Although they are often misunderstood, the chakras are important facets of health and spirituality and when properly attuned can lead to happier and healthier lives. In The Big Book of Chakras and Chakra Healing, Dr. Susan Shumsky delves into the ancient Tantric and Vedic literature to uncover the veiled mysteries of the ages, where the most authentic information about the 7 chakras, 7 subchakras, and the subtle energy system can be found.
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Sarah: Welcome to the Uncensored Empath, a place for us to discuss highly sensitive energy illness, healing, and transformation. My name is Sarah Small, and I’m a life and success coach for empaths who want to create a thriving body, business, and life. Think of this podcast as your no-BS guide to navigating life, health, and entrepreneurship. You’ll get straight to the point, totally holistic tips from me in real-time as I navigate this healing and growth journey right beside you. This is a Soul Fire production.
Today’s guest is Susan Shumsky. She was mentored by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation and the guru of the Beatles and guru of Deepak Chopra for 22 years. She lived in his ashram in India, traveled with him, absorbed the wisdom and timeless practices and spiritual mastery. She has then become a pioneer in the human potential field. She teaches meditation, prayer, affirmation, and intuition worldwide, and has for over 50 years. She’s also the author of 17 bestselling, award-winning and highly acclaimed books. I’m so honored to have her on the show today. Inside of this conversation, we break down the chakra system, but more specifically, the sub-chakras, something you may have never heard of before and was new to me to understand as well. She also discussed how to know when there are blockages and the benefits of having open chakras and sub-chakras and our entire subtle energy field. Then we really dive into what Susan has seen a shift and evolve within the spiritual community, especially with all of her experience, and how women rising and stepping into their power impacts the entire world. Our conversation definitely took a turn that neither of us really expected, but that I think is important to share with this community and for all of us to consider in our lives. So let’s dive in.
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Sarah: Welcome to the show, Susan. I’m super excited to have you on today.
Susan: I’m really happy to be here with you today, Sarah.
Sarah: Wonderful. So we’re going to be talking a little bit about meditations, chakras, and so I’d love to build the base layer, build the foundation for listeners and for anyone who is not familiar even just like what a chakra is and how it affects us in our lives. How do you describe chakras to people who are just learning about energy and energy systems?
Susan: Okay, well, we need to begin with Prana. Prana is life force energy. In China, they call it Chi and in Japan, they call it Qi, but the life force energy is flowing through your subtle body. You have a gross physical body and you also have a subtle body also known as the aura or the auric field. There are five layers of this energy field. First is the physical body, which is called Annamaya kosha, and that means food sheath. That’s because it’s made of food, sustained by food, and becomes food for something else after we’re gone. And then there’s the vital energy sheath also known as the pranamaya kosha made of prana. That’s where the life force energy is flowing through that subtle body. Then there is the Manomaya kosha, which is your mental, emotional body. There is the Vijñānamaya kosha, which is your intellect/ego body. There is the Anandamaya kosha, which is the causal body.
Now one of these layers or sheaths is that vital energy body, and that’s where prana is flowing through specific pathways that are called Nadi. In China, they call them Meridian. So you might be more familiar with that term, but nadi N-A-D-I the subtle energy is flowing through that, and then those nadis come together and form plexuses, and the plexuses are what we call Chakra, and chakra means ‘wheel’ in Sanskrit. It’s a wheel. It has the hub of subtle energy and it has spokes that are radiations of subtle energy, so that’s what a chakra is. And the prana and the chakra system, that is what is keeping you alive. In the ancient scriptures of India, it is said that when Prana is in the body, that is what is defined as life, and when Prana leaves the body, that is what is defined as death. So Prana is what gives you motion and gives you heat, and the chakra, the seven major chakras and then seven other chakras, that is what is regulating and keeping your body going. So strangely enough, this invisible nonphysical field of energy is where life exists. It does not exist in your gross physical body. It exists in your subtle body. So that energy field is the chakra system.
Sarah: Yeah, that’s a really beautiful explanation. And I think that the chakras, in general, have become talked about more frequently, more often, but not very often do we go back to the root of what are we actually talking about., what does this actually mean. If our human eyes could see the subtle energy body, what would that look like? And how is it impacting our health, our wellness, our emotions, the intellect, the ego, the causal body like you were just mentioning, and so we also hear a lot around an imbalanced chakra – open, close, overactive, or underactive. What does that mean to you?
