Mason Taylor and Tahnee McCrossin; the King and Queen of SuperFeast, join forces on the pod today to bring us a beautiful conversation around the healing art of Chi Nei Tsang.Chi Nei Tsang is the ancient form of massage practiced in the Taoist healing system. Chi Nei Tsang is used to detoxify and energise the body's organ systems via the release of stagnant Qi. Chi Nei Tsang is performed primarily on the abdominal region however the technique is a full body practice. Tahnee shares her personal healing journey with the practice both as a student and Chi Nei Tsang practitioner, outlining the methods you can use at home to encourage the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body as a whole.
Tahnee and Mason discuss:
Who are Mason Taylor and Tahnee McCrossin?
Mason Taylor: Mason’s energy and intent for a long and happy life is infectious. A health educator at heart, he continues to pioneer the way for potent health and a robust personal practice. An avid sharer, connector, inspirer and philosophiser, Mason wakes up with a smile on his face, knowing that tonic herbs are changing lives. Mason is also the SuperFeast founder, daddy to Aiya and partner to Tahnee (General Manager at SuperFeast).
Tahnee McCrossin: Tahnee is a self proclaimed nerd, with a love of the human body, it’s language and its stories. A cup of tonic tea and a human interaction with Tahnee is a gift! A beautiful Yin Yoga teacher and Chi Ne Tsang practitioner, Tahnee loves going head first into the realms of tradition, yogic philosophy, the organ systems, herbalism and hard-hitting research. Tahnee is the General Manager at SuperFeast, mumma to reishi-baby Aiya and partner to Mason (founder of SuperFeast).
Nourishing Her Yin Event Video (The Chi Nei Tsang portion of the chat starts around the 38:45min mark)
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Check Out The Transcript Here:
Hey everybody, welcome to the podcast. I'm sitting here with my lovely Tahnee.
So Tahnee, as many of you know, is SuperFeast mumma, my baby mumma. And well, one thing we haven't been doing as much as we'd like because Tahnee is running SuperFeast and teaching yoga and getting ready for yoga teacher trainings and doing all kinds of things while we raise our little human, and our dog as well that we have now.
One of the things we haven't done as much is sit down and jam on the podcast, but we've really worked hard to be able to carve time for that as we focus more and more and more on the educational piece. Now, as you guys know, when it comes to SuperFeast, we're really rock and hard on these Daoist Tahnee herbs and in talking about them and educating and taking them in that frame of sovereign health and taking responsibility for our own health.
And that is why also we educate about many, many other things, not just herbs. And today, we're going to be kind of revolving around organ health and that companion to herbalism, which is massage and self-massage, and we're going to say where it goes. Tahnee studied Chi Nei Tsang Daoist abdominal massage. As we were just saying, it's designed to be a self administered healing art. Right?
Again, something we work with herbalism. Everyone knows our herbs. You need to go to a practitioner to get herbs. I can't possibly figure out what herbs to take, especially when you see really institutionalized Chinese medicine, it's very like this paranoia around herbs. You might as well not eat any food because every bit of food that you eat is going to have an energetic impact on your body. That's like extreme institutionalization.
But massage can be like that as well, just a subconscious, “Hey, I got to go and see a masseuse in order to get my healing.” But one thing we're going to dive in today with Tahns is how we can bring that into our own lives. So why don't you … I know roughly, but why did you choose to go and do Chi Nei Tsang massage out of everything you could have been doing?
You remember me having a crisis of faith before I went in to that?
I had an eating disorder growing up was why, and I kind of hated my tummy, not even just physically, but I just always felt like all of my health problems came from there. It was always bloating or gurgling or not digesting something or there was pain or there was just weird sensations. And I just felt like it was this kind of mysterious land in the middle of my body.
And so much of my practice, up until that point, had been on the anatomy of the muscles and the tendons and the bones. And yoga is very physical, but we don't talk a whole lot about the organs per se. It sort of gets mentioned. You've done yoga training as well. You know it's like, “Yeah, this is good for your organ health,” but doesn't … in terms of really the unique characteristics of the organs, their personalities, their functions.
