Mason and Tahnee (the dream team) join forces on the podcast today, to introduce us to Shen, the Third Treasure of the Daoist system. Mason and Tahnee reveal our new SuperFeast baby - the SHEN blend, journeying through the herbs present in the formula and the actions and virtues they afford us when we work in harmony with them. We're thrilled to finally have our beloved SHEN blend launching ready for our SuperFeast community to explore, completing our propriety Treasure series, sharing the stage with our darling JING and QI blends.
If you're new to the Three Treasures and want to learn more, check out our JING podcast here and QI podcast here. Mason has also written a brilliant article on the Three Treasure so you can read it here. Enjoy!
"Shen.. It's just you, without the bullshit" - Mason & Tahnee
Mason and Tahnee discuss:
Who Are Mason Taylor and Tahnee McCrossin?
Mason Taylor: Mason’s energy and intent for a long and happy life is infectious. A health educator at heart, he continues to pioneer the way for potent health and a robust personal practice. An avid sharer, connector, inspirer and philosophizer, Mason wakes up with a smile on his face, knowing that tonic herbs are changing lives. Mason is also the SuperFeast founder, daddy to Aiya and partner to Tahnee (General Manager at SuperFeast).
Tahnee McCrossin: Tahnee is a self proclaimed nerd, with a love of the human body, it’s language and its stories. A cup of tonic tea and a human interaction with Tahnee is a gift! A beautiful Yin Yoga teacher and Chi Ne Tsang practitioner, Tahnee loves going head first into the realms of tradition, yogic philosophy, the organ systems, herbalism and hard-hitting research. Tahnee is the General Manager at SuperFeast, mumma to reishi-baby Aiya and partner to Mason (founder of SuperFeast).
Resources:The Video Of Mason Harvesting Poria In China SuperFeast SHEN Blend Product Page
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Check Out The Transcript Here:
Hey, everybody. Here with Tahns.
So we're going to be talking about Shen today, Third Treasure.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Exciting time.
Yeah. It's finally about the combination of the Three Treasures of blends in the superfoods range, so it's been awhile.
Jing, Qi, and Shen.
Very good, Tahns.
I've been spending too much time with Aiya.
Yeah, Daoism for kiddies.
All right, boys and girls. Yeah, I think it's exciting because we really like this Daoist idea of Jing, Qi, Shen. It's such a great way to kind of view the body and our experience as a human on this earthly plane. The Jing holding our DNA and our kind of, I guess, connection to our ancestry and the strength of our constitution, our bones and our body and the Qi being the animation of that, the metabolism and the fire of our life and then Shen being that which is eliminated by those forces being in harmony, right?
Yeah, exactly. I mean there's so many different ways. It's such a colourful conversation. I've been thinking about Jing, Qi, and Shen a lot lately and how to make them as something that doesn't seem theoretical like you have to remember, but something-
Yeah, exactly. It's why metaphors are so good. It's why I've been enjoying talking about thinking if you take the human body and it's just a bunch of bones and DNA and hips and marrow. And you just lay it there and it's not moving and it's got all this potential, but in order for it to have potential, you need to put the batteries in and the batteries need to have charge. Batteries being the Kidneys, the Jing is so if you just take that human body and all its potential, it can't do anything yet, it's just pure physical potential, and then you plug the Jing in by putting the batteries in and they're charged batteries. They're not batteries that are Jing deficient, smashing coffees and absolutely flogging yourself. Put the batteries into the Kidneys and then all of the sudden, you have the rising of Qi.
The lights go on.
Exactly, the lights go on. Qi moves. That body can get up and animate and move around. Then to really drop into Shen and live and for me to be feeling Shen. Because I used to use analogies about the candle, which I still enjoy. Talking about it like this in the human body, then from there, if you just have potential in the physical body, the Jing, amazing. You've got life.
Lights are on but nobody's home, right?
Exactly. You're animating and you're moving, but where's the personality and the soul and the lessons and the enjoyment and all that? That's Shen, and that's why it's important, it's an important distinction that the spirit, because that's one spirit, your spirit can emerge from your heart, come through. Therefore, you have your soul present and you can become wiser and more virtuous. These are all things that are your Shen, and it's an important distinction that Daoism, Classical Chinese medicine before it was modernised and colonised in the 50s, to turn it into what's known as Traditional Chinese Medicine currently.
The Spirit was cut away and definitely in the Western medicine, there's no Spirit that's present. It's just all... Literally a scalpel's gone and cut away the spiritual elements of medicine, but Shen, you can't really talk about health long term from a Daoist perspective or yogic perspective, any of these that will kind of have ancient roots, without acknowledging that the spirit and the spirit of organs and one's own soul and spirit, it's pivotal to understanding how we can become healthy long term.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). It's funny you talk about analogies because I've been studying a bit with Nevine Michaan from Katonah Yoga, and she talks about the body as a house. And if you've got the architecture and the structure, which is your Jing effectively. And then you've got the lights on and you start to move in, that's the Qi. And then, if you make it a home, you make it a place where you want to be where it has a comforting essence of pleasure and joy and warmth, then that's the Shen.
You weren't there on our last retreat at Tanya's when I used that exact analogy. I said, "Look at this room. This is the Jing. See how there's nice things and people. Put flowers over here and some incense on. It keeps it moving, the doors are open. That's the Qi. There's life moving through it. But then, only over years can laughter settle in, and oils settle in to the kitchen, that have actually been lived in."
Yeah. And that's what makes something beautiful. And that's what the Daoists say. When someone's Shen is harmonised in their body, then they're lit up from within. And they're attractive, and they're expressed. They're just full of purpose and intention and presence, but it's not seeking or striving. It's just like a nice home where you go in and you're just... It's nice to be in their presence.
I think that's such a beautiful way to think about it.
You can't fake Shen. You definitely can't. You might be able to on Instagram, but not in real life.