Susan: The chakras are affected by our thoughts, by our emotions, by our feelings, by what we’ve ingested, by what comes out of our mouth, by our speech, by our actions. All of these affect this subtle energy field and the subtle energy field in turn affects the body. If you were to dissect a corpse, you would not find a chakra or a nadi or Meridian anywhere. That’s because it is in this other dimension and it is definitely a subtle body. So you know about the near-death experience where people leave their body and they have an experience of the light and they go through the tunnel, and often when a near-death experience when they’re first having it, what they do is they a catapult out of their body, and they may be up on the ceiling watching themselves being resuscitated by the doctors and whoever. Who was watching the body? If the senses were in the body, if our ability to perceive was inside the body, then you couldn’t have a near-death experience where you saw yourself. So that subtle body is where all the action is. That’s where your senses are; that’s where you’re able to perceive and that’s where the Prana is that’s keeping you alive.
Sarah: You know, that reminds me of the majority of my listeners also identify as empaths, and it helps us understand also why you don’t have to be touching somebody to pick up on their energy. So our subtle bodies are, as I understand it, our subtle bodies are interacting with each other. It’s not literally that you’re always physically touching somebody to pick up their energy.
Susan: Exactly. That’s why remote healing works. That’s why people can pick up psychically. That’s why people can read other people. So, yeah, there’s this incredible, subtle field of energy that not everybody is aware of. In fact, maybe they’re small, but actually now that I think about it, everyone is aware of subtle energy. For example, if you walk into a party, you’re going to sense different things about different people at that party. Some people you’re going to feel, oh, they’re really uptight. Other people, oh, they’re really open and warm. Oh, this person seems really depressed. You can pick up on it right away. You don’t have to be psychic to do that. I think everybody does that. Also, you can walk into a building and sometimes you get a really creepy vibe and sometimes you get a really uplifting vibe. So that is reading subtle energy also.
Sarah: Yeah, and I think that that’s a great example that we can all relate to. We all do feel subtle energy, whether we identify it or label it as that or not. It’s constantly happening in our life. And so when we talk about at least the basic Chakra system, the main seven chakras, do we understand where there may be imbalances?
Susan: Well, you will feel imbalances through your thoughts, through your emotions. You might have sexual issues. That would be the second or pelvic chakra. You might have difficulty with will or with ego like that. That would be the third chakra. The fourth, you might have difficulties in the heart area, romance, love. The throat chakra – expression; might be feeling inhibited, unable to express yourself. Third eye chakra blocked when it comes to subtle experiences, blocked when it comes to psychic experiences. Crown chakra, well, just disconnected, not feeling oneness, not feeling wholeness. So these indicate where there are blockages in the chakra or where the chakras are muddy and not clear.
Sarah: Yeah. Yeah. I teach a little bit about this in one of my courses, and I explain it as like symptomology, where there are signs you can pick up on, feelings you can pick up on that would indicate that you may have an imbalance, or be balanced in any of those given seven main chakra centers. And so what is then the benefit of having open and balanced chakra energy for your livelihood, your vitality, your wellness overall?
Susan: Well, when there’s more Prana flowing through your subtle body, you become more charismatic. You become more magnetic. People want to be around you. You radiate love and happiness and joy into the environment. That benefits not only yourself and it benefits the entire planet because we are radiating this energy, this positive energy into the environment, and that contributes to world peace actually.
Sarah: That’s a really good reminder for the people who feel like self-care is selfish or that they should put themselves last. That actually by taking care of ourselves and our energy and getting balanced within our own subtle energy body, our chakra system, there is a ripple effect that is much, much greater than we may realize of being part of the collective consciousness of helping with world peace, etcetera.
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Sarah: Oftentimes, the word Kundalini and Kundalini awakening, Kundalini rise comes up when we talk about really opening our energy channels up and finding that balance, find that opening, and oftentimes that experience of Kundalini rise or Kundalini awakening can be a little uncomfortable for people. So what’s happening in the body when that happens and how can we invite that into our lives with some ease?
