A warning: Shamanic/Holotropic Breathing and Kundalini

8 posts in this topic

Hi All,

First up, I'm not trying to tell you what you shouldn't do, all I want to do is post a warning based on my experience with Holotropic/Shamanic Breathing. I hope that you take heed of this advice and don't go through the intense involuntary healing that I have been through in the last 3 years.

I had a strong desire for the spiritual path and had been meditating for 4 years, sometimes up to 4 hours per day but normally at least 1.5 hours. I felt pretty good and had no existing psychiatric issues (that I was aware of.....)

In early 2019, I felt I was ready to speed up the process as I wanted to progress spiritually and felt like I wasn't getting anywhere.

So I started Shamanic/Holotropic/Breath of Fire (It has many names). I started on 2 minutes and gradually worked up to 30 to 40 minutes per day over the course of many months. I was still meditating but not for as long as I had been. Everything was fine for many weeks without issues. I felt good and felt normal both physical and mentally. 

Then, one week I started to feel off, it is hard to describe but I just didn't feel right. Felt really tired and unhappy (I am normally a care free happy person). I immediately stopped the breathwork but continued to meditate.

About 1 week after I stopped the breathing practices completely I was still feeling tired and just not right mentally. Then one day I was sitting is lotus posture and I suddenly felt really anxious for no reason and this incredibly uncomfortable energy started surging through me. I did not know at the time it was energy as I had never really felt it before but it was really uncomfortable. I couldn't sit still and I felt really anxious from the excess energy. I had no idea what was going on and ended up in hospital, I started screaming in hospital for no reason and almost had to be sedated (I am normally never like this, normally one of the most chilled out people around me). Anyway I was released a few hours later when the energy calmed down a bit. 

For the next 6 months this energy was with me all day everyday (even though I ceased all spiritual practices). I had trouble sleeping (I normally sleep like a baby). I felt extremely fatigued (I thought I had chronic fatigue) and could hardly get out of bed for weeks. I was close to panic attacks all the time. I was so scared and had no idea what was going on. I had to quit my job as I couldn't really function. Luckily I was financially prepared for this. It was only after I reached out to three meditation teachers who could "read my energy" were they able to advise I had awakened Kundalini. Kundalini was moving through my physical and subtle body cleaning out past traumas. Boy was it hard. You don't realize what lies in your subconscious until you open it haha.

I then had a relatively stable period of 12 months with no symptoms and felt pretty good. I thought Kundalini had become dormant but now I know she was still active in the background. I then started doing something similar to straw breathing just to try and calm my system. I felt great for a few months. But then boom without any warning again I went from feeling great to these massive surges of energy running through me that still haven't really integrated fully with my system even after 7 months of no spiritual exercises. 

The negative impacts of my healing have been the following:

- Intense suicidal depression (Never really been depressed at all in my life until I awoke Kundalini). Almost ended up in a psych ward a couple of times. The only things. Mostly when the energy surges were moving through my chest and heart area. 

- Intense ADHD, couldn't sit still almost all day for many months. (Never had ADHD before, I am normally more sloth like haha)

- Intense sensitivity to people, unable to be around some people.

- Intense weird mental states, hard to describe but they aren't very comfortable.

- Insomnia. This was really bad in the first healing period but not so much the second, still not sleeping as much as I need to but it has improved. 

- Intense sensitivity to fasting and certain supplements. Fasting and magnesium amplifies the energy and it feels very uncomfortable.

Positive impacts (a lot less than the negative ones so far.....)

- When I close my eyes my body mostly disappears. I don't feel it at all the only thing I feel is the energy moving against blockages.

- Body gradually feeling less and less like "me". A little bit scary.

- Can feel expansion of aura around me. 

- Small periods of intense bliss. This can almost be a negative impact if too intense. 

- Small periods of seeing intense beauty in even the most simple things.

- Heightened intuition.

- Synchronicities at times. Not all the time but occasionally.

- One 5 minute period where all my thoughts just stopped. My head was clear, this was very cool. Only had it once though.

- Greater understanding of subtle energy in general. The two laws that you must always apply for safe use of it. 