Well, I think when we look at what Shen even does, if you have a Shen disturbance manifesting as a symptom of anxiety, well that's the opposite of a comforting, safe environment. You don't feel safe. You feel unsettled and unhinged and stressed and out of alignment. Well that's a Shen disturbance. And so yeah, absolutely. We want to support this in ourselves and in others. And when we see it, when we recognise it in ourselves and in others, it's a nice thing to cultivate and build.
And that's what all these practises are about. Meditation and even the Qi Gong and the cultivation exercises are about stabilising the Shen so that energy, that soul lives in the body and is expressed through this life. And then, we move on to whatever, higher points of consciousness, whatever you want to do. After that, it's up to you, guys. We're here for the Shen.
Yeah, I've been talking about the fact that it comes when Shen is in harmony and able to consistently express itself. Obviously guys, at the end of this, you'll see Shen isn't something to be developed overnight. It's certainly not something you get. Everyone's just got their Shen, and it's highly correlated. It is literally like emerging from the Heart organ system, so the Heart Fire. So the Heart is the emperor organ. And all the other organs are essentially serving the emperor.
When the Heart Fire Qi is flowing harmoniously... That's the idea behind the Shen herbs and all these practises, to ensure that we've got enough Blood so that the Shen can travel through the Blood. The Blood's Shen's home-away-from-home.
Take it around.
To take it around to ensure that we're enlivening and bringing light and soulfulness and consciousness to every little area of our body. Tahns is just getting some water because water is needed to build Blood. These herbs and practises are also ensuring that we've got Qi tonics to support the movement of blood; therefore, the movement of Shen through the body because life requires movement. If the waters get stagnant, Blood gets stagnant, then we're not able to bring in life to ensure that there is a harmonious flow of the surrounding organs, which is all of them, but especially the Liver. We really want a smooth Liver flow, the Liver being the mother.
The Liver-Wood, being the mother to the Heart Fire to ensure that... The Liver is ensuring that we've got strong strength through the capillaries and ensuring that we've got that uprightness so that Blood can move through and get through as well as Qi can get through and move through the body, as well as creating that suppleness, especially through those Blood vessels which means that we can bring curvature to the way that the Blood is moving, and therefore, cool the Blood down.
And so, if you don't have those things, if you're stagnant, which is something I'm prone to, as you know, Tahns, if you're stagnant through your Liver Qi and especially if you lack that Yin and that suppleness through your Liver, Liver-Wood, then you're going to get a downstream effect where there's going to be a lot of Heat through the Blood, therefore, a lot of potential excess Fire.
Yeah, when you think about friction, right? If you're rigid, so this is a thing. The Blood moves in spirals or vortexes. When you go and check out Gil Hedley's work, he talks about the heart not being a pump but being a valley where the vortex water layer... It's just spring water does in nature.
Creating more of an implosion suction.
Yeah. Exactly. More like your circulatory organ than a pumping organ. And if you think about rigidity, if you think about the vessels becoming really rigid and you think about a movement along that, rigidity creates this friction which creates Heat in the body. And so, that's not idea. That's going to burn up your Fluids. It's going to create all sorts of implications down the track.
And yeah, the Hun as well. There's a spirit in the Liver called the Hun which can invade the Heart, can invade the Shen and cause mental disturbances and the psychological aspects of that. So when we're looking at a Shen, harmonised Shen in a human is like a person who's healthy mentally and not got a lot of psychological disturbances. But when we do have these imbalances, we can end up with the Liver invading the Heart. We can end up with all sorts of troubles.
So the Hun is the part of our... It's more of our infinite Spirit guys, that travels after this lifetime, the Spirit that goes on.
Yeah. Well I always think of the Shen as my universal consciousness, the part of me that came down to be, to animate the form. My Shen is that. My Hun is my astral self, so the part of me that can travel the realms. And it's one thing to take it to a really advanced, philosophical level. But the way it works in the body is why we're here. We want a clear path for consciousness, a clear channel for consciousness to come through. And it shines out of us. That's the idea.
And then, this Hun is meant to keep connecting us to this astral self that can live beyond the physical realms, I suppose. So it's the creative. It's the vision. It's the future seeing. It's time doesn't exist because I live in all time.
Yeah. Part of our intention here is to bring our higher consciousness, our Shen, and bring it through and crack it through into this reality that we're at now. What I was talking about, all the things that these practises and Shen herbs do in bringing a smooth flow of that hot Fire Qi, ensuring that we've got a smooth flow of the Liver cooling the Blood, so and so forth, stabilising the Heart.
What happens then, the Heart as the emperor that all the other organs serve, that is when you get a smooth flow of Qi through that organ system, that's when the spirit of that organ system may express itself. So it's the same when we have a smooth flow of Qi through the Liver, then the Hun may express itself.
If you have disturbance, if you have Heart Fire disturbance, what happens is it's like frustration that's going to get expressed from the Liver, but I just use that term. It's frustrating for the Qi. And then Shen's going to... The spirit of that organ system is not going to be able to express clearly. And therefore, we're going to see that expressed in anxiousness, mental disturbance, depression, insomnia. And then, going down the line, psychosis, so and so forth.
As you know, you can see the Shen is the window... The eyes are the window to the Shen or to higher consciousness or to the soul, as we say. This is what our Daoist herbs are doing. This when you need to be working with someone clinically if you have this level of psychosis or mental disturbance. But you can see as someone moves down that line of having extreme anxiety, extreme depression, mental disturbance, and psychosis, you see the eyes starting to glaze over or to grey or to dull, and that's where Daoist would immediately go, right there's a direct Shen disturbance.
And then, you'd need appropriate diagnosis at those points.
Well that's when you lose your grip with reality. Right? And that's the Hun because the Liver's also the outward expression of... I would say they eyes are the outward expression of the Liver. I don't understand the psychology of TCM as well as I would like to, but from what I understand, the Hun... Because the Liver does invade and overtake the Shen, we sort of lose touch with reality. Because that sort of sense of schizophrenia and a lot of those... Because Chinese medicine doesn't talk about symptoms or diseases like we do in the West. It talks about patterns that would be Liver Heat or Liver invading Spleen or whatever.
