Healing in tantra – chakra & Kundalini awakening

In this article I share thoughts on healing through a lens of tantra yoga, including some of the transformation of concsiousness that unfolds along the way, and how we’re all destined for it in this lifetime or another. While it may seem a bit technical and esoteric, know that it’s directly connected to your everyday experience. I share this because it can help put some things into perspective for some seekers. Not all of this will seem relatable to all of us at this point in time; but for a few, it may help provide keys for your evolving healing journey.

As always, this is an original article – please share only with credits.

The ocean of memory-associations

Imagine all your experiences stored in a memory ocean. Every single moment of your life recorded, from spectacular to bland. Since we experience life in many ways at once – sensory, mental, emotional… the tiny bits of information form various bonds with each other. And they can form further bonds much later than in their initial formation. Before you know it (it’s quite likely that you’ll never know them all in this life, because it’s such a vast ocean of unconscious data) you have memory-associations that affect your perceptions in the now.

You know the crude basics: If you experienced happiness along with a scent of vanilla, these bits of memory may be associated. If you experienced fear in relation to an authoritative man, then authoritative men might be a future source of anxiety. It doesn’t have to revolve around emotions at all, but strong associations often are. Even more difficult to detangle are the more intanglible types of memory which form our belief system. For example, how did you feel when you first watched the movie “The Matrix”? This movie is a good example of revealing just how dependent we are on fundamental thought structures – unknowingly living in a cage of our own accumulated data.

Healing in yoga

In the yogic perspective, one way to define “healing” is to have all these memory-associations come up to be fully and clearly seen. The bonds of association that attach us to the bodily experience are to be gradually weakened, broken, and ideally, not re-associated. At the next stage, healing is to learn to live life in such a way that no new colorings of memory are formed, and to fully remember our true nature, our origin, and how we might live in full alignment with that remembrance. While these phases can run at many different depths of life somewhat in parallell, we cannot truly say we are accessing our true nature while the preliminary breaking of memory-associations is still ongoing, other than possibly in deep meditation beyond the mind.

While these memory-associations, or samskaras, come up to surface, or when they are active in your unconcsious, your perception of the world is colored by them. Sometimes, you’ll experience several different perspectives on reality at once, as some of these memory-associations don’t agree on what the reality of your experience actually was or is. Sometimes, one memory-association complex seems to completely take over – and whether this is conscious to you or not, you may feel helpless to experience the world entirely through this narrow limited perspective. If it was a memory of hurt, what seems like similar life experiences will now be invisibly colored by that hurt, too. Similar triggers will come back every now and then to inform you that they’re still there.

This is nothing to be afraid of, or to reject. We heal by recognizing what is happening, by seeing that the fragment is not the whole truth of reality, while also including as part of it into our loving understanding. We heal when we integrate all parts of us, allowing them all to be included in the story of “me”. Not as being our actual identity; only as experience we went through. If the bonds between identity and memory-association, and between memory and association, are not broken, the healing is not complete (from a yogic perspective). But it’s an amazing start and quite liberating in itself to see it more clearly as what it is – just a memory-association, not a living reality in the now.



Anatomy of the chitta

In yoga, the storehouse of memories and their associations is called chitta.

Chitta is an aspect of concsiousness that we might call ‘the unconcsious’. The word ‘chitta’ has been ascribed to various things in different traditions; but its nature as consciousness is the most fundamental level. Being consciousness, it does have correspondence in all the aspects of being that we are familiar with. In the psysical body, for example, we have DNA to store information, and the brain to help encode and decode data and make sense of it. In the mental body, yogic knowledge names the ‘chitta’ as a function of mind; the mental function of storing memory, and the ability to recall memory. In the energy body, we have the chakras that act like “switches” or “relay stations” between physical aspects and subtler aspects, as well as between the corresponding part of the body and brain. As such, these chakras are access points to the energy patterns corresponding to samskaras.

In this way, information exists in various forms at once, just as one would expect when looking at something with different kinds of measuring equipment. 

Purpose of meditation

The original goal of meditation is not to find peace. It is to learn to go deep enough into your consciousness to access and neutralize these memory-associations, so that you may experience your essence.

