Spring Medicine: Dandelions

Dandelion3

Spring has been teasing me along where I live and hasn’t fully expressed itself, but that hasn’t stopped the plants from sprouting. Dandelion is such an excellent Spring green to begin incorporating into your diet for three main reasons: 1) it grows in abundance everywhere, 2) none of the lookalikes are poisonous, and 3) it’s a great supplement for your Spring cleanse (like spring cleaning, but for your body!)

Dandelions are full of antioxidants, help to curb seasonal depression, and perhaps the most delicious fact of all is that all parts of the dandelion are edible: flower, leaves and root. After my partner and I’s foraging session today, we created a few different dandelion-derived goodies.

Leaves

Dandelion Leaves Soaking

Dandelion leaves are incredibly rich in vitamins and minerals. They are a diuretic, which can aid in filtering toxins out of our body and helping to lower blood pressure. Just be sure to drink a healthy amount of water when consuming dandelion leaves to compensate for the water your will lose! Now, the leaves are dandelions are quite bitter, but there are a few methods to rectify this bitterness. The most simple method yet delicious method is to lightly sauté them with olive oil, pepper and salt. Perhaps I’ll share my recipe for Dandelion greens & risotto one of these days. A quick blanche always does the trick too.

Flowers

The blossoms of dandelions remind me a bit of chamomile. They have that gentle sweetness, yet fresh floral quality to the taste. If you’re looking to both extend the shelf life of your herbs, but you still want to process them while their fresh, then a medicinal syrup might be the fix for you! This is really a matter of creating a simple syrup from a brewed dandelion tea.

Dandelion Simple Syrup

1 cup Dandelion Flowers
2 cups of Filtered, Distilled or Spring Water (thumbs up for fluoride-free!)
2 cups of raw or white sugar

Dandelion SyrupPour your water into your pot and toss in your gently washed dandelion flowers. Cover your pot and bring the pot to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, set it to a simmer and allow it to brew for half an hour. Strain your tea through some cheesecloth and put it back into the pan. Put it onto the stove at the same temperature as your simmer and add your sugar. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Transfer your syrup to a sterile mason jar, put a lid on it and allow it to cool. Store your Dandelion Simple Syrup in the fridge and add to teas, smoothies, and especially over your morning granola.

Root

Dandelion RootDandelion Root is an excellent detoxifying material. Like Dandelion greens, the root is also a diuretic and helps the body to expel toxins through our urine. Because of this, dandelion root is a good addition for cleansing the liver. Dandelion root can also fight off infections within the body. And not only may it be helpful in riding the body of some cancers, but it’s also rich in antioxidants. After a thorough washing, you can brew it in water to make a tea, or you can slice it then dry the pieces to preserve them and make tea in the future. It can also be roasted and then brewed to make an energizing and detoxifying coffee substitute.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to harvest your own food and medicine can be so liberating! Dandelions are such an achievable forage-able and it truly is worth the effort. The best advice in harvesting dandelions is to be aware of the traffic on and near the land from which you harvest. Dandelions next to a busy city street or in a park where many of the plants are sprayed with pesticides are not going to be as beneficial as a those found in a forest or even in your own backyard. With all of this said, go out and make an adventure for yourself by hunting for your own medicine! You can do it!

 

What are Chakras & Why Use Them?

Featured image from Kacha Stones: Ethically Minded Crystals

What are chakras?

The word chakra is a Sanskrit word, which translate into “wheel.” These wheels are essentially categorized into centers of intelligence within the body, each of which govern a set of internal organs, glands of the endocrine system, and correspond to specific functions and human elements. Different points within the body operate through different means and have varying effects on our physical, mental, emotional and energetic bodies. For example, the heart’s electromagnetic pulse extends up to three feet outside our body, and in this way we subtly communicate with one another. Each intelligence center, or chakra, of our body responds to different stimuli, like color, sound, scent, or to the energy of natural items, like that of a stone. I personally find chakras to be so beneficial, because they help us to categorize the body and learn more about it’s amazing interconnectedness. The body is a single organism comprised of trillions of cells working in harmony. That in and of itself is amazing! But our body doesn’t always maintain this state of perfect cooperation in all periods of our life. Sometimes things become out of balance and our body can manifest disease, pain and illness. In my work as a professional energy healer, I’ve seen all sorts of imbalances and I’ve seen many people regain balance after a bout of illness. Working with the chakras can give an incredible amount of insight into how to correct bodily imbalances BEFORE they start wreaking havoc on the body. In the following descriptions you can learn a little more about each chakra in order to help bring yourself back into alignment. Enjoy, beautiful beings and have a blessed day!

