the client’s primary physical or emotional imbalance.
Arthur was my second kundalini client, two weeks after Sharon’s session. Arthur and I had been doing weekly shiatsu treatments for several months, addressing his old injuries in the cervical and lumbar spine, which had left him with back pain, plus weakness, arthritis and lack of balance in the legs, with the right leg particularly affected. He also had some restriction in the right shoulder, which had released considerably through our work together, but still needed attention.
As Arthur laid face down, I sat on the table with his right arm draped over my leg, lifting the shoulder to loosen it, assess the restriction, and apply acupressure. The right arm began to swing, hitting the table, moving randomly in every direction. This had never happened before in Arthur’s sessions, and he was in his usual deep trance state, so I did not believe that he was consciously directing the movement of his arm in this way. Because I associated the shoulder restriction with Arthur’s spinal injuries, I suspected that the arm movement was a manifestation of kundalini activation, and wondered whether it would occur in other parts of the body.
I worked my way down the spine with thumb pressure, pulling the erector muscles away from the spine on both sides, moving from neck to sacrum. Arriving at the tailbone, I grasped it between my fingers and gently wiggled the entire spine. Just then, spontaneous movement began to happen around the sacrum, primarily on the right side, involving the right leg. Hello sweet kundalini, I whispered. I stayed there for some time wiggling the tailbone, watching energy churning in the gluteal muscles, sometimes lifting the right hip six inches off the table. Arthur laid quietly experiencing, I watched fascinated, losing all track of time, welcoming this ultimate healing energy at work in the area of Arthur’s major blockage.
Our sixty-minute session took two and a half hours that day, as I returned again and again to the sacrum, holding the tailbone and watching kundalini work her magic for ten or twenty minutes at a time. Arthur was completely surrendered to this weird thing happening in his hip. When I felt like we were done, I kneeled next to the table and asked, how are you doing? He lifted his head to look at me, and couldn't speak. He reached over and started patting my face, speechless, just patting, patting, patting. Finally he spoke: “Goddamn, that was something!”
Arthur described the experience as being in a state of total harmony and just being, no thinking, he felt like he and I were joined as one unit, he knew that he was being cared for and protected and healed. I reassured him that this was a healing at the deepest level, that it was releasing the energy blockages associated with his injury and leg problems, and would enable his body to function more normally physically because the energy pattern holding that injury in place was being unblocked. He told me that he was now feeling a lot of intense energy in the solar plexus, so he laid down on his back and I held a quartz generator crystal on his solar plexus with the tip against the xyphoid process. After a minute, he began to grasp my hands very tightly, pressing the crystal deeply into his solar plexus. Then he began to pull my hands away. I removed my hands, leaving the crystal in his hands, and he put the crystal on the table and was done. He said that the crystal had removed a lot of energy from the solar plexus.
My sessions with Arthur continued to produce consistent kundalini activation. During our second kundalini session, I pressed my elbow into Gallbladder 30 in the middle of the gluteal muscles and got an immediate kundalini response, pounding back against my elbow, intensely, like a jackhammer. I had asked Arthur to tell me if he became uncomfortable with the kundalini work or wanted to stop, and because he simply laid quietly, I let the jackhammer do its work for fifteen or twenty minutes, feeling amazed and grateful to witness and feel this extraordinary energy healing happening in my presence. And not only in my presence, but in response to my touch. I began to understand that my role as a “kundalini therapist” might be to stimulate kundalini activity by summoning the energy snake to the area of blockage, and if kundalini wants to push against a blockage in order to move through it, my pressure provides something for it to push against, possibly enabling it to break through more easily. This is just speculation, but I’ve experienced the same phenomenon with several kundalini clients: it always manifests in the area of a major blockage, and responds to my pressure by pushing repeatedly against my touch.
I’ve also noticed that kundalini seems to become active in the presence of an accumulation of excess energy, and the shaking kriyas act to disperse the energy, moving it out of the affected region and into the energy flow of the whole body. Perhaps this prevents an energy accumulation from forming a permanent blockage. In a later session with Arthur, I decided to experiment with whole-body drumming to stimulate kundalini, because in receiving body drumming myself I had observed that it had an energy-dispersing effect similar to that of kundalini.
I began this session with a transcendental 25-minute Deva Premal serenade intended to lull Arthur into a slow brainwave state, helping him to lose all track of time and space, working with tracks 1 and 2 of Deva Premal Sings the Moola Mantra. Track 1, Moola Mantra Invocation, is slow and tranquil, lush instrumentals interspersed with contemplative vocals. Track 2, Moola Mantra Part I, begins with the same mood, then moves into a repetitive, hypnotic, rhythmic chant, with interludes of sensuous fluid instrumentals. I used this music to make initial contact with Arthur’s energy field, moving and stretching the whole body and working the length of acupressure meridians on the back of the body, opening channels to get energy flowing. I also chose these songs for this session because I can sing easily with them, and chanting during the session helps me sustain a light trance and embody the music vibrationally.
