It's that time of year again, where we descend from the peak of Summer months, from the highs of long days and energised bodies, into a coming back to Earth and ourselves. This fulcrum between seasons, coming out of Summer but not quite in the preparations of Autumn/Metal time, corresponds with the Earth element. It's a time to anchor yourself in a place of equilibrium and nurture where you are out of balance through solitude, grounding practices, and nourishing foods. From this place of harmony and groundedness allows the bridging of heaven and Earth, where dreams and aspirations come into reality.
On the podcast today, we have our favourite duo exploring the Earth element and how we can support ourselves, our families, and all of humanity in this axis point between seasons. In their natural ebb and flow, Tahnee and Mason discuss the Earth element in all its dimensions, foods and practices for grounding energy, and nourishment of the digestive system with a specific focus on the pivotal role of the Spleen in this time.
"There's something to me, with coming back to the Earth element, that you can nurture, support, and nourish your family through this kind of devotion to feeding and nourishing them in the best possible way. I think there's something so beautiful about that".
Tahnee and Mason discuss:
- Late Summer, entering into the Earth element.
- Exploring the harmony and groundedness that the Earth element brings.
- Grounding practices for the mind/intellect and body
- Getting grounded to take specific action and manifest dreams.
- The Spleen/Earth relationship
- The role of the Spleen.
- Signs of Spleen and digestive imbalance.
- Spleen consciousness; The reasoning mind and our ability to make clear judgments.
- Foods to eat in the late Summer/Earth season to nourish the Spleen and Pancreas.
- Nourishing the digestive system to support clear vision and thinking.
- Supporting digestion through warming foods.
- Qi blend to support the Spleen and Earth element.
Tahnee and Mason Taylor
Tahnee and Mason Taylor are the CEO and founder of SuperFeast (respectively). Their mission with SuperFeast is to improve the health, healing, and happiness of people and the planet, through sharing carefully curated offerings and practices that honour ancient wisdom and elevate the human spirit. Together Tahnee and Mason run their company and host the SuperFeast podcast, weaving their combined experience in herbs, yoga, wellness, Taoist healing arts, and personal development with lucid and compelling interviews from all around the world. They are the proud parents of Aiya and Goji, the dog, and are grateful to call the Byron Shire home.
Tahnee Taylor is the CEO of SuperFeast and has been exploring health and human consciousness since her late teens. From Yoga, which she first practiced at school in 2000, to reiki, herbs, meditation, Taoist and Tantric practices, and human physiology, her journey has taken her all over. This journey continues to expand her understanding and insight into the majesty (that is) the human body and the human experience. Tahnee graduated with a Journalism major and did a stint in non-fiction publishing (working with health and wellness authors and other inspiring creatives), advertising, many jobs in cafes, and eventually found herself as a Yoga teacher. Her first studio, Yoga for All, opened in 2013, and Tahnee continues to study Yoga with her teachers Paul + Suzee Grilley and Rod Stryker. She learned Chi Nei Tsang and Taoist healing practices from Master Mantak Chia. Tahnee continues to study herbalism and Taoist practices, the human body, women's wisdom, ancient healing systems, and is currently enrolled in an acupuncture degree and year-long program with The Shamanic School of Womancraft. Tahnee is the mother of one, a 4-year old named Aiya.
Mason Taylor is the founder of SuperFeast. Mason was first exposed to the ideas of potentiating the human experience through his mum Janesse (who was a big inspiration for founding SuperFeast and is still an inspiration to Mason and his team due to her ongoing resilience in the face of disability). After traveling South America for a year, Mason found himself struggling with his health - he was worn out, carried fungal infections, and was only 22. He realised that he had the power to take control of his health. Mason redirected his attention from his business degree and night work in a bar to begin what was to become more than a decade of health research, courses, education, and mentorship from some of the leaders in personal development, wellness, and tonic herbalism. Inspired by the own changes to his health and wellbeing through his journey (which also included Yoga teacher training and raw foodism!), he started SuperFeast in 2010. Initially offering a selection of superfoods, herbs, and supplements to support detox, immune function, and general wellbeing. Mason offered education programs around Australia, and it was on one of these trips that he met Tahnee, who is now his wife and CEO of SuperFeast. Mason also offered detox and health transformation retreats in the Byron hinterland (some of which Tahnee also worked on, teaching Yoga and workshops on Taoist healing practices, as well as offering Chi Nei Tsang treatments to participants). After falling in love with the Byron Shire, Mason moved SuperFeast from Sydney's Northern Beaches to Byron Bay in 2015. He lived on a majestic permaculture farm in the Byron hinterland, and after not too long, Tahnee joined him (and their daughter, Aiya was conceived). The rest is history - from a friend's rented garage to a warehouse in the Byron Industrial Estate to SuperFeast's current home in Mullumbimby's beautiful Food Hub, SuperFeast (and Mason) has thrived in the conscious community of the Northern Rivers. Mason continues to evolve his role at SuperFeast, in education, sourcing, training, and creating the formulas based on Taoist principles of tonic herbalism.
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Check Out The Transcript Here:
Happy late summer.
Yeah, that's what we're here to talk about.
So talking about the earth element today, I also like the way Rhonda Chang has been on the podcast. She says, not earth element, soil element. I like that as well. I go both ways though.
It's a bit more tangible for me, because when I'm ... Every time I do one of these podcasts, it's a really good anchor for me, actually, practise. Everyone at each season, go going into a podcast about that season, and it helps you drop in and really ... And I'm walking around and I'm, "Oh, I'm feeling the wood element. And I'm feeling the quality of wood internally." And that's very obvious because that's wood, it's sprouts, it's growth. And fire's very obvious. Earth though, I'm, "Am I feeling the whole earth? Am I feeling Gaia consciousness?" Whereas if I go soil, this is spleen soil season. It's easy for me to get in and meditate on and feel about ... Feel that quality, that energetics of soil internally. And that's why I bring it up.
