As we enter the last month of Winter here in the Southern Hemisphere, it's very tempting to daydream about the sweet Spring air and warmer weather that awaits us. However, as we will learn in today's Winter podcast, this last month of Winter is critical to how we show up in Spring, Summer, and beyond. So as much as you can- REST, sleep, nurture and nourish yourself in these last days before spring arrives...
Reflection, restoration, rest- through these Winter practices, we are able to access the wisdom of the Kidneys and the cultivation of Jing that will sustain us through Spring, the peak of Summer, and beyond.
Today on the podcast, Tahnee and Mason share the practices, Kidney herbs, and Taoist wisdom of Winter/ Water time in a way that calls us to reflect and ask ourselves- Are we getting enough rest? If we observe the health of the collective during our current Winter season, the answer points to no. Tahnee dives deep into the energy of the Kidneys- explaining why rest/sleep in these cooler water cultivating months is critical to our vitality in every season.
Mason speaks to the Kidneys relationship with fear- when it's useful- when it's destructive, and how when we surrender to the stillness and darkness this season grants us, there is an opportunity for profound transformation- spiritually-mentally-physically.
This conversation comes at a most significant time, bringing up the much broader and ubiquitous question of sustainability. How sustainable are the lifestyles we live- and at what cost do they come to our health?
"I'm sleeping until seven most mornings, and I'm really feeling this deep nourishment from sleep at the moment. Obviously, we have a business and children, so naturally, we still end up burning the candle. But how many of us push through winter not getting that hibernation time, that deep rest of restoration in the Qi and the Organs? Then we get sick, and then we're suddenly crook all the time. It's like this because- as a culture, we keep the momentum going all year round. We don't have this time of acknowledging and making sacred the rest and the sleep that we require".
Mason and Tahnee discuss:
- Qi Gong
- Jing energy
- Qi cultivation
- The organ wheel
- Fear and the Kidneys.
- Yin Yang Kidney herbs.
- Why we need rest in Winter.
- Herbs and foods for Winter.
- Transforming fear into wisdom.
- The Heart and Kidney meridians.
- The esoteric nature of the Kidneys.
- Balancing our Yin and Yang energy.
- The Water element and the Kidneys.
- Why we need sleep to cultivate Jing.
- Why we protect ourselves against the cold.
- Practices and meditations to support us through Winter.
- What the menstrual flow says about our Jing/Kidney essence.
Click here to listen on apple podcast
Tahnee is a self proclaimed nerd, with a love of the human body, its 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 business brains behind SuperFeast, wife to Mason, and devoted mama to Aiya and baby Leo, the newest addition to the Taylor family.
Mason Taylor is the CEO/Founder of SuperFeast and a renowned tonic herbalist. On a soul mission to bring people back to their body and nature while bursting through dogma, he shares passionately and uniquely in his workshops, podcast, and content on how to cultivate healing and potentiation through health sovereignty. An expert in Daoist tonic herbalism, Mason has helped tens of thousands of people globally discover medicinal mushrooms, adaptogenic tonic herbs, and the healing philosophy from which they emerged. Mason is also a budding comedian; bursting the bubble on the “health scene” with his antics.
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Water Element and Winter Food Therapy with Kimberly Ashton (EP#168)
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Check Out The Transcript Here:
Ready to jam about the water season.
Excited about winter? That's a transformation now.
I like winter. I know it is. I'm from far North Queensland so I don't like winter historically but I have grown to love winter and I think the kidneys are my favourite organ system to talk about if one can have a favourite.
You only have five organ systems. Yeah. I definitely feel you. Do you just want to jump straight in and let us know why you love talking about it so much?
So I think I like it on an esoteric level because it's all about the karmic blueprint of the organism as it comes in. But on a more practical level, I think the kidney's governed regulation of the fluids in our body and our on a Western lens that hormonal axis of relationship and I've just come to really appreciate how important it is to nurture that system. One thing I'm really conscious of is how esoteric we go on this podcast so I want to try and keep it practical for a little bit at least. I think when we talk about kidneys we're really talking about the ability of the body to be in integrity and to have integrity through the joint systems, through the organ structures as well. So the spleen's really responsible for the meatiness and the integrity of the muscles and their ability to be harmonious and responsive and full of blood and all those things.
But the kidneys provide this consolidation and lifting and holding energy so when we talk about things like prolapse or joint issues we really see that as a kidney problem. I'm someone who has had a lot of bad stuff a couple of times in my life and I've really come to appreciate how much working with the kidney meridian has benefited that. On a psycho-emotional level, I really like how it speaks to transforming fear into wisdom which I think it's really difficult but I think it's a really worthwhile thing. When you look at the things in your life that really scare you whether it's death or financial like lack of finances or all of those primal... Yeah. Even your sexuality a lot of people have a lot of fear of sexuality. These are all really deeply connected to the kidney story.
If you look at the chakra system as well it's connected to that second chakra and also to the base chakra with the adrenal glands so it's really around all of those foundations of our human existence which is somewhere to live, someone to love us, enough money in the bank to survive, purpose and meaning in our lives. Using the journey of life to become wise. So a running joke in our house that I'm going to be really cool when I'm 60 but I think about instead of being I'll have to achieve something about when I'm 20 or 30 or whatever it's like take the long view and look at life as this opportunity to grow and develop and become wise, become... I guess let life shape you a little bit and that really aligns for me with the kidney essence because you think about what water does, it corrodes through rock to form these beautiful gorges and rivers.