Susan: Okay. So Kundalini – Kunda means ‘coiled up’, the curled up or coiled-up energy, and it’s often likened to a serpent that’s curled up and asleep and is lodged in what’s called root bulb, which is below the root chakra. And so that curled up energy in average individuals is asleep. It has not awakened yet. Anyone who is listening to this podcast, your Kundalini is already awakened to some degree, or you would not even be interested in this topic. The asleep Kundalini is for people who are only interested in the material world and have no interest whatsoever in higher pursuits, even intellectual pursuits. So Kundalini is a type of Pranic energy, that’s spiritual Pranic energy, and remember Prana means ‘life force energy,’ so that to rise through spiritual practices. And when it rises, it flows through a particular nadi called Sushumna Nadi. That nadi goes through the middle of your spinal canal, but remember, it’s not in your physical body. All of these things that we’re talking about are in the subtle body. So it flows up through this nadi and goes all the way from the base of your spine to the top of your head, and as it does that, it wakens up the chakras along the way. It clears and clarifies the chakras along the way. If there is resistance in this Sushumna Nadi, you can experience discomfort. You might even feel like you’re on fire, or you might feel that there’s some uncomfortable energy flowing up.
So in order to have a clear type of Kundalini awakening, it’s a good idea to practice meditation. Also breathing exercises known as pranayama, also the Bundas, which are muscular locks, which are ancient yoga exercises. All of these exercises are taught in my book, The Big Book of Chakras and Chakra Healing.
Sarah: Beautiful. And you also talk about within or related to the seven main chakras, seven sub-chakras. And I think that’s something that not everyone has come upon yet in maybe their journey into the subtle energy body and understanding what chakras are. So can you explain to us what the sub-chakras are?
Susan: Well, frankly, I didn’t know about them either until the time when my publisher asked me to write my first book about chakras, which was called Exploring Chakras, and that came out in 2003. When they told me to write the book, which by the way, I was not interested in chakras at all, even though I’ve been meditating since 1967. I was not interested in that topic. What I did is I went to the ancient scriptures of India to find the most authentic information that I could find about the subject, and I dove into ancient Vedic and Tantric scriptures and I found this incredible information, so detailed about the chakras and so I wrote this book, now it’s called The Big Book of Chakras and Chakra Healing, which is a most recent edition. And I found that there were seven major chakras, which everybody already knew about those obviously, and then there were these other sub-chakras. So I described them in great detail in the book.
Now the sub-chakras include the Hrit chakra, which is right below the Anahata, which is the heart chakra. There’s the Talu chakra, which is in the back of your throat in the uvula area. There is the manas chakra, which is in the middle of your head, near the third eye chakra. Your third eye chakra is in your pineal gland, and the manas chakra is in the third ventricle. And then there’s the Indu chakra, which is nearby the manas chakra. The manas chakra is related to your mental body. Indu chakra is related to your intellect, ego, body, and the Nirvana chakra, which is the top of the head between the skull at the top of the head. And then there’s the guru chakra that’s right above your head. Then there’s that crown in between that. And then above that is the Bindu point.
So all of these chakras are related to subtle energies, subtle bodies. They’re also related, for example, the Talu chakra is related to the immortal nectar, the Amrita, or immortal nectar. The Hrit chakra is involved with devotion to God. So these sub-chakras are equally important to these seven major chakras, the major chakras regulating your body mostly, but also, of course, the third eye and the crown having to do with higher consciousness.
Sarah: Yeah. So I’d love to talk about this third eye more specifically because I think that is the one that gets brought up most often when we talk about deepening our spiritual connection, our connection to our higher self. I also speak to so many people who feel like they’re blocked off like they’re not connected to their intuition or they have doubts about whether that’s available to them if they can connect to their intuition. So how would you respond to somebody who has that doubt and what tips do you have for awakening the third eye?
Susan: Okay. So the third eye is the eye of illumination. It is, as I said, connected to the pineal gland, and it is the place from which we receive inner teaching, intuition. The teacher resides there. Every one of our seven major chakras has a planet associated with it. The third eye chakra has the planet Jupiter associated with it. And Jupiter, the Sanskrit word for Jupiter is guru. That’s the word for the planet Jupiter.
Sarah: I never knew that.