But what I understand is something like a schizophrenic episode would be literally a case of the Hun becoming more dominant. Or when you have poor Blood to anchor the Hun, you don't sleep well, and you have wild dreams where your Hun will wake you up, Liver will wake you up in the middle of the night at 1:00. That's a really common thing we hear here in customer service a lot of the time.
It's like, "I wake up every night between 1:00 and 3:00."
And it's like, "Oh well, that's a sign that you probably don't have enough Blood to anchor the Hun, so you're not getting a really good sleep. So when it starts to move, that Liver time, it wakes you up because it's such a burst of Yang energy through the body."
So the psychological stuff's super interesting and definitely something I'm still learning a lot about. But just understanding these kind of energies that animate us and create our experience is really interesting. So we would not look at... Even when we go to talk about the herbs and what they do from a Daoist expertise, if you nourish the Fire, if you nourish the essence of the Heart, if you work with that energy, if your intention and your presence and your practise is about that, it's going to feed it.
I know Tony Robbins hijacked it, but intention, Qi, Blood, those things all follow one another. I think it's where your energy intentionally goes, your energy follows.
Where the mind goes, energy flows.
Yes. That ability to focus your intention, your energy, your mind. And then, let your energy follow that. And then, your Blood will follow that because Blood follows Qi. That's how you do a Qi Gong practise. That's how you do even when you practise the medicine. You have to be so focused on so present because you're conducting the flow of Qi and the flow of Blood. You're giving Shen to that practise, whether it's your Qi Gong practise or your healing practise or your herbal practise.
So intention is such an important part of what we do of Shen because it's bringing Shen into your life.
And guys, when we're looking at Shen, the mind is put in there in terms of the definition, within the definition. And it's kind of like the mind is definitely a tool used in the personality. It's something that's used in order to express our personality, process what's going on in life so that we can gain more and more wisdom, when Tahns talking about being there and being a practitioner bringing Shen to the table.
In order to offer a healing space for someone, people around you, be a good person, be less of an asshole, I think we'd all agree that continuing to cultivate our virtuous nature, which isn't an easy thing to do but it is considered a dividend of developing your Shen, that you cultivate those that are associated with strong Shen. Forgiveness, compassion, love, like deep love, deep gratitude, and the capacity to really have that virtuous nature be a part of yourself.
And so, the mind and Shen have an interesting relationship. Because if you are extremely Shen deficient, and if you're shying away from that part of yourself which is more than just the physical, then you see the mind take over the show more and more. And therefore, you move into this place of the way that you get virtuous, you have less... You put a glass ceiling on yourself, I find, in terms of your capacity to really tap into your higher self. And over years and decades of work, have that higher consciousness emerge through your organ systems and be embodied so that forgiveness and that love and that gratitude is something that's just... You don't have to think about it. It's just there, and it's just dripping from you. And that's when you see that in 90 year-olds and 100 year-olds.
They just come to work, and they're just legends. And they're just beautiful white lights to be around. And you see when you don't do that work or don't allow that more mystical aspect of yourself that the mind can't grasp, whether you really want to go into Daoist thought or be religious or spiritual or whatever it is, it doesn't matter. Just let go, just that little bit. Then the mind needs to go into morality.
And so, you do the right thing and be forgiving. Whereas, Shen is where you start to dissolve any sense of right and wrong. And when you can move into that place and get to that, when you can get away from wrong and right, you really do have an opportunity to discover that part of yourself which is virtuous that's outside of the morality and the right and wrong of what you're current clique is telling you, how you should be and how you should be a good person.
That reminds me of Rumi, "Out beyond the idea of right doing and wrong doing, there is a field, and I will meet you there." It's just like my teacher says the more spiritually aware you become, the less you'll subscribe to cancel culture and woke movements and all of this stuff because we start to see that everything, depending on your perspective, exists in shades of grey. There's no... I could say I'm right, but I could just as easily say you're right, really if I start to think about it.
I think one thing I wanted to quickly make the distinction on too is the mind as in the brain, and the mind as in the Heart. Because in Daoist thought, the Heart is the mind, but it's not how we think about mind. So we think about the cognitive machine that whirls around in our heads which is more associated with the Kidneys. In Chinese medicine, it's called the Sea of Marrow. So it's literally an extension-
Yes, so the brain is literally an extension of the marrow in your bones. It's kind of this blood-filled goopy thing floating around in your skull. And if you think about your skull as being a bone, it could really be the marrow because it's literally encased in bone on most sides. But yeah, the Heart is more the perceiving mind that is beyond that logical idea of things being rational. Because if you've ever had even a kind of heart-based experience, it's not a rational experience. It's sublime, and it's feeling-based. And it's intuitive, and it's everything that the mind is not.
So there's this... I guess the best analogy I have is from yoga, but it's this idea that yeah, we have the functions of the mind which are useful and essential. We can't get through life without them, and great, but we don't want to live there and limit ourselves to that. We want to remember that there's this bigger self that is perceiving all of this and living all of this as well, and that can hold all of this even though the little mind might not think it can.
And that to me, is sort of what Shen and the Heart hold in our... No matter how much weird shit goes on around us or what traumas we experience, there's this part of us that's bigger than all of that that can hold it. Like I said, the language I have for this is more out of yoga than out of Daoism, but I've seen this stuff in the Daoist texts as well. From working with Mantak Chia, I know that he also speaks about these things too. That's kind of the big, capital S, self. So that's what the Heart really projects, I suppose, and holds for us in this lifetime.
So it takes us out of this small s, selfish self that has greed and wants to be pissed off at someone and wants to be right, and wants to be at war with the world in some ways. The best example of that I think of is a meta-meditation, like a Buddhist where you make all beings be happy. And then, make people that hate be happy, people that are evil be happy.
It's this kind of practise where you practise being grateful and being compassionate to people you would normally not like to yourself, which is a massive thing for a lot of people. "can I truly be loved and be happy?" So I just wanted to distinguish between the mind and the brain which we would naturally link to as Westerners, having been raised in our culture and the mind to be the Heart, which from an Eastern perspective, is a little bit more out there and broad and big.