Muladhara Chakra

The Muladhara chakra is often called the root chakra. It is the first chakra in our body which rests at the base of our spine. It is what governs our primal needs and within it lies a dormant reserve of energy to be accessed, called Kundalini energy. The Muladhara chakra dictates our sexual organs and is associated with the color red, and often times can be represented as black or brown.

Svadhisthana Chakra

The Svadhisthana chakra is also called the sacral chakra. It is our second chakra which governs our lower abdomen, spleen, and the female reproductive system. It is considered our emotional center and deals with our relationships with others.

Manipura Chakra

The Manipura chakra, also called the Solar Plexus chakra, is the powerhouse of the body. It resides from the navel to the base of the chest. It is the center that dictates our stomach and liver. The Manipura chakra deals with our energy, willpower, strength, and self-control.

Anahata Chakra

The Anahata chakra is lovingly called the heart chakra and exists at our heart space. It rules over both the heart and the lungs and corresponds primarily with the color green and sometimes with the color pink.

Vishuddha Chakra

The Vishuddha chakra is known as the throat chakra which is where this intelligence center lives. It dictates the throat and ears. The Vishuddha chakra is the bridge to the heart-mind connection and it corresponds with the color blue.

Anja Chakra

The Anja chakra is often called the third eye chakra or the guru chakra. It resides at the level of our forehead and rules over our eyes and nervous system. The third eye gives us insight and allows us to see the unseen. It best responds to indigo, deep blues and cool purples.

Sahasrara Chakra

The Sahasrara chakra is known as the crown chakra and is first and foremost a gateway for inviting energy into the body. The Sahasrara chakra also rules over the nervous system, along with the Anja chakra, and the head. The colors which best correspond to it are violets, purples, and white.

8 Herbal Tinctures for a Better Life

What is an herbal tincture and why use them?

If you are looking to use your herbs primarily for their health benefits, then this is the best way to preserve them while maintaining their medicinal value. Preserving your herbs and other various plant matter in alcohol is what’s known as the folk method of making tinctures. It is an manageable method for concentrating and preserving your herbs to reap their healthful benefits. All you have to do is add your plant matter to a mason jar about 1/2 to 2/3 full and then fill the remainder of the jar with a high proof grain alcohol, typically I use 90-proof clear alcohol to showcase the color that the tincture develops while steeping. Keep your tincture out of the sun and everyday for 4-6 weeks (depending on the herbal tincture you’re making) shake the jar in order to saturate all the herbs and prevent any kind of bacterial growth or molding. When you’re finished with the steeping process, you can strain your tincture well and store it either in its original mason jar or in dropper bottles. For a more comprehensive guide to making tinctures, you can visit Mountain Rose Herb’s Guide to Making Tinctures for greater details. So without any further delay, here are 8 different tinctures that you can easily make at home to support your health and well-being!

Cinnamon

1. Cinnamon Tincture

Cinnamon is such a rejuvenating spice.  Cinnamon tinctures are an easy recipe for beginners and it steeps rather quickly with little plant matter. Not only can a cinnamon tincture be used for baking to flavor various recipes, but it is also an excellent base ingredient for making a homemade mouthwash. It works wonders for freshening breath! Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory and contains antioxidants. It will help to fight off colds, the flu and other various infections. It is great for helping to boost energy and support the immune system. Cinnamon is also wonderful for increasing yang energy.

Clove

2. Clove Tincture

Clove is also another excellent yang-boosting spice that can be used as a base for a mouthwash. I prefer the clove mouthwash over the cinnamon because it creates a tingling sensation. Clove is a great spice for a wide variety of dental care purposes. Not only can it numb the pain of a toothache by chewing on whole cloves, but it is a powerful breath-freshener. The essence of clove can also keep nausea at bay which makes it a great multi-purpose tincture. Clove tincture can be diluted in water to create a anti-acne toner for the face and taken daily to fight off seasonal colds.