I'd studied Chinese medicine a little bit at that point, so I kind of knew that there was some interesting stuff there, but I hadn't really gone deep into it. So I don't even remember how I heard about Chi Nei Tsang. I think it was on the internet somewhere and I just had this weird feeling like, “Oh my God, I have to study that.” And it made absolutely no sense. I'd never received one. I'd never seen it done.
It was literally like … I believe in writing maybe in a blog post or something. And it kind of coincided with me being about to travel and a few things kind of happened. I think I was traveling like the next year or something. Anyway, I looked up who invented this thing and where it came from and I found Master Mantak Chia, who was kind of teaching it in Thailand and that he'd revived this lineage, which got lost in China after Chairman Mao kicked out all the healers and philosophers and artists and intelligent folks.
That's a bit of a broad stroke, but a lot of people had to leave China around that time. And so in Thailand, one of the remaining masters of this art survived and my teacher met him. This man saved his uncle's life and so he was curious about studying it, so he basically apprenticed himself to this guy for a few years.
That guy was Mantak's uncle, you said? That was insane. It was like three days with the deepest kidney disease, was that right?
Yeah. So apparently in Thailand, if you get unwell, they don't want your death on their records because it reflects poorly on their funding and stuff. It's like the more people that die in the hospital, the worst funding they get, sort of thing, or they get investigated or something. So basically, the doctors apparently told this guy he had to go home and die because they couldn't do anything for him.
He had kidney disease and it was so far along that it was just done. And Master Chia's family had heard of this guy and they contacted him. He was in Bangkok. So they traveled to Bangkok and took the uncle there. And apparently, he had three days of excruciating treatment, which from what I understand, and hopefully if anyone knows better than me, they can let me know, but I'm pretty sure it was like 12 hour days of massage and this man was screaming in pain.
It was apparently incredibly painful, but the healer was able to free whatever was causing the problem probably on a multidimensional level. And yeah, he walked out of there three days later, fine and lived a long, happy life as far as I'm aware. So Master Chia was so impressed. And this is a guy that traveled back to Hong Kong as a teenager to start studying Daoist healing.
He had a master who … he used to work to preserve his life and he was very much au fait with the whole canon of healing tradition that came out of the Daoist philosophy and he was just so impressed with this. He was like, “I have to keep this alive.” So yes, he basically studied with this guy. I think he was an apprentice for a couple of years and then kind of his peer.
He worked alongside him for a while and then he basically systemized what is now Chi Nei Tsang. So there's a few places you can study it around the world. Thailand tends to have a bit of a hotspot of it. And then in The States as well, it's more common. It's not really well known in Australia and certainly when I first google at … I don't even know if I spelled it properly and I couldn't really work out.
There was nobody I could find to give me Chi Nei Tsang. Anyway, I ended up going traveling and in Guatemala, I received one from a woman at a little town off San Marcos, La Laguna. That's where I was. Lago de Atitlan was the lake and she gave me one and I remember going home and I felt like shit and I cried. I think I was very resistant to it. I was like, “Yuk.”
It's like when you discovered … whenever you find something that ultimately becomes a love … I don't think it with me, but you hide it. That was the same with doing, yin yoga, right? You absolutely hated it.
I think I have a really strong resistance to what's good for me probably. I think I'm really confronted sometimes by the depth of my own suffering like how shitty I can feel through my own self and Chi Nei Tsang really highlighted for me how much stuff was stored in my body that I was just ignoring. So I think there's this part of me, this maybe more intelligent part of me that knows it's good for me and then there's this other part of me that has a toddler tantrum about the situation.
So I had my toddler tantrum, decided I was never going to do that again. Then I ended up somewhere else in Thailand at the sanctuary, which is this like a resort. And there was a guy there doing Chi Nei Tsang as well, and it was a completely different experience with him. And I wouldn't really say I enjoyed that either, but it was more just … I didn't enjoy the therapeutic relationship.
