Shumsky starts out explaining the basics: what the kundalini force is, what a chakra is, what prana is, what yoga is, etc. These are explained both simply and directly, in clear and understandable language -- even if the text is sprinkled with many foreign words. The book is divided into three parts. The first third of the book deals with the very basics. It discusses prana, kundalini, your subtle bodies and their relationship to the macrocosm. You don't actually get to the details of the chakras until page 104. Shumsky managed to make all this background material interesting -- helped by numerous illustrations and charts. The second part of the book deals with understanding and awakening your chakras. A chapter is devoted to each chakra, which allows for a fairly detailed introduction. Each chapter includes basic exercises to open that chakra. The final section of the book discusses awakening and using kundalini and describes the techniques mentioned in the the exercises for opening chakras in the second section.
The chakras (Sanskrit for 'wheels') are vortexes of intense pranic energy (p59 & p105) which form an integral part of the subtle body and are equivalent to our auric field -- a phenomenon not measurable by scientific means, but knowable through clairvoyant sense perception. There are a great many of these chakras , generally running up the physical body's spinal column, and might be likened to the subtle body's tube stations on an underground line. The main line is the Kundalini energy, which generally lies dormant at the bottom of the line, waiting for its chance to rise to the subtle body's main terminal located above the head. The train needs to be controlled and the network is very elaborate - we learn of a multitude of pranas, nadis (72,000 of them!!) and chakras. Shumsky reassures us that we can learn to control pranic flow within the subtle body by various Yoga techniques, with a view to achieving harmonious balance:
"For optimum health, the energies governed by ida and pingala must be balanced. Too much objectivity, dynamism, and physical activity stress the body beyond its limits... Too much subjectivity, passivity, thought and internal brooding can cause neurosis, depression, even insanity...Thus it is significant that kundalini, unifier of all divergent energies, rises up sushmna nadi, the middle path, balanced between ida and pingala, inner and outer, absolute and relative, yin and yang, nirvana and samsara." (p67)
Oddly, this book is not as big as the others in the series being 7x9 instead of 8.5x10 (I know, this is pedantic), I also feel compelled to note that this is a new edition of The Power of Chakras, published in 2014, which was a new edition of Exploring Chakras, published in 2003. I own Exploring Chakras and frankly I cannot see much difference in the text between the two -- even the images are the same. If you don't own wither book, this is actually a good book.
~review by Lisa Mc Sherry
Author: Susan Shumsky
Red Wheel Weiser, 2019
pp. 304, 24.95
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