Interview with Cyndi Dale – Chakra Expert and Author of The Subtle Body
A couple of weeks ago I reviewed The Subtle Body: An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy by Cyndi Dale. If you read the review, you know I REALLY liked this book. Cyndi agreed to a phone interview with me, and I found talking with her just as fascinating as reading her book. We discussed how she went about researching this material, the many differences in energetic anatomy systems that she found, her view of the chakras, and – my favorite – the unique role of the second chakra in women, including how it relates to motherhood. While I had originally planned to post this interview after I had started my Mystic Spirituality for Women series, I liked it so much, and found it so relevant, that I decided to go ahead and post it now.
This printed interview is an abridged and edited version of the full interview. I hadn’t originally planned to post the full audio file, but Cyndi agreed to it and there is so much interesting material that I couldn’t cover it all here, so I’ve posted the podcast at the end. Enjoy, and feel free to post questions, comments and additional resources.
1. This must have been a huge undertaking, what led you to take on this project?
I have always wanted a book like this for myself, to use as a reference in my own practice, but never found a single source that combined this kind of information. So I really set out to write the book that I would want to have and use. Fortunately, the people over at Sounds True Publishing had wanted to do an encyclopedia of energetic anatomy for some time, and they were very open to whatever I wanted to include. And one of my goals was to create something anyone could understand, including someone who knew nothing about acupuncture, or chakras, or even electricity. I wanted to make the scientific information accessible and useful to anyone. But I also wanted it to be useful to experienced practitioners, whether they were medical doctors or energy healers.
It did involve a huge compilation of information. I don’t think a single source provided even a tenth of the information in any one section of the book. I really wanted to look back over five thousand years of human history, at all these different traditions, and say ‘look how they are different, but look what they have in common – a single word, energy.’
2. I have certainly never found anything else like it, and I thank you for creating it. I am not a healer, but think this is a tremendously valuable book for anyone interested in this topic, especially because it combines so many different traditions. How did you go about researching all of this, and what did you learn?
One of the surprising things was how much I learned about the world’s different chakra systems. Chakras are my area of expertise, but I hadn’t realized how much variation there was out there, and how hard it would be gather info on some. I hadn’t realized how much variation there was in the traditional Indian or Hindu based systems that most of us learn here in the West. Most of us here have been taught that there are seven chakras, and with a few variations, that is what everyone knows. But when you look deeper into the East, at the Tibetan systems, and the Tantric systems, you can find systems that focus on only three, or even one with as many as twenty-four chakras.
Over time, each lineage and teacher focused on what they thought was the most important, and tailored their chakra system to their own purposes. And they didn’t always write it all down. Some of these chakra systems, I would be reading a book, and it would say ‘there are eight chakras in this system’ and then the book would only describe four. So much of the teachings have been done orally, and for different purposes, so there isn’t a universal agreement, even within traditional sources, on the subject. So there was a lot of culling involved, and I can see why no one had tried to compile all this before. By contrast, the traditional Chinese and Japanese meridian systems are pretty systematic and well-documented.
3. Yes, all the different chakra mappings from different traditions was one of my favorite parts of the book. How did you gather information on some of the more obscure ones, like the Cherokee and Mayan systems?
Well, when it comes to the chakras especially, I have been an avid reader on this topic for decades. As a child I was very intuitive, but I shut that down at about twelve, and opened back up in my early twenties, and since that time have been incessant about gathering information about the chakras, auric fields, intuition, divination, and other energy-related topics. So I had information on many of these systems in my library, and just had to dig a little deeper to get more info. The Mayan system for example, I had probably known about for twenty or twenty-five years from reading, and had also traveled down to the area to receive teachings directly from teachers and shamans.
4. So how about the scientific material, the information on physics and related scientific research that you also include in the book – was that information new to you or had you also been studying that for a long time?
No, it wasn’t new to me. About fifteen years ago I began to wonder if everything I was studying and doing was just so much New Age mumbo-jumbo, or whether there was some scientific validity to what was going on. I learned about the Hunt study, by Dr. Valerie Hunt, a UCLA professor who did research on the chakras. Since that time I have had a burning interest in gathering all the scientific information I could related to my areas of interest. A lot of that drive is personal, because growing up I was very intuitive, and was often told I was weird, or making things up, etc. And I came from a family with several medical doctors, so I was always kind of the black sheep. So subconsciously I do think I have been driven even more to find these kinds of scientific studies, so that I can say, ‘look, there really is something to this, this is science.’ And in fact, not only is there science about these invisible phenomena, but more and more science is saying the invisible drives the visible.
I am not against allopathic medicine at all, that is why I put in the physical anatomy section of the book. But to me, that is just the tip of the iceberg, just what we can see. If something can come out of the energetic realms to help us develop new ways of diagnosing people, or doing surgery, or whatever, then that can really help people. And these are the same worlds – the world of the meridians and chakras is the same world as the one we knock-on and call ‘allopathic’ or ‘concrete’ or ‘real.’ It’s the same world, and only science can explain that. Spirituality helps us experience it, but only science can help us explain it.
5. Yes, I couldn’t agree more, these two worlds are starting to come together. Which raises another interesting question, did you find a lot of difference between the systems derived for healing purposes and those derived for spiritual purposes?
Yes, I did. The meridian systems are very body-based, and so are well-diagrammed and universally agreed upon. And there is more research supporting the use of those systems. But most of the chakra systems have been developed within the context of spiritual teachings, and aren’t very body-based. Part of my life’s work has been to make chakra work more body-based, and actually that has bothered some people. In the past, when I was presenting work on using the chakras for aiding relationships, or manifesting abundance, people were offended by that. They said ‘this is an enlightenment system’. So that was a concern in this book too. I knew some of the kundalini teachings with a spiritual heritage have traditionally been kept private, and that there would be people that would say it was dangerous for me to make these so readily available.