Yeah. Well the taking of Shen herbs, I'm glad you brought that up. And just to keep it really simple, it is associated with the Shen herbs if you are feeling what we call that monkey mind, you'll find that through developing Shen and through taking Shen herbs and focusing on bringing your virtuous nature through. I find it to become evident, we all have this experience. But especially we can think about having a chip on our shoulder.
In business, it's the best dojo, having resent towards competitors or someone that's wronged me. I'm not saying it takes... Forgiveness isn't something that just is done. The capacity needs to be developed. And over the years, I've experienced that nature of, "Do I really want to live with this resentment of someone because they're ripping this off, or they're not doing it the way that I think they should be doing it?"
And it's the classic, spiritual one-on-one lesson that you're the one that needs to live with it. I don't need to live with it. But in order to calm yourself enough, just quiet that monkey mind. And as well, go through and do that deep work over decades and decades so that the monkey mind can be quiet to begin with. You see the pay off. You can see why the Daoists are like, "Yeah look, of course we need a strong body. We start with Jing, and we start with a strong body so that the Qi can move, and we want to cultivate lots of Qi and life."
But what's the point if you don't develop your Shen and your virtuous nature? The reason we do that, the reason we want to be athletic and athletically apt is because you see a lot of people say, for example, a lot of people whose parent here. You'll see they'll get to 60, say 65 or 70, and there is just no way they've got the Jing and the Qi to get in there and do some deep psychological work and create forgiveness or get off the right or wrong. So just say politically, be able to get to the point where they can open up and take more of a broad view of life for their capacity to be happy, not have a monkey mind, not have resentfulness.
And therefore, it kind of goes a little bit further with the dysfunction, if you don't develop your Shen. All of the sudden, you're stuck with your dysfunctions. You haven't developed a virtuous nature, and therefore, you become one that projects onto children, other family members, society, "This is what's wrong. This is why I'm right." Or you become extremely timid and don't have the capacity to stand for yourself and express your spirit. And it's an absolute, to be really blunt.
I don't think it's right or wrong that people end up that way. But when you look at an objective level, if you have people who don't go into maturation, which is what Shen is, a lot of wisdom, then you become a burden. Right? And you become someone that projects, and it's not my job to be like, "That person's making me a victim."
That's not what I'm saying. But if I'm saying from myself, if I got to the point where I'm 70 and I've got my anger issues that I haven't really worked on, "I don't like being judged," I know how much of a problem I'm going to be and a drain I'm going to be for Aiya. And that's really a harrowing feeling, and the Daoist and all these wise cultures saw that's the point. I don't care how big your muscles are, how much Qi you've got in your Spleen, if you can't really embody compassion, then what was it for?
That's interesting because this phase of life... I think I'm right on this. I think earlier, when you're a little kid, you're in the Wood phase. And we're in the Fire phase now which is really about the soul learning through living and learning through trial and error and making mistakes. And it is kind of like a student-ship of the soul, ideally. And it's interesting given our culture how little people invest in their own spiritual development, I guess. I'm sure the people in these podcasts are slightly different, but in general, it's just not really a priority for people until they get a lot older. And like you said, the baggage is so heavy by then, yoga talks about every experience we have creating an impression. And if you dig the same line 100 times in the sand, it becomes a very deep line, and it's very hard to get rid of.
And I think that's these kind of... You see people as they age becoming really stuck on certain ideas or certain things just loop and loop. It's because early on, when they had the opportunity, I think, to become conscious of that and to start to shift their perspective and their behaviour and their patterns, they've chosen not to do that. And the Bhagavad Gita talks about you want to put the reins on the horse and teach the horse. And then, learn to control the horse so it pulls the chariot in the right direction, not too fast, not too slow. And that's what I think this Shen stage of life is about.
And then, we hit the declining... Oh sorry. I think we're always ascending. We hit the declining years, and then we hit the deep wisdom years in the 70's. And all of the things have to happen for us to end up there. And I think that's where-
A lot of opportunity's lost.
Yeah. If you've just hustled and made sure there's money and done your thing and whatever, you've not spent a lot of time on yourself and worked through your own stuff that you've brought through, which we all have. That's part of living. Then, you're going to end up in a bit of a shit fight later on, I think. And I think that's a lot of the people I talk to with menopause and when I spoke to Jane Hardwicke Collins about this. We talked about how women have that transition period in their late 40's, early 50's where suddenly their life catches up with them. And they realise all the places where they've bent over and not given to themselves first, and where they've been taken for granted or prioritised the things that weren't in service to them.
That's the teaching of that time, and it's an invitation. The Blood has stopped. The Blood remains in the body, and that's when the Shen really rises in a woman if she's willing to meet it. But it means looking at all the things that are uncomfortable and all the things... Shen isn't all just sunshine and rainbows unfortunately. Sometimes for it to shine through, like you're saying, we have to do a bit of work. Peel away some of the layers.
And that's why meditation is correlated with Shen building. It's being able to sit there. And again, I don't know the Daoist language for this, but in yoga, you've got the higher mind and the lower mind. And the lower mind is always there. It's not like you're calling it, the monkey mind. It's just monkeys are monkeys. No point trying to stop a monkey, but you don't want to live from that place. You want to live like you're watching the monkey and going, "What a funny monkey," and giving it a banana and being kind to it, but knowing that monkeys will do what monkeys will do.
And living in this higher place that takes a bit of practise because A, it's not common in our culture. It's not really celebrated to not be easily reactive, and people love drama. How much do people love drama? Netflix is just drama to the enth degree, and it's fun.
It is fun. But it also catches us, and it spirals us through these emotional things. And it really can be damaging to our health.
Well it's distracting. I think the biggest thing, if you start looking at the fact that you've got... You're saying we're in our 30's. We've got a good 10 years to dive in there and maybe do some therapy or do some... For me, it's do some integrating from a crazy amount of plant medicine I did in my late 20's and actually allow that to maturate into something. Consistently catch myself, consistently make decisions about where I dramatise. And just get in there and get really gritty. And you only have a certain amount of time.