Interesting. Yeah. Because see, for me it's more like a weightedness and I really relate to that centrality and the gravity of earth, as in it's holding us to it, and it's kind of drawing us back down. And so you think about the energy of fire, which is so high and I can feel there's kind of a neutral grounding at this time of year, which I've noticed in my energy that I've gone from being really busy and really social in summer and feeling quite active, to sort of ... I can feel the change. I can feel this kind of almost consolidation that kind of feels like it happens around this time of year. And earth is present in all of those transitions between seasons, so we feel that energy at least four times a year. But especially this one where it's kind of that drop from the peak of summer, but we haven't quite hit the depth of winter, or even the sort of descent of the sort of metal time of autumn time.
So yeah, I can feel this sort of equilibrium, I guess, in this time. And I think it really shows you where you're out of balance. I've just been noticing that in me there's this invitation at this time of year to examine where I'm out of balance and out of harmony. And I think earth, of all the elements, invites harmony the most. The others can feel like they slide easily in one direction or another for me, but this one sort of always feels really grounded and then lands. So I hope that made sense.
Yeah, I mean it touches on a bunch of things I was feeling might come up later, but we might as well dive into it. See, I think that's an important one for me, because I know there's a little bit of back and forth about ... This isn't actually ... This isn't a season, this is just another fulcrum between seasons. Which is true, it's important for me to kind of really ... That's been good practise for me to remember there's those few weeks, or however long it's present for me between every season where I come into the transition period. And I come into that ... Well, everything consolidates. I can fall on hard, solid ground and move between a water energy and a wood energy, which are really different.
But here, in the late summer, always feels relevant because it's always ... It's a time when, A, we've had the summer. So we've never needed grounding more in the year than after summer. And I feel like the way the consciousness of each organ system kind of plays out, the G. Here we're going into the E, the YI, I'm not sure what the pronunciations, "Yee," or, "E," of this spleen consciousness. Being the intellect, the reasoning mind, being able to make judgments and have acceptance. And it's the intellect, the capacity to think and have good quality thoughts, or maybe have bad quality thoughts. After summer, we've just been flying on such a high, it's probably the time when we've been the most active. And potentially we've kind of moved away from say, in winter, you're going to see a real coming forth of our meditation and mindfulness, and really going in practise being the real ... Even though we might do it all year, it's really the focus during winter.
Summer, maybe it's not the whole ... It's not coming to the forefront. And so we need to really ground down after that fire time and really check in with the quality of our thoughts, the quality of our intellect, and really ... And I was reading about someone's ... An interpretation, which really ... Because I love the dreaming aspect of the whole Daoist system. And because it's a big bridge between ... It's a major bridge between heaven and earth, that spleen energy, although there's many organs that play a role in that. This is where we get to really consciously wield the sword of how we are bridging between heaven and earth, or mainly our dreaming. What do we aspire for in our life? What do we feel our destiny is? And that's something that people might relate to in kind of visioning and visioning in that spring season, and having the vision kind of just being acted upon and come to life in the summer.
But that spleen system, that spleen consciousness comes forth at this time of year, in those fulcrums between the season to really sit down, ground our thoughts and our mind, and have a look at basically how we're doing in bringing our dreams into manifest and grounding it from the heavens into this world. And I really like that, because it's probably ... I relate to it because it's probably something I skipped past, and that's where one of the biggest pieces are in this season. It's a really beautiful time to go in and have a look at that inner critic, and that ... Whether it's been ... Are we still remaining constructive? Are we still remaining acknowledging of everything that we actually have done? Are we sticking to the plan? Are we executing the plan effectively?
All these things that our intellect can be like. Because the mind and the intellect, I feel sometimes it gets forgotten in the ... I don't know, in the health world that I've run in. Whereas that's something ... It's just so important for us to make sure that ... Not just have mindfulness and go into space, and not just quiet the mind, which obviously is another one that's really beneficial. But to really hone the mind and sharpen the mind so we can come better at bringing our dreams into reality. And we need to ground, and I think that will be really coming to the forefront for me this season.
Yeah. I mean, the word that keeps popping into my head is substance. And I think when you think about what the spleen represents in the body, it's the substance, it's the muscles, and the kind of meat or the flesh of your body. And I think when you are kind of, I guess what I'm sort of ... The tangent I'm going on, having heard you just speak then was, yeah, there's this kind of substance that comes from acknowledging this transition and this element that kind of provides this real foundation and kind of bedrock on which the more lofty ideals can kind of manifest, and the spiritual ... I come back to Master Chia's work, we can't go off into the astro realms unless we have a really strong connection to the earth, and we remember her as mother and as the ultimate source of nourishment, and that we've chosen this reality to have this substantial experience so that our soul can ... Or our spirit can feel what it's like to be in this tangible form.
And I think that invitation of earth and that kind of association with the mother, and nurturing, and the sweet flavour and all of these things that it has, it's really a lot to do with substance and with building us and who we become. And yeah, I think that idea of the intellect and the mind, I think clear thinking and clear seeing comes through a healthy digestive function, right? And we've got western medicine kind of correlating this idea of enteric brain, which is a very old concept that's kind of been revived recently, and-
Can you go into that?
Yeah, yeah. So basically we all kind of know that we have the spinal cord, and the brain, and all of this kind of stuff. And I think it was in the '40s, or it might've been even earlier, a man proposed that there was a gut brain, which was kind of poo-pooed a little bit at the time, there's no neural cells in the gut, it's all happening in the brain and in the nerves, and all that kind of stuff. And anyway, I think recently in the last couple of years, if not decades, there's probably someone who knows more about this than I do.
But just from my research, there's basically been now evidence that yeah, the gut is heavily involved in producing neurotransmitters and in actually ... Stress response and all of these kinds of things. And that actually, yes, it's acting as a brain and it's signalling to the body to do certain things and certain functions at certain times. And so I, obviously coming from the Daoist perspective, think each of the organs is a brain, and believe based on my experience and what I've studied that that's what's happening, is they're all controlling our function through their lens, and our job is to harmonise that function and to harmonise their relationship with one another. And you can think of the brain as a mission control or something, but everything is kind of making things happen.
