Kundalini Syndrome – The Ancient Symptoms

What Is Kundalini Syndrome?

The term ‘physio-kundalini syndrome’ was coined by Itzhak Bentov, a biomedical engineer who studies the physiological effects of altered states of consciousness.

While classical esoteric literature described kundalini as rising from the base of the spine up through the head, he postulated that the physio-kundalini symptoms could result from an electrical polarization spreading along the sensory and motor cortices, in turn induced by acoustic standing waves in the cerebral ventricles. Of course it’s important to note that what he claimed was only his hypothesis which was not subsequently verified by peer-reviewed studies. But it is highly probable that there’s a purely biological explanation for the physical manifestations that happen during kundalini awakening such as the intense feeling of heat, tremors etc.

What distinguishes kundalini syndrome from ‘kundalini awakening’ is terminology. Kundalini awakening is a mystical term, while the term ‘physio-kundalini syndrome’ comes from transpersonal psychology and is a scientific term (Or at least it attempts to be one). It was created to systematize this very real phenomenon into something that can be diagnosed and used in science.  It seems that the kundalini syndrome is a manifestation of  a natural biological process that happens after long-term meditation, and that the energetic metaphor associated with it is nothing more than an explanatory device for an aspect of the nervous system we have not fully researched.

It’s important to understand that kundalini awakening is very closely related to understanding the body – or at the very least, the soul – as a set of energies. This vitalistic belief is important because it brings with itself quite a number of presuppositions. If I am not my physical body but an interconnected energy, I will survive death; I am, in fact, immortal. This essentially becomes a religious belief for  most people interested in such things.

But is this belief useful for mental health? Some studies do indicate that religious and spiritual people live longer , and from a pragmatic perspective, this belief will make you have a feeling of great exaltation. You will reframe the experiences of the kundalini syndrome not as signs of a neurological illness, but as a transcendental event that will empower you.

It is important to understand that  your beliefs about something actually shape the experience. If you give a sugar pill  to someone with parkinson’s disease and tell him it’s medication you will not only see an effect but also see very real changes in his brain.  This is why it’s very probable that the belief that  kundalini awakening  or to be more precise the phenomena you label as kundalini awakening, brings with itself positive changes is what causes the positive changes to begin with.  Spiritual experiences make people very suggestible to suggestions, and as such it is very probable that it is the suggestion that kundalini awakening brings greater health that actually brings greater health, and not the kundalini awakening itself.

Few people know that beliefs can change the very chemistry of the brain. Parkinson’s disease is a biological disease, but when people are given placebos (sugar pills) for it, they work, because they believe they will work. While at the same time decrease of symptoms of a placebo and a real drug is very often very small; this just shows the amazing power of beliefs.  This would also explain why beliefs  and ‘faith’ were so highly valued in spiritual circles. You had to believe for it to work.


The Symptoms

One has to understand that the description of kundalini awakening and of the kundalini syndrome differs from book to book. It’s because there’s no organization that actually created a ‘standard’ or a ‘definition’ of what kundalini awakening or kundalini syndrome is. I’ll now present to you the most common symptoms of this phenomena taken mostly from yogic and tantric literature. 
The symptoms of kundalini awakening are wide-ranging, and can include any combination of pleasurable or erotic sensations coming up the spine from the root (perineum/anus) to the head, or localized anywhere in between. These sensations can be associated with the perception of a tiny silver thread in the spine in the early stages, to a large swirling multi-colored column of energy in later stages, encompassing the spine, the whole body, and beyond.  And many of them are not at all pleasurable. Many people experiencing this experience migraine headaches. To avoid some confusion I’ll bold the definition while leaving my comments on them in normal type.