Susan: The inner guru resides there in your third eye. So your inner teacher is there, also clairvoyant, clairaudient, clairsentient abilities. What I call subtle sensory perception or supersensory perception is there. So the easiest way to open the third eye is through meditation. That’s the easiest way is to begin to experience your inner teacher, your inner guru, and start to have a dialogue with your inner guru. In other words, you know, people go into deep meditation, and then they’re having this transcendental experience, this unbounded awareness or consciousness, but what people generally don’t do when they get into that deep meditative state, would be to ask something. Ask. Everything that I teach is based upon one principle, and that is ask and it shall be given unto you. So if you start asking questions of your inner teacher… first of all, call upon an inner teacher to help you. Call upon by name an inner teacher to help you to go deep in meditation, and to help you with whatever it is you want to experience such as inner peace, divine love, divine light, an answer to a question, advice about a problem. All these things you can ask for, and then take a big deep breath and do what I call the ‘do nothing’ program. That means do nothing, nothing, and less than nothing, and then the answer will occur to you either through vision, some words coming into your mind, or feeling. Those are the three ways – clairvoyance, clairaudience, or clairsentient. So by asking, you’ll receive and you’ll begin this dialogue. When you have this dialogue, you’ll be able to connect with your inner teacher and have this direct contact, and that will open your third eye more than any other practice you could do. Even though in my book The Big Book of Chakras and Chakra Healing, I give you all kinds of methods to do that. But in reality, my other book, Third Eye Meditations will really help you to open that third eye through meditation.
Sarah: Yeah. Yeah. I found in my own journey that prioritizing that stillness, it’s not nothingness. I think so many people are afraid of meditation because they think they’re not doing it right, or it’s going to be almost scary or that the unknown of what could come up and what could be presented to them. But I think what people will find when they sit down and they commit to a meditation practice is that quiet also allows you to open yourself up to so much divine wisdom and answers in your life that when we’re going about our day and checking off our to-do list and staying busy, we’re just simply not opening ourselves up to receive. And so it does sometimes require that stillness of getting quiet, of taking the deep breaths, of grounding yourself, calling forth, like you said, a guide and asking questions. We’re allowed to ask questions in this process. I think people forget that a lot too, and then we open ourselves up to so many more answers than were previously available to us. There’s really nothing scary about it. Instead, if you’re looking to awaken your intuition, open up your third eye, it’s a really important part of that process.
Susan: Yes. There is the opposite of scary. In fact, it’s the most comforting thing you can ever experience is to communicate with your inner teacher, because you will feel so much love and you’ll feel that you’re no longer alone. That is the most incredible experience. Although I lived in an ashram for over two decades with my guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, I still felt lonely. I was not connecting to an inner teacher on a personal level through divine love. I was not experiencing that personal connection with spirit with a capital S through divine love. Once I opened up that channel, I was never alone again, and I felt so much comfort and solace anytime I would connect with this inner teacher or inner teachers.
Sarah: And it’s interesting. In society, there’s just so many more means of communication and social media today than there was 20 or even 40 or 50 years ago, and even though there are more modes and methods of communication, I think more than ever people feel alone and they feel isolated in their experience or in their thoughts or in their feelings. And what you’re describing is just a reminder that we’re never alone and if we sit in meditation, which may seem on the exterior like this solo process, it’s actually an opportunity to feel less alone and to feel more connected.
Susan: Yes. Unfortunately, social media – which is kind of strange – social media is isolating us. It’s supposed to connect us, but it isn’t. People are no longer having a face to face conversation. They have lost the art of conversation. So everything is in these abbreviated LOLs and so on.
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Sarah: You mentioned being mentored by Maharishi and for 22 years, who is the founder of Transcendental Meditation and has also been the guru for the Beatles, the guru of Deepak Chopra, some really amazing people in this world, including yourself. So much time has passed since then. What have you seen transform and shift within the spiritual development world? To me, it seems so much more mainstream and common these days. But since you’ve been along for this ride for so long, what have you seen shift? I’m so interested to get your perspective because it’s not like you started meditating last year. You’ve been doing this a long, long time. So what have you seen shift and evolve within the spiritual community over all this time?
