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Shen, The Heart Compass and Fire Element with Stephanie Nosco (EP#185)

As we sit in the balmy heat of the hottest (and last) month of Summer- the Heart Fire element, we want to take a moment to journey to the core of this season and explore its equally soulful and outward Yang expression.

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"The whole point of the Shen is to be our compass on earth, not to fly back up to heaven, because the Shen will do that. But it's really, can I call the Shen down and have the Shen and it's rhythm inform my life?"

Oh, heavenly Shen! The ultimate expression of true intelligence and Joy, the bridge between heaven and heart, where wisdom lives and love reigns supreme.

As we sit in the balmy heat of the hottest (and last) month of Summer- the Heart Fire element, we want to take a moment to journey to the core of this season and explore its equally soulful and outward Yang expression.

Guiding us through this conversation, bridging the esoteric and physical nature of the Heart Fire element so gracefully, is Medical Qigong therapist, Yin Yoga teacher, psychotherapist and 5 Element educator Stephanie Nosco.

Stephanie explores the apex of expression, which is the Fire Element- when the sun is at its highest point, nature is bursting with life, and the ascending energy of excitement fills the air. Stephanie also discusses the practices, protectors and boundaries to be mindful of in Heart Fire season and why balance is essential.

This conversation is a divine exploration of how we can show up shining and expressing our full potential in the Summer season without soaring too high and losing that soul connection to self and consciousness.

 

"It's really hard to know what's true if the Shen isn't home. So, if you're constantly in the state of excitement or you're go, go, go and there hasn't been that space to settle... If there's no Shen there, it's like you can't access the truth, you can't access the information".
Stephanie Nosco

Mason and Stephanie discuss:

  • The Shen Treasure.
  • Meditation and Shen.
  • The expression of Shen.
  • Heart resonance and Shen.
  • Protectors of the Heart.
  • Boundaries of the Heart.
  • Practices for Heart Fire season.
  • The Small Intestine and discernment.
  • Listening to the compass of the Heart.
  • How the Heart Fire Element is expressed. 
  • The difference between excitement and joy.
  • Shen and the relationship with ourselves.
  • Gratitude practices to nourish Heart Shen.
  • Speech is the centre of the Heart and the Shen.
  • The physical and energetic purpose of the triple burner.



Who is Stephanie Nosco?

Stephanie is a dedicated yoga teacher, meditation guide and Medical Qigong therapist based in Calgary, Alberta Canada. Her teaching style and philosophy has developed throughout years of exploring Buddhist and Taoist studies, as well as through using movement, breathe and meditation to manage her own mental, physical and spiritual health. Her most recent interests surround how spirituality, energetics and psychotherapy intersect and just completed her masters in Counselling Psychology. Her psychotherapy practices is informing deeper layers of learning about the human spirit, in how to better support people in their life and practice. With over a decade of experience leading yoga teacher trainings, silent retreats, workshops, and classes, Stephanie is most interested in bridging the gap between ancient teachings and modern life to help people reconnect to what is meaningful. Stephanie views Yin Yoga, Meditation, Qigong as methods to re-awaken what we already know. She founds her teachings on the principle that empowering this inner knowing is the true guide towards genuine healing, health and awakening. 

 

Resource guide

Guest:

Nosco Yoga

Stephanie's Instagram

Stephanie's Facebook

Yin Yoga Teacher Training 

Stephanie's YouTube channel

 

SHEN blend 

SHEN blend - The Incredible Benefits. (Article)

Relevant Podcasts:

The Wu Shen and Alchemy Vs Ascension with Stephanie Nosco (EP#123)

Calm Mind, Joyful Spirit: The SHEN blend with Mason and Tahnee (EP#91)

 


Check Out The Transcript Below:

Mason:

Good morning. Good afternoon. How are you?

Stephanie Nosco:

I'm great. It's good to be here again, Mason.

Mason:

Yeah, well, it's not quite three months, but it's always just a nice stop for me. I've got all these rhythms in my world at the moment that align me with the transitions. We just had our team summer offsite yesterday, where we look at our projects for the next three months, or temples as we call them, and we drop into summer. And then I've got this call with you, so I'm really grounding and conscientiously making this transition right now, and I'm looking forward to extending it out. Yeah. You're in the middle of not the fire?

Stephanie Nosco:

No, we're dropping into the depths of winter at the moment, but with fire and the Shen really, you can always review and it always is helpful no matter what season you're in. These teachings are always relevant, because it's never like you're only working with Shen in summer, you're working with it all the time.

Mason:

Yeah, yeah.

Stephanie Nosco:

Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Mason:

That kidney, heart, water, fire.

Stephanie Nosco:

Mm-hmm. And there is this really strong relationship also between water and fire being at polar opposites of the season and the spectrum. Yeah, there's a connection there.

Mason:

Well, let's... I'm sure we're going to take it in many directions because we always get sparks of ideas of different interesting places we can take this, but I'd love to just jump into your exploration. Let's go into the foundations of what this heart fire season is.

Stephanie Nosco:

Mm-hmm. Sure. So, fire element is the apex of expression. So, if you look at nature, you're going to be seeing blossoms, right? The fire element really wants to be seen in its splendour. It's really the apex of beauty. My teacher, Laurie, she talks about each of these elements having a mantra. And the mantra for the fire is, "I blossom," so it's after... We talked about wood as in, what do I want to become, who do I want to grow into? And in summer, we've reached that point.

We're in this apex of expression and you see that in the blossoms, you see that in the light of the day, the sun being at its highest point. Things are just bursting with life. And so with that, and you think of fire, it's reaching upward, right? The fire moves in this upward direction based on two things, connection, the connection with the wood, and then also space. And so, I am always balancing these two pieces when I look at the fire element and when I think about the spirit of fire is this balance between connection and space.