If you've ever been in a plane flying over the earth and you see a river meandering through a desert or through a forest it's such a beautiful metaphor I think for life. Because it's not like a straight line to the sea. It twists and turns and bends and that's literally what kidney energy points to. Remember that water finds a way no matter what. There's always a path to the sea and we're meandering through life following the flow of life. So it points very much the Dao to me and I guess especially as I get older I'm really feeling into that new way, effortless effort, that sort of grace that comes through trusting in life. I think the kidney really invites that in. That was a long answer to your question.
Yeah. I'm just interested. I'm always interested to see what you bring up in the beginning because that sets me off. The fee one sets me off. We've talked about journaling as a practise in autumn-
It's good for all seasons.
It's good for all seasons. I find at the moment I like the confrontation around fear. I like the awareness and the appreciation and gratitude for fear as a feeling because naturally if everyone just goes in you can feel how much that fear has kept you alive. It's kept you safe. It's kept you... Maybe at times, you've gone to a Tony Robbins conference and he's told you to explode beyond your fear and you've gone out and done something exceptional. It's really great to have that heart energy all the time but if anyone who owns a business or who has their own whatever, just has a job if you constantly explode outside of what your body is telling you is reasonable like 100% of the time eventually you burn out. There's a little bit of reasonableness around some of the fears that you have.
Yeah. Well, I just want to jump in because you said courage which is really one of those values of the heart and the lungs. The upper dantian organ systems and again to get a little bit esoteric but if you're constantly draining the kidney essence before its really cultivated and naturally bubbling up-
What's that process?
Well, this is inner alchemy so this would be Neigong practise which is probably a little bit out there for the podcast but it's the cultivation practises. So if you're working with the water wheels in the body which are basically like energy currents in the body you're starting to consolidate your essence into jing. You're using chi drawn from the earth so that on the very base of the foot you can't see me I'm touching my hand as if it were afoot but if you go from your middle toes to the little divot underneath the pad of your foot just before the arch of your foot there's a kidney point called the bubbling spring. In QiGong when you place your feet on the earth after a certain amount of practise in the Wu Chi stance a way of leaning forward into the balls of the feet really resting them on the earth and connecting to the earth.
You start to feel almost as if bubbles or water bubbles are pressing up against the sole of the foot and it's called the bubbling spring point literally because you can feel the chi of the earth drawing up into the body through this point. A lot of the practises that I've learned through the Daoist arts are really around drawing earth chi up and into the body because that grounds us and it balances and it harmonises us and it reminds us of where we come from which is the earth so we're safe. We're safe here. We're not not here for a reason kind of thing. It gives us that grounding and connection. It's also very healing because earth chi is really healing for us especially those of us in device land all the time getting back to the earth is really important.
Then that chi we can draw that into the body and we can use that in the initial stages it's to clear tension and a lot of the stuff Benny does, Benny Fergusson the Movement Monk. His work is around this. It's releasing the superficial stages of tension which is built up through emotional suppression and life. Then as we clear that we start to get into cultivation so that's when we're storing energy instead of spending energy so most of us the moment we get an inch we take a mile and I'm talking about myself as well here. I always start to get enough rest we start to get a good diet. We start to get on the herbs, we start to do the practises, we start to feel really good so then we go and push ourselves really hard and do something crazy. So we haven't reached the stable place where we're actually really grounded and that's what you're talking to. You've got one course and suddenly you're inspired to take on the world but you don't have any foundations to actually tackle it.
Yeah. I think it's all done without a real appreciation and gratitude of that fear. Everyone's like feel the fear and do it anyway. I like to feel the fear and now I do. I think I've burnt myself out quite a lot with that personal development. Hardcore hostile entrepreneurial scene and now talking about the journaling I do it sometimes, I journal. I'll even counterintuitively do it on my phone if it strikes me but the whole reason I like winter as well. I like this kidney energy at all times of life as well as I start to get hopefully a little bit wiser and I'm not just going go, go, go at all times of the day. I'm appreciating that once you get to three to five o'clock in the organ wheel you can move into bladder time. Then five to seven you're moving into the kidney time and you can gauge how well you're able to adjust to a convalescence accumulating yin energy.
I bring this up just because it's a really nice gauge for everyone going forth to know well, am I enjoying this wintertime? What does it actually mean? It's like that time of day when you're winding down how successfully can you do it? How successfully can you go into the blackness of night and the blackness of sleep? It's definitely been a big struggle for me over the years and that's why I'm really with you. I can feel just the depth of that kidney energy, just the untapped potential and that's what the jing lives in the kidneys and that's our potential. But when it comes down to fear it's the wisest organ because it's the most practical. It's like if you're going for that walk, I went for a walk with Benny actually the other day and we were walking pretty close to a cliff and there was a big drop-off. I felt the fear and I felt that part of me judged that fear just being like come on then. Just get closer, you're fine. You can trust yourself. Then I was like all of a sudden that wisdom. It's wisdom. I'm-
Don't be stupid.
Yeah, don't be stupid. I was like, okay. I caught just how much my body was like it seized up even though I was in a safe position and I trusted my body and I was like okay, I can ease up here. Then in terms of going that little bit closer like my mind was telling me, no, go closer. Dance right on the edge. I was like I got really grateful for that fear right now probably I don't need to go closer to the edge now. Then from there, I get a cascade of different thoughts and different feelings. That's a very simple example but that sparked a lot of-
No, it's a great example. It's ego and all these things playing off in your mind and you're able now to take... This is literally the point of spiritual practise is to step out of the bullshit on that lower level of mind. I'm going to lean into the Ayurvedic text because I think they explain this very beautifully where it's like yeah, you've got ahamkara. You've got the ego itself who's saying I want to look a certain way and be a certain way in the world and that means I can handle this challenge. Then you've got Buddhi the wise mind going, really? Watch the emotions, watch what's playing out right now. Watch... We could get into these are scars which are habits of conditioning that you've got from what does it means to be a man. It means that I challenge myself. I push myself to go to the edge and this is literally the gift of the kidney is to go all of that stuff playing out. How do I rise above that? Be still, notice what's happening and make a wise decision which is important. I think it's a really useful life skill.