I felt it just wasn't something that I enjoyed. It didn't really do anything for me compared to the first one, which obviously moved a lot of stuff. I found it to be quite kind of superficial and I was like, “Oh, okaymaybe I'm wrong about this whole thing.” So that, I was in traveling through Thailand on my way to this training. So I was kind of having a lot of doubts.
And then I obviously spoke to you, I think you were back in Australia and I was in Chiang Mai and I was going, “Oh my God, what am I doing? I'm about to spend $4,000 on this training with this guy I've never met, with this thing I'm not even sure I like.” And like I guess my gut, funnily enough, drew me to it and … yeah, I decided to go and I was very, very ill when I arrived. I'd very stupidly eaten some fruit off of the ground in Thailand.
And would you believe I got sick? And it was probably the worst gastro I've ever had ever or could even imagine, lying in a toilet … Oh sorry, lying in the shower with the shower, running just pooing because I couldn't get to the toilet. It was so bad. And that went on for three or four days. I was supposed to get there early and enjoy the grounds and do some practice and spend the whole time pooping.
And the cute little staff were bringing me soup and trying to look after me and I just couldn't handle life. And I met Mantak Chia the night before we were supposed to star and he said to me, “Tahnee, you need to go to the hospital.” I said, “No, Master Chia, I want to do your training.” And he was like, “Well, my advice would be you need to go to hospital. You're very sick.” And I said, “Yeah, I know, but I want to stay.”
And he said, “Okay, well. Then we'll take care of you.” And yeah, within three days, I felt amazing having like … I was being practiced on every day. It was a really great group. They all looked after me for the first week while I was healing and the second week, I just felt amazing. So yeah, it just was really proof in the pudding, I guess, of how effective it was. And just … yeah, it's such a beautiful thing.
I think so many of us are so vulnerable with our tummies and we don't like being touched there. And even within our love making, a lot of us are sensitive to having our tummies touched and played with and I think it's something now as we evolve as a culture, it's really useful to start to think about, “Well, what's going on there?” And that's what's so interesting about the Daoist perception. It's that it's not the brain that thinks and creates thought and emotion.
It's the organs. The Heart receives everything that comes through and then it filters it out to the different organs of the body. And so anything that's stressful, the Liver is going to deal with. So that can manifest into anger and irritability, but just any kind of a stress. Any fear is going to come through the Kidneys, any thought, analyzing, thinking and that can turn into anxiety and worry that comes through the Spleen.
The Heart receives joy, but too much joy, excess joy can injure the Heart. I think I've missed one. The Lungs. The Lungs kind of perceive our grief, but also that bittersweet beauty of life. So there's this really … working with those as archetypes, I think it's a really powerful way of starting to live because you're out of your head and you're down in your belly.
You're not just perceiving with … even like in spiritual traditions, it's like, “just feel with the heart,” and it's like, “well, no. That's not enough.” There's different seats of consciousness in the body and when we look at it through this lens, it really aligns a lot with yogic thought as well. And when we look at where the energy of the organs manifest from, it manifests from the chakra, from the multidimensional body, but that's kind of a more complicated story.
But we're looking at this really kind of … we're looking at the organism being a powerful receiver and transmitter of thought energy and emotion as well as an alchemizer of physical compounds. You can put something into the digestive system and it can be alchemized into Blood and bone and transport it out to the Liver and the Kidneys and moved around. We can breathe through the Lungs and that becomes this fuel that fires our entire body, our metabolism.
That's just, to me, some real mystical shit right there. Science can talk about these things, but it can't really explain them. And when you look at what Daoist practice is all about, it's about alchemy. It's about how do I take these kind of gross material things and transform them into something more? How do I be a physical body and at the same time be a spiritual being?
And how do I have enough strength and enough capacity in my energy that I can hold that spirit in me? And it'll not just be this idea or this concept, but actually an embodied experience. So, yeah. So Chi Nei Tsang opened up that a lot more for me, I think. I think yoga had started that process and I think I just … Obviously, having had an eating disorder and having had digestive stuff through my life, it made me realize you literally digest your entire life.