Susan: Yeah, I’m really glad you asked that question Sarah because when Maharishi Mahesh Yogi first arrived on the shores of America in 1959, there was no meditation. There was no mantra. There was no yoga. There were no yoga classes. There were no yoga studios. There was nothing really having to do with Eastern wisdom or Eastern philosophy, and within 10 years, Maharishi made meditation a household word. He made mantra a household word, and since then the world has dramatically changed. Back in the 20th century, basically the world was a bloodbath. World War 1 – 40 million people killed. World War 2 – 71 million people killed in that war. Other wars, Vietnam, all the wars of the 20th century, millions and millions of soldiers came home in body bags. We can’t even imagine that today. It’s so far out of our realm of experience. And today we have yoga studios on every corner. We have martial arts. We have people meditating. It used to take months and years for people to have the kind of experiences in meditation that today people can have in a few minutes. The vibration of the planet has increased to such a huge extent that we are now on a completely different planet. This is a different world, and the atmosphere is so rarefied now. A lot of the astrocloud negative energy has already disappeared from this planet, from what it used to be. People don’t know that because they weren’t alive back then to actually witness what it was like. Today, we are really in a very bright, brilliant, highly evolved planet.
Sarah: And it seems like there is such a need for people to step into their power, for especially women to come forth into their voice and for us to increase our frequency, increase our vibration as individuals. But like we were talking about before, it affects the collective consciousness. It affects the planet as a whole. Do you see that happening? Do you feel like there is this call, almost magnetism towards these practices for any reason?
Susan: That’s another thing that people don’t realize what it was like in the 20th century. Women were definitely second class. I mean, I was raised you don’t have to really get a great profession because you will just get married anyway. It’s not so important, your education. I mean, really! Women were considered, they are going to be housewives, so why bother? And also women were treated as second class by men and obviously, and their salaries were horrendous compared to men, and also they were abused and used as sexual objects. I mean, still women are, but you couldn’t even walk down the street without getting wolf whistles back then. Wherever you would go, you would be harassed. It was just commonplace. Rape was commonplace, by the way. Just about everybody had had an experience of rape. I guess that’s an exaggeration, but let’s say a much higher percentage of people we’re getting raped. The world today is really different. I mean, there were no women on juries. Can you imagine that? Women were not even allowed to vote before the 20th century. So it’s just a different world and we’ve come up so much now. And I’m a big, obviously women’s lib person. I always was. And I really believe in equality of the sexes and Ruth Bader Ginsburg! Wow! Thank you, Ruth.
Susan: Thank you.
Sarah: What do you think that the impact on the world is of all these women now rising, like demanding the same salary as men, putting a profession before being seen as, Oh, you’re just going to drop out of that profession to stay at home so we’re not going to pay you as much, and what do you see the impact of women rising and stepping into their power being?
Susan: Well, once women feel a little more comfortable and once they have more confidence, let’s put it that way, then I think that it’s going to create a shift in the world where the feminine energy will be more pervasive and there will be a higher reduction in crime, war, the types of things that women generally are not interested in – crime and those types of things, aggression, inequality. And so I think the world’s going to become more of a loving, benevolent, brotherly love type of place with women in power, but that will happen after women get their self-confidence, because right now they feel like they have to be tough.
Sarah: You’re right.
Susan: And being tough is not going to get us anywhere. We have to be women. We have to be that loving energy that we already are, and not try to compete or be like a man. Don’t try to be like a man. That’s not going to work.
Sarah: That’s so interesting you bring that up because I find that there’s a very common theme in the women that I work with, and I work with primarily women in my business, and many of them come to me having been raised and taught that being within their own masculine energy was more desirable and would get them more success, more results, the things they wanted in their life and that has led to extreme burnout, even chronic illness, and autoimmune disease. And now it’s almost like, especially women in my own generation are stopping to press pause and go, wait, this isn’t working for me. Acting only in my masculine energy because I thought that’s what I needed to do in a more patriarchal world is actually not being true to who I am. And it’s really like disowning my own feminine, softer, nurturing energy that is intuitive and is so wise and divine and sensual. And it’s almost like myself and many of the women that I work with are relearning how to tap into not only the chakra system and the whole subtle energy body we’ve been talking about but also our feminine energy to relearn what does it look like to embrace this? What does that mean for me, look like for me in my life and in my body? And I think it’s going to keep growing and growing and growing, and more of us are going to reclaim our feminine energy as we do move into the future. That’s just my own personal prediction.