I sought help from a few teachers, tried a few practices to help calm the energy and ground me but in the end the main thing is time as the energy integrates with your body and mind, this can only happen so fast and takes time. Acupressure helped a bit and also something called White Light Protection Visualization which you can find on the Kundalini subreddit. One respected Kundalini teacher had me try all sorts of herbs and exercises that seemed to do nothing or make it worse. So I have come to the conclusion that very few people actually are able to teach this sort of stuff if you have a spontaneous K awakening.

I share this in the hopes that others healing journeys won't be so intense and involuntary as mine. 

I also want to thank all those have helped me in this journey so far, those seen and those unseen. Especially for helping me to keep my second job and family.


Good links: - IMO the White Light Protection visualization should be done by everyone everyday. - Some good info in this book.



Shamanic/Holotropic Breathing awakened my Kundalini without warning and gave me what is called Kundalini syndrome. I went through hell on earth as I was healing for the next 6 months then I went through A relatively stable period of 12 months and then the last 7 months have been by far the most difficult. Still healing from my past at a rate that is far from comfortable.






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Thanks for sharing. Sorry that happened to you, but it is a pretty common thing for those doing hardcore spiritual work. I have a book on my book reviews list about Kundalini syndrome, how to deal with it, and how to avoid it.

Yes, lot of intense breathing can trigger it. Which is why Kriya yoga was invented, to slow down the breathing and to active the kundalini in a more stable, gradual, and healthy manner. If you decide to return to spiritual practice, Kriya yoga is what you're missing.

You are God. You are Truth. You are Love. You are Infinity.

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Do you think this is because of blockages; so once you release them all then it would be safe to get a kundalini awakening?

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It's either Kundalini syndrome or dark night of the soul.

Others have adviced you for Kundalini syndrome but I highly recommend reading contemplative fitness by Kenneth Folk (it's free) and making sure whether it's Kundalini syndrome or dark night.

If it's the dark night of the soul the best advice would be to actually meditate MORE than normally since you'd be on the verge of Satori.

If it's Kundalini syndrome then don't listen to this advice.

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From what I know, most of such unpleasant kundalini symptoms happen from spontaneous kundalini awakenings.

From what I know good shaktipat transmissions are the safest and smoothest way to awaken the kundalini.

It might sound a bit contradictory, because shaktipat is also the most potent way to awaken kundalini, and thus speeds the whole process up. But it does everything with more intelligence and gentleness, and blocks are easier dissolved, therefore it seems to be overall smoother in most cases.

Even after the biggest part of the kundalini awakening is over, I think receiving shaktipat transmissions can still support and make things smoother and increase bliss.

Gareth Duignam gives very good shaktipat transmissions. He gives live group transmissions on youtube and zoom every Monday, Tuesday and Friday.

There are other great transmission givers too.


Edited by GreenWoods

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Thanks everyone. Yes its because of too much energy raised into a system that wasn't ready for it. Like 1000volts through a system that normally runs at 100volts. So it takes a while for that system to catch up. Definitely K as I have had two independant teachers tell me where the energy is in Sushumna. They both said the same thing. The energy is more stable now but still a little uncomfortable as I am still healing.


I intend to let it fully integrate and then take a break for a few months then resume a much smoother practice. Like Kriya or maybe Qigong. Not sure yet.

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I'm also active on the Kundalini subreddit, though I've been a member here much longer than that. 

I generally advise against tantric or shamanic techniques, like Breath of Fire, they can really fuck you up if you do them without proper supervision and preparation.

@Leo Gura gave you good advice there, Kriya Yoga is probably the best method out there to smooth out your awakening process and give you an easier ride.

I would also second the advice from @GreenWoods , shaktipat can be of help in cases like yours, when the energy awakes spontaneously and is unbalanced. It also helped in my case, though I did not receive it from a human guru. If you can find a teacher you can visit in person, that would be the best.

I would also recommend Bonnie Greenwell, although she is on a break right now, but Lawrence Edwards still does consultations and he is a trained psychologist and knows what he's doing in the Kundalini field.

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@Boddee tara springette books deal with how to deal with those symptoms. Check her out if it excites you

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