Lots of big decisions come about. There's a lot of fear right now. There's fear of people who aren't vaccinated, who are vaccinated. There's fear of never being able to travel again.
Governments. I think literally we're in a time of collective base chakra blasting because the systems that people have relied on forever are coming apart and this is where it helps to have a practise that grounds you back to the earth and says we're right here right now in this moment I'm okay. Does that mean I don't take action? Of course, not. But it means that I have a touchpoint or a reminder or a place to come to that's safe within me that's not provided by something external. So when the government collapses or when the economic system falls down or when you can't travel again you're not going to freak out because you know that you're okay right here where you are. You don't need to travel to validate your existence. I think these are the things that lack in our culture at this time.
Well, it's nice when you look down into the pools of water within you. That's why it's nice to rest because if you don't rest you don't accumulate water. If you don't have downtime you don't-
You don't accumulate chi. The whole point of this stuff is if we keep going 100% all the time you're never going to a yin state which is what kidney is, it's ultimate yin. Then we age, we lose our chi, we start to degenerate and that's not of service anyway to ourselves, our families, the planet.
We are back on the journal once more. It's just a useful thing if you've got these crippling fears about your children or what's going to happen to your parents or so on and so forth. I sit there sometimes and I go through all the hypotheticals which I don't know if anyone... It's not a common practise in our-
...culture. Oh, exactly in business it's scenario planning and it's really scary to go through what are the absolute worst scenarios that could play out in the business. It's like it's better just to keep them there but it's not wise to. So I've been doing that just whether it's in the shower or that's why it's really nice to have that downtime again on the earth and go for a walk. I go for a walk with a mate every week and I talk about them openly all these... You can get trapped in the doomsday ness of it.
But if the intention of the practise is to, I just want to see what's real. I want to feel into that. You're feeling into the water within yourself and that's chi within yourself. So it's got a particular formation. You want to go about perceiving and exploring that chi as it's expressing within you and you'll find the wisdom within okay, that fear, where does that go to? What's the intention? It becomes 3D, 4D, 5D. It's not just I'm scared because I want to stay alive. You can start feeling the story and the metaphor playing out around that if you play that fear out to the end. Okay. At that point, that's good fear. Really like it. Gosh grateful that we have that fear of whatever it is, social anxiety, being judged, losing all your money, never being able to travel, having forced medical stuff upon you, having people not doing medical things.
Whatever it is, whatever your fear is it's all valid. So your experience and you just go. That's really reasonable. Ah, at this point there's a grey zone and murkiness and then you sit in that murky zone because it's not just a fear. You don't allow that fear to give... Don't have an aversion to that area and go and sink into that area. Okay. That's when you rest, you accumulate all this chi, you accumulate those deep waters and those reservoirs of water. If you don't have those you have nothing to explore and you become a shallow person. You can't get that action. You become shallow, you become externally driven, you need identities, you need dogma. Don't think because we're talking about kidneys that people need to be sick or completely tapped out on their kidneys or of their adrenals. It could be a slight dysfunction but people these days, even young people they're not honouring this process and therefore you see there's an extreme amount of people acting in shallow ways and having shallow belief systems.
Therefore they're outside of themselves. There's no wisdom in what they're saying. They're just given a rough document of the ideology that they're following and then they go and just regurgitate that and repeat that and go and gather evidence. So that's all kidney water systems. So it's nicer to be in flow with nature and create those deep reservoirs of water and if you feel the fear then feel that murky zone and then you move towards that experience and wisdom engagement. Then what you'll see is there's a real constant opportunity for transformation and change to occur there.
Yeah. I think what you spoke to there I mean it's not even on an individual level. I don't think it's an individual problem, I think it's a collective problem that we aren't... The Neijing which is where a lot of our philosophy comes from really. Which is one of the oldest pre-TCM text classical medicine texts to basically sleep until the sun rises high in the sky basically. You're supposed to sleep a lot in wintertime. I know for me we're both feeling sleepy around seven or eight o'clock at the moment and we're in bed really early at the moment.
I'm sleeping until seven most mornings and I'm really feeling this deep nourishment from sleep at the moment. Obviously, we have a business and children so we still end up burning the candle but how many of us push through winter not getting that hibernation time, that deep rest of restoration in the chi and the organs. Then oh, we get sick, and then oh, we're suddenly like I'm crook all the time. It's like it's not because as a culture we keep the momentum going all year round. We don't have this time of acknowledging and even making sacred the rest and the sleep that we require. I think the Neijing they had this foundational text that was an understood part of the culture. I guess I'm making a broad assumption so maybe I'm wrong but we don't grow up with that. I grew up in the tropics where you have wet and dry seasons basically. If it's cold you wear a light jumper and that's it-
Aussies are on. The mittens are on. The [inaudible 00:18:49] are on.
But we never had any real... I remember my mum saying keep your kidneys covered but that was about as far as it went. I really was shocked when I moved to a cold climate. I had no idea. I think I'm 35. I've just learned how to layer and how to stay warm, like wearing UGG boots in my house and all these kinds of things. It's really taken me a long time to understand cold and cold invasion. These ideas in Chinese medicine that seem really foreign to us as Westerners because cold isn't something that can invade you but in Chinese medicine, it's literally it can. It's a pathogen and it enters your body. If you think about homeostatic processes, your body is trying to maintain its temperature. If it's constantly being punished by cold air and it's having to push back and try and stay warm enough that's going to drain your resources. It's going to drain your reserves. It's going to drain your chi.
