Her breath in our holy bones : an intuitive inquiry into the lived experience of kundalini awakenings in Aotearoa, New Zealand from a critical health psychology perspective : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the degree of Master of Science in Health Psychology at Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand

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This study explored the lived experience of kundalini awakening in Aotearoa, New Zealand, from a critical health psychology perspective using intuitive inquiry, a five-cycle hermeneutical approach to research grounded in feminist theory, which straddles constructivist and transformative worldviews. Using a tripartite transition model that showed change over time, Te Whare Tapa Whā (a Māori holistic model of health) and yogic theory, this research found kundalini awakenings to be a normal manifestation of embodied psycho-spiritual growth. Eight individuals from New Zealand who self-identified as having experienced a kundalini awakening were interviewed using semi-structured interviews. Key themes of this research indicated that (a) early spiritual experiences, (b) seeking or questioning natures, (c) possible genetic predispositions and (d) smaller kundalini experiences foreshadowed later kundalini awakenings. The effable catalysts to kundalini awakening included (a) energetic or spiritual healing modalities, (b) meditation practices, (c) engaging with spiritual literature, and (d) kundalini yoga. The initial or ‘during’ stages of kundalini awakening were on a spectrum from gradual to explosive that manifested in a range of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual phenomena synonymous with the kundalini literature. After the initial kundalini awakening, individuals described (a) ongoing kundalini phenomena and (b) changes in self- orientation and self-substantiation. These changes had far-reaching implications in all life domains but ultimately led to (a) feeling called to service, (b) increased feelings of compassion towards the self and others, (c) profound changes in worldview, and (d) an increased desire for connection and authenticity. With no personal conceptual frameworks from which to understand their embodied psycho- spiritual transformations and situated within a culture that tends not to understand kundalini awakenings, kundalini experiencers (a) had difficulty finding spiritually competent support, (b) were frequently pathologized or dismissed, and consequently, (c) were reluctant to disclose their experiences in traditional health care settings. Expanding our scientific paradigms to include a broader range of knowledge systems and improved spiritual competency education within the biomedical setting could lead to better support for those experiencing kundalini awakening and perhaps further elucidate the healing potential inherent in Shakti-Kundalini.