And so it's very natural in summer to want to be external. That's when we have barbecues, that's when we go and make connections with friends that we haven't seen, that's when we have family reunions. It's like everyone's out or, "Oh, look at me." It's a very external time of year. And at the same time, this heart can get... We can feel a sense of burnout when there's so much connection and not enough space to just be in our own energy. So that's when I think of fire, I think of the blossom, I think of connection, I think of this upward moving energy of expression.

Mason:

And let's look at... We talk often about our north star on each of the seasons, getting the personality of the organ and the elements starting to wiggle its way through and express itself in a way that's harmonious. Everyone would've heard us talk about Hun, we've talked about Po, we've talked about the spirits and these personalities. I call them personalities. I don't know if you relate to them that way. But Shen is that spirit, that expression of the heart, that heart fire. And it's one of those key, critical...

 

I'd say, let's just take it into what the Daoist looked at it. It's a critical driver. There was one of those ones that were like, that, as a expression, is so critical that that's one of the three treasures, that if we just focus on jing, chi, Shen, and so they haven't chosen Hun as a treasure, because it's just... Well, if we've got Shen rocking Hun, we'd assume is in line. We can't focus on everything all the time. And so, it is the same Shen, if anyone is just wondering if it is in this, a spirit, and one of the treasures.

Stephanie Nosco:

Yeah, and this is where it does get a little bit confusing. Because when we look at Shen, I always like to think about it as the heart holding the truth. It's holding our soul's mandate, it's the emperor or the empress. It is the compass of our entire life. And within the heart, within this Shen, we have two categories of Shen. And to me, this just makes it simpler. So the first category is the Wan Shen which is ultimate consciousness. It's what connects us with everything else. It's that part of us that's going to be okay when nothing's okay.

And sometimes, with my students, I say, "Okay, try not to be aware just for a second." You can't. It's not going away. It's the background of everything. It's the light in someone's eyes. So this is, the Wan Shen, this is the ultimate truth, I guess, you could say. If you look at Buddhist teachings and the deep philosophies of Daoism and Wuji, this is ultimate consciousness and that lives in the heart. And there's this relative truth of our personality self, which is all of the Shen. It's our individuality, it's our soul. It's how each individual expresses in such a unique way.

And so, both of these truths, which we call absolute and relative, live in the heart and nobody can really know what our truth is except for us. And so, this is what's really important about working with the heart, is having that level of autonomy. And we lose our way or we lose this compass when other people's thoughts, opinions, and ideas blur over or muddy the waters of what our truth actually is. So that's a big piece of the heart, is knowing the Shen, knowing the relative truth, which is soul work, psychological work, and then also, this absolute truth which comes with meditative practises, open awareness practises. And both are necessary to really get that sense of inner compass.

Mason:

Yeah, I think a lot of times when I started studying and the explanation of Shen was like, "It's kind of like...," and that distinction between those two is really helpful. Because then when you see absolute truth and absolute love, for me, it's that connection to the Dao, that is unexplainable. Because there is that part that I touched that is unexplainable. And then the other explanation of Shen is, it's your personality and your mind. And I'm like, "How does that connect?"

Stephanie Nosco:

I know. ... confusing. It's confusing. But I mean, another thing, too, we think of the heart is its, if you look at the character of the heart, it's like an empty bowl with that little speck in it. And so it's an empty space, and that empty space holds everything. It's like the container that holds everything and it's everything. So it's kind of a paradox that we're holding. But I find that it's helpful to just say, okay, I have my personality self and then the part of the consciousness mind that's holding it all, both are important. And so this is connection and space, right? We have to have the space, which is the mind that can hold everything, and then the parts of our personality that are deeply dependent on relationship and connection.

Mason:

That's a lot of the yin and the yang of this heart, this fire chi. Which again, it was for me, it was, I was in my mid-20s when I was studying this, and I really related to the question of who am I connecting with, who is it about, who am I here in this world? That really ignites. And that's again, what we use at Super Feast with those people have a lot of fire in their chart and we can see they're the people, the project or the idea goes to them when it's like, who do we need, who's the best person, who are we nourishing here? They're just so good at connecting.

 

And that's where the excitement, the joy, the friendships, the drinks. We have summer and Christmas here, so you can imagine we're stacked. Yeah, the thing our ancestors were like, it's so dark here in Scandinavia or wherever it is, let's have a big festival in the middle of the darkest night so that we can just bring some fire and connection when we have it the least. We do that in the middle of the time when we have the most connection anyway, and we don't need any prompting. We're already spending money. And then it's spend all your money. It's like extra summer burnout, and I think it has a lot-

Stephanie Nosco:

Overload.

Mason:

Overload, and so the relationship to summer is really that. And so, our calendars are just packed. And this is where I was just looking at that spaciousness that you're talking about. Because when I was, I think I was especially reading Rhonda Chang's book and she was talking about when you have that transformation from the yang to the yin, within the fire, the only way that she could really translate it is serenity. And I was like, I was really, I just never... Of course, that's a nice part of summer that just happens. You're in a hammock and you're just cruising, you're on cruise control.

 

I've been realising if you've done it really well and you've chopped your wood into small enough pieces, and you haven't handed overly dry wood and all the ideas that you ever have from the liver from spring over to summer. If you've got a nice small pieces, a good plan, and you've planned for space in your life for you, then you literally could just go on cruise control. And I never had that association with summer. It was all about the activity. But activity for me was still based in liver activity, planning, doing, that kind of thing, rather than now, everything should be set up and you should just be able to ride that board and just enjoy it, spaciousness and then connection.

 

So yeah, it was really... And the way you brought the relevance of space there, and it's not just in meditative practise, but it is just that time that you have. You've got to live there if you want that ultimate love and connection and that place, of unexplicable gratitude and unity to come through naturally. I'm realising it's also, well, through the day, every day, have an opportunity. But especially that season, you need to have space for it. Yeah, I'm only just really getting that and we're just planning, getting good with actually having good holiday during this time where we can be in that serenity.