You're going to be more susceptible to getting sick. Now is the cold a pathogen or are you now more susceptible to viruses and bacteria? I don't know the answer to that but I would assume that it makes a lot of sense to stay rugged up against the cold to prevent your body from having to be stressed out by this thing. We live in an area where barefoot is common. You see kids running around barefoot all the time. I really make my kid wear shoes and socks with warm things on her feet in winter even though I believe that barefoot is best. It's like at some point we also have to maintain the health of the body. I think it's a really interesting... I'm not saying I have the answers but it's something I find really interesting how little respect our culture has for the elements and respecting the elements and being really conscious and mindful of cold and its effect on us as an organism. Yeah.
I think also when we think about the Neijing saying we need this inner time it's very transpersonal in that collectively if we all slow down and we all turn our attention in and we spend this time in reflection and restoration and then we come back collectively. That's a really powerful shift in our culture that we've spent time in this yin state that isn't outward and isn't... I guess that's probably never going to happen but I think it's really interesting because what you're talking about with the depth of water we've all seen the movies, we've all seen Jaws and [inaudible 00:21:13] and deep water is scary. Deepwater brings up our deepest most primal fears around what's lurking underneath the surface. That's why meditation is hard for so many people. That's why being still is hard for so many people because when you stop moving you start to feel all of the things that are hidden beneath the surface that you've been moving to stay away from. So meditation to me is one of the ultimate kidney practises in terms of connecting to that inner world and connecting to the subconscious under the surface narrative that goes in all of us. I feel like the season is a really big invitation to slow down and meditate more and be less active but maybe more internal.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I've got a little bit of an idea I just want to explore. Hopefully, it lands but you're just triggered by the fact you were saying it's such an introspective time. So we go in and we view what is ourselves and we get really intimate with self-agency, feeling ourselves on more I would say of an infinite nature. I'm feeling our spiritual nature and closing off from the world a little bit. We close off a little bit socially. We're not as socially engaged, we're not taking input outside but it's something I just realised for myself running in spiritual circles so much. It's probably a lot around here in what we do wave as the superior is staying within. Staying yin and not going out and interacting heavily with other people and allowing your personality to form and develop. This is something that happens in the yang. It happens in springtime, it happens in summer. It happens in high activity times in business.
I'm thinking about it because I'm thinking a lot about feedback and it's something I don't... I don't enjoy feedback. I like being a part of a team but I've got this... This is no, I'm in touch with who I am on the inside and the way that I am. I'm introspective and I don't often then go and take that and then run out into my community and allow for there to be feedback that I really take on about the way that I'm interacting with the world. The way my mannerisms, my temperament. I sit in that yin introspective place a lot of the time. I'm just realising, by the way, this is very conceptual everybody but remembering that kidneys are the source of yin and yang. So if you are excessively yin in your life. If you're excessively in that space of I'm just staying inside of myself.
I'm not accepting input. I'm not going out and allowing the daggers to be thrown that occur within an interaction especially in those high summer times. Then what happens is you don't actually allow that yang energy to cultivate within the kidneys as well. So the yin becomes a little bit more shallow as you go along. I'm really in my internal world and being selfish and talking about my own process here but I hope that just talks a little bit to the experience of remembering that this time a lot of people really love the yin when you get to shut off from people and you don't have to be forced to interact and take feedback and really be an interactive force. But remember you're going to be able to go deeper the more you go out and allow the judgement in, the people refining who you are, all that be socially engaged. I bring that up because if you can do that if you can stay within that wheel of cultivating yin and yang within the kidneys and you do that by staying within the circulation of the seasons and the days so you're going between yin and yang, yang and yin.
You're going to have very significantly differently expressed parts of yourself coming out all the time. Then the kidney water can cultivate because kidney water is potential. What happens if you have water? You have life, you have lots of water in an arid land you're always going to be able to have potential to create food and survive. Eventually, you want aquifers. You want aquifers that are pure and able to give you a real solid store of water. Then what happens is the yang comes in, that fire comes in and heats up that water so the water can move around your body. So this is just bringing the significance of why it's so important to go into this cultivation time but also be in and respect the difference between yin and yang and those parts of yourself.
If the yang can really be expressed within yourself as well then you heat up all that potential, you heat up that water. It becomes a vapour, goes up, and allows the germination within the liver to happen and you're basically keeping the body nice and supple. You're circulating the water in. The part of that is if you're constantly introducing water to an ecosystem you never know what's going to germinate at different times as you go along. I think there's a subconscious fear there even of going really I understand myself and I want to stay right here. If you keep going along the wheel of the year between yin and yang as you go along different aspects of your personality, different parts are going to germinate and take seed.
You're going to have to have the wisdom to go cool, this is an identity. I know that there's a part of myself that's really beautifully expressed in that but I'm actually going to go and explore a different part of myself. So kidneys are always so tied in with who am I? If you can look into the deep dark waters you can realise it's a little bit more fluid than you think it is.
Well, the deep connection to I am universal really. It's the [inaudible 00:27:12] fire and this whole concept of where we even come from that's kidney essence. It's kind of like Shakti and yogic texts but it's literally how each cell knows on this higher consciousness level what to become. If you're the sperm and the egg uniting you know how to make a human. Well, how does that even happen? How is that information, that data transferred and interpreted? Where does this blueprint come from and this is kidney energy, this is jing, this is that primordial essence? So there's this really deep connection to ancestry to all of creation really through the kidney essence. I think if you think about the archetype of the kidney it's the magician or the wise sage. So it's this person who's connected to more than just... It's the shaman really.