I'm not saying we're not allowed to do anything that's completely entertaining or total drama-dom.
Well it's supposed to burn.
It's meant to be fun as well.
Exactly. Oh, god to be meant to be fun. But in terms of just how distracted we let ourselves go, without going into morality, it's right or it's wrong kind of thing. But at some point, you go, "Shit, I better get on the horse here and develop myself a little bit."
So the nature of meditation, the nature of why the Daoists saw Shen herbs... These are the herbs that tonify the organs associated with Shen, mainly the Heart, Heart Fire. But also, we're seeing the correlation between Shen tonics, Liver-Wood tonics. And then, you see some supporting herbs in there that are doing some work on the Spleen and Lung, and then, the Kidneys of course. Because you were talking about the lower mind and the upper mind, being the Kidney associated with that monkey mind.
You can't really correlate the way the mind is seen the West with the way the Daoists see it.
Oh yeah, where the brain is the Kidney.
Exactly. So if the brain is the Kidney, and then the Heart is our higher thinking and our Shen, that's why there's herbs like polygala root that are in the SHEN blend that are actually running along the psychic vessel, the penetrating vessel from the Kidney to the Heart in order to connect those two styles of thought and bring sexual energy and bring a virtuous way of relating to our sexual energy, and merging that with the heart. It's also called our Will Strengthener, and it brings pure will power to our way of being.
So you'll see herbs like polygala being some of the most potent Shen tonics because it brings a calming effect, not because it's a carminative, not because it down regulates the nervous system, but because you come integrated in a way. That without, you're not going to be able to spiritually develop yourself because you've got this drive and this sexual hunger and this power to create. Yet, that's not merging necessarily as smoothly as it could with this loving, forgiving, jovial, non-judgmental, non right and wrong, non shame-based way of living.
And so it's really just calming. So these Shen herbs, you can see quite often, you start taking a herb like reishi, many people have felt it, but especially if you take SHEN blend with herbs like polygala. You can immediately feel, due to all the various actions, a calming effect. And that's good, but we're not taking this so you can be calm today. The idea of the SHEN blend and Shen herbs is we're going to be taking them either sporadically or over time. Maybe it's week on, week off, however. I don't know how you're going to take it.
But in conjunction with meditation, doing your work, doing your practise, showing up with self, going to therapy, just being real. Taking that trajectory towards being someone who is, in their older age, able to have a laugh and a sense of humour. When life hits them, have water go off a duck's back. What happens if you lose a million dollars? Are you going to be able to let that go?
Well that's the thing with the Heart because it's so much about... So the Heart has four... Normally in Chinese medicine, all the organ systems are in pairs. But the Heart is two pairs, four in total. And it's administrative role of the Triple Burner, the San Jiao, which is about regulating temperature and fluids across the three Dan Tien. So around your Heart-Lungs, around your digestive function, around your reproductive function. So that's one aspect of it.
Then you've got the Small Intestine, which is about the ability to be discerning. So that's a really important function of the Heart, not judge but to just discern, to know the difference between what's true and what isn't true, it's own perception, which is assimilative and eliminative, getting rid of, a function of the Small Intestine. And then you've got this pericardium which is this protection around the Heart because the heart gets damaged by our interactions with humans.
If we get heartbroken or even if we're just treated poorly in any way, every little cut starts to go deeper and deeper. And so, that's so much of the Fire years. Like I said, the human is also learning to relate and learning to forgive and not be hurt by our interactions with each other and to find the people or the types of people that are going to be the most suited to us, and this idea of remaining open-hearted throughout our lives.
And that's something you see again in older people that have been hurt. They close off from love. They close off from receiving any goodness from anyone because they've been hurt once, or twice, or three times. So that's one of the offerings of working with the Heart energy and Fire energy, to stay in the space of open-hearted-ness and to remember that the Heart is protected. It has this whole meridian designed just to protect it from overheating, from being hurt, from being damaged.
And when we do get broken-hearted, to honour that, and to let ourselves time to heal instead of rushing on. So I think that sometimes the Shen can get hidden when we've become so damaged that we won't let ourselves be seen.
Yeah. It's a classic thing, but this is just our relating and our ability. If you think about a saint, they're able to sit with anyone and not judge. The leper comes to Jesus, and he's like, "I love you. I love you like my child." The rich billionaire, fat person, the whatever, everyone comes, and they don't care. They sit there, and they love them. And there's no judgement , and there's no story.
They accept things for what they are, and that's something that is an offering, I guess, of this Heart energy. So yeah, that's what I thought would be a useful thing to remember. As well, it's our relating and our inter-relating, and our joy in being social and being with others and being a part of a tribe. And again, it's what these years are about. Finding our tribe, finding the people that we want to be with, finding our place in the world, finding the people we want to share our lives with.
And remember that there's no definition. We're not looking at important... I can feel Tahns is really honing in and giving you an example of what the pure energy of Shen is terms of a saint. That is within us, but integrated with all the other parts of our body. That's there and can be purely expressed while you're a smart ass, while you're just enjoying what's... You don't have to walk around being-
Yeah. Whatever your personality is.
And most saints are very funny, give them half a chance. That's Buddha, you have a sense of humour. I think people forget that the cosmic joke is very funny.
One of the virtuous things when you're high in Shen is extreme political incorrectness.
I've never met a Daoist that wasn't funny, ever. They've all been f-ing hilarious.
Uh-huh (affirmative). So Shen herbs, the way they're going to generally work is to bring a stability to the way that Fire rages. Remember, Tanz was talking about being comfortable within your body. It's like the fire in the hearth, the fire in our home, that is the Heart. And if it's raging too high or if it's erratic, it's going hot and cold. And when you think about it, you're sitting next to that fire. The flames are licking out. You're not going to be able to sit next to it.
Now, that's your Shen. Your Shen is you, your Spirit, sitting next to the fire in that home. And if it's raging, it's going to be start and a bit fiery itself. And it's not going to be able to sit there and be calm. You're not going to be able to have calm emotions. You're going to have erratic emotions. You're going to have an erratic mindset. You're going to be cracked out.
