Investigation of the phenomenology, physiology and impact of spiritually transformative experiences - kundalini awakening

Explore (NY). 2021 Nov-Dec;17(6):525-534. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2020.07.005. Epub 2020 Jul 25.


There is a paucity of research examining the phenomenology and energetic effects of spiritually transformative experiences with an energetic component, often referred to as kundalini awakenings (KAs). This limits our ability to understand and support individuals who have these often unexpected and powerful experiences. This study aimed to explore not only the nature of these experiences but also their subsequent behavioral and physiological transformative effects. Methods: An interview questionnaire was used to collect detailed descriptions of both the physical and metaphysical experiences of persons having a spiritually transformative experience (STE) (e.g., spontaneous energetic awakenings, awakenings occurring through near-death experiences, and through spiritual practices). Results: Subjects reported that the entire energetic awakening experience was mystical, involving feelings of expansion (including conscious awareness leaving the body), and a sense of being enveloped in light or love. Of 18 descriptors of experiences of energy, 85% of participants reported unusual flows of energy through or around the body. Principle triggers for these experiences included concentrating on spiritual matters, the presence of a spiritually developed person, and intense meditation or prayer. Transformational changes in participants included, e.g., increased sensory sensitivity, creativity, and changes in beliefs, including a desire to serve others, a sense of unity with all, and the immortality of the spirit. Most participants reported a lack of understanding of the STE phenomenon by healthcare professionals, resulting in their inability to address the needs of experiencers when they came to clinicians for help.

Keywords: Awakening; Consciousness; Kundalini; Meditation; Near-death experience; Spiritual; Transformation.

MeSH terms

  • Consciousness / physiology
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Meditation*
  • Religion
  • Surveys and Questionnaires