Stephanie Nosco:

Yeah. And well, maybe a helpful distinction here to make is the difference between excitement and joy, is that excitement is this the mind slightly being out of the body. When we're excited and there's just so much stimulation, the Shen actually leaves the body, right? It's upward movement, it's an upper spirit, and so the Shen will fly out. And so, there's this sense of always being one step ahead of the present moment, in which case, you're actually just missing it.

 

You're missing the joy, you're actually missing the connection with the present moment, versus if you have the space, the Shen will settle back into the body, and then there's actually a connection between the mind and the present moment. And that's where that genuine sense of joy and that genuine sense of sinking into your life happens.

 

And that's maybe what you were talking about serenity is that deep sense of peace of, "I'm really here. I'm really connecting with the blossoms, or I'm really connecting with this person that I haven't seen in six years or whatever it is. You're actually there for it. Versus this excitement is like, "Ooh, what's next? What's next? What's next?" And you're just slightly missing it. You're just ahead of the present moment.

Mason:

On the flip side of that, because that is definitely what I've had my tendency to go towards in over excitement, over like, "This is going to be the best," all the time really trying to drive and seek that, excessively seek that joyousness to prove to myself I really am happy, you know? And then on the flip side of that, for me, because there's a very particular type of anxiousness that emerges when I'm outside the space. And I guess, for me, I'm assuming that that anxiousness comes over as the opposite of that excitement, but it's a different anxiousness from spleen.

 

I can really feel when there's too much to digest and I'm not actually transforming, and the ideas, that's a different over-masticating ideas and over-masticating things and problems and that. Thus, the anxiety of the heart of, for me, I've just thought about where I'm at the moment is just, say the pre-programmed guilt, to just go and be, be space, just all of a sudden how uncomfortable I will get and try to avoid it and say, "I'm guilty, because I've got so many things to do, I don't deserve it." I can really feel that flavour and shade of anxiousness. It's not a problem, but yeah, I just wanted to throw that out there and make that distinction. I've got anything else to say on it.

Stephanie Nosco:

Definitely. Yeah, there's different flavours. Anxiety is a funny one, because anxiety relates to the heart energy of being slightly ahead of the moment. And in extreme cases, you get shock. When you go through trauma, then the Shen totally leaves the body. And then there's a different flavour, also, with the kidneys and fear. And there's a different flavour with the spleen and worry. So it is. I think anxiety can be related to many of the different organs, but particularly in summer, when we're not talking about trauma, just daily living, it's this, yeah, this excitement, this feeling like you need to connect all the time, or maybe even FOMO, fear of missing out, could be a heart thing.

Mason:

And what about those who are even in summer, "I don't want to go out and I don't want to connect."

Stephanie Nosco:

Yeah, that's a good question.

Mason:

Perhaps maybe want to.

Stephanie Nosco:

And I think that could be also a function of, yeah, personality, but maybe what's going on in your life. If somebody had a loss in summer, it can seem like it doesn't match the season. If someone lost a loved one, it's like, "Oh, man, I don't want to go out and connect." And so, I think it's important to listen to not only the seasons externally, but the seasons of your life. I don't know, for me being more of an introvert, I find myself being more extroverted in summer, and almost pushing myself into that space of connection feels really nourishing to me usually after.

 

So, it is about listening to what you need, and then also maybe challenging yourself in certain scenarios of maybe this connection is meaningful, maybe it is what I need. And then it comes down to also listening to the compass of the heart, which can get murky, based on our conditioning, based on our past traumas, based on who's around us, and not setting those appropriate boundaries, which is also a big topic of the heart.

Mason:

Mm-hmm. And I think what you just said, in terms of a north star and Shen, been able to actually listen to yourself. And I know there's so much... I've always, I love how much good intention there is around social media and the wellness world going, "I'm just going to listen to my body and I'm going to listen to my heart." And I know I definitely can do it with my excessive mind, but I know there's a formula. I know there's a more pure, just cleaning the diamond.

 

I can clean the diamond up and the quality of the message, because I can listen to my heart and say, "Look, I'm just going to be kind on myself and allow this crutch to happen or allow this excess to happen." It's not wrong, but if I were to tighten up on particular practises and tighten up within this element, and really get a little bit more conscientious of having that fire chi flow, it would shine that diamond and the truth would emerge with a little bit more purity. So, I think I'd love to just, yeah, continue to follow that trend.

Stephanie Nosco:

Yeah, it's a practise. This is in Qigong training, we're always practising to feel into what's true. So one of the things my Qigong teacher does is you, just a simple practise would be to close your eyes and feel into your heart and tell it a lie. So, to deliberately tell your heart something that's not true and then notice what that feels like-

Mason:

Shall we do that?

Stephanie Nosco:

... in the body as a... Yeah. So yeah, if you just close your eyes right now and just a blatant lie, like, "I don't love my son or daughter," or whatever, just say a lie. And I want you to just notice that it doesn't go in. You feel that?

Mason:

That's a good [inaudible 00:17:51]. I was interested to hear how you were going to describe it, and I was like, it was like pew, pew, pew.

Stephanie Nosco:

Yes.

Mason:

Yeah.

Stephanie Nosco:

It's like, it just doesn't go in. There's no resonance. And that's the thing, is the heart is like, there's so much, there's a huge electrical magnetic field, electromagnetic field, around the heart. And so, it's always resonating with things. So if you say something to your heart that's not true, there's going to be no resonance. So then you can do the same thing, like right now, and tell your heart something true. You feel the difference?

Mason:

Yeah. Choke and chase.