The deeper the better! You can go as far as to observe their original, almost formless form – the “vrtti”; or vortices of consciousness that constitute the origins of thought forms. If you can observe thus deeply, then you’re in a very good place, because you can then clear out a whole lot of unhelpful associations in a very short time, painlessly.

Most of us aren’t ready to go that deep, because it requires us to stay awake and alert through the deep sleep state of delta brainwaves. This requires a very steady focus and deep concentraton that most of us cannot muster.

Instead, we endeavor to go just deep enough that in meditation (and in all of life) we can observe grosser manifestations of these memory-associations. In other words, we observe thought forms, or we observe manifested compulsiveness or trigger patterns. We lead life attentively, allowing one trigger pattern to pop up after the other; each illuminating something deeper that needs our addressing. Then we work more consciously specifically on that until it is attenuated; until it doesn’t affect us anymore. This is a major part of “the work”, or “the practice”. 

Usually, this is a slow, piece by piece journey. Sometimes it happens one memory-association complex at a time. Sometimes we cycle between many in order to detangle the bigger knots.

When the Kundalini fire burns

Kundalini awakening turns up the heat of this process.

Most people can live quite happily leaving many, many things hidden in the unconscious, never ever looking at it again. We may feel triggered by various events in life: at times we feel angry or sad, or any other emotion; but we use our intellect to work it out, and then we move on. That’s ok, that’s just the human experience.

This is not quite so when going through a Kundalini awakening! :O

Kundalini is a torrential force with a purpose, a direction. It is both a physical, mental, energetic, and most of all non-physical direction, but that won’t make sense to most readers, so I’ll just leave it at that. What’s important here is that one of the things it does as it thunders forth, is bring everything to surface. If you’re truly dealing with Kundalini awakening, then in the long run, it doesn’t allow a single attachment-stone to be unturned. If you try to escape something even slightly painful, it will show up in increasingly magnified painful manifestations until you deal with it. Alternatively, it can be experienced as if Kundalini makes you exceedingly sensitive to minute things in life.

This is a blessing – the torrential force needed to keep sifting through the ocean of memory associations until you develop the ability to change your view on the whole thing. Very few would willingly choose to swim through the ocean of all memory-association – it’s quite overwhelming – and so we only do it if we really have to.

Non-attachment to experience

“Just move on! Let it go!” we may be told by well-meaning people; but with Kundalini awakening, that’s really not an option. In a way, Kundalini constantly forces one to move on, yes; because it has a strong, forceful direction to it. But the way it happens is, for the most part, the slow and unrelenting way of  moving through.

At a deeper level, though, it actually has nothing to do with the specifics of all those memories in the ocean. If you deeply realize this, you won’t have to deal with every single triggering memory in your life. Rather, it is about the way you associate with experience altogether. Can you feel every single feeling fully, intensely, without being touched by them? Can you be with every single thought without judgment? How about, without being the feeler of feelings or the thinker of thoughts? (ok, that last one is more esoteric. We often hear it worded in a different way; that’s because there are, again, different levels of truth and realization. Let’s save that for another day).

Unfolding the jewel underneath the ocean

In the process of ocean-diving, I’ve come to learn how to see that the peace, joy and love that is lurking below the ocean is always there. And that the process is not really about healing traumas – it is about learning to contact and be steady in that peace, joy and love, no matter what life throws at us. Not as a way of self-protection; of staying in a fantasy bubble, or of disassociating from pain. It’s actually the opposite! To be in reality and see life absolutely clearly for what it is – an array of experiences, all teaching us about ourselves, and ultimately, about love.

When life throws emotional danger at you, can you stay in a clear mind and open heart? How much pain is too much? Why? Can you hold some more, and still access love? At what point does your ability to see someone lovingly, falter? Where does your sense of self-agency over your inner experience go to dust? Why? And when it does, how do you pick yourself up again? Compassionately or not? Who is the one doing the picking-up? Who is the one experiencing? What is the relationship between the “who” and the “whole”?

Thankfully, many of us today can relate to many of these questions. We can see the importance of loving acceptance as a foundation for life, and of accepting experiences as being only experiences; not defining us. Many of us can feel the deep call of finding and moving towards the real “I”, existing beyond the ocean of memory-association.