  • Involuntary jerkiness or shaking of the body. There is evidence that kundalini awakening is actually related to epilepsy, so in that interpretation ‘jerking’ would be just the well known epileptic spasms. Another interpretation is that during releasing trauma we actually ‘jerk’ (About which I’ll talk in future articles), it could be that during kundalini awakening the body releases trauma through natural tremors
  • Intense feelings of pleasure or bliss – This happens very often during temporal lobe epilepsy, and does happen during medtiation. The problem  is that no matter what most spiritual teachers tell you the bliss doesn’t last forever. It might last even a few months, and might feel eternal, but it’s not eternal
  • Feelings of coldness in the body – Somatic hallucinations are  a symptom of parietal lobe epilepsy. It is obvious to me that kundalini awakening is born out of the activity of the parietal lobes and the temporal lobes, so this symptom actually makes perfect sense. (I’ll fully explain what exactly the parietal lobes have to do with enlightenment in future articles, so please subscribe )
  • Intense heat in the spine, or a particular chakra, as if molten metal were flowing through the spine – This actually is a symptom of parietal lobe epilepsy. In medical books it’s called a ‘somatic hallucination’ in the same way any form of back pain  that involves the nerves could feel like ‘molten metal were flowing through the spine’.
  • Striking flows of energy, like electricity or internal lightning bolts – Again the parietal lobes are involved in sensations like that.
  • Feelings like snakes or ants crawling on the body, particularly along the spine, or between the feet and head – Same.
  • Mudras (hand gestures), Bandhas (locks), Asanas (postures), or Pranayama (breathing practices) may come spontaneously rather than being intentionally practiced – Same, and during various forms of epilepsy and catatonia you actually ‘freeze’ in certain postures. It’s very likely that in the past people saw someone in catatonia and interpreted it as something profound.
  • A sense of confusion or uncertainty about what is happening in these experiences – This actually could again be linked to an epileptic symptom, but the thing is that I think everyone would be confused if he started experiencing the other stuff on this list
  • Spontaneous emotional shifts or mood swings – Temporal lobes, could also be an epileptic sympom
  • Increase in the experience of inner colors and lights – Another epileptic symptom
  • Inner sounds, such as musical instruments, buzzing, roaring, or thunder – Same thing. Both the inner colors and inner sounds are auditory and visual hallucinations. One can also experience them after ingesting hallucinogenic drugs.
  • Waves of creative, intellectual, or spiritual insights,  – This actually is probably more related to the fact that people who experience kundalini awakening are generally long term meditators. Meditation essentially ‘trains’ your intuitive faculties, and as such it does make you more creative. It’s as simple as that. It’s not really a symptom of the awakening but an after effect of the techniques that were used for kundalini awakening
  •  The feeling of numbness and tingling, heat, pressure, electricity or pain – Somatic hallucinations. Okay the other symptoms are self-explanatory so I’ll just list them without my snarky comments
  • Somatic illusions, such as the experience your arms and legs are in a weird position
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Language disturbances – speaking in tounges etc.
  • Intensified or diminished sexual desires
  • Headaches, pressures within the skull
  • Racing heartbeat, pains in the chest
  • Digestive system problems
  • Numbness or pain in the limbs (particularly the left foot and leg)
  • Pains and blockages anywhere, but most often in the back and neck (Many cases of FMS are Kundalini-related)
  • Emotional outbursts, rapid mood shifts, seemingly unprovoked,  or excessive episodes of grief, fear, rage, depression
  • Spontaneous vocalizations (including laughing and weeping) that are as unintentional and uncontrollable as hiccups
  • Hearing an inner sound or sounds, classically described as a flute,drum, waterfall, birds singing, bees buzzing but which may also sound like roaring, whooshing, or thunderous noises or like ringing in the ears.
  • Mental confusion, difficulty concentrating
  • Altered states of consciousness, heightened awareness, spontaneous trance states, mystical experiences (if the individual’s prior belief system is too threatened by these, they can lead to bouts of psychosis or self-grandiosity)
  • Heat, strange activity, and/or blissful sensations in the head,
    particularly in the crown area
  • Ecstasy, bliss, and intervals of tremendous joy, love, peace, and compassion
  • Psychic experiences: extrasensory perception, out-of-body experiences, pastlife memories, astral travel, direct awareness of auras and chakras, contact with spirit guides through inner voices, dreams or visions, healing powers
  • Increased creativity: new interests in self-expression and spiritual communication through music, art, poetry, etc.- After effect of medtiation
  • Intensified understanding and sensitivity: insight into one’s own essence, deeper understanding of spiritual truths, exquisite awareness of one’s environment (including “vibes” from others)- After effect of meditation.
  • Enlightenment experiences: Direct knowledge of a more expansive reality and transcendent awareness. – People with temporal lobe epilepsy have exactly the same thing.
  • During the process of kundalini awakening, asanas, mudras, and other practices may happen spontaneously. Incidentally, this is actually the way in which they were initially discovered. People who experienced spontaneous kundalini awakening did these asanas and mudras and bandhas, and they were observed and people thought ‘Oh if the holy man did it spontaneously, it had to be good.’  This is how hatha yoga was born.
  • During the kundalini awakening, the adrenal and hormonal systems may go haywire. Of course this is an interpretation that comes from esoteric texts. No one actually did peer-reviewed controled studies on someone who experienced enlightenment and had their hormones checked. This is just a speculation found in ancient texts which was created on the basis of the experience of fear, due to the simplified interpretation that the adrenals are responsible for agitation.
  • You may  become so sensitive to the energies of other people that you will not be able to tolerate crowds. – Happens if you increase your sensitivity through meditation. Think about it. It’s like exercising your muscles so much that you accidentally break a glass with your bare hands.  It’s as simple as that. Meditation, especially buddhist meditation trains compassion and empathy, and as such it’s very very likely that you would become more sensitive through it. And it might become very extreeme if you meditate 8 hours a day (which is what most people who really achieved kundalini awakening did). So again this is the result of meditation, not of kundalini awakening by itself.
  • More often than not, a person who has an awakened kundalini experiences internal light, and sometimes voices, music and hallucinations of mystical archetypes. – Hallucinations like that could be caused by many things that are caused by meditation. Epilepsy again being the most likely candidate


Interestingly many of those symptoms are similar to those shown in parietal and temporal lobe epilepsies, about which I’ll talk more in future articles on this site, please subscribe if you’re interested to hear more about what studies say about enlightenment.


Psychological problems

A person whose kundalini has awakened may experience certain psychological problems,  such as:

– The feeling that he is now a ‘new being’ whose transformed state is not perceived by the world

– Difficulty expressing kundalini awakening in words

– Doubts about whether one is awakened or simply delusional

– Experiencing shaking and various other involuntary movements. Incidentally, shaking is a natural trauma releasing mechanism of your body. So this may be the way in which kundalini awakening helps you get rid of your old traumas. The shaking is called kriya, and it’s very good for you.

To that list I basically copied (Yeah just so you don’t think I’ve made it up) from the works of Swami Sivananda and Gopi Krishna.  I might add that the real danger of kundalini syndrome is that one might really believe one is god and do some risky stuff. Like imagine you believe that you have super powers and try to stop a speeding bullet- bad idea. And while kundalini awakening leads to far less extreme behaviour it still leads to behavior that objectively wouldn’t be deemed as super adjusted. Eckhart Tolle for example spend years doing nothing but sitting on a bench.

Well this article is already over 2000 words long and I know 90% of you stopped reading halfway through, so I want to note here that I’m actually writing a book which will basically discuss the newest research concerning kundalini enlightenment and a lot of other stuff. So if you’re interested in it. I encourage you to subscribe.


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About the Author ()

Hello I’m Matt Pepliński, the lies in alternative medicine have literary given me psychosis and as such I created this site to take the pseudo out of pseudoscience to make it actually useful in your life.