 

Dandelion Root

3. Dandelion Root Tincture

Dandelion is perhaps one of the most prolific and beneficial plants. Typically considered a common weed, the whole plant can be used for medicine from its flowers to its leaves to its roots. Dandelion root in particular is a great supplement for cleansing the liver, purifying the blood and supporting the digestive tract. It can also benefit one’s mood by bringing a sense of peace and calm to its user. Dandelion root is a diuretic and can also be used to increase the appetite, so it serves as a wonderful supplement to help detox the body. It will help to filter out the toxins while stimulating the appetite for healthier foods.

 

Elderberry

4. Elderberry Tincture

If you are looking to boost your immune system then look no further. When taken daily, elderberry tincture prevents colds, the flu, viruses, and cancer. It has loads of antioxidants, which helps to keep the body at optimum health.  As far as tinctures go, elderberry has a wonderfully pleasant taste. I like to put 10 drops or so in a cup of hot water and a spoonful of raw honey to taste. Elderberries also have anti-inflammatory properties which can help to alleviate general body pains when taken consistently.

 

Garlic

5. Garlic Tincture

Garlic is anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and contains antioxidants. It is a powerhouse of health. Garlic tincture can be diluted with water and applied to the ear canal to help cure ear infections. It can be sprayed onto fungal infections that occur on the feet. It supports healthy digestion and has even been shown to prevent cancer cells. The reason why I love a garlic tincture is because it keeps the garlic raw (maintaining the medicinal properties) and can be used to flavor foods and savory drinks (bloody mary anyone?)

 

Ginger

6. Ginger Tincture

Ginger is always my go-to remedy for nausea and indigestion. Its spicy sweetness soothes the stomach and helps to increase the appetite. I also tend to use ginger to help soothe a sore throat and it has always been quite effective for me. It is a powerful antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties making it great for soothing sore muscles, but it must be taken daily to be most effective. Ginger can lower cholesterol, prevent colds and the flu, and may even be effective in fighting the growth of cancer cells. I tend to keep a bottle of ginger tincture in my purse at all times, because it is such a handy health supplement.

Oregano

7. Oregano Tincture

Oregano is an easily overlooked herb, but it has served me well as a multi-use medicine. Not only does it help to alleviate menstrual cramps (always a plus), but it also helps to regulate a healthy gastrointestinal tract. Oregano is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal which helps to support the immune system and keep our body’s natural yeast levels in check (again, promoting healthy digestion). Oregano tincture can be used as a mouthwash to promote throat and sinus health, and it is also a good toothache remedy!

 

Rose

8. Rose Tincture

Rose is a powerful tool to fight eating disorders and its essence has been used for centuries to promote self-love and passion. Rose has anti-depressant qualities which can be useful when utilizing its scent as aromatherapy. When made into a tincture, it can also be used as a base for creating homemade perfumes. Rose tincture can also be taken daily to help to curb the appetite and promote healthy eating patterns. Roses are antiseptic and can be beneficial for a herbal first aid kit. It will also serve to kindle positive feminine energy.

Winter Solstice

This winter solstice has been a whirlwind. My partner and I are in the middle of moving to a new city; my partner just got a promotion; I just graduated from university. No matter who I ask, everybody admits that life is truly chaotic right now. Something that helps me to relax, forget my troubles and be present is to listen to audiobooks. On my drive to and from my new city, I’ve been listening to Russell Brand’s latest book “Recovery: Freedom from our Addictions.” Not only is a hilariously enlightened account of his life’s path, but it roughly outlines the philosophy of 12-step programs. Essentially the program creates a system through which someone can achieve sobriety using the powerful tools of honest self-reflection and meaningful connection. During all of my college years, I defied any heavily regimented spiritual systems. I would have laughed if anyone suggested that I join a Christian-based 12-step program. At my most rebellious phase of life, I began questioning the Christian faith that I grew up with. I knew that I questioned it for its own sake. I questioned it because I saw inconsistencies in my beliefs. I thought that it would be more honorable to God if I were to question the form of organized religion that I inherited, because I knew that – if I did ultimately recognize Christianity as the timeless truth – it would be a great victory for Christ. I admitted to myself that I would rather critically examine my faith to discover what I truly believed rather than preach a message that didn’t know to be true. For the first time in my life, I had realized that belief is something that is – and should be – individual to every person. For the first time in my life, I realized that there was more truth to be found in the world.

