Monday, June 24, 2013

My Review - Julian Walker - Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind: A Modern Yoga Philosophy Infused with Somatic Psychology and Neuroscience

I've known Julian Walker indirectly (through social media) for several years, so it is with great pleasure that I offer this brief review of his new book, Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind: A Modern Yoga Philosophy Infused with Somatic Psychology and Neuroscience ($8.99, Kindle only).

In the interest of full disclosure, I bought this book as soon as I knew it was available, although Julian offered me a free review copy later the same day. It's a pleasure to review a book I chose to buy based on its merits rather than simply because I was sent a review copy.

Julian's combination of yoga theory, somatic psychology, neuroscience, and Buddhist meditation and the application of this model to the chakra system (which is foundational for yoga theory) is the kind of unified, interdisciplinary approach that we need more of in spiritual circles, in body-based practices, in psychology and, most importantly, in our basic efforts to understand who we are as human beings.

His discussion of the chakra system (from Tantric Yoga), which is something I have studied in the past, offers a fuller and deeper perspective than I have encountered before. Julian describes the chakra system as "a map of mind/body relationships, stages of development, and a way to reflect on various key aspects of inner work," offering an integrally-based model of personal growth.

This book, in its origin, is a handbook or teaching manual for yoga teachers in training (which he co-teaches with Hala Khouri). I know very little about yoga, other than having been a student of Hatha Yoga many years ago. While I have no intention of ever becoming a yoga instructor, I found the book entirely readable and engaging.

However, I am a specialist in trauma therapy, somatic psychology, and embodied cognition. I suspect this book may be very useful in helping my clients understand themselves and how their emotions, sensations, thoughts, and experiences are integrated within the mind-body system (in essence, the mind is the body-brain).

The bottom line is that in this book, Julian integrates "ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, intentional and embodied approaches in grounded way" that is also infused with intelligence and heart. Definitely a book I am pleased to recommend.

Over at Elephant Journal there is a brief review and slightly longer interview with Julian about his new book.
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