But yeah, to take it back to the spleen, if you think about ... It's sort of this organ that in western medicine has again only recently been kind of recognised as being necessary as a part of the immune system, as a part of our defences. And one of our acupuncturist's favourite words is, "Bonds and boundaries," when it comes to the spleen. But if you think about the mother/child relationship, the boundary or the bond, the bond is very strong and the boundary is very small. A mother will do almost anything for her child. And you tend to see that in people who are ... I'm using air quotes here, "Spleeny." People who have a sort of tendency to bring balance in the earth element is ... They have a tendency to have really poor boundaries, to overstate their bonds, and also to have this kind of mind that runs wild on them. And that creates a lot of anxious thoughts and ... Mas and I are both put your hands up. Creates a lot of anxious thoughts and a lot of repetitive thoughts, and can really-
Well the repetitive thoughts, you always use the word just ruminating-
Yeah, digesting, right? And that's the thing that the spleen opens to the tongue, to the mouth. So we receive not only nourishment through our mouth, but also emotional nourishment. And if you have a tendency to over-crave sweet foods, or to need to lean on sweet foods emotionally, there's a very good chance that that's a sign of a spleen imbalance in your body. Similarly, anyone who's holding too much weight will probably also have some dysfunction going on with the spleen, because by its very nature, the spleen's not transforming the food into Qi, it's transforming it into mass, right? Into substance.
And so this is not to say there's anything wrong with being a bit chubby or whatever, that's totally fine, but it really comes down to, if you're looking at this system as one of personal evolution, and personal understanding, and personal sovereignty, well then you're using all of this stuff as feedback for your own growth and understanding. And I think when you look at what the spleen represents, it's so beautiful and it can also be so detrimental. Because we all need more nourishment, and more love, and more care, and we need to direct that to the earth and we need to be able to receive that from the earth. And it's that giving and receiving, I think that can be a problem in our culture as well.
Yeah. I mean that nourishment, everyone can put their hands just over there, the bottom of their left rib cage now and just send some good Juju into your spleen, which is the in organ. When we talk about the soil earth element, includes the pancreas, and the stomach being the yang organ there. Someone who was saying it's like the Goldilocks organ. It's not too hot, not too cold, not too soft, not too hard. It's fine, we were just playing Goldilocks at the beach yesterday with Aiya. It's very appropriate. It's subconscious. Subconsciously manifesting the organs into our playtime. But that's something when it comes to ... It's kind of like this ... When you get into your 30s, everyone's all of a sudden ... Me partying when I was 25, Friday night out just flogging yourself, and then you get to 30s and your idea of a perfect Friday night is pyjamas a little-
Yeah, bed basically. I think there's just a time when your intellect does kind of get honed into one that we'd call adult or mature, or where you become ... Hopefully some responsible thoughts and intellect can start coming forth and you start making more responsible nourishing choices about which form within your lifestyle flow you're going to see consistency, maybe some discipline. But basically that's when you say nourishment-
Stabilising, exactly. And the other way it's put, that spleen, that the earth is the adhesive between all the other organs. It's what gives them ... It's the earth it's-
The hub in the wheel. If you visualise that central axis on which everything spins, if you don't have good digestion, if you don't have good thoughts, if you don't have good boundaries and good bonds, relationships and things that nourish and support you, well then really those are sort of the foundations of a healthy life. You know... One quick tangent I wanted to jump on was Mas was just talking about the stages of life. And in, again, the sort of Chinese worldview, or the Eastern Asian worldview, the early ... I can't remember, I think it's the first fourteen years or it might be seven years and eight years ... Yeah, it's seven years for women and eight years for men, I think. So the first seven years are wood, so you're very yang, you're growing really fast-
So you're very young, you're growing really fast.
Like a sprout.
No, it must be 14. Because anyway, you might have to Google this. For the first chunk of life you're wood. Yeah, you're this little sprout, you're growing, if you've ever been around a child, we have a four-year-old, never stop moving. Heal really quickly, run really hot, don't need to wear clothes all summer. You've got a picture in your head of that.
Then we go into the fire stage, which is our twenties when we're really burning bright, we're really social and really trying to get ourselves out there in the world. Again, we can all probably relate to that, where there's this real drive and real fire and real burning purpose and passion.
Thirties is when we hit that earth time. Yeah. And so we've landed and we've learned a few things along the way. We've learned what doesn't work. We've been burned. We've also worked out maybe where we fit in the world a little bit and we've worked out what we need and what we don't need and so we're starting to... The spleen's job is to... or the stomach and the spleen, their job's to separate that what we want to digest and eliminate the rest.
Yes. And that's... I can't remember the words right now, but it's sort and something. Anyway. But yeah, they're going through and determining what's necessary. And so that's really what this stage of life is that we're in, is this more grounded stage of life. And then you move through into the metal years where hopefully you've accumulated some wisdom, but you also give less shit. You're starting to cut some stuff out of your life, you might start to think about retiring, you might start to not deal with people that you would have put up with in your thirties or whatever. And then you're into a more spiritual age later on, where you're in those wisdom years, where hopefully you're contributing back your wisdom to the people around you, your society, your culture.
So, that's in loose allegory for the human experience and the soul growth over those years. So, I think those of you listening in your thirties, yeah, you may feel like there's a stabilising and a slowing down and a consolidating, but I would invite you to see that as a very natural process, and something that doesn't need to be fought. Despite what I hear from friends who are like, "Oh my God, when I was in my twenties." It's like, no, now we get to reap the harvest of all of that work that we did understanding ourselves, all the things we tried, all the experiments.
And that's, I think, important. We talk about the anxiety that's out there and we're not going to go into diagnosing anxiety or anything like that, but quite often it's related to the heart. But Tahns said it one day, she's like, "A lot of anxiety comes from that spleen earth energy as well, because you're just constantly chewing, chewing, ruminating, ruminating, ruminating." And when you just said, "Oh my God, when I was in my twenties, I was doing everything right", whatever, whether it's health, profession, there's a little bit of comparison. And another thing that comes into this spleen... Emerging from this spleen energy, is accepting. A real grounded accepting. Cool, this is where I'm at in my life, or getting to a physical practise. Cool. This is where my body is at today without going into all that comparison, because when you go into that comparison, you're going to start looking at your intellect, and your inner critic giving you a flogging.
