Opening the Senses of the Soul
“Over twelve years, I created seven gardens that correspond to the chakras of the physical body. The gardens provided a place of rest and healing for me. Subsequently, a number of visitors were drawn to Willka T’ika, first by yoga and then by the incredible gardens that grew from following Nature’s guidance … .”
Carol shares the story of the healing Chakra Gardens at Willka T’ika in the beautifully illustrated book Chakra Gardens – Opening the Senses of the Soul. In a clear voice and captivating style, Carol tells us how she came to build this healing garden, and encourages readers to create their own chakra gardens.
Throughout this book, Carol invites us to meditate, let Nature heal us, and find or build our own gardens that resonate with us. Each chapter corresponds to one of the seven energetic chakras of the body, describing the colors, plants, and flowers that she has used to resonate with that particular chakra.
All net proceeds of the book support the Willka T’ika Children’s Fund, providing libraries, computer and project rooms, hot meals, transportation, furniture, textbooks and school supplies for children at remote Ande
Praise for Chakra Gardens: Opening the Senses of the Soul
Winner of Independent Publisher’s IPPY Gold Award for Best New Age/Mind Body Spirit Book 2009
“The book truly touched our judges, and its attention is much deserved,” comments Jim Barnes, Managing Editor of Book Publishing.com and the Awards Director “The Independent Publisher Book ‘IPPY’ Awards honor books which exhibit courage, innovation, and the creativity necessary to take chances, break new ground, and bring about change not only to the world of publishing, but to our society,” adds Barnes.
Over 1,500 publishers from the U.S., Canada, and 18 other countries participated with entries.
“A vacation between two covers”
This amazing book will transport you into a world of mysticism, nature and sheer beauty. The photography is stunning and just by glancing through its pages, you will feel as if you are right there, experiencing it all. Ms. Cumes’ text has the ability to transform a sad, bored or depressed moment into one of glorious strength. While the book is a fantastic “coffee table” book by any standard, it is also a transformative book without being overly “woo woo,” if you know what I mean. Simply a must-have for anyone who relishes the good things in life.
– David Virden, Seattle, WA
“The Garden As Healer”
One of the best kept secrets of gardening is the spiritual transformation that one experiences each time one enters a garden to tend, to admire or to escape. For that reason, a chakra garden is not an altogether new concept to the passionate gardener. It may also help others understand the spirituality that some gardeners have reported experiencing.
A chakra garden is a botanical environment that provides a place of rest and healing. The author believes that nature provides healing energies that can benefit us when we choose to sit in a garden. This view is reinforced by healing gardens that have recently been built at some hospitals throughout the United States as part of a program for convalescence or palliative care. Visitors to chakra or healing gardens are positively influenced by the perfumes of plants, colors, textures and petal shapes, birds and their songs as well as insects and their sounds. One is immediately affected by the beauty and peace experienced there. The author suggests that when one heals the soul, the healing of the body will follow.
This book is a journey to the seven chakra gardens that the author has built in the Andes over the last twelve years. Each garden addresses a different aspect of human nature and is inspired by the ancient yoga philosophy which connects the seven energy centers to one’s soul. In each garden one can find physical symbols, flowers, herbs, and stones that are meaningful and that relate to specific chakras. It is the author’s hope that we will be inspired to create chakra gardens for ourselves. Those of us that become more serene simply by entering our own gardens will understand how easily attainable that goal that can be.
The editors of this book have wisely decided to take Greg Asbury’s superb photographs and blow them up to larger than life. In doing so, they have accomplished two objectives. Firstly, the enlarged pictures create the illusion that the reader has been almost reduced to the size of an insect. Ever wonder how a flower hypnotizes a flying insect to drink its nectar and pollinate it in the process? Just look at the magnified photos and you will wonder no more. Seeing a flower from the perspective of an insect is a visual experience not to be missed. Secondly, the enlarged beauty of the flower is both magnificent and overwhelming. Focus for a moment on any one of these brilliant pictures and you might be transported to a place you never thought imaginable. Reading this book is in itself a chakra garden experience.
– Allan Becker, garden designer and garden book reviewer, Quebec, Canada
Gardens are for more than just growing flowers and vegetables.
“Chakra Gardens: Opening the Senses of the Soul” is a look through photography (and prose) at Chakra Gardens and the lore behind them, and how nature is treasured by the native cultures of the Andes Mountains and Peru. Hoping that the reader will take this history and philosophy lesson, as well as the soothing, full color photographs of the chakra gardens into consideration, and use it to meditate and sort their troubles out. “Chakra Gardens” is a must for anyone who believes in the power of flowers as meditation, or simply the amateur botanist who can’t get enough.