It's the person who can bridge worlds. So I think that sense in the kidney what you're speaking to with going up that kind of happens naturally. The Daoist practise is the whole point is you cultivate enough jing that the expression coming up through the shen is pure. You're consistent and you're authentic because it's what you radiate is aligned and so it's not this inner process that happens through. Meditation is the start of that process but at a certain point in meditation, you're not going through your shit anymore. You're accessing that stillness and then in that stillness, you're starting to feel the prana. In the prana, you're starting to understand that you can use your awareness to bring prana into the body or chi into the body.
Then you're starting to cultivate that and then you're using your practises to integrate this kind of experience into... It's getting kind of esoteric. sorry. But that's when shen radiates and there's this very strong relationship between the depth of winter and the peak of summer and there has to be to have your full expression out into the world. You have to have the opposite. That's the polarity I suppose of the yin and yang expression of those organ systems and in Daoism, we do meditations where we unite the heart and the kidneys and we bring the cold energy from the kidneys up to the heart and cool the heart because you're always expressing your heart gets hot, it gets overheated. If you're never bringing your shen and your authenticity and your expression and yourself down back to the kidneys to warm them up the kidneys get cold and they start to get exhausted.
So that's this unifying function of the heart and the kidney meridians and the meditation's really beautiful. You're imagining the heart is the lotus and the kidneys is the lotus bulbs and then the legs are the roots down to the earth. Then the lotus is opening up to the universal energy above. That's a really nice metaphor I think for how we've got the energy provided for the flowering of our life from the kidneys. Then the heart provides that flowering expression. I think when we think about what happens in wintertime if you're flowing with the seasons you feel you want to cultivate quiet. You want to reflect. You want to be still. You want to stay warm, all of these things. The moment some of us your energy's different. You're up, you're out and by the time peak summer's coming you're on your own fire. So you want to have the reserves that you've cultivated in winter available to you in summer.
It's like having resources to draw from so I think that's where we don't take that opportunity to slow down and winter's really about that. It's about closing off and storing and I don't see that as a negative thing. I've come to really enjoy that about winter, that I'm less social and I'm less concerned with the outside world at this time. I just want to be with my family and in my home and we're making soup and we're slowing down and my daughter's taking a thermos to school. It's all very cute. I think that's really what I have learned is to yield to the changes the season brings and that trust that the full expression will come. That's my take on all of that. I don't know if we wanted to talk to herbs and how we would work with them at this time of year.
Yeah. I might just quickly talk about what the kidney's associated with. If you think about its water. If you think about the story within your body of water, bringing the germination its fertility. If you want to stay fertile if you want to maintain potential you need to have that water. Just imagine that water chi. Yes, there's all these hormones and it's like there's a huge association of the sex hormones with the kidney water energy. So if your mind needs that, really go with that and really make that association. Then sometimes it's nice to just fall into the metaphor of the elements as well. So think if you've got water sitting there with reservoirs and you're doing a really good job at sustainably releasing that water up so that it can make the tissue nice and moist and nice and lubricated then you're going to have fertility all over your body.
That means regeneration of cells and that's why quickly touching on herbs like the yang herbs especially which increase the yang within the body which mobilises the water and allows germination that happen. That's why when that happens what do you have when you're fertile when you have fertility? Obviously, you have new life. Obviously, you have regeneration going on. From that yang there's stamina and potential that comes about so therefore it's the deer antlers and eucommia barks and Cordyceps that are associated with that. But just for your own fertility look at the water management and look at sustainability in your own lifestyle. Look at how if you're unsustainable with your energy if you're unsustainable with your money. I really hope that everyone knows that when I say these things I don't have them all sorted out in my life. I'm definitely-
No. Some of these things I talk about like I'm really struggling with myself and just hope everyone's able to just take this as theory basically or something that we can all work within. Work not necessarily towards. But it's really nice to look at even again and go back to that journal. What aspects of your life are really sustainable? Look back on how you partied. Look back on how you didn't party and express that summer because that's another thing for those of you who want to get the most out of this season. Maybe it's knowing harmony. Maybe you didn't go full fire which we always assume it's the other. We always assume that people aren't resisting the winter months but of course, it's going to be the other way around. Look at sustainability within your life. That's going to be that you're actually going to be able to maintain fertility.
That means libido, sexual vigour, sexual capacity, sexual fluids, and the capacity to regenerate sexual fluids. These are all things. So how sustainable have you been with sex? Too much? Not enough? There's no answer here and that's something I think if you see an aversion towards sometimes with Daoism because they're like it seems very rule-heavy. You're allowed to have this much sex. Not this much sex, you can't ejaculate so on and so forth. These are all just really loose suggestions especially from a civilization that really liked things to be really defined. But you just take them and you just work them into your own.
Well, the distinction too is Confucian versus Daoistan. The Confucians were quite rigid and the Daoists had a lot of the rules were based on chi so it's about chi cultivation. So I think that's what I've always found really interesting is if you look at what the Confucians contributed which was they were society structure. Then you look at what the Daoists contributed. So I have found in my experience with the teachers of Qi Gong that I've studied with and I've learned from some who are very loose. It's like going with the flow, finding your own form, feel your body's fluid. Others are really strict and really regimented and really rule-based. Master Chia who I have learned the most from when he speaks to sexual cultivation for men especially. He's like younger men go for it, you've got heaps more to spare but as you get older you need to be more mindful.
He has some structures and guidance around that but I think it's a really personal thing and one of our big guiding principles at SuperFeast is sovereignty. I think the whole point of this information is not for us to be like we know the best and you guys should do these things it's really about reflecting on our own journeys to this point and hopefully providing some context for what you might want to look at through your own life and then filter that into what's relevant for you. I think this is really important when it comes to any kind of teacher or any kind of education. Especially when it's ancient stuff because we've lost so much. We only got the classics in English in the 80s and that's not very long ago and we don't know what other texts there were that were destroyed.