Today, as a dedicated animist, I returned to a Christian church for the first time in a long time tonight. I went to a beautiful interfaith solstice ceremony that recognized the birth of both the “sun” and the “son”. All of the stories I had heard throughout the day, all of the various tales of messiahs and myths of sacrificial gods bounce around in my head. And it all got me thinking about the traditions that we pass on, the systems that we build over time and the old habits that we let go of for the better. What is it that we cling to? What are the things that make us most comfortable? What are the isms that constitute your identity?

Every culture has their own traditions. It is inescapable. We are given systems of belief, medicine, education, habits, preferences and the list could go on. It is our job as consciously acting individuals to suss out these traditions and systems that are valuable to us and those which hinder us, impede us, and sometimes even shackle us.

At this lengthening of days and the slow return of the sun, it is time to make a resolution. What are the most valuable things in your life? Be honest.

Amelia’s List
1. My partner
2. Family and friends
3. Clean air
4. A roof over my head
5. A future to be had

Everyone’s list is going to look different. Now ask yourself this: How can I best honor the spirit of these things? This may be a little trickier, but it’s important that each person’s response is unique. This creates numerous reactions which facilitate a well-rounded effort towards accomplishing something of value. Take number 3 for example. In the spirit of bringing honor to the air, one person might start a tree-planting initiative, while another person will feed seaweed to cows to reduce up to 99% of the methane emissions from cattle . (Aren’t plants just incredible!)

The ultimate goal of creating this list is a call to action. We desperately need to reevaluate the systems and beliefs and routines and traditions by which we live our daily life. Are they still benefiting you? Are you living by your true values?  This new year is an opportunity for change. Yes, change can be uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. Yet with every change that we experience, there is an opportunity to become an even stronger person.

So go in peace. Spend quality time with yourself and your loved ones. Take this holiday as an opportunity to acknowledge the return of the sun and give gratitude to the things that lighten your life. What is it that brightens your day?

3 Herbs for Eating Disorders

Our relationship with food is perhaps the most fundamental necessity. It provides us with health, security, and even pleasure. In our consumer culture, we have many conflicting ideas about food, health and body image. Our society promotes ideas of unhealthy and unattainable beauty. We market food items as an experience. Sometimes we even sexualize our food commercials. Food addictions and food aversions (both of which are the basis of eating disorders) have a shared nature: it’s about the anxiety to fulfill our fantasies.

I’ve had my own experiences with eating disorders when I was younger and it’s not as straightforward as people think it is. Initially I felt as though my eating habits were harmless enough, it seemed to begin harmless enough. I made a lot of excuses for why I behaved the way I did, which seemed reasonable at the time. But eventually I found myself in a consistent binge and starve cycle, driven by the fear that I wasn’t lovable. It took me an awfully long time to admit to myself what I was doing. But eventually I realized that my behavior was not healthy. My problem is that I love food. I love food so much. Yet, there were times when I felt like food was my enemy.

It always happened in cycles. In the beginning, I felt healthy, happy and carefree. And then I would eat sweets. And it was so hard to stop. I would eat and eat, and I wouldn’t keep track of how much I had eaten. ‘Just one more’ was my national anthem. And soon after I would naturally feel ill. I’d spend the following days wondering why I did this to myself; I knew better. I would indulge in the guilt I felt. I would belittle myself, calling myself ‘fat’ and a ‘pig’ (disregarding the fact that I’ve never exceeded 120 lbs). These were some of the tamest names. And as ridiculous as it is, a part of me thought that – if I had more chocolate – then maybe I’d feel better. Every time, I’d feel sick to my stomach from eating too many sweets. I’d spend the following days only eating what I could palate, mostly dry toast, steamed greens and water. At this point in the cycle, I’d feel like food was my enemy, and by overcoming the temptation to binge then I would have gained some sort of self-mastery. I actually convinced myself that my strict starvation was being valiantly disciplined. I’d eat my small portion of bitter, lifeless spinach and tell myself “this is for your own good” until – days later – I wouldn’t feel so nauseated anymore. And thus the cycle would repeat itself, with the same anxiety-driven, binge-eating, self-loathing, food-denying conclusion.