And so it's really important, I think it's really important for us to really accept this stage of life that we're at and with what's naturally and energetically coming with it during this time of life, or even if you're not in this time of life, during at the fulcrums of the season. And just remember the soil is at the centre of that elemental medicine wheel. And so we base a good chunk of your lifestyle around ensuring that this spleen, earth, soil element is going to be healthy because it is the glue that brings everything together.
All the other elements, the reason there's able to be Yin yang adjustment through the body is because all the elements can pass through the soil and basically interchange and connect with these other elements. It's a transporter and a transformer. And so the spleen is able to... So those let's say the kidneys are able to get water received by them to the liver so it can become more pliable through the spleen. So same as like the fire is able to send heat down to the kidneys through the spleen, water is able to go between lung and kidney through the soil of the body as well.
So when Tahn says it's a nourishing energy, it's a grounding energy. It's why all over blogs and Instagram and people's conversations around health when they've been going to these extreme diets, for instance, or you've been searching for what's wrong with you. At some point, if you will go with the process, you get a little bit accepting of the chop wood, carry water, we're in the Year of the Ox. And there's a little bit of Oxen energy to that soil. It's like, "Okay, cool. I accept where I'm at in life. And I accept I'm maybe not going to be able to find, keep on finding answers, it might be unsustainable if I keep on going extreme. I'm going to have to go a little Goldilocks here and get a little bit more consistent with my diet, maybe with when I'm eating with what I'm eating with, what my schedule looks like." So on and so forth.
So that's always... I feel like we've given a good amount of context to what I find myself, which is, in my twenties, I wouldn't be such a spleen-y person, because I was... I remember really rolling my eyes when I was a raw foodist. I was doing all kinds of extremes. I was fasting a lot, so on and so forth. Because that really worked for me back then.
But I remember just rolling my eyes whenever I heard anyone talking Chinese medicine principles around having breakfast, a nice nourishing breakfast, three square meals, and especially a really good breakfast at the start of the day. Ensure you do physical exercise and the same meditation, the same sequences, get really familiar with the way that you move your body, and you cultivate your energy, talking about like, hey, let's not drown the spleen in cold raw foods. And that is something I feel like there needs to be a real bridging, which funnily enough, that's what the spleen is making this connection between those worlds that are nut salads and smoothies.
I get it, especially during these seasons, it's just so easy versus everything always needs to be cooked. Bringing a connection between those two segments of our own psyche, our own health practises, the health scene, the practitioners, like there's bacterial experts, gut bacteria experts that are just like, cool, whatever. You don't worry about... Just get different pigments and different fibres in. Don't worry about the temperature and so on and so forth. And then likewise, you've got the Chinese medicine, which is just as long as it's all really well cooked and energetically and check with the seasons. But there's going to have to be a little bit of crossing paths and conversation between those two worlds to get a little bit more wisdom there.
But I think it's a good one for everyone to be really meditating on and remembering we're out of balance when it comes to the seasons. Most people have some small spleen deficiency, not most people, but a lot of people. And if you're trying to get back in flow with the seasons, you're going to need to be standing on solid ground. And the place to do that is to have a spleen friendly diet and a spleen friendly lifestyle. So yes, we will probably start talking about a few dietary principles during this season, a little bit of sense and why certain sweet... because it is a sweet flavour.
Sadly doesn't mean sugar, though. I think there's a few things in there, just to backtrack a little bit. I think if you think of this concept of alchemy, which is really at the heart of these Daoist and the Vedic's other aspect of the tradition that I study, is the Vedic side of things. And at the heart of that is really fire as the element that really transformed humanity. And I think what I've really come to understand and to have a lot of reverence for is the... We just tried to light a fire yesterday with wet wood and it was a shit fight. Our neighbours probably hate us now. There was smoke everywhere. It was a really unpleasant situation for us and for them.
We brought this [inaudible 00:24:01] all over Argentina.
We did. I think that's a really nice allegory really for the digestive system because it's not like every meal is not going to digest well, we can light a fire 99% of the time. But I think over time, if you just keep adding damp wood and trying to light that fire, you're going to run out of chi, and you're going to create a lot of soot in the body, right? You're going to end up with a lot of inflammation and all of this stuff because the body is just not coping. And it doesn't necessarily... We've had rain solid for a week to get to the point where the fire won't light, right? So it's I think the conditions have to be against you or you've created an imbalance. And again, this can take time. A lot of people we speak to are like, "Oh, it was fine", and Mason was fine, when you were raw for a while.
Yeah. Four years was good. And then I instinctively went, I'm going to move before something shitty happens.
Yeah. And I think I can refer back to my very complicated relationship with food and see how much damage I've done to my spleen and my digestive function, through everything from disordered eating to controlling too much cold and damp and wet foods, to forgetting to eat because I get so in my head. There's lots of different ways in which I've created any sensitivity really that I have in my digestion.
So I think there's this really interesting dance there that each person has to dance for themselves around how sensitive they are. I do believe you can rebuild digestive fire, absolutely have seen it, and I know that it's possible, and I've felt it in my own body where I can digest things I couldn't digest 10 years ago, but I do think there's this really interesting personal dialogue we have to learn to have with our body where we drop all of the bullshit from everyone who's throwing ideas at us, and we just come back into, well, what really works for me?
And again, if you think as the stomach as a receiver and a warm environment in which food lands, it takes no knowledge of science to know that you're going to have to use energy to warm up cold food. That's just obvious. So if you're tired and weak, and you're using energy to digest, that's not going to be ideal. And so it starts to look at... It depends. If you feel really vital and you have a lot of energy, a lot of space, it's probably fine to eat a lot of cold wet food. If you don't, then maybe it's time to make a change. And it goes all the way through.