Mao Zedong's team destroyed a whole lot of beautiful literature and writings from earlier times in China and I'm sure other things that were lost. It was oral traditions so I'm sure many things were lost in that way. So we're lucky to have what we have but we're making assumptions from a limited number of sources really at the end of the day. I don't speak Mandarin or read Chinese characters unfortunately so I'm learning through people that have translated it for me and they can make assumptions. If you go and read the [inaudible 00:37:27] I've read five or six different translations and they're all so different. Some are poetic and beautiful, some are really modern, some are really traditional and follow the translations really literally but then they're a little harder to interpret in a modern context.
I don't think you can say there's an unequivocal right or wrong way. I think nature is there as a great teacher and she's been there through all of the traditions and kidney time is probably one of those times where we really remember how powerful nature is and especially if you're somewhere... We're in Byron it doesn't even get that cold here but if you're somewhere where it snows like I've been Scandinavia that it shuts down. You're snowed in. Nature is so powerful that she can shut down civilization for a period of time and it's dark and it's a different experience to be in those places and I don't know what it's like to live there through winters.
But I can imagine you wouldn't be going out and doing things all the time. You'd want to be staying home and staying warm and staying in bed. I know people get a lot of seasonal effectiveness disorder and these kinds of things but I think part of that's got to be that we're culturally pushing ourselves to not just stay home and rest during these times. We've separated from the family unit so people are alone in apartments when they should be with their families. Again not everyone wants to be with their families all the time. I get all of that but you can see how as we've moved away from collective living and these nature-based cultures you can see how these health problems arise. I'm using inverted commas that you can't see which really come a lot from our social and cultural context. So I think one of the things we love about this is it gives us a language and a story and an explanation for how we have noticed our own lives adapt and change as we've gotten older and smarter and wiser. Yeah. I think hopefully you guys can take some of that and find what works for you and then move on.
Yeah. You definitely hit it and that's how institutionalised do we want these healing systems to be? Where it's like uh-uh-uh this is the system, that's the text that we have to go by therefore follow this rule. It's like hmm, I don't think that's how Daoism works and that's why there's such a split between traditional Chinese medicine which is institutionalised, and classical Chinese medicine which is based on well, what's your experience? What are you perceiving because it's reality versus road learning? So I think you're going to see more and more of that split occurring. I think you're going see more and more that split genetically towards people going on that path of not saying good or bad that's a very murky thing to say but there is a path towards cultivating greater potential, self-cultivated potential versus reliance in order to ensure that potential now I'm using inverted commas is present within the body. So one is reliant, one is self-cultivation. A little bit of both is probably good as well.
If we're going to be Daoist... Well, yeah. I think you have to remember that we're a species that thrives in smallish groups so I think that's something we have to take into account is human nature. But then I also think self-cultivation and self-responsibility is really the essence of the Daoist way. I think any time we're getting to guru worship or giving away power to an ideology or some kind of text or anything then we're starting to understand that maybe we've moved away from really our own selves. I guess that's what that reflection time and that kidney... If you're exhausted... I'm a mum. I have a business. I know what it feels like to be really tired sometimes and I don't want to take care of myself. I don't want to take care of anybody else.
I just want to get away from the world when I feel like that. That's not a great place to be contributing your best from. So if your kidneys are tapped out then you're not going to be even beginning to radiate shen. You're not going to have the motivation to transform into liver vision and planning and getting things done. Yeah. If you're someone like Master Seng he's on the opposite side of things who can never seem to get out of that yin state then maybe there's this stagnation in your water and you need to clear that out. You might need a different kind of treatment to the people who are like Mase and myself who are go, go, go.
So I think it's important to have a look at your own pathology and your own habits. This is a personal observation in my body but if I've had a really kidney deficient month and that would look like for me not getting enough sleep, doing too much work, being a bit too busy outside of my good solid, retainer structure then my menstruation will usually have a brownish tinge which means I've really dried out my water. I'm sort of burning my blood a little bit. I'm dry and it's not good. On the flip side of that if I've had a really stressful and that would typically be more of a livery kind of month where I've been really fast-moving and anxious and stressed and in my head and thinking a lot and maybe even into spleen deficiency my blood's going to be bright red and it's going to be really thin.
So that's the structure and the substance of my blood is missing. So I'm looking at my menstruation and I'm using it as this guide to say okay, well, that's moving and kidney deficiency. This is me being in liver or spleen deficiency. Then I will adjust my lifestyle and my diet depending on how that works, what I'm seeing, and what I'm observing. So there are self-reflections that I've been able to develop over the last few years thanks to support from acupuncturists and people who've helped me understand that. But now I can see what I'm doing to myself and I can have more self-awareness and self-reflection on what to adjust in my life. So those are for me things that I'm really conscious of and have to be aware of because that's this idea of your menstruation being a report card.
The kidney provides the water for the blood so it's a really important part for women. Important for men too but the spleen provides the nutrition for the blood, it provides from the food the substance that makes the blood healthy. The liver cleans and transports and transforms the blood and the water from the kidneys is provided to help keep the blood fluid and flowing. So that's why I would get that brown more congested blood toward the end of my menstruation if I'm in kidney deficiency. So those are things that you can think about if you're someone who wants to learn more about that. I'd recommend going and getting a close relationship with an acupuncturist and being really open and sharing about your body and about the things you observe and getting that kind of self-awareness because it's going to help you.
A lot of other people were shocked with big bags under their eyes with kidney deficiency and things like that. You can look at what your tendencies are: weak lower back, weak knees. I know if my back's going that's when I'm in kidney deficiency. Whereas for other people that could mean liver deficiency. It could mean different things so you need to learn your body signs and what it does. But if you're getting older and your knees are starting to go and your hips are starting to go those things are a pretty good sign that you're burning out your jing and you want to look at slowing down a little bit. Getting into some more restoration and maybe working with some herbs may be working with a practitioner starting to cultivate. Very important I think.