6. Yes, I have run across that attitude too sometimes, in my own chakra meditation teaching. But I am starting to think that some of these things that might have been dangerous or risky in the past are not anymore, because of the heaviness of today’s world.
Yes, that’s a good point. In today’s world, we need every source of light, and passion, and compassion, that we can get to break through. We’ve had enough breakdown recently, we need a breakthrough. So maybe some of these techniques that in the past were considered only safe in the hands of a few are for us all now. We all need to be enlightened now. There’s just no turning around anymore. I think it’s exciting to put so-called ‘ancient knowledge’ or ‘hidden knowledge’ in people’s hands and minds. Because this really is ‘the secret’. The ‘secret’ isn’t wrapped up into some single law, the law of attraction…it’s really all these teachings. And this is really what this book is supposed to be doing, to be making that knowledge available.
7. I think it is a very empowering book in that way. Another question I wanted to ask you about regarding chakras was when you write that although most traditions discuss them as wheels of light, from a psychic’s point of view they are more like loosely connected bands of waves. Can you talk more about that?
Well basically in the world there are particles, or little dots of energy, and waves, or bands of moving energy, and then there is energy like light or photons that are both particles and waves. Chakras are able to convert waves of energy into particles and particles into waves. So chakras that are in the body, that center in the body, are almost like a little particle, but that particle emanates waves – waves and waves of energy. And chakras are able to read or hook into bands of waves that hook into the right vibratory level, and bring those into the system, into the body, and into different parts of us as well. So I think it’s a mistake that people just think of them as conical wheels. The ‘wheels’ are made out of these spectrums of streaming bands of energy. And not only do they emanate to the front and back, if you really look at it, the waves go sideways as well. There are bands of energy that go off the chakras that aren’t the auric fields and go out to the sides – and up and down for that matter.
8. It’s like they are a whole data collection system.
That’s really what they are – data collection, data storage, data interpretation. And information is only as good as what you know how to do with it. So that’s part of the chakra healing process – figuring out what good ‘software’ programs we have in there, and what bad ones, and how can we convert the bad ones. And then we can go a step further and say, ‘what latent programs do we have?’ What programs are programs that ‘came in’ with me, you could say, the ‘spirit’ programs, because those are stored on the inside of the chakras too.
9. Yes, fascinating. Ok, we are running short on time and I have to ask you a question that is personally important to me, regarding the second chakra. I feel like the second chakra functions differently in men and in women, and I haven’t been able to find much information on this. Do you think this is the case, and if so, have you come across anything on this?
I love it! In my first book, New Chakra Healing, which is actually getting reissued in July with more material, I actually do talk a bit about this. It came about because in my own healing work I kept seeing that women’s and men’s second chakras were different. Then years ago I read one of the Carlos Casteneda books, and he talks about the idea that women have an entire universe inside of their uterus. That the uterus itself is like a mini-universe, and it mirrors the outer universe. And because historically women are used to being treated like nothing, because on the outside they have had little, they have actually learned how to travel on the inward planes through this universe, whether in dreams or visions or other means.
So I personally believe that the seat of the kundalini in women is their second chakra. It has to of course incorporate the first chakra, but in women the second chakra initiates it. Which means that women really initiate [the kundalini rising] through second chakra areas such as feelings, emotions, the maternal instinct, and the desire to connect, much more than the desire to individuate [which is associated with the first chakra.] So these chakras are completely different for men and for women. And I think women’s power center is actually the second chakra, not the first chakra.
10. That’s exactly what I think! But I haven’t been able to find any support for that in classical texts. Have you, or do you think they were all written by men and so the information is just not there?
I think they were all written by men, I haven’t found it in any of the classical texts either. The only thing I ever found were the Castenada references. Women haven’t written – they know these things, but haven’t written them. It wasn’t safe – it wasn’t that long ago that women with visions or strong feelings were taken to the hospitals to have their uteruses removed, because they were ‘hysterical’ – that’s the ‘hysterectomy.’ If you look at history, until recently it hasn’t been safe for women to show these second chakra powers. The only other resource I can think of is Diane Stein, she’s written a lot of books about psychic abilities in women, and may talk about this a bit, but not so much from a technical perspective – the energy anatomy perspective.
11. Yes, well and for me my interest in this was really triggered by motherhood. At the point I had kids, at 37, I had already been doing chakra meditation for 15 years, and it took me a long time after the birth of my first child to figure out how to regather my second chakra, and still allow a healthy connection from it to my child. I feel like there is this whole tantric motherhood aspect that needs to be discovered and addressed.
Yes. I had a child first at 28 and then at 39, and I have worked with a lot of pregnant women, and based on my experience I started to track what I call the ‘cords’, a maternal cord between mother and child. I talk about this in the upcoming new edition of New Chakra Healing. It’s like an umbilical energetic cord. And it gradually resides over time, first at 3 months, then at 6 months, etc. Women are often shocked, they feel like they can’t do the things they used to do, and it’s because some of the energy is going to the child. And I don’t think you ever completely get the line back, you just have to learn to work with it. This is why you see a lot of women who don’t hit a stride of success or momentum, especially spiritually, until their fifties, when their kids are older. And of course some of us take that energetic cord and stick it into the wrong people, men or our own mothers or wherever, and feed them our energy, which is where we really lose our power.
Thank you Cyndi. Here’s The Subtle Body at Amazon, or visit Cyndi’s website. And here’s the full interview in mp3 form (please note that this recording is a little choppy – I hadn’t originally planned on posting the audio file):