And again, if you look at the spleen, if you look at it's role as really providing the nourishment for the blood, again, it comes down to, well, what is blood made of? And so again, we're looking at are we providing the foundations for healthy blood? Are we providing enough fluid? Are we providing enough nutrition? And how is that being alchemised by the body? Which is really the important part, because you can eat the best food and you can eat organic, and you can eat this and that. And if your body's just not doing anything with it, it's a waste of time. So really the invitation of this spleen and earth energy is to transform and alchemise everything that we consume, which does include emotions and even the words that we speak.
And I think that's a piece that's often missed when we talk about health is it's what... I've got some stuff going on in my family right now. My digestion has been awful basically since it happened, because, and you think about, again, the archetype of family and what all of that means, there's this lack of stability and foundation for me that I'm now having to rebuild on my own. And so I'm seeing that mirrored in my body and I think there's this real need to remember that we don't just digest food, but we digest energy, and we digest emotion.
Yeah, exactly. And so part of what you digest when you eat a certain way is the ideology of that system of eating. And so I think that's something we all have to just really slow down and take stock of and see where we want to align ourselves, but-
Well, because it becomes your flesh.
Yeah. It literally becomes what you're made of and it's that you are what you eat cliche, but it's true, right? If you're unable to digest your emotions, they're going to go somewhere in your body and you're going to hold them. And the muscles are really the overflow for what our organs can't digest. So if you've ever had a recurring muscle pain that comes about when you have an emotional experience, you can start to think, okay, well, let's say it's something to do with stress and the liver, and you might get a sore neck and shoulder. It's yeah, my liver is overburdened. It's created this excessive heat or this reaction, which is now being manifested in my muscle. My muscle's taking that energy away from that organ, and yes, doing the organ a favour, but now, I have a sore shoulder, or a sore neck.
And so you can start to look back at, okay, well, what do I do now to nourish my liver chi? How do I support myself? How do I avoid recreating this situation? So you start to use yourself as a little science experiment. As a curious little exploration of what I can do. And I think that's one of the big invitations of this earth energy is to start to nourish yourself as you would want to be nourished. To look at yourself as deserving of that level of care and effortless, thankless care that a mother gives to a child, that the earth gives to us.
And then in exchange, we're then able maybe to give that to others and it starts to build out this altruism. And the best expression of earth is this altruistic caring non-martyred, loving expression of unity and sharing...
... kind of unity and sharing and sympathy and understanding amongst everyone. And obviously we don't have that in the world, but that's a really great expression of it. And the other side of it, is this kind of narcissistic, controlling, needy, anxious, overthinking, kind of analysing that stuff. So, we're kind of trying to lean a little bit more on the former and a little less on the latter.
I've been talking for like 20 minutes.
No, so good. I just went to lots of places just in terms of accepting that nourishment coming our way, because I was just thinking about... I'm going to talk a little bit about fasting and intermittent fasting, but I'm not going to go too deep and I'm definitely not poo-pooing you guys. I'm just talking about like, I think it's really clinically used or used with a very specific intention. I think it's great, but I came to my own conclusion that I don't think it's a healthy thing to have like a permanent inclusion in a lifestyle for me anyway.
And definitely from what I can see, and we were talking about quality of flesh and quality of muscle. And I remember feeling really strong and being in a community of people that seemed really strong and had good looking muscles, but I could never shake that using something like that intermittent fasting, again, not poo-pooing, not saying this is fact, just going on a thought, just going up on a bandwagon, the quality wasn't there. I didn't like the quality of the flesh and the quality of muscle that I was seeing in my peers and I was seeing in myself.
And I don't know why that was. I think because, one, I had a fanatical ideology and that's something I don't... I've learned what it feels like to create flesh from more fanatical ideology. And two, I really got caught in the logic and I think this is where the spleen can get the most damage in raw food diets, ancestral kind of intermittent fasting kind of style diets. All these things that kind of disconnect us from being grounded and allowing our pure logic and intellect to just... And accept the nourishment that's coming for us.
In that spleen season, we can go into like, you know what, intellectually, it makes sense that as hunter and gatherers, we wouldn't be going out and we wouldn't have that abundance. And therefore for me, what I'm realising there is, is I felt guilty about the level of abundance that I have access to here, in this day and age and that this civilization for all the awful things and amazing things that it's done, I have a genuine mistrust of it. I don't accept any of the nourishment because there's other people that maybe aren't getting nourishment based on other political... This is me, my spleen mind running off and going.
I don't actually deserve it. And therefore I try and logic my way or reason my way, intellect my way to a place, where I am replicating some kind of other diet under the guise of getting health outcomes or logic verse just getting grounded and not having to fly off and go for some crazy ideology, but just continuously grounding and starting with that point of nourishment, which is like why I was thinking of intermittent fasting. And then for me, it was huge coming to having a three-square meal thing. I felt like a failure going to that. That's like eating way too much, even though then the principal becomes only eat till you're like 80% full.
But I was like, why am I doing this? Why do I have to eat? Because you're hungry and I've been there. I've done lots of fasting. I love that point when you kind of stop getting hungry. But when I became really grounded and I grounded my intellect in my mind, and I started accepting and looking and thinking about nourishment, accepting nourishment coming my forth, I don't think it's an absurd statement. to think the natural tendency that everyone is going to accept from their mother is to eat when you're hungry.
So I think as well, if people don't agree with what I eat at this time because it's breakfast and lunch and dinner, and they're synthetic things. Breakfast time is something that was created by Kellogg's and blah, blah, blah. I get all that. You go through all that programming bullshit. And then you do get to a point in the morning though, when you're just hungry. And that's what the spleen is. It's very grounded. Well, should I eat or should I not? Should I fast, should I not? Are you hungry? Yes. Okay. Is there something like diseased in you that clinically you've seen that intermittent fasting is going to help you get through that and get back into a metabolic balance or perhaps get your pancreas working in alignment? You've got whatever it is.
I could do it and heal, but then you always come back to the centre of the wheel of the earth and accept that nourishment. And yeah, I just really, I guess I just went off and did a little bit of healing then when you were talking about that. The stomach, sitting in there, I think they say it likes to sit at about like a 38 degrees.