If it's too cold, how are you going to really... You're really cold long enough, you are not going to allow joy in your life. You're not going to be able to express it. And that's what Shen is about as well. So a lot of these Shen herbs are about bringing a stability to that Fire. And that stability, a lot of the time, is coming directly through the Heart, maybe moving the water Qi from under the heart in the case of spirit poria.
Pearl, a great stabiliser, especially because it's a real cold herb for the Liver Yin. Therefore, it's going to ensure that we don't have this excess Fire, Yang, within the Liver-Wood, which is going to create these brittle branches that are then going to excessively feed the Fire very fast. We have suppleness and cooling within the Liver-Wood so that we don't have as much Fire. And Wood being fed into the Fire; therefore, we're more stable.
And then the other way that they work, they're basically nourishing of the Shen. So the reishi mushroom, the asparagus root, the albizia flower, these are Shen nourishers. And so, that's literally about cultivating that Fire and going and building in a way that's going to be burning appropriately for the season. And this is why our practises, our spiritual practises, our meditation, the way that we're interacting with nature and our emotions, it needs to be seasonal. Because you remember, everything is really coming down to us developing Shen.
And different seasons, you need your Fire to be doing different things that requires you acting in very different ways. Remember, all organs and practises are essentially serving the emperor of the Heart eventually. So just being aware of that and remembering Shen, developing your own Shen. Getting to know you and your Shen, you're going to keep on hitting brick walls in terms of being the way you think you should be, the way you think is virtuous. And you might have to go and do some... You might have to have some real dark nights of the soul as you go along. And they get easier as you go along to really learn, "Well, that's just not going to happen. This is the nature of who I am and how I act. I'm going to have to go and deal with it and express myself in a way that isn't the Disney version or the picture-perfect way."
And if you can do that on the other side of it, there's this ease where all the crap, more and more... It's never perfect, I'm being idealistic. But more and more, all the crap falls off you like water off a duck's back. And there's some things with us, and now it's a funny time to bring up relationships since I just put that post up on Instagram about us quitting SuperFeast and being an official power couple.
But one thing I've just noticed, like most relationships, it's always the amount of Shen you can develop in a relationship... And it's chalk and cheese if you look four years ago to something you'd say, and I'd take it personally and bring it up in a hostile way. Verse now, if you bring it up, a lot of the time it can just be, like I said, water off a duck's back.
And the same with you. I can feel adjustments to the way that you say things, and I feel less and less when you bring them up. I don't feel them as injustices. Not all the time, but I can bring things up a little, with a little bit less charge and a little bit more forgiveness. And I tried doing it the right way for a couple of years and being a better man, and it just wasn't working. I had to go in and be like, "Far out, what's actually going on here?"
And sure enough, after a while, as everyone's experienced with relationships and at work and with their children, things start smoothing out a little bit more. And since we've all had the experience of seeing ourselves develop and potentially becoming less erratic or less timid or something like that, you just go, "Wow, I've got the opportunity to take this and run with it, make this the main driver of my life to make sure I end up as an 80 or 90 year-old that's super functional and fun to be around, or at least carries a little bit of wisdom, has the energy and the capacity to share my wisdom and be a joy to be around."
That's why the Shen herbs... That's why reishi was depicted in Heaven by the Daoists. It's why the Shen herbs were considered... They were the most revered. And it's why they were the ones that would eventually be consumed the most. You can just get yourself and your lifestyle set where you're developing your Jing, and you're not leaking a battery. Easy. You've just got your sleep practises, cool. Eventually, you don't have to think about that quite as much.
And the same as Qi. You've got your practises. You've got your Qi Gong. You're allowing your emotions to move smoothly. You're eating an appropriate amount, appropriate for the body. You've got deep breathing going on. You're spending time in the sun. You're charging. You're developing that Qi. Then, you're free to just go in and actually just consistently work on your Shen. It's always where it ends up. It seems boring in the beginning of the journey. But at some point, you're like, "God, this is where it's at."
Boring to whom? I think it's such a pleasant outcome, I suppose. When you start to feel like you've integrated and settled and grounded, and obviously a continuing process. But I remember the first time I took reishi. I think I took it to... It wouldn't have been vipassan. It must have been a non-vipassana, but it was a 10-day retreat. I think it was a tantric retreat in Thailand. But just the grace of the herb with the practises, it was just so beautiful and really connecting to yourself in that way, I think there's something really beautiful about when you start to experience your Shen. It's definitely not boring. I think there's an ideological thing, perhaps it's a little bit virtuous sounding. And a bit like, "Oh."
It sounds wanky.
Yeah. I get that.
I definitely thought that as well sometimes. But I think the lived experience of it is really beautiful. And when you're living in that place, even if it's for periods of time as it becomes more integrated, you tend to sort of move in and out of your own evolution. I'm sure many of you can relate to that. But yeah, there's this real beauty and grace in sitting and resting in that kind of awareness of the Heart. You look at all the traditions from the Christian traditions, I may argue that they all came from the same place, possibly the Vedas. But they're pointing to this union of fire and water, this Heart, Kidneys, the Daoist example of this.
And yeah, when we've nourished ourselves on this level, which many of you have working with Jing herbs, and working with changing lifestyles and building more functional ways of being, and you start with herbs. Herbs in the SHEN blend or just Shen herbs in general, it's a very quick and powerful transition, I suppose, into that more conscious state, without sounding like a total douche.
But you're easy to be around.
Way easier to be around. And the whole factor, we talk about personality. Because we're not talking about an idealistic way of being or a spiritual way of being.
It's just you.
It's just you. That's the whole point of it.
Without the bullshit.
Without the bullshit. We can't reiterate that enough. And I think everyone has to go through their experience of trying to develop themselves towards an ideological way of being. To think, "I'm going to be accepted by this little cult here if I act in this way." And that doesn't just count towards spiritual hand-on-heart stuff, which for some people, that's-
Their truest expression.
