Mason (founder of SuperFeast) in China with a wild red reishi, notice how it's sort of a heart shape?
Used for thousands of years and arguably the most revered tonic herb in the east, reishi has been used to overcome insomnia, cholesterol issues, asthma, anxiety, stress and to lengthen life. Wow. But there's a lighter and more soulful side to reishi we want to share today...
While the physiological benefits of incorporating this beautiful adaptogen into your life are endless, it's the lesser tangible effects that are really getting us wild at the moment. And by wild, we mean zen AF. Reishi is a powerful Shen tonic and is often lovingly referred to as the mushie of spiritual potentiation.
Shen: get your spirit on
If you're new to Traditional Chinese healing philosophies and lore, then the notion of Shen would be an unknown. We suggest tuning into this excellent podcast episode which provides a rad overview :)
Shen is one the Three Treasures, along with Qi and Jing. While reishi tones all Three Treasures, it is predominately a Shen tonic; it's heart heavy. Let it be known, by toning all Three Treasures, it starts to become apparent pretty darn quick how magical this mushie is.
These treasures basically govern health, both physically and spiritually:
Jing: essence, foundational, from birth
Qi: energy, breath, attitude, day-to-day
Shen: spirit, awareness, mental health, your shiny-ness, the heart houses your Shen
What is Shen all about?
Each Treasure is intricately involved with the other, so a strong Shen does have a certain dependence on a foundational Jing and Qi; each Treasure supports the other.
Why should I be into nourishing my Shen?
We'll tell you why!
Your Shen is your spirit coming forth, allowing you to have a balanced interpretation of the world, a strong personal evolution, the ability to healthily explore and release your emotions and the opportunity to grow your innate wisdom. Translated as our 'higher consciousness', Shen allows the beautiful virtues of acceptance, tolerance and forgiveness to come forth. As Ron Teeguarden says:
- Shen is the spark of divinity with each human being -
The ancient Taoists refer to Shen as the most refined level of energetics in the universe. Like you need more reasons to cultivate and nurture your Shen, see below:
- Having robust Shen means you are not responding from your brain, nor your gut, but rather your heart
- Shen allows you to explore your spiritual potentiation
- Want to develop your emotional consciousness? Shen will guide you
- Are you a spiritual seeker?
- Looking to deepen your relationship with Source, the universe, God?
- You might be wanting to dive deeper into yourself
- Want to be more open-hearted? Have a flowing heart channel?
- Because you'll be loving up your nervous system
- You want to move out of the sympathetic nervous system activation, to parasympathetic
- You want to strengthen your heart muscles and cells
- You'd like to accept things as they are
Now you want to develop and cultivate your Shen. Think about it for a sec.
Do you want to react to external stimuli from your head/gut? Be quick to judge? Be reactive, jumpy? Nah, we didn't think so.
In today's landscape, this sympathetic nervous system dominance is relatively normal day-to-day. Adrenaline and all the consequences are constantly flooding the body. And here's a disclaimer: normal and common, does not mean healthy! This chronic flight or fight response (we've spoken about it here) leads to exhaustion and tapped out kidneys and Jing. The body perceives threats at every turn. We all been there friend. But, by toning your Shen, by creating a healthy framework for a healthy Shen, you can begin to intuit and perceive your environment from your heart space. Trust us, it's a much nicer, safer, more enjoyable place to be :)
How do I know if I have low Shen?
It could be a feeling that Western living has sort of pacified you. Maybe you're feeling a little dull. You're a little less shiny. More possible signs:
- Feelings of lowness
- Disturbed sleep
- Lost that shiny glint in your eyes
- Feeling blocked in your heart area? Physically or spiritually
- On edge, strung out, feeling frayed or frazzled
- Nervous system feeling sensitive
- You feel out of balance emotionally
- Your ego takes the driver seat often
On this last point, egotistically-drive behaviors (we're talking constantly seeking external pleasures, anger, fear, greed, materialism, selfishness, and so forth) push your Shen into hiding. Literally. Your Shen will retreat, withdraw and **hide**. It don't want no part in all that rubbish.
Rebalancing your outlook, practicing gratitude and giving, getting back to nature, finding harmony and consistent personal practice (check out our epic article to help you cultivate your own practice) will go a long way to building up your Shen, as will incorporating Superfeast Reishi into your day-to-day.
Best Ways to Use Reishi
Just. get. it. in. We're serious. A day with reishi, is a goooooood day. Mason, founder of SuperFeast personally loves reishi at nighttime, a bit like that lone soldier who guards every nighttime; he's solid, stable and always there for you. Our favorite nighttime tonic is the Sleepy Reishi, check it out here and it is truly lovely to have a beautiful tonic herb practice to take you into your wind-down at night. BUT, don't pigeon-hole reishi into nighttime only. Reishi can be used at any time of the day to increase your spiritual radiance. Isn't that a gorgeous term, spiritual radiance? We've got plenty of recipes here for you if you need some more ideas (try typing reishi in the search box).
Reishi pairs *particularly* well with meditation. So the next time you head to the meditation cushion, try sipping your reishi elixir beforehand and allow the magical wisdom of the mushroom guide you through.
And before we finish up singing the absolute praises of one of our fave tonic herbs ever, we will leave you with this lovely passage, written by Zhuang Zi (a famous Chinese sage):
We highly HIGHLY recommend getting onto reishi. Whether you are new to adaptogens, or a long-time lover, this gorgeous mushroom will provide you with profound benefits. You cannot go wrong with the queen. Want to dive deeper into reishi, then head over to our reishi podcast episode, it is a ripper.