Yeah. It's slightly warmer than body temperature. I can't remember the exact temperature, but I think that's... I mean, it's interesting, you're talking about even receiving nourishment because that's kind of the archetype of the stomach, is it receives, right? It literally controls the receiving. It's like a compost bin. So if you've ever composted and you know that if you put too much wet stuff in there, it gets stinky. If you don't add enough dry stuff... So this is-
Yeah. And I think people forget like it's soil, right? So to make healthy soil, you need carbon, you need all sorts of various things. I think the older I get, the more I think we should eat most things in a lot of variety all of the time, as in way more diversity than is probably promoted in a lot of the mainstream diet fads. But I really noticed for myself, if I don't eat a lot of high fibre food and well-cooked vegetables and stuff, if I eat too many starchy things, like spelt pancakes or whatever, I don't feel like my digestion flourishes as well. So I can feel that there's this kind of desire for the body to sort of compost these really natural foods, right? And you think about what we would have had access to. They are things like your fruits, your vegetables, your nuts, your meats, your grains and legumes and things that are prepared.
And again, I watch YouTube videos of indigenous cultures preparing food. They spent all freaking day doing it. Like they're not ever eating a Twinkie or anything that's in a packet, like to prepare a legume or a grain that's soaking and that's sprouting and they're mashing and they're grinding. It's a process. And I think we've really lost touch with how much labour it takes to get food to a place where it's digestible. We just kind of plonk some stuff in a pan and eat it. And it's like, yeah, there's actually a lot of effort and time and energy. And that's one of the things that the industrial revolution did for us was it took us away from having to prepare our foods possibly to the detriment of our bodies. And I think we would all agree that hasn't been the best for human health.
To an extent. I mean, there's definitely-
Well, yes. Sorry. That's not true. Yeah. There's more longevity and stuff. But I guess in terms of those markets of like wellness, like that's-
Well, yeah. Yeah. I mean, and I was just thinking about exactly that, like it's another part where I draw back. I was just thinking about apples and thinking how... You were talking about indigenous preparation. I was thinking, oh yeah, they couldn't just go grab an apple. And I was like, but there's this amazing thing of like seeds going all across the world and us developing crops and biodynamic gardens bringing us these amazing produce, so we can use all this produce. Most of what we're getting locally and seasonally, pretty much none of it is going to be, for most people listening to this, like indigenous foods coming from this land or indigenous meat's. Nonetheless, that's like that can... But then you start bringing in preparation. We've had such a speed up of convenience, which to the extent has kept people fed, which is essentially a good thing, people to be able to be fed. Then you get excess, you get excess of crap, excess of corn, excess of wheat, and you get GMOs, all that kind of stuff coming in.
Yeah. Cheap stuff. Yeah.
But if you come back and you accept the nourishment and the abundance, but then, as you said, the spleen is going to like you putting a lot of time and preparation into... And if you can weave that back into your kitchen, if you can have...
Well, I think it comes back to nature. I remember, I lived with a Japanese family. I lived with two. One was very modern and one was very traditional. And in the traditional one, the grandma got up every morning at 03:00 or 04:00 in the morning and she would start cooking breakfast and we would have a proper meal with like a soup and rice and sausage and an egg thing and sushi.
Yeah. A proper meal for breakfast. And then we'd have the same thing for lunch if we were there and we'd have something else for dinner. And that's literally her gig was they grew the green stuff right next to the house. They bought some other stuff from the market. And I remember thinking, at the time being 16, eff that, I'm a feminist and I'm never going to do that. But there's just something to me, coming back to the earth element, that you can nurture and support and nourish your family through this kind of devotion to feeding them and to making sure that they're fed in the best possible way. I think there's something really beautiful about that. And it's taken me a good 20 years to see the beauty in that.
But I think there's something in that, around the connection to nature as well. And if we're talking foods for the spleen, they are really a lot to do with those sort of naturally sweet kind of harvest foods, your grains, your nuts... Not so much your nuts, sorry, your grains, your legumes. You have root vegetables, that kind of thing.
Yellowy foods. Yeah.
Yeah. Like your pumpkin or squash.
Squash, sweet potato.
Yeah. And I think that if you think about how you feel-
White rice is really a good neutral spleen tone applying food alone.
Yeah. If you think about how you feel after you eat a big warm bowl of pumpkin soup or soup potato curry or something, you feel really like hugged in this... I interviewed Andrew Sterman recently, if you haven't heard that one go back and listen to it, but he talks about you want to feel like your belly's purring after you've eaten a meal. And I think just that sense that the foundation of your wellbeing is going to come through having that kind of happy feeling of food cooked with love, chosen carefully for what you need to balance your body and to really nourish and support [crosstalk 00:40:49].
Massive diversity of what you're eating and different types of fibres. I think that interview was amazing. I think that combination of his and I interviewed Jason Jason Hawrelak on that. Increasing, he's just studying the microbiome in getting a diversity of bacteria there. And that's a beautiful kind of like... If you can listen to those and not try and put those two philosophies, because one's like naturopathic and the other one's Chinese medicine, don't try and lay them over each other, but just like the soil earth element, just feel that space between them and feel them communicating.
And then from the other side of those two things that you could be interested in for better health outcomes, you can find what could come the other side is more nourishing and tailored. You've got the evidence on your side and tradition on your side of a capacity to make a family culture and have a food culture, which is going to get you through the other end with your spleen chief flowing, therefore, hopefully your other elemental organs flowing with greater ease, yin-yang transformation happening with greater ease. It doesn't mean everything's perfect in the body, but you're in flow. You're in communion. You're grounded enough to be able to take very specific action as well to manifest your dreams.
And that's something I think, I feel it's probably like there's another little bit of a tangent, but it's something that you do see a lot as people go, like lots of dreams when you're in your teens or 20s, and then you kind of grow up. It's like in Hook, I always talk about Hook. Peter Pan, lost boy, and then goes, "I want to get married. I love someone." And so he goes over and he just forgets all his... Forgets Never Never, basically forgets how to dream and Crow and fight and fly, and how to have happy thoughts.
