the-subtle-bodyThe Subtle Body: An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy
by Cyndi Dale

This isn’t the type of book that you read cover to cover. It’s a reference work. You have it in your library to look up specific information and to study further those areas that are relevant to you. Colorfully illustrated, it’s a hefty one-of-a-kind work on a subject that really needs to be much more in the spotlight.

The premise of the book is the intuitive truth known through the ages that, “Everything is made of energy: molecules, pathogens, prescription medicines, and even emotions.” Dale defines energy very simply as, “information that vibrates” and goes on to show how that is and what effect it has on us in six well-organized and meticulous sections.

Part I is an overview of energy and its basic terminology. Part II is about physical anatomy but with a twist: that it’s in fact “an extension of the subtle energy system.” The next three sections detail the three subtle energy structures: Fields, Channels, and Bodies.

Part VI is a compendium of energy-based healing methods.

For me, perhaps the greatest contribution this book makes is the copious referencing of seminal figures who have historically studied subtle energy in a scientific way. When we look at medicine or other disciplines today, it isn’t obvious that subtle energy has indeed been scientifically studied and in many cases validated. And it’s a sad comment that despite a strong body of research, most disciplines and the predominant paradigm in society is still mechanistic.

Those of us who are in the arena of spiritual and healing disciplines know and understand that knowledge of subtle levels of reality has been with humanity for eons. So it was with great pleasure that I read about some determined people who formulated and stuck with their scientific explanations of intuitive knowledge.

The bulk of the book is dedicated to Energy Fields, Energy Channels, and Energy Bodies. While the information is scholarly and scientific, Dale is able to put it across in an easily understandable way, with key concepts reiterated throughout. She explains that there are two basic types of energy:

  1. Veritable, i.e., physical and measurable
  2. Putative, i.e., subtle and immeasurable.

In looking at energy fields, we understand that our energy isn’t contained by our skin, and we each have auric, morphogenetic, etheric and astral fields which play out in a bigger system of L-Fields (subtle physical) and T-Fields (thought).

Energy channels are mostly explained through the lens of meridians as understood in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). While this section furthers how intricately energetic we really are, there are many excellent texts on TCM. For the energy healer, the close connection between emotions and the organs is practical knowledge that can be immediately used.

Energy bodies are discussed in terms of the most well-known teaching: the chakras and the lesser-known nadis. This section is thorough and revealing, with a few surprises. Much of it is explained in terms of the highly respected and celebrated yogic (Hindu) understanding. Even if you think you know your chakras, the bringing together of nadis, koshas (yogic energy bodies) and chakra personalities is impressive.

One of my favorite parts is Dale’s treatment of energy bodies from other cultures, including Tibetan, Mayan, Incan, Cherokee, Egyptian, African, Christian and Kaballah-based.

The book is also peppered with insets which explain in greater detail or provide new information. The bibliography too is excellent and I found myself highlighting some it for further consideration.

Dale adds another welcome element and that is an attempt at unifying the various traditions and scientific data into a workable whole, and succeeds considering the long history of traditions and data. The reader and practitioner can also draw their own conclusions and integrate accordingly.

The final part of the book is a compendium of energy practices. Keyword here is ‘compendium.’ There is a disclaimer at the beginning of the book that it does not in any way replace proper, professional training and rightly so.

I do have a couple of small bones to pick with the author, say about the size of phalanges (bones in the hands and feet.) One is the omission of any information on the Hara as an extensive understanding of the human energetic makeup. This is especially puzzling since Shiatsu is included, and the fact that Hara is a complete alternative understanding to the chakra model.

The other bone is regarding the section on Reiki. Admittedly this is part of the compendium at the end, so space is limited. Exactly for that reason, I wish Reiki was included with its full truth in light of the research that has surfaced in the last decade or so as to its origins and its founder’s biography. It was saddening to see the Reiki ‘symbols’ also published and not so accurately. You can read why this is unwise and unhelpful here.

In its sheer scale and depth this is a volume that every spiritual and healing practitioner can without reservation add to their library and keep close at hand. I heartily endorse and heartily recommend it.

My own copy (thank you Cyndi!) will be going right next to:

A Practical Guide to Vibrational Medicine: Energy Healing and Spiritual Transformation
Richard Gerber, MD

and

Radical Healing: Integrating the World’s Great Therapeutic Traditions to Create a New Transformative Medicine
Rudolph M. Ballentine, MD

Healing Resources: Book Review