Stephanie Nosco:

Yeah. So this is what, and you can practise this with anything, like, "Should I go to that party?" Whatever decision it is, it's to check in with your heart. And then knowing that there's going to be that afterwave of the rational mind that comes in, or the needing justification from worst is to seek justification from your family. Don't do that, but other people, and then murkys the waters of what actually is true for you. But the more you listen to the compass of the heart, at least in my experience, the stronger that discernment of where it's leading you will take. I find that you can really never go wrong with following your heart. And I know that sounds super cheesy, but it's true.

Mason:

Yeah, I'm with you. I say that as well. It does sound cheesy, because we know how many people have heard just the introductory, the brochure of listening to the heart. But then a lot of people listening, or maybe some of you are just coming in for the first time, we've had so much study. I know there's been a decade for myself of being exposed directly to the ancient wisdom and science. And the current sciences there, you can go and look at HeartMath Institute, they will have the studies that will nourish your mind, if that's what you need. Click over and get to this.

 

And then Stephen Harrod Buhna has a beautiful book on his secret teachings of plants. And I just documents the practise of how sitting with a plant, how electromagnetically following the pulse of where your senses take in that information. We talked about this in the liver season, but then watching what happens on an ECG reading. And when you hold the energetic of well, our thought is the same, or the plant, if you connect with the plant. But if you connect with the feeling, "Should I go to this party or should I go take this job," whatever it is, you watch what happens on ECG, if you can just hold it in the heart and don't let that charge go to the mind or go to the brain for interpretation.

 

And that's what I started going, holy, shit, there is really something here to what you're saying. And then Shen blew it out of the water and the Daoist lineage is documenting how we can bring these practises further into our life without that bubble of truth emerges. And then you get really good at going, okay, release mind gives interpretation and then you can come back to the heart and refine and go, bam, bam, bam, because... I'll shut up. Now, I'm going on.

 

But the other thing that just really came to mind that was my biggest distinction was the quality of the questions you start to learn to ask. And it goes, a really good example is, "Should I go to the party?" And that's one where you can throw it in and feel it's resonant, but does it have everything? Does it have all the distinctions? Is that the best quality question? See what the mind says. It's just like, "No." And you go, "That was a really binary question.

 

Let's go back and ask a more refined, nuanced question." Maybe it's a feeling, maybe it's a direction, maybe it's not in English. And then you start to actually speak in resonance with your heart and not have to use that black and white languaging. And then, all of a sudden, you can start to do two things but do them in a way that honours two aspects of yourself but have an... And that's where I've learned the heart boundaries through doing that.

Stephanie Nosco:

Right. Because the heart can hold paradox. It's harder for the rational mind to hold paradox, but the heart can, because it's space. So yeah, I love what you said there about the quality of our questions. Keep asking the question. Doesn't mean that you have to make the decision right away. And this is another thing that I want to say is that, it's really hard to know what's true if the Shen isn't home. So, if you're constantly in the state of excitement or you're go, go, go and there hasn't been that space to settle, it's really, if there's no Shen there, it's like you can't access the truth, you can't access the information.

 

So this is the important thing about, I mean, and I'm always saying establish a daily meditation practise, because there really is nothing like it. I mean, I think that humans should be meditating every day. It's more important than brushing your teeth, because it's taking that time to bring the Shen home. And particularly, my teacher, Laurie, says, the Shen, it sees out the eyes, it follows the Hun. So when we're in the world, the Shen is just shining out the eyes. So even just taking a moment to consciously close the eyes, it lets the Shen settle back into the heart. And there's lots of things our eyes, like with trauma-informed yoga, they say keep your eyes open, but I think you close your eyes and feel into the heart and just give yourself time every single day to let the Shen settle, there's just more access.

Mason:

Yeah, I mean, both are good. Sometimes it's nice to not have trauma be the thing that's the main north star [inaudible 00:23:29].

Stephanie Nosco:

I had a Tibetan teacher tell me that there's no way you can achieve enlightenment with your eyes closed in meditation. You've got... So I mean, there's lots of different things, but when you look at the way the Shen moves from the eyes to the heart, it's nice when you really want to get that sense, that felt sense of yes/no is to close the eyes. It's just a very practical piece.

Mason:

And I feel that as well. And it's nice to go through different seasons of your practise. It's like in movement, when I'm practising , there's some nice, real, methodical Qigong movements, and I start to close my eyes. And my friend and teachers sometimes is like, "I can feel you're just to the point where you are leaving a little bit too much. You're leaving your body a little bit too much in that practise. So it's not bad. But just for now I'd recommend you keep on practising , and then when you can stay embodied, then it's nice to close your eyes." So it's nice to have these guides and go, "Why did the Tibetan say that?" Why did... you know what?

Stephanie Nosco:

Exactly. And every practise has a shadow, right? There's no one way to do things. You're going to do something one way for a certain amount of time and it's going to make this big shadow, and then you need another practise. So it's all about why am I doing this, what is the theory behind why I'm doing this, and how can I redirect? And then also, most importantly, listen to your heart and that compass.

Mason:

The meditation piece, let's stay here for just a smidge, because it would be a great outcome. And again, it's one of those things where everyone gets handed the pamphlet, which is not best, because that's the way things move is, you go meditate every day. And it's the same as exercise every day, and at some point, maybe some people are really good at just being like, maybe you're more earth types and you're like, "Yes, ma'am." And you're like I can just do it because it's repetitive. But even, whether it's just saying yes and just doing it or people like me, it's just like, "No, I don't want to do it," I think every day.

 

Quite often it goes... No, you were saying it's a time for the Shen to come home. And I was thinking, for me, really relevant. And at the moment also, I feel there's some fright. For me there is that fright. And so, it's not about if people go on insisting, "Oh, I don't know if I'm really excessively excited all the time," and there's other ways, other types of excitement. I think there's shades of that. And so, for me, and you just said for that Shen to really come home, I was like, I've just gone beyond the, you should be meditating. Not that you said should.