Susan: No, I agree. I agree. The women, like I said, they have to be confident in their femininity.
Sarah: Yeah, and I think there’s a lot more examples of role models that are coming out too of women who are confident in their feminine like you just mentioned. Maybe not as many as we’d like to see quite yet, but I certainly follow some women on social media who are just female powerhouses and super comfortable in their feminine energy, running their business from a more feminine perspective, and it’s very inspirational. It’s admiring for me to look at as a fellow female entrepreneur and see them doing it and fully owning that part of them.
Susan: Absolutely. And men need to also own their feminine side.
Sarah: I totally agree.
Susan: It’s really rough on men. Men have a rough time because many of them were raised that they have to be tough all the time. They can’t show emotion, but they have to be this steely kind of energy. They’re not allowed to cry in public. They’re not allowed to show any weakness or vulnerability. That is rough.
Sarah: That is.
Susan: And they have to feel like they have to wear this facade all the time, their whole life. Never really break down or show that kind of emotion that is really natural for them to show.
Sarah: Yeah. I see that in my own father. Growing up, it was always like I have everything together. I’m going to take care of my family kind of exterior and even facade at times when he probably was feeling a lot of emotion or going through some really hard financial times in our family or the divorce he had with my mother. But it seemed like he always had this ‘I’m okay. It’s all going to be okay’ face on. And after I lost my brother, Jordan, and then eventually lost my brother Joe as well, it was like I saw this completely other side of my father that I had never seen before. It was in the grief and the loss that all of a sudden, that facade came down and I had a similar facade come down for me too. But for him as his daughter witnessing, it was like, I saw my dad cry. I saw my dad talk about how sad and heartbroken he was. I saw him play music that brought up emotions and we would all cry together. And it was so freaking refreshing as his daughter to be like, Oh, I love seeing my father show this other side of him that’s always been there, but he may not have felt comfortable showing to the world. And I hope that we can give permission to all men today to be able to express that through themselves as well.
Susan: Yes, I agree wholeheartedly.
Sarah: Well, thank you, Susan. And I just want to end by recapping, so where can people get resources? Where do they start if they feel like they have imbalances in their own subtle energy system, what tips can you give them as takeaways to be able to maybe take action, or even to really solidify some of the points that we’ve talked about in today’s conversation?
Susan: Yeah. So my website is www.drsusan.org, and I have another website that is www.divinetravels.com. That’s plural on the travels. Those are my websites. You can get my books anywhere. The Big Book of Chakras and Chakra Healing is one of my latest books, and the other one is Third Eye Meditations that will help you to awaken your third eye by doing what I call the ‘do nothing’ program. That means just reading the meditations from the book, or even better is to record those meditations on a device and then play it back as you’re sitting comfortably with eyes closed in a very comfortable, cushy environment and being comfortable with meditation. The most important thing about meditation is comfort. Be comfortable. You don’t have to sit rigid with in the middle of the floor in Lotus position. In fact, that’s not going to enhance your meditation. Comfort is really important so that you can go into the deep meditative state and experience transcendental consciousness and experience higher states, and also have your dialogue with Spirit. Have a dialogue with your inner teacher. The best way to awaken the third eye – meditation. That’s the way to go.
Sarah: Amazing. I encourage everyone to check out the third eye meditations. If they don’t know where to start with meditation, that sounds like a really great place, and you’ve just put together such an amazing collection of resources for all of us, Susan. Thank you so much for being on the show today. I appreciate your time and just sharing your wisdom.
Susan: Well, thanks for inviting me. I really enjoyed speaking to you today, Sarah, especially about women’s Lib. That was a really fascinating conversation.
Sarah: I didn’t know we were going to go there, but I’m glad we did. I think it’s really important to talk about. Thank you again.
Thank you so much for tuning into today’s episode. If you loved it, take a screenshot, share it on social media. Tell your friends, tag me at the Uncensored Empath. I’ll reshare it as well. And as always, thank you so much for your love and your support. I’ll see you in the next episode.
Susan Shumsky’s books
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June 12, 2020