The root of my eating habits stem back to events in my early childhood. I know this now after years of reflecting, but just because you have awareness of the root issue doesn’t mean the problem immediately corrects itself. It takes a lot to feel comfortable in your own skin. Our health begins in the mind. By promoting healthy thoughts and developing healthy habits, we create a lifestyle that is built on a healthy foundation

Herbal remedies will not do all the work for you, but they can yield incredible results when you make a commitment to your own well-being. Here are a few loving herbs that will help to stave off eating disorders.

Blessed Thistle

 

1. Blessed Thistle

Blessed Thistle, also known as Holy Ghost herb or Holy Thistle, began as an Ayurvedic herb and is a great remedy to increase appetite while having a calming effect. It comes from the same family as dandelions, daisies and chamomile. Like many other herbs, Blessed Thistle has a wide variety of uses which makes it a beneficial medicine to keep on hand. Not only does it stimulate digestion, but it is also a useful herb when you have a cough, a cold or a fever. It’s a diuretic which promotes milk production for new mothers and it could be a gentle and beneficial tea after a period of binging. Just remember to continue to hydrate when taking diuretics. Drink lots of water!

Blessed Thistle can be taken via capsule or cooked, but I prefer to brew it into a tea. I tend to add either some mint or you could add some rose petals, which brings me to the second herb…

Rose2. Rose

Roses are amazing flowers! There are over 100 species of roses which smell divine and fruit into vitamin-C rich rosehips. When brewed into a tea, this rosewater eases digestion and makes a cleansing facial toner. Roses are wonderful as aromatherapy. Rose petals can be added to your bath. Rose essential oil can be diluted in a carrier oil and applied to the skin or it can be added to an oil diffuser. The scent is useful for easing anxiety, guilt and grief, as well as creating a peaceful environment.

Rosewater is effective for anorexia and bulimia nervosa, as well as binge-eating. It will support self-love, self-care and help to alleviate the guilt and anxiety that are associated with eating disorders. It is a soothing brew to aid a number of digestion issues. Rosewater can be found at many major grocers. It can also be made from easily scratch. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Once the water has boiled, pour the water over 3 handfuls of rose petals. If you want to get traditional, the folk method is to choose red rose petals, but above all make sure that your roses are pesticide-free.
Bud

3. Cannabis

Cannabis is an exceptional herb for stimulating the appetite. Cannabis is a flower which has a psychoactive effect, hence its current role as a schedule I substance in most of the United States. I am lucky enough to live in the beautiful state of Oregon, where it has been legalized for recreational use to those who are 21 and older. Despite its bad reputation, cannabis is a gentle herb that can be smoked, decarboxylated and infused into a fat (like butter or coconut oil for a vegan alternative), or if you prefer to avoid the psychoactive effects then it can be made into a tea. Although I will tell you from personal experience that its appetite-stimulating property is much more potent when the THC in the flower is activated (this is the basis for decarboxylation). If you choose to take it as a tea then might I recommend adding some mint. Mint will help ease digestion and calm the nervous system while the cannabis stimulates the appetite.

Further advice on combating eating disorders….

The healthiest choice you can make is to learn how to love yourself just as you are. This is way easier said than done.

Nothing will ever be truly perfect. This is a frustrating reality, but it is also a liberating reality. In acknowledging that nothing is ever perfect, we admit that we’re all in the process of bettering ourselves. We are all works in progress. Starving or binging or purging is really a desire for fulfillment, whether that be attaining the “perfect body”, experiencing the warmth and security of a full stomach, or attempting to fill the emptiness we feel inside . These disorders arise from a fear that we will never get what we want, that we are not good enough, that we don’t deserve to be happy or healthy. And all of these fears and worries and anxieties rip us away from the pleasure of the present moment.

Now that you are seeking a healthier means of living, I encourage you to take a minute and be grateful for how much good your body does on a daily basis. Thank it for all the times your wounds have healed, all the illnesses your body has overcome, all the traumas your body has endured. It is beautiful. It is here to support you. And your body loves you.

Gather Ye Rosehips While Ye May

Rose Hips
Foraged wild rosehips from the Pacific NW

Allow me to be straightforward. This post contains a little bit of everything herbs, social issues, poetry. One defining feature is that I can’t make up my mind, but nevertheless I would like to impart some vital musings onto you. Let me start with a famous poem, which both frustrates and inspires.