 

Mason:

And I'm going, oh, yeah, that's right, there's the why and there's the intention. And the question is who? Oh, this is why. There's me and this is why it really is for me and not just something my mind puts on the list. And I think, again, it's all about excitement. But that fire in the practise to lead people in, and to lead myself in, is tending to that heart and that fire, and the fire needs to not be so excessive. I think in terms of Shen coming back, you need to go and look at that fire and make sure too many logs on, move it around, make sure that it's burning appropriately. That really leads me into my practise in summer. So yeah, appreciate the little...

Stephanie Nosco:

Yeah. And you can also think, I love that quote, "Meditation is a holiday for the heart." It's not about being good, it's actually feels really nice when you just let the space in, just nothing, no input. And it doesn't have to be long. Even the HeartMath Institute has beautiful meditations that are just heart breathing, five counts into the heart and five counts out. Do that for six minutes. It can be really effective.

 

So it doesn't have to be this perfect 30-minute sit. Because I think a lot of us do meditation, too, as a self-improvement project. Like, "Okay, I'm going to meditate, I'm going to improve myself in some way." And then it just becomes really restrictive and it becomes something that we have to, and then it ends up causing more tension in the system than necessary. But if you just, okay, this is my time of white space, where I'm just going to either... Qigong works, too, but some kind of practise that brings the mind back into the body.

Mason:

And immediately to be still because that's the medicine right now. And I think that's why perhaps we'd be focused on being like maybe there's not a bad idea to close our eyes, because we have got them open and so intensely focused. On the flip side, if anyone... just that going for a walk and just being in walkabout and focusing on not going and really manoeuvring with this nature space and let that heart connect with that nature space. Ah, my god, that's such a beautiful approach, too.

Stephanie Nosco:

And it's about what's needed. Yeah, if you sit at an office desk all day long, maybe you don't want to sit. Maybe it is a walk. Or, maybe it's... Lately, I've been practising my meditation in the standing Wuji.

Mason:

Right.

Stephanie Nosco:

To build chi. So it's just about feeling into what's needed now, but to have that white space, it's just the white space. This is time where there's no input and I'm not in relationship. It's just focusing on actually you are in relationship because the heart is always about relationship, but it's about the primary relationship. I actually open this with all the silent retreats I lead. I'm like, "We are here to learn how to be in relationship." And everyone's confused because they're like, "Well, I'm not talking for seven days." But it is, it's about creating that primary relationship with yourself, creating the space for all parts of your personality, to listen to them, to witness yourself. And how do I be in same relationship with this multiplicity of personalities that is me. So, it's that.

Mason:

That's why I really like the association of the word Shen, that external relevant Shen with personality, because it's so relevant in phases of life. It's such an indicator that maybe it's time to move from this phase, or maybe it's time to move from this label or identity. You're so much more than that. And it's such a quick... You go and feel that infinite aspect of yourself as you go in and you feel those parts of your personality, you're like, "Hey, you've become so boring. Please, let me..."

Stephanie Nosco:

Great. Yeah, and the more you can be with yourself, the more skillful you're going to be in relationship.

Mason:

Amazing. The only other insight I had that I just thought was really cool, around when I was talking about is, I'd have that when I'm just like, all right, just suck it up and get to that party and that listening to the truth. And it's like, "Don't go." And I'm like, "I'm sorry, heart, but I have to go, because I got this thing of real life and obligations and blah, blah, blah." And I just had a little tune-in, what happened recently, and it was just like, "Dude, go, but my, God, do not talk about business and do not talk about wellness." And then I was like, "Ah."

 

And I popped into my other little, I've got my alter egos, because otherwise, I cannot transition without them. My business mentors are like, "Dude, you have to have alter egos and have a little thing, otherwise you just stay locked." Either CEO Mason or whatever, comedy Mason, you need to... And so, it's just like, that's how I change gears, and then I let go of the names and all that, but that really drove it home. And maybe another little nuanced one that people could just be like, "Well, what's the heart's boundary then if it's going to go to the party?"

Stephanie Nosco:

Yeah, totally. It's not black and white at all. And the heart can hold paradox. And there might be a third possibility that arises out of the possibility A, possibility B, perhaps in the middle there's a third. And that's the brilliance of the heart, I think.

Mason:

It's brilliance and savageness in the truth, "Hey, do you really need this new group of friends?"

Stephanie Nosco:

Yeah. Yeah. And another thing about holding your truth to yourself, but also to others, is that you have to get over the fact that everyone might not like you. And I think that that's part of the maturation process is, the more we start listening to our own authority, the more refined, actually, our relationships become. And the people who are surrounding us are maybe more aligned with our heart's truth. It's like, maybe it isn't everybody and that's okay.

Mason:

Because that is reality. That is connection to... How do you find that? What's the quality of the experience when you're in that appropriate fire, when you're with yourself and you're not getting pulled out of yourself by focusing and labelling on not liking me and that's bad and you're like... Does it just fall away and just-

Stephanie Nosco:

No, it doesn't. It doesn't at all. But it gives easier I think. And I mean, maybe we can switch gears and talk about the fire officials and the heart protectors. This might be a good time to transition into that, because there's different levels of boundaries, right? So we have the heart that's in the centre and this is our truth. And then outside of that, we have the pericardium, which is a fibrous sack that surrounds the heart. And then we also have the triple heater, and these are protectors for the heart.

 

And there's a reason why the heart has four fire officials. All the other organs only have two. But the reason is because we don't want the emperor to be assassinated. The emperor's really important. The emperor, empress, the leader of a country, they have bodyguards. So similarly, that's like our heart has bodyguards. And so, the outermost layer, [inaudible 00:33:17] layer, so the outermost layer, the triple heater, and you and I were talking before this, we went on live that the triple heater is this invisible organ, but it's responsible for so many things, temperature, regulation, immunity. It's also moves fluids through the system.