But then the spleen season, if you're alive enough in spring and you have enough trust and confidence in yourself to start dreaming up and thinking, what would I like? What's going to really light me up and make me feel like I've really been able to do what I'm here to do, which is bridge heaven and earth, and bring some magic to me in this world? And that doesn't need to look extravagant or anything, just allow yourself to be in that dreaming.
When it gets to these earth seasons, it's a really good time to... You're mature and start making your decisions and really quiet your mind. And really ensure that you're being critical and judgmental in a way that's really going to take you further towards living your best life, for a better word, and an expressed life verse being judgmental to others and yourself and critical of yourself, because that does eventually turn your flesh into kind of that energy. And you can feel it.
I remember, after I got out of my raw kind of food worlds, I became quite critical of, and people probably hear the hangover of it, I talk about it all the time, critical of myself kind of falling into those ideologies for just how much I externally started to identify, became a bit resentful towards the health scene. I became resentful to the kinds of information that people would put out there with conviction, not knowing the whole of the system, just doing things willy-nilly, which I saw could put people in danger, which is probably because that's what I felt like I was doing, to be honest.
Well, it's interesting about the spleen and the intellect aspect of it. If you are in ideology, that's a sign of spleen imbalance, right? If you think about what a lot of these diets do is they disturb the healthy flow of spleen qi in the body. And that affects the ability, the capacity to think. So people get myopic, they get stuck on, this is the only way. They can't digest that there might be two or three or four or five or six or a thousand different ways to eat.
.... That there might be two or three or four or five or six or 1000 different ways to eat or to behave. And so it sort of becomes this my way or the highway kind of a thing. And again, it comes down to bonds and boundaries, right? Like a strong boundary against everybody else, and only my tribe is right. And that tribalism is really not what we need. Like our whole world is incredibly tribal right now. And it's not really in service to the growth of humanity, it's not in service to like our collective growth as people of a country or a state. Whatever your thoughts are on what's going on globally, there's a lot of stuff that isn't really that helpful. So I think when we think about this sense of like what the gifts of the spleen are, it's empathy, it's understanding that you may not agree with someone, but you can empathise with their perspective.
Well, if your spleen is out of balance, you're not going to have that. You're going to think that they're wrong. You're going to be black and white. You're going to be divisive. Similarly, it's about altruism and about supporting the whole of humanity. Well again, if you're out of balance, you're not going to be feeling like that. It's about stability. If you're not stable, is it really working? And I think that's the, I mean, that's one of the things I believe very strongly with yoga is, if your practise isn't making you more stable, you're doing the wrong practise for you. And I think-
That kind of links into like looking at what's your relationship like? What's your house like? How is your work life? Before you go out and try and save the world, making sure your own house is ... at least you're in the middle of ... at least you've got to practise consistently and you're getting your house in order.
Yeah, and I think-
I don't [crosstalk 00:46:35] like lofty ... I don't [inaudible 00:46:38] get it perfect. And then you can go out-
No, well that's liver.
Perfectionist liver friend. But yeah, I really do think ... like I think that something we talk about a lot is I look to people who are our peers, or even really well known in the scene and they aren't stable. They aren't people that are steady and consistent. And I find there's something about that that I'm a little bit wary of, because I think, "Well, I'm more interested in learning from someone who's been around for a while and who's really spent time diving into their understanding and their experience." And that leads you to teachers that are older and that have been around a while. And they very rarely teach black and white. They very rarely say there's one way. I mean, "It depends," is pretty much the mantra of my life because it's like there is no right way.
And all of this stuff is really just someone wrote this down because someone downloaded it probably from wherever you want to believe. I believe from some kind of source, consciousness. And they've been able to put it down in a language that we don't speak anymore, that's been translated through time. There's lots of arguments about what things mean. And then we're here having this conversation on a podcast, this is our understanding and interpretation of someone else's insight. And we all have the capacity to have these insights and these understandings. And I think it just becomes, again, about how we assimilate and digest these ideas. And so just to keep bringing it back to that spleen element, you're creating the soil of your life through composting everything you come across and turning it into your foundation, your stability. And that's, I think, the piece that is really important, is it's not about, "Oh, it's spleen time and I have to eat pumpkin," it's about what do you notice and observe when you lean in to what's abundant in your ...
Like in my neighbourhood right now, there are lots of sweet potatoes around. They're at all the farmer's markets and they're everywhere. It's like, well, that would make sense to me to eat them because they're there, they're growing. And hey, oh, by the way, they also worked for spleen. Isn't that interesting? And I think this is this really kind of interesting thing that you start to notice these things, like you were saying, you start to kind of, year on year, develop and cultivate this deeper level of understanding and relationship with these things just through living, not through trying to put on some, "I'm a Daoist and I believe it's spleen time, and I'm going to do this."
And I think that's the same with the herbs. Like if you're working with ... Some people might need spleen herbs a lot, all the time. They might just have a tendency to really go out of balance in that area, and they really need that support. I can sort of be like that sometimes. Other people might feel like they want to work with them around the change in season. Other people might just want to work with them when they feel called to. You can work with your practitioner and find out what's going to be appropriate for you at this stage of life. So I think there's so much diversity in how we approach these things, but-
That's probably worth mentioning. Like when we're talking about spleen deficiencies, we're talking in a very general sense, allowing the soil, the earth Chi to flow smoothly through the spleen stomach meridian, which can mean many things for everybody listening to this, but it's just feeling generally in harmony. And especially at this point, your intellect, the good quality thoughts, beliefs, and then your digestion. And so it's like you look at are you getting bloating? Are you holding weight? Is there IBS? Is there a bit of leaky gut going on? Is there a runny stool? Is there, to a lesser extent, constipation, but still there? And remember, where there's spleen, there's dampness in the spleen, you imagine the soil's just sopping wet, soggy, but then there's damp heat and damp cold. And then when we look at the stomach, we're going to see generally it's going to be heat, stomach heat. And so you're going to look at things like indigestion and reflux and those kinds of things.