It's not just food, it's thoughts and feelings. And so I started to realize, yeah, I wasn't digesting my life fully. There was some work around that for sure. It wasn't an easy process, but worthwhile.
So the Chi Nei Tsang is speeding up the emotional or energetic processes around that?
You've heard it. Like you touch someone's organ and suddenly, they're in tears and it's like, “ well what happened?" You know? And it's like acupuncture, it's like herbalism. It's like therapy or any of these things. Part of it it's the practitioner's Qi, so the ability of the practitioner to facilitate and transmit energy so that the person's body can respond. And it's partly the person, it's the individual. And I think what I love about Chi Nei Tsang and Master Chia is it's all about self healing.
It's not about someone else doing that healing for you. So I don't heal anybody when they come on my table, but I can facilitate what maybe needs to move for them to release the blockage to healing. So yeah, I might touch someone and they might cry, and to me, that's a positive thing because their energy that was blocked is now moving and all that energy wants to do is move.
That's... Health is movement, is flow. Anytime we have a blockage to movement of Qi, of energy, we're in trouble. That's what all bad things in the body are, tumors, injuries, any kind of inflammation, anything like that, it creates a blockage to flow. So when we start to move that, then we get a chance to get fresh blood into that space, fresh energy into that space, nutrients that are required for healing.
So the touch part of it is therapeutic in that there's a transmission of Qi and a mechanical movement of tissue which creates space for healing. But then I think a lot of people just to be touched in a non-sexual way with intention is really powerful too. So I think there's that side of it. And then a lot of the techniques are based on Qi Gong, so we have to visualize color and sound and use different positions and hand positions.
Do you find yourself doing that?
Yeah. So the idea is that as a practitioner, you're the bridge between the heaven and earth. So you're releasing toxic Qi down to the earth because the earth … Like how a tree loves our carbon dioxide and we love its oxygen, the earth is really happy to receive what's negative for humans. It's like compost for it. It turns it back into positive good stuff. And the heavenly Qi is what we can use for healing.
It's like universal violet light Qi which comes down and again, you learn to feel and transmit these things. And I'm certainly not a master at this like Master Chia is a master at this, but as you get more sensitive to it, it becomes more perceptible definitely. And yeah, these things are all really powerful.
So as a practitioner, your job is to be open to that flow and to be able to channel it, and as the receiver, you're obviously starting to build your perception of these things. So one of the reasons a therapeutic relationship is useful at the beginning is many of us can't feel our energy. We don't know what Qi feels like. We don't know what our organs feel like. It's just tense and tight and painful.
Well, it's almost like we're scared to actually go in there and touch it. Like, “Am I allowed to do this? Can I just touch my liver like this? Is that bad? Is it going to explode?”
Yeah. Well, you've seen people at workshops that I do. They're like, “Aah.” And I'm like, “Just press into your tummy.” And they're like, “What?” And people freak out of it and I get that. Again, I was like that when I first started exploring this stuff.
And I think I still like … Massage may tell me sometimes, because my mom used to tell me to do it when I needed to poo and stuff, but I never really liked … I had an idea of where the organs were from studying anatomy, but I didn't … I would never have gone and, like you said, and tried to poke my own liver because like you say, it's like, “Well what happens if you do that? Is it a balloon that'll just pop or?”
Yeah, I think the extent of what everyone has, I think it comes up sometimes in yoga teacher trainings and anatomy trainings of just following the line of the colon. That's what it would be like. And even in geriatrics and that kind of thing, it says, “That's what I'll do. I'll just follow that line,” and that's probably the extent of it.
Yeah. I think for a lot of people, even to touch their colon is to not appreciate that this is an organ that is working against gravity for a solid portion of the transit of your feces. So it's going up the right side of your body underneath the liver. The liver is meant to deposit toxins down through its tissue into the large intestine to be transported out.