 

But on a energetic level, it is like the drawbridge that decides how much of myself do I put out and how much do I let in? But in the most outer layer. So this is where, this like the public persona. So, for an example, with you on social media, how am I putting myself out into the world? How much do I disclose to whatever, how many thousands of people I have following me on Instagram. How much, what kind of work do I put out, and is that work in line with my truth? So this is going to be... And then also in any kind of profession, if you're a massage therapist, how much do I advertise? What do I put on my brochure? Or, whatever it is, this is a very practical way that the triple heater is operating.

 

And for myself, I really learned this when my social media account blew up. It was like, how much am I putting myself out there? How much then do I let back in? How much of a relationship do I have with a stranger on the internet? And it's like haters going to hate. I had a lot of people say shit about me online. And so to just, I've gotten to the point where I'm just like... that stuff, that's not coming in. It's just not coming in. I mean, does it bug my ego? Totally. But now, it's more of a head shake versus I'm devastated.

Mason:

And I like the diversity and I like the aspect of cute little emperor-empress wanting it, sitting there, meditating, being connected to infinite love. And it's like, yeah, but let us advise you. It's like the emperor doesn't just make, it's got a multitude of advisors there who are grounded in reality. That's my favourite thing about you, just bringing that up and looking at that, going beyond just it being an organ that protects, or a yang organ. It's really that advisor and that's where you can watch the multifaceted personality of the triple burner come through. For me, there's a high amount of, because it's so fluid, it's highly a scaliwag energy.

 

When I started going into the public, I would overshare whether it was... Well, it wasn't oversharing at the time, it felt character forming at the time, until the point where I was like, oh, my god, I'm so accessible to everyone. I've been so vulnerable about relationship, sex, stuff that's going on in the relationship that people feel like this, they know me so intensely, that they'll share so intensely and so much. And I'll be like, I can't not reply to this, because this person is given so much. And then at some point that's where you feel the protector come up and be like, "Okay, you sit over there and I'll be a scaliwag, and I'll be a smartass back to people, and I don't really care. Or, I'll just be a hard "No, I'm just not going to respond," and it's nice.

Stephanie Nosco:

Right. Yeah, totally. Hey, it's learning. It's totally learning. But yeah, that's the triple heater. So the question with the triple heater, my teacher, Laurie, says is, the question, in or out? Who's coming in? Who's going out? What part of me is going out and what feels authentic? And I will say, also, with the media saying and with public persona is, you can be really intimate with people and not overshare. Sharing content specifically to your life doesn't necessarily have to mean that I'm going to connect with that person. So there's that dance that you're always balancing.

Mason:

Well the app, I mean, integrating that, the triple heater there and go, we'll take that message and we'll send it out, thank you very much. That's a nice way to also feel that it's gone through a little check.

Stephanie Nosco:

Exactly.

Mason:

And that it's appropriate. It's a very practical organ system in it's appropriateness. It's like they got that cell membrane kind of feeling. It's got that fascial connection that just unites you with the inner and outer and everything within you. Yeah, it's so good.

Stephanie Nosco:

Right. Yeah. So then, so that's the outermost layer. And then we have closer in with the pericardium. And so, this is like, okay, so now you're in. So whatever you let in, okay, it's there. Now, the pericardium's the guard that's standing at the gate that's asking for your papers. So this is the question, yes or no? So then you have people, this is more people in your inner circle. This is like, "Am I going to go to the party?" Or, if I am in relationship with this friend or this acquaintance, is how much do I actually share? So this is a little bit closer in on the boundary thing.

 

And again, it can be murky. You're always going to have to ask the heart, "Is this okay? Is this come in, does this stay out?" And then one of the heart protectors that I've been working with probably the most lately is the small intestine. And the small intestine is the secretary that's sitting outside of the palace room, sorting the mail and saying, "Yes, this is going to come in," or, "You're going to come in or you're going to stay out." And the question of the small intestine, which is very important is, "Is this me or is this you?"

 

And this is in our closest relationships and our closest interpersonal relationships where our autonomy can be hijacked sometimes, especially when we're in a very close relationship and we can get enmeshed. Certainly happens in family dynamics. And so, this is really part, I think, of growing up. "Is this me? Is this my autonomy or is this yours?" So again, all of these heart protectors are working all the time, simultaneously, at different times. And yeah-

Mason:

That might be one of the most relevant, is it me? Was this a survival mechanism for a younger me and now it's not me, so on and so forth. Well, in relationships I've now, for some reason, developed this, people having awareness of getting help, getting unenmeshed with their business when it started from being so purpose driven. You might know that as well. I'm still asking that question for myself. So with that, I never had that association with the small intestine.

Stephanie Nosco:

Yeah, because the small intestine is all about discernment. It's about really cutting through and discerning what exactly does this heart need or does this soul on this path need? What exactly is it? Because remember, it's the soul's mandate and nobody has... You can't get the answers externally. Nobody has the answer, except for the Shen. And so, that is it me or is it you question is like, it's a hard one. Especially when we get, yeah, close with partners, with friends even, with teachers. That's a huge one. For me, it's been like, oh, wow, I'm not breaking up with this teacher, but I'm actually saying something different. And is that okay? So it's, I think it's a really-

Mason:

What's the name of the diet? All the little wellness cults, religious cults, all of it.

Stephanie Nosco:

Totally. And then, I think that when we can operate from this place of autonomy of, "I'm actually going to be autonomous, even in this close relationship," there's actually more intimacy. This is a story I tell a lot. But I had this religious studies professor back in my first year of university. And I went to a small university, so we were really close with our professors and she was awesome. She actually left and became a Buddhist nun. So she was great. She would take us on field trips, we'd hang out with her and her dog. Her name was Dr. Sandness.