But we're not trying to diagnose all these things. Make sure you're with ... If there's something in those areas and really digestively something really going wrong, or especially if psychologically, something you can not, you haven't been able to get on top of it, don't try and do the lifestyle changes. Don't try and shoulder the burden. Remember to accept nourishment, and there's going to be people out there, practitioners, they're going to be able to help you kind of hone in on that as well. But in general, yeah. I mean, when you look at the Qi herbs, they're all about supporting the spleen function and quite often the lung function, because that's what delivers us our vitality and our daily Qi, so all the organs can run and thoughts can move and all that kind of good thing.
So yeah, at this time of year, for sure, especially when here it's so muggy and damp, I like having the herbs in the Qi blend. I felt really comfortable when it came out with the Qi blend, because there's so many ... Poria, is the mushroom in there leading the charge, able to transform that water. If there's too much water. And likewise, guys, all the mushrooms are basically known in Chinese medicine as the regulators, water regulators, like the Warren G of the water in your ...
And then the roots, like Astragalus. So like your Homie Nate
So it's a really good time to get those moving in, especially the mushrooms, moving that water. Because remember, if that water's ... what's going to be able to travel through soggy, sopping water? You can't ... I can't remember what the word is. Friable.
Yeah. Like to be able-
Yeah, soil. So you think you-
Can move through it.
Yeah, you think water can move through it, or especially that's what you want to be able to do ... moving in there.
[crosstalk 00:52:47] can push through easily.
Yeah. Cheese can move through there. Worms are going to be able to be present there in the soil. Maybe not. Let's stay in the analogy with that one. But yeah, very general. But mushrooms are always ... I mean, the good thing about Qi herbs is they're all so general and you can't really go wrong. But as Tahn's said, some people will notice really big differences. You make all these lifestyle kind of changes that we've spoke about. Remember that it's a time to get grounded and have a look at your inner critic and your beliefs and all these things. Remember, it's a transitional time. So you do have the opportunity at the fulcrums of the season, as you do all the time, you can tune into that earth energy. But really, if you sit down, stop distracting yourself. That's why people go on social media breaks and like little holidays, because when you stop having all that information coming in, you don't have to digest as much and chew on as much. And therefore you can chew on what's present in your body and make little adjustments, transitions.
Remember, to transport you over to another ... You can transport yourself back over into connecting with those dreams you had when we’re 20, and just with this maturity you've got, and start making really intellectually aligned, good quality decisions. And you have a look, "What's my beliefs that I have? Cool. All right, I'm going to have to ... I might actually start working on that belief." And then you go at it like an ox, like a chop wood, carry water. You just plough ahead and plough ahead at it. So really important for you to do that. But yeah, if you get into the Qi herbs, the mushrooms, you might see that you'll physically may notice a little bit more vitality. Your digestion might get a little bit more honed. It's very correlated with immunity. So it's actually the time of year anyway you want to start ... You always want to be taking the mushrooms as far as I'm concerned. There's a black and white statement for you to [crosstalk 00:54:38] say, that's the exception.
Yeah. There's an exception to every rule.
Generally, but Qi, I mean at this point Qi kind of starts really making an appearance, and then I go ... And then I start going real hard as I get into March. And then all of autumn it's like the focus, because they had the spleen herbs and the lung herbs, and then they start really fortifying your surface protective Qi, your [inaudible 00:55:03] Chi, going into winter. And it's important, especially with everything that's going on in the world. There's always immunological stuff going on in the world. Everyone would be in such a better position if we took herbs appropriately, lived a little bit more appropriately for the seasons. But people want the easy way out. And so this is the way that is going to bear fruits, and allows ... Ultimately we want the consciousness, from a Daoist perspective, the consciousness of each of our organs to be flourishing and freely expressed. As we are in alignment with the yin and the yang, we're able to go down in the night, up in the morning, go down in winter, come up in summer. Right now we're going to be ... You prepare. You get grounded.
Prepare, we're going to be leaving these warmer months. Really get grounded and sit into that and allow yourself to feel all that, everything there is to feel, still enjoy it. And then you'll be ready to mourn the loss of the warmer months when we get into the lung season. But yeah, just make sure you don't miss these opportunities. Or even just like start touching them a little bit, and start getting into flow a little bit.
Yeah. I think that's a nice segue into ... we'll be back for metal soon. And we hope you all are thriving out there. And-
Well this is a nice one because this is relevant for Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere, since it's the Earth season. It may not be to the full extent of late summer.
Yeah. You guys are sliding the other way, but yeah.
Yeah. You're sliding the other way, and it's good to get practise in embracing this energy and feeling that these intentions come forth in the kitchen, or in your practise, in your meditation, when we go between the seasons, and especially when we go between summer and autumn. Any other little thing? No, I think I was just going to talk about saliva being the substance.
I have so many other things. But I think, I mean, we have a daycare run to get to.
Yeah, I do.
Just embrace your saliva during these times, guys. That's the substance of the spleen. I was thinking about [Tani's 00:57:15] teacher, [inaudible 00:57:16] practise in the morning. Chew, chew, chew, chew for a few minutes, and collect all that saliva and then swallow it down and send a little hello to the spleen, with its own essence.
Well, and I was thinking if any of you with students out there, it's a really disruptive time to the spleen. So any study, any constant reading, any intellectual work over the top, so too much of it. So it doesn't have to be any, but just like anything that's in excess, then you will feel out of balance. So just remember that's a good time of life to work with the chi herbs and to get supported with the kind of spleen aspect of your life. So try and stay grounded and steady in other ways. And if you are really out of whack because of what's going on around the world, again, probably a time to really work on your stability and your groundedness and your connection to the Earth, and remembering that you've got that ability to just sit and feel and connect. And don't let your mind get away with you. Practise whatever you need to practise to stay sane at this point. But yeah, just these are all pretty spleen disturbing times that we're in. So yeah, lots of love to all of you out there.
Guys, remember, Goldilocks it. Not too hot, not too cold, not too much exercise, not too little, not too much work, not too little work. Just a nice chop wood, carry water time.
Just right. Bye guys.