There is an everyday personality that is conditioned by the ocean of memory-association. And below it, there is a subtler personality, invisible to most. One that perhaps could be conscidered as personality-less, because it doesn’t come with all the attributes we normally consider as a personality. Instead of being conditioned, it is clear, innocent, free of all mental disturbance. Instead of riddled with worry and resentment, it is full of boundless love and joy for absolutely everything. This is possible because it exists in a capacity beyond and untarnished by our very real human suffering. Even as we feel pain, it is there, always active. We just don’t know it.

Types of awakening and their culmination

Every kind of awakening will prompt us to do this work of attenuating memory-associations. There are many ways to work at attenuation. However, it’s good to know that there is great difference between chakra awakening, sushumna clearing, and Kundalini awakening.

The long, preliminary process of chakra awakening and sushumna clearing can happen in any number of ways. The majority will be called “life” – not necessarily associated to any concepts of “spirituality” by the individial person. One can be a non-believer and still heal effectively (although it does take some belief; we might call it science, or self-trust, or something else). When healing takes place, it will happen to some extent in all aspects of our being. It may be a little imbalanced between aspects because of our experiences, beliefs and practices. And we may not notice all of it happening. Perhaps we only notice with progressive healing that we “feel better” or “feel more connected with ourselves”.

Whatever the way, so the tantrikas say, once we get to heart chakra awakening, this continued process will begin to clear out all sorts of emotional memory-associations. This is a very extensive process. Clearing the heart chakra does connect you with yourself. Once the heart is open, you may even temporarily feel that you’re finally ‘done’, because now your heart is flowing and it feels soooo gooood! You feel you need nothing else! 🙂

However, this is also just a beginning; a transition period before another, deeper phase.

This is not widely known, because historical events forced knowledge to be hidden. Prior to censorship, though differently labelled, it was relatively more accepted that whatever awakening journey one is on (and it can certainly look wildly different!), sooner or later for all of us, the culmination is Kundalini awakening. It is seen as the crown of human evolution; the unfurling of the absolute, limitless potential of the human being. According to tantra, we are all slowly progress towards it, whether visibly in this lifetime or not; and whether we recognize it or not.

Kundalini and the granthis

In the anatomy described in tantra, once the main chakras, nadis and sushumna is clear, Kundalini can progress up through the sushumna nadi. Existing on a subtle level, sushumna is a passageway that runs along what in our corresponding physiological anatomy is the spinal cord. This channel is specifically meant for Kundalini.

Now, when Kundalini makes headway up the spine, one direct consequence is intensified experience. As hinted above, this can present real challenges. The sushumna channel is said to have three granthis, or knots, along the way. Each knot represents special challenges in purifying the chitta. If it was difficult to clear memory-associations elsewhere along sushumna, or in other words with other aspects of chitta, it can feel exceedingly difficult around the knots. The second knot is “located” (or “accessed”) at the heart chakra and deals specifically with emotional attachments.

When Kundalini takes a seat at the heart, even slight traces of attachment to feeling will be multiplied with such an intensity that you can only hold on for dear life. This is why some people call Kundalini awakening dangerous. It can absolutely both feel and look dangerous! If not prepared; if the ocean of memory-association hasn’t been cleared up enough before Kundalini activates here (or in another granthi), it can give rise to all sorts of physiological and psychological complications. For example, it can be overpowering enough to develop schitzoprenia.

Role of a guru

As a side note, this is why all the rishis press on the necessity of a guru’s help to endure this phase. Without proper guidance, the intensity and seeming chaos can be insanity-making. A guru is not there to make life easier – in fact they usually do the opposite! However, the process is within control with the help of a guru. Not only can they give specific guidance to deal with your individual challenges (and if not, at least support by proximity). More importantly, they can directly help influence the various levels of your perception and thus keep your awakening crises in reins. This said, if you are going through Kundalini awakening and guru does not feel like an option for you, do your best to surrender to life, your soul, or source as your guru.

The positive consequence of intensity

This intensity forces you to transform your relationship with feelings, memories, and experiences in a ground-breaking way. It won’t allow for any attachment anymore; the pain from attachment eventually becomes too great.