 

But one day, of our cohort called her Adele, by her first name, and she lost it. She was really upset. She's like, "Don't call me that. Call me Dr. Sandness." And we were shocked, because we were like, "Oh, well, aren't we friends? We're friends, we hang out." And then what she said to us was, "Without separation, there can't be closeness." And I remember that, because it is true. Without being autonomous, there actually can't be genuine connection, because I can't see you for you and you can't see you for me. And therefore, there isn't that appreciation of difference and there can't be that intimacy.

Mason:

That's such a huge piece. It's such a linchpin, I feel. Especially if, say, we find ourselves in a particular philosophical thought form or spiritual thought form, and then we stop asking, "Is this me and what's this soul's mandate?" And starts going, well the mandate of this group is now starting to have opposition. It gets confusing, because I thought I'd finally found home and truth. But it's like that was just maybe a little lighthouse for you to wiggle in and find more of the words or distinctions so you could express your truth, and now you've outgrown it.

 

Then that becomes difficult sometimes, that non-emeshment, but it doesn't have to, I guess. It's a skill and that's what we are talking about here, with this season and with this transition element, that is one of those virtuous capacities that do come about. I guess, especially while you're saying, if we meditate and we meditate in a way that's true for our soul mandate rather than just one lineage, it leads to these outcomes, which is going to lead to a wiser world.

Stephanie Nosco:

And one thing I will say is, I really want to stress this thing around boundaries, right? Because this is what the heart is. The heart keeps order. It beats, it keeps the order of our life and harmony. So sometimes, when people think, "Oh, boundaries?" To set a boundary is mean. I think a lot of people have that belief, even if they don't have it on a conscious level. It's this unconscious level of, if I set the boundary then I'm a mean person. But I really think that boundaries are helpful, they're helpful for us and they're helpful for the people that we're with. And it can be challenging at the beginning to set that boundary. But I really feel that it does keep order, it does keep ordering your life and it can really lead to more intimacy and more authenticity. Yeah.

Mason:

I love it. And sometimes the heart is just, again, it's why it's nice to have those, it's got those double the amount of protectors, because-

Stephanie Nosco:

Totally.

Mason:

... it can be, it's so vulnerable. Sometimes, for me, I speak for myself, and it's naivete about... And it's like, hey, this is, I know it feels like that's the thing to do and you feel one with everyone and every, blah blah blah.

Stephanie Nosco:

Right. And that whole vulnerability thing of like, "I just want to be vulnerable." And it's like, it's great to be vulnerable, but who are you being vulnerable with? You don't have to be vulnerable with everybody. In fact, that's probably a bad idea. You need to have these sense of boundaries and safety around self.

Mason:

Yeah.

Mason:

Immediately, I think of ejaculation. It's like you don't have endless ejaculate. You don't have endless jing. The quality of where that vulnerability, save that for nice intentional moments for somewhere there's a really refined love and really connected, yeah, rather than just ejaculating your vulnerability all over everyone all the time.

Stephanie Nosco:

I love that analogy. So true. It's so true. Yeah, you don't have to be your heart wide open all the time. The heart is not meant to be open all the time, it's meant to open and close. We need to have the heart open and close and open and close and open and close. It's healthy.

Mason:

Yeah. And just getting that reminder, in the back of my mind it's like, "Duh, Mason, you knew that." But it's like, no, but that's... Oh, my gosh, the sweetness. And then it makes me appreciate winter so much, that it's just not that I don't have to just leave it open all the time. The bud can be closed.

Stephanie Nosco:

Yes.

Mason:

Oh, that feels sweet to be in there with your little bud and go into the cultivation and go into that yin of the heart.

Stephanie Nosco:

Mm-hmm. Yeah, yeah.

Mason:

So many things. Is there anything else gaping on in your end, in terms of the practicalities to cover?

Stephanie Nosco:

I mean, I guess one more thing I'll say is, I mean, as far as pride, I know our last session we talked so much about practicality. So maybe we just review them, just coming back to creating space is super important. Giving time for the Shen to come home, but also, pushing yourself towards those meaningful connections, it is really good for the heart. But within those meaningful connections, can I keep a boundary of, "This is me and that is you"? Another thing that we didn't kind of talk about was this gratitude practise.

 

Gratitude is such a heart thing. We think about excitement as more projecting happiness into the future, which leads to this leaning into the future moments. But I think of gratitude as really savouring the gifts of today. And that is such a hard thing. So if you can have a gratitude practise, that's going to nourish the hard energy, it's going to nourish the fire element for sure. I think that's all I have to say.

 

And then, yeah, just set your boundaries, "Is this me, is this you? How much do I want to go out and how much wants to come in?" Oh, wait, I do have one more thing to say, sorry. The heart is also about speech and expression. So this is also where it's, "Okay, I know my truth but now do I have the courage to say it?" So this was a big growing edge for me, as somebody who has been taught to not speak my truth, especially if it disrupts the system or whoever is around me. So, that's also another thing that you could practise during heart season is how am I expressing? Because again, it's about what's going out and what's coming in. It's that exchange of outer and inner, and that speech is the centre of the heart and the Shen, for sure.

Mason:

I mean, acknowledging that the different sides of the diamond. I don't know why I think of diamond a lot at the moment-

Stephanie Nosco:

I love the diamond. Great.

Mason:

... The different shades of personality coming through. I think about that a lot when I go home and I'm stuck on autopilot, and I'm in a yuni expression of the heart at home, and it's the same charge I've had all day running a business. This isn't sweet. And it just means go in, back in, drop, Ah, okay, there we go. And there's the way to have that meaningful connection again. It's just those, that pauses the moments.