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

Robert Herrick, 1591-1674

I’m going to be honest: I hate this poem. I will not argue that it has good form, but the implications are grim and – frankly – laughable. “That age is best which is the first, / When youth and blood are warmer; / But being spent, the worse, and worst / Times still succeed the former.” Oh please, Robert Herrick, tell me again how priceless virgins are. I mean, this isn’t Goblin’s Market, but subtlety isn’t Herrick’s strong suit. This poem repeats itself in my head as I gather nutrient-rich rosehips for my winter tea, contemplating the dying of another year. My mind races with the stories of women being sexually assaulted and I ponder how desperately our society worships youth and then exploits its innocence. Many women, myself included, are all reminded of our own personal experiences of being rendered used and then (supposedly) useless. And the representation of women throughout literature, and much of recorded history, has frequently left me unsatisfied.

Rose Seeds
Wild rose seeds harvested from rosehips

Women have often been associated with fruiting and flowering. Shakespeare even related his “deflowered” female characters to moldy oranges. Yes, it’s undeniable that women have a biological clock and we have our own seasons in life, but why is it that women are valued so radically different at varying stages of life? May I suggest that when we put so much value on the flower and the fruit, we forget the tree that bore them.

What truly pains me is the dismissal of the value of experience. Women (and men for that matter) have gained so much wisdom by the time of their golden years, and our society is quick to excuse and devalue them. It isn’t any secret that times have changed and not all wisdom is timeless, but assigning value only to that which can re-produce is doing our community a great disservice. Where did our wisdom go? And why does it seem that so many young adults are unprepared for the challenges which present themselves today? Many millennials struggle to adequately feed themselves, defend themselves, and heal themselves. Valuable traditions are quietly being forgotten. Meanwhile, nature carries on: flowering, fruiting and passing on its wisdom. And there’s so much to learn from nature!

Take rosehips for example. There are over 100 species of roses, all of which bear rosehips: one of the most vitamin-C rich foods. Roses are sweetly smelling and easy to harvest, gather seeds from and plant for yourself. When in bloom you can make rosewater to use as a facial toner, drink as a tea to promote healthy digestion, or help to ease anxiety (both as a tea and as aromatherapy). Find wild roses and their health benefits are yours for the taking.

To wrap up this rosy rant, I encourage you to be mindful of the resources that surround us. There is so much wisdom, in plants, in places, and – especially – in people. Don’t take your environment for granted. Learn from it, nurture it and celebrate it, both “when youth and blood are warmer” and during its dying days, only to be reborn in the coming seasons.

Kundalini Energy

When I first began my meditation practice, I had this obsession about trying to get my spine into perfect alignment. I would focus so heavily on the straightness of my spine that it made every position feel wrong somehow. This made meditation into a chore rather than a pleasurable experience of retreat into one’s own mind. This single, seemingly-juvenile fixation gave me anxiety about meditating and I would often distract myself with other things rather than take that much needed meditation time for myself.

The remedy to this situation was rather simple in theory, but took a little more effort in practice. When you’re beginning your meditation practice, the key is to recognize that the rule of close-enough is in fact: perfect. By allowing this room for improvement we can surpass our own obsessions, fears, anxieties, and unworthiness to make the right choice for ourselves. No matter what mental or emotional state I’m in, I will always concede that a daily meditation practice is a healthy way to show love to myself. But there are some days that meditation just doesn’t seem to happen. We’ve all had those days. Again, close-enough is perfect.

With that out of the way, let me explain how I experienced- or rather stumbled into – a kundalini awakening. Personally, I have found that I can more easily facilitate Kundalini awakenings when I have fully integrated (or dis-integrated) information about a specific subject. For me, Kundalini experiences are opportunities to capstone varying chapters in my life with a meditative gift that I don’t have to share with anyone else, and this experience relies on no physical thing to enter this altered state of consciousness.

As an example, my first awakening was in high school. During this time I became very critical of gender and sexuality. On the one hand, I felt incredibly insecure with my sexuality and I projected this insecurity onto others. On the other hand, I wanted to feel sexually liberated and explore intimacy with whomever I loved. These two factors alienated me from having a positive sexual experience. It wasn’t until I made my choice between these two opposing ideas that I could progress my scope of awareness and move onto a path of sexual fulfillment. When I broke down that wall between myself and what I wanted only then was I free to have my kundalini experience. And the knowledge that I gained from this kundalini “capstone” experience? You are free to love whomever you chose so long as you love your whole self first. Good advice, no?

