The pursuit for energy in our western culture is perhaps what drives our entire health industry. Many will treat this as a linear question that has a linear answer. You have come to SuperFeast in pursuit of energy rather than reaching for the guarana or the coffee. So you know that this is a very colorful conversation that can't be answered in black and white solutions.
As you know the Taoist tonic herbs that we offer here at SuperFeast are considered in the western herbal system to be adaptogens. Many people will simply tell you to take adaptogens for energy, which is technically correct and why you can play with any of the SuperFeast herbs or blends and receive results that will manifest as greater energy. However, because we are inspired by the Taoist herbal philosophy of ancient China we are able to hone into the specific energy that you are uniquely requiring to cultivate in order to fulfill this deep intention you have to better yourself and optimize your life.
This is where the Three Treasures of the Taoist system comes into relevance. These are the three primary energies that construct our bodies. Jing; Our physical essence, genetic potential and reproductive capacity Qi; The life force that animates our body and our vitality. Shen; The expression of our spirit as our most virtuous nature. The whole point of Taoist tonic herbalism is to nourish these Three Treasures and to harmonize them so that the energy systems of our body remain sustainably expressed. We have a whole article diving into the Three Treasures over here.
So what is it for you? What energy are you lacking?
Back to the original question: I need more energy?! Majority of the time people say: I need more energy. In living an unsustainable lifestyle you will be leaking your Jing essence (as I illustrate in the below image) and you're opening yourself up to exhaustion, you'll find yourself relying on external stimulation in order to get through the day (caffeine anyone?)
We are usually going to find a pattern on where to start and where to build to when someone is asking “how do I get more energy?” and the starting point of the body is the Jing energy that lives in our kidneys. Consider your Jing to be the power in the battery pack of your kidneys that provides the potential for coming to life to each cell and each organ system.
It is an unsustainable western lifestyle that is:
that will lead to a leaking of this Jing essence that results in a feeble physical structure, low sexual vigor, lowered fertility and premature aging. One of our all-time most popular articles is how to Cultivate Your Jing, you can find it here.
Feeling into what you actually need is the starting point.
So if you start by pouring Qi into your cup, yet your cup has a hole in it you will still be doing good for yourself but it won't be addressing the core issue.
If you have a high susceptibility to stress, if you are always getting sick and are generally exhausted then it is your high energy that you will need to be toning primarily. This is not a band-aid solution. These need to be permanent and well thought out changes in your lifestyle so you have the practical and habitual foundations to carry you into old age without dramatic degeneration.
If you feel you are not susceptible to exhaustion and you are physically quite fit however your tiredness comes from the fatigue of the limbs, lack of mental stamina, erratic emotions that drain you, poor digestion, shortness of breath or a feeling of heaviness in your body then perhaps it is the treasure of Qi that you require to focus upon.
Maybe your digestive system isn't working very well. Maybe you need a little bit more of a breath practice. I'm talking poria mushrooms and astragalus to get your spleen rocking once again. Or maybe you need to just find a flow in life, so that you can get what you need to spark yourself up. This is a perfect indicator that it's time to spend some gritty hours, days and years really getting to understand how your emotions work uniquely in relation to the organ systems that we all share so that erratic or suppressed emotions weaken the flow of Qi that animates and sparks your body.
This is where a physical practice that emerges from an understanding of your body and emotional flow will come in extremely handy. Your physical practice must move your Qi so that it does not become stagnant. So choose your qi gong, yin yoga, tai chi or yogic practice carefully.
We've talked about Qi and Jing Treasures, but what about the third treasure, Shen?
Not many people look at the Shen treasure in terms of "why I don't have energy." You might be feeling: I've got my physicality, and I've got some will that's associated with the Jing. I'm not fatigued, you're not experiencing weakness of the limbs (like you do with a Qi deficiency). And I'm digesting pretty well, but I'm just lacking in motivation perhaps. That might be the energy that you're looking for. And Red Bull's definitely not gonna do much in that sense, as we know!
Normally when our Jing is strong, our Qi is flowing then our spirit (Shen) will shine bright. The most common dampening of our own light/spirit is when we emotionally can not harmonize and create a negative environment within our heart such that our Shen cannot inhabit it fully. This is why cultivating our Jing and Qi is so important. But sometimes your body feels strong, your emotions solid, you are not experiencing fatigue anywhere in your body yet there is energy missing, there might be a feeling of slight emptiness which doesn't allow you to feel motivated or you might just be feeling that you lack direction. At this time we would look to tonify and/or stabilize the Shen treasure.
Although this can get complex, we can include psychological endeavors and a huge hero's journey/dark night of the soul adventures. It can also be quite a simple long term approach. When it is the Shen treasure that we must look at for the source of our lack of energy we aim to give spaciousness to our sweethearts. A meditative practice where you authentically dive into and settle within yourself, done consistently is a true gift (we really love the queen reishi for taking your meditation practice to the next level).
Time taken out in your day to contemplate, whether it be during a walkabout, journalling, a soulful D & M or simply partaking in a passionate act will give you space to step outside of the often inevitably hectic lifestyles that we occupy in the west, and consistently get back in the groove of our own spiritual flow where our true intention that we have for ourselves and our life can emerge.
Take note I am not telling you to go and do vipassana or ayahuasca once and be healed, I'm talking about a lifelong daily or at least weekly practice that keeps you in your heart so that your Shen can continue to process life and bring your innate wisdom forth in a fountain of energy that laughs in the face of Redbull. Shen tonics possibly like reishi and pearl are gonna come into a little bit more relevance in that.
So you can see, "hey I need more energy" seems like a simple question... Absolutely not.
Remember to take a macro view as well. We're not just trying to get you energy thisyear or thisdecade, we're trying to ensure that this concept of energy and momentum and the fact that you're actually building your Jing, Qi and Shen all together, and going in a direction that's for you, not for the Western culture or ideology or anything else like that. We've got to get to the source of what's going on, and you can definitely use the Taoist tonic herbs in your lifestyle consistently. They're not just band-aids. A lot of people are going to take Qi tonics like ginseng and astragalus and be like, right, Qi tonics are all about energy and vitality! Because out of any of the herbs we have, those are the energizing herbs. But if you are in an excessive, sympathetic, stressed-out space, they might downregulate you and hopefully put you to sleep. But if you've got some foundational Jing already, those Qi tonics might be that thing to bring the spark in the machine and bring you to life. But it has to be a very macro, long term lifestyle conversation. Hope that helps, and I hope you can find that energy.
I had already been practicing cycle tracking and ritual for some years, but this practice immediately brought me into deeper presence and connection with my body, helped to slow me down and brought in another layer reverence to something I had been taught to fear, ignore or hate.