 

The other thing I think we're seeing a lot of is that slowing down with boundaries and with the heart. A lot of trauma comes into it in terms of what's allowed. And so if something's happened, whether it's parents or an ex-partner or some people haven't seen their children because they've been expressed in a particular way. I think again, the heart is always where I think of it might take years for you to figure out exactly what's appropriate and not, but it's such a good bread and butter practise to bring some lubricant to that [inaudible 00:49:02].

Stephanie Nosco:

For sure. And I will say, too, with people who have advanced trauma, it is harder to access that discernment of what is me and what is you, especially if it was an early childhood wound, where there was a lot of disassociation. Because remember, when it's not safe the Shen will leave the body. And so, that's where we get that disassociation in cases of shock and trauma. And so, it will take a lot of healing to eventually come back into the body and teaching the Shen that this can be a safe space or at least a brave one, where okay, I can be brave in my body and then I can start to tune in. But I have worked with people with a lot of trauma, and boundaries are usually really hard, because it's hard to go back into the heart and even know.

Mason:

Tony and I were talking about this. I know for me, not an excessive trauma, but some I've peeled back the onions in my pursuit of more greater autonomy and self-agency and then hit a little snag and been like, okay, I don't want to feel the body as much anymore and I'm avoidant more of sitting in that stillness with myself. But I can ease that embodiment. I think that's why it's so nice to have that accessibility of yoga, or Qigong, and just a physical...

 

Even if it's just embodied stretching but not into the style of plug in your headphones and distract, that slow, very slow, doesn't have to be about muscle, it doesn't have to be about flexibility or any of that. It really is the anchor and the key that's just such sweet medicine in that process. Because you don't have to feel it all at once, but you can feel your knees. But it doesn't matter, it's bringing you home.

Stephanie Nosco:

Exactly, exactly. And it's a journey home, right? It's not going to take one meditation session. It's a journey and it's a practise, and we're always learning, we're always learning about where our boundaries are. And then some seasons of our life, our boundaries might be more diffuse. Like you said, at the beginning of your career, "Here I am." Sometimes, if you're going through a difficult situation or a difficult time, your boundaries might be more rigid. And so they're always shifting. It's never, this is my boundary and this is where it is forever. It's not like that, it's always changing and shifting as we do.

Mason:

I'm not going to open up another can of worms, but I know last time we touched on plant medicine, and I was just thinking then this is the place, that sweet place, where you listen to the prayers in ceremony, and I had just had a few songs emerge in terms of talking about the romance and the grandeur and the story of coming home. And that's just why I know that really got me, and I still feel that sweetness. And then I've gone chasing a little bit too much in that feeling of, in the song and the prayer and in the ceremony of just that journey home.

 

Come on, we're calling it and we're whistling it and we're beating the drum. It feels like that that's way woven into this journey through the universe. That's the tapestry we're weaving right now. But then having a boundary between just the excessiveness of feeling the excitement in those songs and acknowledging that, and then having an appropriateness of that more, that bland yin fire that is just serene, not that excited stimulant. It's just that repetitiveness, embodiment, repetitiveness and not just blowing the Shen out of the body.

Stephanie Nosco:

It's the steady beat of the heart. It's that steady beat. Okay, here I am. It's like, this is the beat of my life. And the whole point of the Shen is to be our compass on earth, not to fly back up, because the Shen will do that. But it's really, can I call the Shen down and have the Shen and it's rhythm inform my life?

Mason:

Oh, it's so good. And when you can feel, it's like the way I like the standing forms is, because the excitement that you get of expressing your body at some point. And then by movement. And then in the standing forms you're like, feel how much movement and excitement is going on anyway within that stillness. And you're like, oh, self-cultivation doesn't have to be cathartic. Bring it in. Balance, harmony, ah, okay.

Stephanie Nosco:

All about balance and harmony, for sure.

Mason:

I love it. Thank you. I really-

Stephanie Nosco:

Ah, you're welcome.

Mason:

... really, really appreciate you coming in, in the middle of winter, as well, and speaking some fire with us.

Stephanie Nosco:

Yeah, yeah. One of my favourite elements. I say that about all of them, though. I'm like, "Yeah, fire's totally my favourite, or wood is totally my favourite." But they all have so many gifts and so much wisdom every time we talk. And I feel like I learn, too, as we riff off each other.

Mason:

Yeah.

Stephanie Nosco:

Yeah.

Mason:

And it's nice, also, to remember, I'm like, all right, got to retain it. Remember it all. Get to know. That's right, small intestine. It's like, well it's just staying in the rhythm with all of those. Just follow the threads, just follow nature. Don't worry, you'll get back around to fire.

Stephanie Nosco:

And it'll show up whenever. Small intestine, is this me or is this you? Frick, that's a lifelong practise, so you'll have lots of time.

Mason:

I love it. Have a beautiful afternoon. Nice.

Stephanie Nosco:

Thank you.

Mason:

Is it sunny there? Is that right?

Stephanie Nosco:

It's sunny. It's really cold, minus 24 Celsius, here in Calgary, Alberta.

Mason:

Shit.

Stephanie Nosco:

Yeah. It burns your face when you go outside. But yeah, yeah. Maybe I need to move to a warmer climate. We'll see.

Mason:

I mean, yeah, it is pretty nice.

Stephanie Nosco:

Yeah. Well, enjoy your day. And I guess I'll see you in late summer.

Mason:

Yeah, let's book in a late summer.

Stephanie Nosco:

We really can't.

Mason:

I mean, it's everywhere all the time. And it's funny, it's going to be, yeah, leading up to our Super Feast immortal dragon yearly retreat, which happens March 1, and Operation Spleen has been this year. And so, that'll really be tying that knot on the whole year of spleen soil. So I'd really would love that. Yeah.

Stephanie Nosco:

Oh, cool. That sounds great.

Mason:

Beautiful. Goodbye, everybody.

Stephanie Nosco:

Yeah.

Mason:

Bye, Steph.

Stephanie Nosco:

... you later.

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