Exactly. But it's in all manner of ways. The guy who's working on Wall Street and thinks that he's gotta be a hustler and work that way his entire life. It's same deal. Its just like, "Pop your head out of ideology a little bit. Maybe you have to stop being so Jing deficient to begin with. Get your lifestyle where I can see you can have some Qi. And all of sudden, you've got the energy to actually get some Shen coming, developing, and cracking through."
And that's what the Shen character is, the written character. It's the sun, moon, and stars with a rope coming up to them. The two hands pulling down to signify the connecting of the supernatural and that part of ourselves that's way beyond this.
Yeah, highest consciousness.
Bringing it down here and merging it with us. So you're going to like this blend, guys. It tastes bloody delicious.
Which is lucky because Shen herbs are bitter usually.
Yeah. And of course, we've got reishi in there as a big one. It's the queen of the mushies. So you can already see, it's going to be working on the nervous system, immune system, Kidneys, Liver health. It's going to be doing a bunch of other things. But in terms of calming the monkey mind, bringing some calmness to yourself, less erraticness in the emotions, giving you the capacity to express a bit more happiness and develop that Shen and everything else that we've talked about. Go deeper in meditation. For some of you, it's going to be really, really good for sleep.
We've had a couple of people who have just been atrocious with their sleep. And Shen's been able to come in quite immediately and help them go super deep with continued usage. For others, it's not a sleep blend. For some people, when you get your Shen expressing, perhaps too quick sometimes, the dreams can become quite out there. Some people love it.
Especially if you're Blood deficient, I think.
Yeah. It's good to check up with a practitioner if you're not sure.
Don't try and treat any kind of psychosis or extreme insomnia or depression or anything with this SHEN blend. And we're not just saying that as a disclosure.
I said disclosure. No, that's like a UFO podcast is next. Talk to your practitioner. But the Shen herbs can be used in conjunction with other treatments you're doing. But just go slow with it. But reishi's in there, so of course, that's just opening the heart wide open. I'm very excited that a bunch of you... Another major herb in the blend is the albizia flower. It comes from the tree of happiness.
This flower is an absolute shining light. You just smile. I smile when I look at it. It's just a great mood elevator. And then we've got asparagus root as the third major herb in there.
She's a legend.
Yeah, shatavari's a legend. And so, there's a lot going on, integrate hormone regulator, integrate Jing tonic in itself. But asparagus root was used by the Daoists in order to allow us to fly. And so, with our meditations and in life, the idea is in life, if something happens and shit's hitting the fan, you're going to be able to fly up, rise above the situation. Look down, get a more of a bird's eye view so that you're not just reacting to it down on this animalistic level, this reptilian level.
And it's the same in your meditations. You bring this buoyancy so you can fly through yourself with greater ease and just get a couple of, "Ah yeah, all right. I can see how I'm doing that and doing that." Such a great herb. But that's the one sometimes people... I don't think you like that at night.
I was laughing because it makes me fly at night, only if I take large doses. I remember taking three teaspoons one night, and I was up till about 4:00 in the morning.
Do not do that at home.
Oh I'm sorry. I wasn't Jesus in exclamation. I was just like, "I'm pretty sure that's what Jesus did when he went to India and studied his spiritual practises." But whatever.
And then, we've got some more support, a secondary, bringing in spirit poria. So spirit poria, medicinal mushroom, bringing in that secondary medicinal mushroom magic.
Not to be confused with regular poria.
No, it's a much more precious, I guess I'd say. Poria's one of my favourite herbs by far. Spirit poria is the sclerotium that makes up about sometimes 10, 20% of the actual... You break off the fruiting body-
Which is regular poria.
Which is regular poria growing off the pine. The mushroom was inoculated into the pine, then put under dirt. But right there, normally you can't get access to the mycelium, the body, the inside. But with spirit poria, that is just that 10% or maybe 20% where it's emerging from the pine. And it's in that transformation. It's in that process of transforming the pine.
And you can also get to access to the body, which you can't get in the wild of any other herb. And so, it's got this otherworldly quality. So it's got all the Qi, Spleen tonifying-
Water metabolism functions and immunological functions. But it's just got this additional bringing of transformational light into the Heart.
So just a quick fun fact, because chaga is also a sclerotium. So that means they aren't true mushrooms in terms of the actual expressed fruiting body, which is what you would normally get. So just for people that are interested. Because I think a lot of the time, we say chaga mushroom, we say spirit poria mushroom. And we say that because it's easier than saying chaga sclerotium and explaining that to someone. But this is what makes these particular herbs really special, chaga and spirit poria because you can't really cultivate sclerotium.
Chaga's never been able to be cultivated. Spirit poria isn't cultivated in a lab or anything like that like you can get with most medicinal mushrooms. They can grow them in an artificial environment. You can't do that with these guys. So these are cultivated in an outdoor setting, like how they would grow in nature. So just a fun fact.
We'll put a video of me-
Yeah. At the poria farm. And I explain what spirit poria is, and you can actually see me pointing out. So go to the show notes for that.
And they grow in tropical parts.
Yeah. Yunnan.Yunnan provence. There was a hotter region, they were growing in the middle.
In the grass. In the middle, yeah.
In that middle belt of China, but it poria was becoming more popular. And the local government or the provincial government, wasn't regulating the harvesting of pine. And so, 95% of the herbal world doesn't give a shit about that, and they continue to do that there. But those doing Di Dao, who were doing true Di Dao, part of Di Dao is sustainability or leaving it intact. And so, it moved to secondary preference. And we moved to a secondary preference, which is Yunnan Province. It's still Di Dao. It's still said, "You go get your herbs from Yunnan Province in this micro-climate in the ancient text."
But it's just not our first-
Preference. Which is as always, guys, with the sourcing. We're going to prioritise the environment.
Longevity of it. Yep.
And so, yeah. So the farmers who I was meeting, they moved their whole operations and their whole family. And they moved to Yunnan. And there, the government's like crazy regulatory. And that's why there's a cap on how big your farm can be because you can only go and harvest so much wild pine. And they send helicopters over. You've got to prove and show that you've used all your tags. And they go through, and basically if they find that you've taken any other additional pine, then you're going to get some serious fines.