What is Kundalini?

Kundalini is a word which means “coiled pit” and our kundalini energy sits dormant at the very base of our spine. Kundalini refers to two things: the latent energy stored deep within us and to the practice of raising our Kundalini. Practicing Kundalini yoga can help to heal us by giving attention to each energetic center in the body (called a chakra) and it can help to raise the awareness and understanding of our lives.

Essentially what happens during a Kundalini experience is the voluntary triggering of our endocrine responses which floods our body with hormones. A slough of hormones washes through us, like testosterone, estrogen, oxytocin, epinephrine, melatonin and many others. This purging of our endocrine system can help to detoxify and bring our hormones back into balance. It is for this reason that you shouldn’t practice Kundalini to excess. It can be a very unifying and pleasurable experience, but many people who practice Kundalini too frequently report feeling burnt out or depleted of their energy (exactly the opposite of why you would choose to practice kundalini yoga in the first place). If you practice raising your Kundalini too often then you can deplete your body of the necessary hormones which facilitate your interactions with your environment and may trigger bouts of exhaustion and depression.

The endocrine system largely affects the way we perceive our environment and facilitates experiences like love or stress. The main reason people seek out a Kundalini awakening is to experience the overwhelming Euphoria and to gain the divine knowledge that is associated with it.

How Do I Practice Kundalini?

Let me preface this by saying: You will probably not experience a Kundalini awakening the first time you try! That is unless you already have a steady meditation practice. You will probably have to spend a few sessions practicing, a solid 15-minutes long for each meditation. And before you start, I suggest doing a little research into chakras and the endocrine system. I find that understanding the basic mechanics of anything that you’re trying to accomplish proves to be very beneficial in creating a positive experience for yourself!

When you begin practicing you will want to:

  • Get any meditation tools you wish to use, music, incense, a comfortable pillow or blanket
  • Sit comfortably upright, though it doesn’t have to be perfect!
  • Close your eyes
  • Give attention to your breath
  • Then spend a couple minutes focusing your mind on each of the chakras and imagine them being cleansed and growing brighter and brighter

The greatest meditation visualization that I use every single time is to bring your awareness to the very edges of your body! Try to feel all the boundaries of where your skin ends and the air begins, and then imagine that the outer edges of your skin is fading into the space around it: try to occupy the whole space that surrounds you. Each time I imagine that the edges of my physical body expanding into the air around I immediately reach that mental space of connectedness which will always makes practicing Kundalini easier!

Meditation of the Snake

Kundalini energy has been personified as a snake for millennia, because it feels as though a snake is coiling itself up your spine while you are experience a kundalini awakening. The first guided Kundalini meditation I ever developed for myself was a snake meditation and this visualization still enables me to experience the euphoria of an awakening. So from my practice to yours, here is The Meditation of the Snake:

Sit comfortably upright in a chair or against a wall, and bring your attention to the alignment of your spine. Allow your head to rest comfortably on the peak of your spinal column. With each breath feel your body become sturdier, settling into your own space. Take comfort knowing that your body can regulate itself: always taking in breath, always peacefully pumping blood through your veins. Be at peace understanding that your only goal is to imagine the pictures being painted for you.

Envision your body as a tall and empty vessel. At the bottom, coiled and sleeping, lies a silver snake. This snake sits where the base of your spine begins. You notice that there are small patches of light coming through the vessel, reflecting off the snake’s delicate scales. As it awakens, it begins to slowly stretch it’s body into the light. As it coils itself towards the top, it starts to brightly reflect colors emanating into the vessel – a brilliant red, the most energetic orange. Slowly working it’s way up – reflecting a glowing yellow and an earthly green. The snake continues to coil inside you – inside the vessel – gently up the length of your spine. As the snake passes upward through the back of your neck – the shining of the blue it reflects is indescribably vivid. It reaches your head where it displays the most radiant purple changing to a vibrant violet, its tail remaining anchored, wrapped around the length of your spine. All along it’s silvery body, it reflects these brilliant impressions of light.