Stillness practise, contemplation time, coming down in that afternoon period and so just remember very quickly the kidney's a regulating bone integrity, bone marrow integrity. So imagine just that life being born from that marrow pure potential for the human body. So you're tapping out your jing, you're tapping out your marrow. You're going to see faster degeneration as you age, you're going to see faster ageing come about. That's why you see, some people grey hair is inevitable but there's been countless people who are in superficial jing deficiency and kidney deficiency and have started developing greys and they go hey, I got into beauty blend and my greys have stopped coming through, what the hell's with that? I mean yeah that's not going to happen for most people who have got greys but for those of you that are really superficial, it's like yeah blood. Blood getting up there. Nourishment getting up into the hair and pigmenting.
I miss [inaudible 00:46:14] because it was really good for that too. That is kidney and jing that's what you're talking about. We talked a bit about the yang of kidney but the yin of kidney is more of that substance of the blood, the marrow, the brains. The kidneys are in Daoism when Chinese medicine the brain is called the sea of marrow. So really the integrity and quality of the brain is supported by the kidney energy. So we look at using kidney hubs to support brain function and again if you think about these degenerative diseases that are now showing up especially in Western culture with the brain you can point to a lot of our habits through our society as also being implicated in that degeneration.
Non-sustainable practises. Non-sustainable habits. Really simple. It's so boring hearing myself say it over and over again and talking to myself as well. It's really comforting as well feeling the freedom come through that discipline around okay, it's not going to stop. Sleep, consistent diet. I would love the extremes I don't think we'll get to it today. But cold plunging it's another extreme. Tahnee was talking about how nice it is just to live within the elements and respect them and be like cool I'm just going to flow with you and see what you can tell me and just yield. But we're so addicted to dominating. No, I'm not going to go with the flow. I'm not going to be conventional. I'm going to fly in the face of winter and I'm going to go further into cold plunging. We'll see if we can get to that but it's just that's all well and good in particular times of life and I'm not saying what we're doing is better than anyone else is doing but as a thought maybe we can start looking at sustainability in our lifestyle based on what's happening in the elements around us as a way to go...
It's not a competition to not age as fast either. It's about us personally feeling our own potential and our own cultivation and our own what's possible for ourselves and then that really does come back to gosh, I don't know, I'm just looking behind you at the Daoist in Alchemy chat and I just said intergalactic journey. But it is true. It is your own intergalactic journey. Maybe that for you means there is a degenerative thing coming a little bit earlier than some other people that they didn't live sustainably. I'm not saying get caught up into that competitive way of living and I know that. I've said that because I'm bringing up the cold plunging and I know that's a relative conversation. Some people really do find benefit. At the moment I'm not saying don't do it but anyway. I've gone off task. I think I'm going to bring up the cold plunging conversation in another one because there's lots of little distinctions-
Yeah. I want to be really clear that someone like Wimhauf who we've met he's devoted to his practises. He 100% is a young body type, yang like Y-A-N-G-. He's strong, lots of muscle mass. He has done lots of chi cultivation and he's an extreme example of what's possible and I'm 100% for that stuff. I'm really into it. If I didn't have all the shit going on in my life that I had I would totally be experimenting with all of that and I think what I see a lot is people go from their normal Western life to just into these practises which again in Daoism they're really common. In Tibetan Buddhism, in yoga, my teacher tells stories of the monks being buried in snow and having to melt their way out to show how strong their chi is. These are QiGong practises that you are supposed to show as a level of mastery and that's cool just learning a breathing practise and jumping in the cold all the time.
It's a start of that but you don't have the context of chi or prana and you don't have that immersion in the system I guess. I don't know if Wim does that if you go on his retreats and things he takes you deeper and I'm sure there are people that are close to him who learn the real deep techniques. I'm 100% for people exploring that stuff. But we hear a lot from people who are like, oh, I got sick after cold plunging again.
I don't have a menstrual cycle anymore.
Yeah. Because cold has entered the uterus and you haven't cultivated your dantian enough your lower dantian that it's projecting heat so it's able to prevent you from getting cold penetrating into that space. So there's no talking about that it's just like oh, it's a part of cold plunging or something like that. Well, it's not. It's not a physiologically healthy thing to have happen to a woman in that time of her life. So I guess that's the kind of disclaimer and container to all that stuff. I think there's lots of really interesting conversations to be had about it because I definitely believe in it as a practise. It's really incredible but I think it's in the vortex, out of the vortex we always used to say. You have to have the container in the context and the explanation and the understanding.
Sorry, I'm going to go because there's one little last bit of it. Can you have a yang and a yin approach atmosphere around the way that you're looking at it? I think again it's reliance. In the yang season in summer, it's great to have reliance on things to get heat because you're out there, you're experiencing, and then when you go into yin time it's like maybe I want to be able to cultivate something on my own. Maybe I want that to be a little side dish to what I can do myself.
I think quickly with diet. So warming foods. So animal foods are really warming and taste yum so they can be really useful especially if you ask someone who feels the cold and who isn't particularly strong in winter. If you're not into those you can look at things like seaweeds and all of the traditional winter vegetables, your roots, your gourds, those kinds of things, pumpkins. Garlic and onions are really warming if you can tolerate them. Squash, zucchini, all those things you'll see them. I'm going to the farmer's market got all the winter vegetables coming through. Caulis all that kind of stuff. A lot of traditional things for winter weather there's herbal wines and stuff as well because alcohol is warming. Yeah, which is obviously something to do with moderation. With pepper or your Ayurvedic spices anything that warms your digestion. Ginger. Ginger tea is my number one go-to. Boil it up just slice it into fine little chunks, boil it for at least 10 minutes because you want to get it really strong. Then I put a little bit of panela sugar in that and then just drink it.