So, the work we do, both in the preparatory chakra awakening phase, and in the Kundalini awakening phase, is to learn to endure all feelings, all kinds of thought constructs, all kinds of memories and triggers and beliefs, as simply experiences. Or alternatively, as simply form (see below). While at the same, time digging ever deeper into our innate remembrance of that subtler personality mentioned above.

When we can stay fully immersed in our subtler personality, which one might also call by names such as “soul truth”, or “devotion”, or “connection to the divine”, or simply “unmoving awareness”; when we are truly not swayed from that deeper inner reality, then Kundalini is done dwelling on the ocean of memory-association connected to the heart. It is then free to continue upwards, to immerse us in yet another new way of perceiving what we call “reality” and what we call “I”.

Releasing attachment to form to integrate states of consciousness

When we become able to detach enough from all the feelings and thoughts and memories, we gradually come to see a deeper level of “the work”. Now it’s not about memory at all anymore, even as you still process it within you. It’s not really about form in any way. It’s more about integrating states of consciousness.

For example, at the end of healing my relationship to sexuality, which just like for all of us had been stained by millenia of cultural suppression, repression and opression; at the end of releasing such conditioning I experienced the state of pure consciousness of sexuality. There came a point when it was an entirely unattached state. I could be in it, or I could be outside of it. Doesn’t matter – it’s just another state of concsiousness. Being in it feels to the body like a sexually activated state, but once the consciousness has sunk deep enough into it’s true nature, there is no need to cling to those sensations, because you have already begun to recognize yourself as something more than the body. So, one moment, I would swim freely in an ocean of sexuality. Some 10 minutes later it was gone, and I felt no loss. Simply because my consciousness knew a deeper truth.

Such an experience cannot be had as long as there are too many, or too strong associations tied with it. There will be some weak associations left, in particular with sexuality as that is such a deep-rooted part of the human psyche. But once attenuated enough, these weak associations can be overcome with a dash of willpower.

Boundless consciousness

Unless we overcome the associations, the boundless quality in such an experience is inaccessible, because the very consequence of associations is limitations to the boundlessness. Or in other words, it’s not just that we then experience an “impure” (as in mixed-state) concsiousness; the experience of it feels bounded because you’re keeping “one foot” within the limited, more superficial mental experience, that includes a “me”, mental evaluations, reactions to such evaluations, and so on. When we can dwell in the very essence of something; in the pure consciousness of that thing; with no thoughts or feelings about it, then we can feel its boundlessness.

Although it can also be said that we might transcend this type of experience, too; and see how it has limitations in its own way.

In general, it is the same with any consciousness we can take on (in other words, with anything). From powerlessness to sexuality, from grief to joy, from fear to love, from death to aliveness. They all feel totally different in the body (before full transcendence), but again, there is another level of experience where the body is just one superficial part of a greater experience, and not as deeply touching as that inner reality, anymore.

When we have established ourselves in that deeper essence; knowing that it’s all “just” states of consciousness, none of which are our deepest reality, then we no longer compulsively create suffering in life. Then, we are ready to begin to approach the journey of tantric union – the real meaning of the word yoga.


If, reading this, you feel inspired to seek out the pure consciousness of sexuality, I’d actually advice you to seek out a tantric guru. And, careful what you wish for! 😉 First read up on what the tantric journey and purpose is actually about. Because if you’re into pleasure-seeking, tantra will eventually eradicate that. Not by omitting! Quite to the contrary (on the left-hand path). But with continued practice, it will naturally unfold as self-chosen surrender towards transcendence.

The reason that it is rare to be initiated to the full scope of the left-handed tantric path, is because very few are able to transcend their desire to attach to form. Especially when it comes to sexuality! This is why we practice other branches of yoga or other healing modalities first, so that an innate deeper desire might awaken naturally within. Once that deeper desire is burning very hot – the desire to taste the highest truth, or of devotion, or of surrender – then there will be no more real obstacles in your way. Then, the path is clearing up for Kundalini to rise.

Sources: There are many depending on inquiry. If you are sincerely on a Kundalini path, I can recommend this book as one interesting read:



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