– Midwest Book Review, Oregon, Wisconsin
The book Chakra Gardens: Opening the Senses of the Soul has absolutely blown me away!
What an achievement! The energy generated by the book is palatable, and I was immediately transported back to my trips to Peru. Although I have yet to see the gardens believe me I can feel the energy. Combined with the wonderful flower essences, I can imagine being instantly transported into those Gardens and into the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
I so appreciate how the author has been giving all her love to Pachamama over the years, and how she shares her vast knowledge of Peru and the Quechua people, as well the fantastic community service she performs for those very special children and their families who will receive the proceeds from this book.
– Carole Law, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
I bought this book as a way to tide myself over until I can actually visit the gardens at the Willka T’ika Garden Retreat Center near Machu Picchu. It is an exquisite book; the photographs are inspired. It is an educational book that includes a wealth of information about Andean lore and gardening, and the elements and the chakras and the soul. The central principle? “The spirit of ayni (an ancient Andean practice) is the reciprocal exchange of living energy that occurs through giving offerings and receiving from Mother Earth.” This is the ultimate coffee table book.
– Nola Wood, Laguna Niguel, California
Located in one of the most energetic places in Peru, Willka Tika’s chakra gardens have great, unlimited mystical powers that are a blessing for humanity. Energy flowing from each garden enters and restores the cells of the body…..
– Dr. Manuel Canales, naturopathic physician, Peru
Written with a passion for Mother Earth that is infectious, Chakra Gardens is a healing treat for the senses. The text is illuminating, the photographs breathtaking. One comes away filled with peace. Reading this spiritual book is the next best thing to experiencing first hand the magical Chakra Gardens of the Willka Tika Guest Retreat nestled in the Sacred Valley of Peru. You will learn about the flora of the region and its Quechua people. You will be transported on this magical journey to a haven filled with tranquility. Share my joy in this beautiful book, which will grace your coffee table and fill you with contentment.
– Joan Isa, Santa Monica, California, USA
Sensual is the word that best describes Chakra Gardens, the book.
Turning to page one, the reader’s senses are immediately engaged. A full-page, filled with a gentle moth perched on a brightly colored pink blossom, the dedication of a woman to her children, grandchildren and Pachamama’s (Earth) Children; love exudes from the page.
You can almost smell the fragrance of the flowers through the vivid photography that fills the pages of this book.
Carol Cumes has created a unique and delightful reader’s journey to the Willka T’ika Guest House and Chakra Gardens of Peru. A huge undertaking, this project was created to aid the children of Peru and the author has done a magnificent job. Profits are donated directly to the Willka T’ika Children’s Fund to support children and education in remote mountain areas. The book, like the gardens, will reach out to readers in an unforgettable way. Pages of inspiration, with each chapter connected to a different Chakra, will inspire healing and peace.
Each garden will inspire those that visit to expand their consciousness and reach new evolutional heights. Earth Garden, Water Garden, Heart Garden, Spiral Garden are only a few of the beautifully portrayed meditative areas. All of the gardens have been created according to Andean custom and folklore and in close relationship with Mother Earth or Pachamama. Readers can use the information in this book to create their own smaller versions of the Chakra Gardens.
The photography by Greg Asbury, of the gardens, the surrounding areas of Peru, and the close ups of the flowers themselves is spectacular. This reviewer can’t say enough about this book in this short review. Open the senses of your soul with a copy of this book today. It would make a wonderful gift!
Highly recommended for armchair travelers, gardeners and soul seekers, this book will remain on my coffee table for years to come, always within reach as a treat for my guests and myself.
– Shirley Roe, Allbooks Review, Toronto, Canada
“Stunning Visual and Spiritual Gift”
Carol Cumes’s “Chakra Gardens: Opening the Sense of the Soul” is a wondrous book, fully deserving the international Independent Publisher’s gold award bestowed on it for 2009 for Best Body/Mind/Spirit book. A so-called coffee-table book, the large-format volume is first a visual treat, with its hundreds of luscious full-color photographs by Greg Asbury, of flowers, fruits, trees and land in Peru’s Sacred Valley; it is second a spiritual-intellectual journey, because of the informative and inspiring story the author tells about the destination resort she built virtually barehanded between 1994 and now.