Next on the playlist was David and Steve Gordon’s Light of the Canyon, from their Sacred Drum Visions CD. With Arthur lying prone on the table, I drummed for seven minutes over the length of the body, with riffs ranging from full-hand beats on the sacrum to feathery light taps of the fingertips up and down the spine, finally coming to a close on the feet. For several minutes I held both feet, applying thumb pressure to the Kidney 1 point on the midline of the sole beneath the ball of the foot. I immediately began to feel kundalini movement in the feet, then watched it move up the legs and into the hips and back. The movement became symmetrical and fluid, swaying back and forth from left to right. In the past, Arthur’s kundalini only manifested on the right side, and only in the hip and leg, usually laboriously blasting away at the blockage in the right hip. This time it looked like some new channel had opened, enabling kundalini to dance freely and bilaterally and move into other parts of the body, as high as the upper back. Where his kundalini had seemed so labored in the past, now she seemed happy to be moving easily.
After Arthur turned over into a supine position, I spent several minutes moving around the body holding feet, knees, belly, shoulders, just making energetic contact. Everywhere I went, kundalini followed me, activating under my hands. Then I drummed on the whole front of the body, ending on the head, finally holding the head for several minutes, watching kundalini appear here and there in various parts of the body. I ended the session cradling Arthur’s head between my arms, and kundalini moved into the neck, turning the head from side to side, which was another first for Arthur.
After the session, Arthur was elated. He told me that the drumming felt electrifying, literally and figuratively. His right leg felt looser and freer, and the feeling of kundalini and electrical activity was still happening in various parts of his body after he got off the table. I felt uplifted by engaging once again with this astonishing energetic manifestation of supreme healing intelligence.
Clients often report profound or ecstatic experiences while kundalini is active in the body. Tina was working on activating her throat chakra and finding her voice to speak her truth, so it was not surprising when her kundalini showed up in her neck, very gently moving it from side to side, typically near the end of her sessions. Each time, she reported seeing indescribably brilliant lights in surreal colors. When I gave her a Brazilian crystal to take home and work with on her own, she laid down, placed it on her throat, and immediately saw the brilliant light again.
Anna’s kundalini begins moving as soon as she stretches out on the massage table, even before I approach her. With Anna lying prone, her kundalini responds to pressure in the trapezius and erector spinae muscles, and works on opening her heart by drawing the shoulder blades back toward one another. Her legs also occasionally jump off the table in response to pressure on the back. I like to use two quartz crystals to stimulate the movement of kundalini up Anna’s spine, resting one crystal on the sacrum with the tip pointed up the spine. I hold the second crystal off the body, about an inch above the spine, and slowly move it from the sacrum toward the head. As the crystal moves up the back, kundalini follows, with the movement of the body originating beneath the crystal in each position. In our first crystal session, we brought Anna’s kundalini all the way up into the head for the first time; her head was gently swaying in the face cradle, and I began crying from my feeling of awe. After the session, Anna said to me, “The kundalini went into my brain.” When I asked her how that felt, she replied, “It felt like clarity, total clarity. Here’s what it told me: love is easy.”
The kundalini movement in Anna’s back is so intense that the shoulders lift several inches off the table, but the kriyas don’t create muscular tension; in fact after our kundalini sessions, the muscles in her upper back feel soft and plump and full of energy. I first observed this phenomenon when I assisted Tony with a crystal during his kundalini awakening. Tony had stood in line at John of God’s healing center in Abadiania, Brazil, and asked for help to open his psychic senses and expand his capabilities as a healer. He received a spiritual healing intervention, then went back to his room to rest, laid down on his bed, spread out his arms, and his kundalini awakened. I found him there ecstatic, body shaking and writhing, seeing visions and getting revelations about sacred geometry. On his second day of this activity, I helped him move stuck energy with a quartz crystal. His kundalini movement was most intense in the area of the solar plexus, so I held the crystal over the heart center, and the energy shot up into the chest. We continued working in this way for several hours, occasionally taking a short break to drink some water, then getting right back to work. The kriyas were strong and convulsive, sometimes lifting the sternum several inches off the bed, sometimes banging the head repeatedly against the pillow, but Tony was elated and comfortable. Afterwards, he sat up and asked me to place my hands on his shoulder blades, to calm the energy there. I was astonished by the feel of the muscles in his upper back, squishy and expansive and responsive to my touch. I had the impression that the kundalini kriyas were creating movement by expanding the muscles instead of contracting them. I’d never felt muscle like this, and it was a blissful experience for me just to touch this energy-full tissue.
Every time I participate in a client’s kundalini activation, I give thanks for this gift, for the client and for myself. As a bodyworker, I know that my client is experiencing the deepest form of healing possible, because kundalini knows precisely where to go and how to work to correct any and all limitations in the human organism. All I need to do is remain present and hold the space for this sacred healing. It is an enormous blessing for me to experience and play with this serpent energy, witnessing its expert chiropractic work, and the actualization of its supreme healing intelligence. I end this kundalini chronicle with haiku:
Hot rib-rattling snake
kundalini can’t hold back
her deep dance of joy!