Fine-age. And I think too, when you think about what sclerotium is, it does have this part of the tree still in it. That's where a lot of these medicines come from. Because if you look at pine and you look at birch were chaga grows, they're both very potent trees in their own rights. Spiritually, the pine is the Daoists' favourite bloody tree. I talked to Master Chia about the pine. He loves a pine. But incredibly medicinal trees as well.
And then, even oak, which is what lion's mane is grown on.
Yeah, really medicinal trees. So for us, having that tree energy is really important.
Yeah. So we don't work with grain growing or anything like that which is, again, another thing that's commonly done in cultivated environments. So you've just got to think about what the energetics are going to be of these herbs when you consume them. So again, another fun fact.
Yeah. Then we start getting to the assistant herbs. Pearl, I've talked about. That is a micro-ground pearl.
Yeah. So it's not an extract. Sometimes people get confused, but it's literally ground up pearls.
It's ground up pearls, very ancient medicine, very mineral rich, energetically Cold. Just a beautiful Shen tonic, so calming to the mind, and one of the most beautifying. It's a really beautifying blend as well for the skin. Between the asparagus root, the pearl, and all the Blood building herbs that we've got in there, plus no scrunching with anger. No crow's feet. That's what happens when you're a bit more happy, but pearl, and yes-
Just smile lines.
As always. Yeah, just smile lines. And pearl, as always, sustainably harvested, because we've had a few people ask where they're farmed. In the wild.
In fresh water.
Yeah, fresh water. Polygala, I talked about. It's one of my favourite herbs, the will strengthener, connecting the Kidney sexual energy, the Waters, as Tahns was saying before. The ideal behind this life is taking the Water, mixing it with the Fire, creating alchemy. And polygala is one of those herbs that is taking the Water of the Kidneys and connecting it with the Fire of the Heart. And of course, the Kidneys are the regulators, kind of like the grandma of the Heart. Just clipping it, we need Water in order to keep that Fire under control and keep it grounded and rooted.
So I'm very excited that you're all going to be taking polygala when you take this blend. Got rehmania in there as a Blood builder. Beautiful Shen tonic in itself, but especially grounding in bringing that Yin Jing Water energy and that building of Blood so that we can get the Shen moving around.
Rehmania's amazing. And then, some aged citrus peel. That's in there as a Spleen-Lung tonic as an augmentor of the Spleen, Stomach, and Lung to ensure smooth integration of the other herbs. It's a beautiful assistant herb. And then, the other assistant which goes in, which is a pretty typical one traditionally in Shen with other Shen herbs, is longan. It's a beautiful Blood and Qi tonic. Heart and Spleen energy, so longan is used in smaller amounts. It's considered in its own right, the longan fruit, as a Shen tonic just to be taken on its own.
In terms of when you put it in there as an assistant to other Shen tonics, you see this amplification of the nourishing of the Heart. It's palpable. I've tried it without the longan, and then with. And it's super palpable.
So that's probably why it tastes good because longans are delicious.
Longans are delicious. That's the dragon eye energy coming through, guys. So it's also a Qi tonic. So it supports the Blood moving through the channels because you can't just build the Blood. You need the Qi tonics there moving it around.
It's a really good women's herb too. And it is kind of like a lychee if you've never seen a longan before.
A little lychee.
Yeah, like a little, round, brown lychee. But they grow around this area and in the tropics.
You find them at Harris Farm when they're in season.
There you go. Harris Farm.
Yeah, I know.
First time they've been mentioned on the SuperFeast.
Yeah. I know because every time... My mum was at her old place, Harris Farm was up the road.
Yep. I've been there.
Yeah. You've been there.
They have some good organic stuff actually.
Shout out Boronia Park.
Yeah, shot out Harris Farm, Boronia Park yeiiiiiwwww! Down in Sidney there. Mom's moved on up the road to Putney since then. But guys, any questions let us know, in terms of taking the Shen. I personally like it in the morning. It sets me up for a really calm, it's not calm as in a floppiness. When you have your Shen tonics coming through, there's a calmness. But I feel really my value, I feel principled in that sense, just to give you that little bit of a sense of how I feel. It's not just calm and just like, "Yes. Sweet, man. My thoughts are slow."
No, no, no. My thoughts are kind of like... My mind is calm. My thoughts are able to come through real clearly. I feel crispy, and I feel my principles. I feel virtuous in hopefully a non-egoic way.
You're tuned in, like the radio channel's clear, it's coming through. You've got that connection. I think that's the feeling of being dialled in to yourself, which I think is not a... The calm is from the steadiness of the mind instead of the doubting mind, the kind of the mind that is not completely satisfied is a very agitated state to be in. And so when we're calm, when we're just clear and we're getting the frequency right for ourselves, it's a really beautiful feeling.
I think, and I agree. I personally like it in the morning, I've taken it at night while we're trialling it. I didn't have any issues with it, but I just feel like it's a really nice way to start the day.
Beautiful intention to set.
And it's good. It's like smoothies. Adjusting hot water with a touch of milk and honey works that way. Goes in with any teas. You can do hot chocolates and coffees with it and smoothies with it. Same deal. If you're doing it at night... As I said, I've got to reiterate, for some people, they didn't love it in the morning. Some people were just like, "Nah, I didn't really need to be that... " They didn't need that Shen tonifying steadying.
But at night, was when they really benefited and really were able to go deep into a Yin state for them. So find, pick your time. Pick what's appropriate for you. Chamomile tea at night, beauty. You're laughing.
Hit us up if you've got any questions.
Yeah, really excited to hear your feedback your all, and experiences and all those things. So let us know. We love hearing from you guys, and-
Shen on. I also say [shu-yage 01:02:51], bon voyage.
Sondrine Kehoe is the founder and creative visionary behind Cygnet Perfumery; The most heavenly slow scent range of botanical extrait de parfum's, handcrafted for our pleasure senses. In this episode Tahnee and Sondrine discuss all things botanical perfumery, regenerative skincare, conscious business and so much more.