Book: Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith

eastern body, western mindAnodea Judith is an expert on Chakras, and in this book she integrates this model with similar concepts on growth and levels of consciousness as they’ve developed in various Western schools of philosophy and psychology in her book Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self.  She spends a thorough fifty pages or so on each of the seven chakras, or energy-centers, that each provide a lens for considering one’s way of being.  These lenses are survival, sexuality, power, love, communication, intuition, and cognition, respectively, and the way she elaborates on each is very enjoyable to read, and could provide many insights to ways we become out of balance.  There’s so much in here.

Words for Yogis (& artists):

1) A good explanation of “energy,” a word that seems to come up a lot: In order to understand a human being, we have to examine the flow of energy through the system.  We can think of this energy as excitement, charge, attention, awareness, or simply the life force. (Some spiritual systems describe it as chi, ki, or prana.)  Our understanding of the chakras comes from a pattern analysis of energy flowing through a person’s body, behavior and environment.” (Page 9)

2) Our energy would be said to move between consciousness and the body.  “When energetic contact is made through the body, it is called grounding.  Grounding comes from the solid contact we make with the earth, especially through our feet and legs.  It is rooted in sensation, feeling, action, and the solidity of the material world.  Grounding provides a connection that makes us feel safe, alive, centered in ourselves, and rooted in our environment.” (Page 12)

3) One character structure, The Creative, is also called The Schizoid, and may be most likely to have first chakra imbalances: “The creative character questions her right to be here, the first of our seven rights.  Creative types do not feel they have the right to take up space or attend to their physical needs.  They tend to deny their own bodies, ignoring signals of hunger, thirst, or fatigue.” (Page 84) Sound familiar?  Yoga can be a very powerful tool to get back in the body and to be more mindful of physical needs.

I love what she says about the word “grounding.”  It fits well for this blog and the way I teach and practice myself.  And when I saw that The Creative was described as having trouble finding balance in the first chakra, my interest in combining artistic experience with a grounding style of yoga seemed to really make sense. I checked this book out of the library over and over so I eventually decided to buy it. 
If you’re looking to get the book for yourself, used copies are pretty inexpensive – same with the kindle version!  I’m happy to lend students mine, too.