Author: Susan G. Shumsky
Trade Paperback, 284 pages
Publisher: New Page Books
Publication date: May 2003
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According to the introduction to Exploring Chakras: Awaken Your Untapped Energy, the author spent 21 years studying under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation, part of the time in India. This gives her a unique view of Eastern systems like chakras and yoga -- a level of understanding that many in the Western world probably cannot achieve. I know that while the chakras have always interested me, I found most books on the subject I have seen to be either superficial (and generally written by Westerners) or impenetrable (and generally written by someone from the East).
Therefore, I did not hold out a lot of hope for Susan Shumsky's Exploring Chakras. I expected an impenetrable book written by someone from the west who had lived and studied so long in the East that she might as well have been from the orient herself. I was wrong.
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. I was impressed and decided to give the book more attention than I had originally intended.
Exploring Chakras 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.
I liked this book and learned quite a bit from it. However, it has one major problem. It is obviously written as a companion book to the author's Exploring Meditation. Many of the exercises refer to this companion volume for additional information and for meditations. I probably would have got more from Exploring Chakras: Awaken Your Untapped Energy if I had read Exploring Meditation first. Also, since I am not an expert on Eastern techniques, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information in this book, but as I mentioned in the first paragraph, the author's credentials are excellent. If you are interested in learning about the Chakra system, I think this book is an excellent place to begin. You might want to purchase a copy of the companion volume as well.
Reviewed by Randall