A former housewife from South Africa, who made a lengthy stopover in Santa Barbara to raise four children, Carol Cumes became enamored of the soul of the Peruvian Andes after a first visit to the Sacred Valley behind Macchu Picchu in the 1980s. She returned again and again until finally she took the literal leap of faith that few in this world are capable of managing: she invested everything she owned, including the days of her life, into creating what she calls Willka T’ika Garden Guest Retreat Center.
This book review could easily turn into a summary of Carol’s own amazing story; fortunate owners of Chakra Gardens will be treated to tantalizing details of that (auto)biography, tastefully and sparingly shared in the context of narrating how she made her personal journey to Willka T’ika, and then over the years, conceived plans for and planted the gardens representing the seven chakras, or psychic centers distributed along the spine from the coiled kundalini root chakra at the base of the spine on up to the crown of the head. These are associated with the spiritual and physiological practice of tantra yoga, one of the many spirit-cleansing and centering activities offered at Cumes’s Willka T’ika, along with massage and meditation in the seven gardens, each lush natural haven being plant, color and feng shui coordinated with one of the chakras: earth (the root, origins); water (creativity, family, friends: life); sun/fire (solar plexus; personal identity); heart (love, compassion, emotional response); sound (throat, communication from heart to head of inspiring ideas); spiral (third-eye: seat of the mind, clairvoyance and intuition, light), and tree of life and wisdom (crown chakra: doorway to universal consciousness, connection of human to natural and universal being).
In presenting each of the gardens, the author follows a logical and compelling narrative structure, each step of which is lavishly illustrated with Asbury’s succulent photographs of flowers, insects, water features, buildings constructed of natural materials, stones, earth, gnarled tree trunks and Quechua individuals in tune with all. In the most accessible language possible, Carol Cumes first provides an overview of the chakra under discussion, next linking its features to the garden’s signature plant and the satellite flowers and colors associated with the chakra’s healing and spiritual properties. She then backtracks to demonstrate how that particular garden was conceptualized and takes us through the process of its construction with the help of Quechuan laborers who worked with her, and she with them, in a patient rhythm of being and doing in concert with Nature’s wishes, nature here being called Pachamama, the She who is God, who is Source, or whatever one wants to call one’s conception of a higher power orchestrating good, truth, peace and wellbeing. After we learn of the garden’s establishment, the author shares with us a brief history of the Andean lore that underlays every decision she makes -every question she first put to Pachamama regarding placement of the garden and each stone and flower in it– to assure that the garden would not impose on nature’s own wish for the earth. Next, Cumes reveals the restorative powers of the garden and provides tips for meditation and spiritual enlightenment within it. She is helped in this by a very select sharing of testimony from individuals who have benefited from stays at Willka T’ika and time spent in the gardens. Each garden section ends with suggested affirmations and prayers that readers may use should they one day be blessed with an opportunity to visit Willka T’ika, or simply in the course of their own lives, or in their own chakra gardens.
Indeed, the book concludes with a section offering advice on how readers might create their own gardens, whether they have ample or very little outdoor space, or none at all. A garden is a flexible term that can exist almost entirely in the mind, if one has but a balcony or not even that much space on which to plant actual flowers, shrubs and trees. The message of this book is that a healthy, happy life is about the mind. “People can train themselves not to allow chaos, world problems, family or friends to unbalance their crown chakras. Masters of peace do not allow unhealthy energy to attach to them,” Carol tells us. She does not mean that people do not care about others or the world’s condition; only that one maintains one’s own balance and serenity by caring for one’s psychic energy, by remaining what many of us have come to term “centered.”
Reading this book is assuredly a centering experience. It is one that inspires the reader to bring out note cards and copy down affirmations to carry around and repeat like mantras when the abundance of unhealthy energy that swirls about us in the course of our work threatens to overwhelm us and hijack our very best wishes to be kinder, gentler folk. In the busyness of contemporary existence, we so easily are led down rock-strewn paths that lead to blind alleys full of trash cans that desperately need emptying. This book first fills one up instead with beauty and energy and curiosity and then it empties one of anger, blame and despair. It leaves one with much room for growth while the energy of hope and the promise of possibility spill over long after the last page has been turned. Like the seasons that renew their beauty, the gardens of Carol Cumes’s book invite more than one contemplation. And her story itself invites us all to live as she does, in the flow of “ayni,” the reciprocal give-and-take that patiently immortalizes the generosity of the Andean spirit. With her gardens and with this book, Carol gives back what the Quechua people and their land have given her with such open hearts and hands for fifteen years.
– Linda Egan, Sacramento, CA