Get the cinnamon in.
It heats you up from the inside out. You just want to avoid the tropical stuff. You want to avoid too much dairy all of those things that are cooling and cold are not super helpful this time of year. Again if you look at Ayurvedic diets and things they always warm up the milk and add spices and ginger something like a chai. That's a better way to consume dairy than having a cold flavoured yoghourt or anything like that. Same with coconut and those kinds of things and a lot of people love coconut but it wouldn't be probably that ideal to have in winter.
Winter it's actually one of the reasons you have spicy coconut soup things in Thailand and stuff is because coconut by nature is cold and then you add all the spice to it which helps to make you sweat and cool you down in those hot climates. So if you're looking at more of those broth kinds of things, more of those nourishing homely style meals at this time of year.
You got to mention black foods. Kidney beans. Black sesame seed, black beans-
Seaweeds. Yeah. All of those kinds of things. Molasses is really good-
Molasses. Dark leafy greens thrown in there too... We're loving our slow-cooked meals. Soups.
I don't have any affiliation with them but I bought an Instant Pot. It's the best thing that's ever happened to me, especially as a mum. It's so good. Okay. Mase is sick of hearing about my Instant Pot.
No, I'm not.
You love it too don't you?
Yeah. I've been using it quite a bit. You will absolutely love us and your spleen will love you if you have a glass of warm to hot water first thing in the morning. That's my favourite at this time of year. Some days I forget but in winter I'm five days a week since I was in China and was told by my Daoist, my tonic herb friends that that was their favourite tonic ever. Just guys beanies, socks, long walks in nature.
Yeah because cold gets into ears which are related to the kidneys, the back of the head, the neck, the back of the neck around C7, the lower back, and then down really through all the joints in the lower body and the soles of the feet. Also through the arms and the hands so you really want to cover as much as you can but you'll have an area where you have a tendency to be weak so you want to be extra mindful of that. So for me, it's the feet and the back of the neck. I have to keep those areas warm otherwise I can feel the cold getting in. So you'll just have to play around with that and see what you really feel you need to stay warm but that's important.
Having a break from stimulants. Don't have to be strict if you like them you like them. It is like throwing pebbles into the pond so you can't look down into your depths. That's why we do 30 days of jing in Australian winter. Sorry Northern hemisphere folks but it's even in the middle of summer it's a great experience for you guys to all have. Just getting off stimulants for 30 days and you can do it anytime. We've got all the resources there. We've got a Facebook group there for you to go and join and just give you the down low but it's basically adding in the jing herbs or the jing formula which are the kidney, that's the kidney formula. Really great herbs to be having during the winter. You might feel in the beginning there might be three weeks or four weeks in the beginning of the winter season where you're craving the kidney herbs, jing herbs, and then maybe you don't feel like them as much. Don't worry about that. It's like there's no rule that you have to have only kidney herbs when you're in winter but it's maybe just a little bit of a guide. That's what I'm like in spring. At the start I'll go two or three weeks hard on the beauty blend and then it just breaks out and I'm off doing intuitively whatever I want.
Well, yeah because as the seasons change and this is in the Neijing as well I'm pretty sure. I think it's the first 18 days of every season as you're transitioning in it when the chi is the most unstable. So you're really wanting to smooth the transition as much as you can. So I often think about that as what can I do to stabilise as much as possible during this time? Yeah, I always feel the same at the first few weeks of the season coming in and I'm really hyper-aware of it, and then it settles in and it's just part of life those next couple of months. But, yeah, I think it's important to remember that's usually when people get sick because they're clinging to old habits or they're not really listening to what their body's asking for as the season changes and that's where the herbs can help to cultivate the organ systems and support them because the seasons demand a lot of the organ systems that they're correlated to. So that's why we can support them with herbs. I'm really lacking Chaga at the moment which is common for me. In winter I'll start to use Chaga again. I don't usually use it through the rest of the year.
Pregnancy in winter for you.
Yeah. Big shout out to Chaga, Chaga has been my go-to winter herb. I forgot to message you yesterday and ask to bring a big bag home but go and do that right now. Thanks, guys. I was just going to give a shout out to the yoga Nidra as a winter practise as well-
I love yoga Nidra.
...and yin yoga if you get on our newsletter list and jump on Instagram as well. Tiny has got some yin yoga sequences coming up.
Yeah. I forgot about that but we have shot the photos and what I was thinking is for each season I'd give you a sequence or a couple of sequences to practise during the three or four months of the season just to help cultivate the chi. We've been sharing some Daoist practises. We've been sharing like in autumn we have lung tapping and all of those kind of things. We've got some stuff filmed for kidneys which is coming up and we're just going to keep trying to give you guys some lifestyle stuff as well to support because I think for both of us that's really been a big part of our journeys is not just taking the herbs but also using them with the practises that support the function of the herbs and the health of the chi in the body.
So yin is something that I love and I think it's really easy to do at home. You don't need to be good at yoga. You don't need to be flexible. You don't need to be really... I often do it in my UGG boots and my tracksuit on the floor. It's not very attractive but it does the job and it's really quite easy just to be still and feel into your body. It's a very yin kind of kidney practise. So I think hopefully you guys will love that and you can send through any requests if you want sequences for any type of thing. But yeah. I don't think there's much else to say there at this point.
Hurrah. Thanks, everyone. We'll hopefully hear from you guys if you like this episode and we will speak to you soon.
Yeah. Thanks, everybody. Big love.