What Is Kundalini Meditation?

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As you go through your day, how much of your behavior is on "auto-pilot" and how much is intentional? If you're like most people, you probably do a lot of things without thinking, and likely react to your environment most of the time rather than being intentional about your thoughts and behaviors. You might find yourself doing things like driving to work, washing dishes, or eating a meal without really thinking about what you are doing.

However, if you want to live your life on a higher plane, it's important to "slow down and smell the roses," so to speak. One way to enter this state of slowing down is to practice meditation. And one specific form of meditation that may be particularly helpful is Kundalini, which means primal energy. Kundalini meditation is a way of channeling your energy and releasing yourself from stress.

Kundalini meditation
 Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin

Origin of Kundalini Meditation

What is the origin of Kundalini meditation? Its exact origins are not known, although its traditions date back to approximately 1,000 B.C. - 500 B.C. It was popularized in the West by Yogi Bhajan, who developed and introduced his own form of kundalini yoga in the United States.

Purpose of Kundalini Meditation

Kundalini meditation is part of Kundalini yoga and is meant to move energy through the body. It is thought that energy at the base of the spine (also known as the root chakra) needs to be released through the seven chakras of the body and then out through the crown chakra above the head.

This process of releasing energy from your body has the aim of creating a system of communication between your mind and body to relieve mental, physical, and spiritual issues. This system of bringing awareness to your body by connecting with your breath allows you to be present, establish a new rhythm, and communicate with a higher version of yourself.

Just like taking a shower each day cleanses your physical body, yogis view Kundalini meditation as a way to cleanse your mind. It's a way to rejuvenate after a stressful day or to manage stress in the moment. It helps to balance your energy and calm your mind so that you're no longer just reacting to the thoughts that you have.

In this way, Kundalini meditation is not a set of beliefs or religion; rather, it's a system for evoking energy and creating mind-body awareness.

Benefits of Kundalini Meditation

What are the benefits of learning to practice Kundalini meditation? They can be summarized as bringing more awareness to your daily life; specifically, this can be seen in any of the following different ways:

  • Helping you to redirect yourself out of stress and into peace
  • Teaching you the proper way to breathe (into your diaphragm) and expanding your lung capacity
  • Aiding concentration and preventing random thoughts from throwing you off balance
  • Improved cognitive functioning
  • Creating awareness of the body
  • Breaking your automatic daily routines and bringing you into awareness
  • Changes to your brain patterns and emotional balance
  • Bringing balance to mind, body, and soul
  • May help reduce anxiety
  • Building up your creative energy for projects in your life

How to Practice Kundalini Meditation

How do you actually go about practicing Kundalini mediation? Below are the steps you should follow to begin a very basic practice. Remember that it's better to start small with something that you think you can follow through on every day than to begin a practice that feels overwhelming.

Even five minutes each day of Kundalini meditation is likely to help you, so don't underestimate the value of even this most basic practice.

1. Choose a Location

This should be a spot that you find peaceful and where you are not likely to be bothered. It could be a spot where you gather your favorite things. Keep a bottle of water beside you.

2. Choose What to Wear

You should wear loose, comfortable, cotton clothing and potentially a head covering like a cotton shawl. Your clothes should be clean, fresh, and possibly light in color to enhance the feeling of lightness.

3. Choose When to Practice

You could practice first thing in the morning if this is when you are least likely to be disturbed. Or, you could practice before bed at night as a way of winding down from your day. Do not meditate after a big meal, as the blood in your body will be diverted away from your brain at that time.

4. Get into Position

Sit on the floor cross-legged or sit in a chair with your weight resting on your feet. Be sure to sit upright with a straight spine. Close your eyes softly so that they are about 90% closed. You can choose to sit on a wool or cotton blanket or put a pillow underneath you for comfort.

5. Choose the Length of Practice

This could be anywhere from three minutes to two and a half hours. Some common choices of times are 11 minutes, 15 minutes, 22 minutes, 31 minutes, etc.

6. Choose a Mantra

While you breathe, you will be chanting a mantra to help you focus. One good example for beginners is the mantra "Sat Nam" which means "truth is my identity." Chant "Sat" when you inhale and "Nam" when you exhale. You can choose to chant out loud, in a loud whisper, or silently in your head. The purpose of chanting is to direct your energy. Actively listen to yourself if you are chanting out loud, or visualize the mantra being written down if you are chanting silently in your head. You can also call on your mantra at other times of the day if you are feeling stressed. The point of a mantra is to break out of old patterns, so the mantra should always reflect the state that you want to be in rather than the one you are in now.

7. Start to Focus on Your Breath

Notice your breathing and gradually start to slow it down. Your goal will be for one round of inhaling and exhaling to last about seven to eight seconds. Break your inhale and exhale into segments, such that you do short inhales or exhales broken up by pauses. You can do this so that there are four segments of both inhales and exhales during a complete breath. Breath through your nose the entire time. If you feel dizzy at any point, then stop the practice.

8. Feel the Breath Moving

As you are practicing your breathing and chanting, focus on how your breath is moving through your body and helping you to feel more relaxed.

9. Finish the Meditation

Complete the mediation by inhaling deeply, pushing your palms together or raising your arms in the air, and then relaxing and exhaling.

10. Gradually Increase Your Meditation

Gradually, you should find it easier to increase the length of time that you meditate. As you practice, focus on letting thoughts come and go, and watch for a feeling of energy move along your spine and a feeling of euphoria in your body.

Research on Kundalini Meditation

Overall, research on Kundalini meditation is in its early stages. However, researchers see the potential for using Kundalini yoga with other treatments to help people who are managing high levels of stress related to chronic conditions such as:

In addition, there are claims that it can help with other medical conditions such as:

There is some evidence of the effectiveness of this type of meditation specifically for people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) (an 8-week intervention led to lower anxiety than a treatment as usual group) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

A Word From Verywell

If you are interested in learning how to practice Kundalini meditation to improve your mindfulness in daily life, it's important that you start making small changes at first. Don't give up if it feels hard to meditate or as though you cannot quiet your mind. It's only with practice that this will become easier.

At first, even just two minutes of meditation might feel like a struggle. However, with time and practice, it will be easier to call yourself into a meditative state. And, once you have that ability, it will translate into other areas of your life, making it easier to manage thoughts, emotions, and behaviors rather than just reacting blindly to what happens to you.

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