Often, a lot of people have congestion there, so the liver remains toxic and that goes back into the blood then that has to go across the body again. Not exactly the most mechanically simple process given that we all sit all day in a half rounded shape, and then it goes down the descending colon and to exit the body. So there's a lot of potential just in the colon for things to go wrong.
But then you've got the Liver, you've got the Stomach, Spleen kind of system. You've got the gallbladder's there, which can often get blocked in a lot of people. The bile gets very thick and sticky especially if people are in a really low fat diets and stuff. The fat actually triggers a release of bile. Anyone who's done a liver flush will know all about that.
And the kidneys, which are harder to massage, like I usually have to work with someone for at least … best case scenario, probably three or four sessions to get there because just for most people, they're too tense and they can't relax enough to let me go into there.
Yeah, I think you've got that one-
Abdominal cavity. Yeah.
… maybe once with me.
Yeah. I think once. But, yeah. And then obviously they can, especially if someone has a diet or has the sense of proclivity toward calcium build up and stuff, they can get quite painful if people have that. So I suspect that it was what happened to Mantak Chia's uncle. It was that they had to work on the kidneys to break up all the calcification in order that the kidneys could start to filter again.
Well, it's the same … It's same plaque build up. It's just one of those things that make us susceptible to gravity. And it's always that. When you were talking about that story again, that's actually what I was thinking. I was like … It makes sense that this guy's … Like what gets the turtles, the great turtles. They're hundreds of years old and it's just this bad calcium arthritic buildup that eventually just makes it, “Nope, can't swim anymore. I'm tightening up.”
It's what happens to organs naturally. It's like plaquey build up in the heart, plaquey build up in through the brain for stroke and so on and so forth. Arthritis has a lot to do with age, has a lot to do with the fact that we've got inflammation, blockages of Qi, low immunity, all these kinds of things. But then, it's always … It seems like this big leap in perception of self healing.
It's like to be like we've got our exercise and that moves our lymph … Yet we've got such a hectic world that it would … Superficial massage and superficial movement isn't a lot of the time.
It'll do a lot, but as soon as he started getting into really spending an hour or spending two hours, or even spending 20 minutes of yourself really getting on verse, just doing a rub in a clockwise direction on your belly, all of a sudden, it just opened up this whole layer of deeper intention, which I was just like, “Oh man, if we had this in hospitals, you would just completely and utterly avoid so much shit.” I mean, I think it's like one of the-
We're very scared of pain though and it hurts. This is a thing. I was actually talking to our acupuncturist about this the other day because he does the traditional Chinese massage, which is painful, right?
It can be.
And Master Chia teaches us to massage. We get in between each rib and we rub really hard and it's like to break up all that gristle and that fascia in there. It's painful. And I remember like cry laughing when I first had it done. I was like, “This is outrageous.”
Especially in the ribs because … I think a lot of guys relate. You said the cry laughing like that. You see all this … What you're seeing when you've really overly ticklish and skittish, you can see it's like a compensation that you have with your [crosstalk 00:22:12].
Yeah. Well, and Master Chia said they're people that avoid pain through laughter. So there'll be people that make a joke when they're feeling uncomfortable or so he said, “You can tell a lot about a person's personality when you're massaging that part of their body because there'll be people that avoid discomfort with humor.”
Yeah. That's me.
Yeah, me too, to some degree. And he said, “As they get more comfortable with …” And I think all of us … I certainly know over my … I think I've been practicing yoga now since I was 15. I'm 34 and that's a long time. And meditating not anywhere near that long, probably like 10 years at the most, maybe eight. I feel like my personality has changed a lot.
Not that I don't find humor in things, but just that I don't need to avoid discomfort as much as I used to, so I don't have as many compensation patterns. And if you think about avoiding an emotion, that energy has to go somewhere. This is one of those … I think it's Einstein's laws or... “Energy doesn't leave. It just gets transformed.” So if we don't express our emotions, then the energy has to be stored.
And so it will be stored as tension, usually in the body. And so what you'll find is people will have chronic patterns of tension, which are related to emotional patterns. A really common one is neck tension. A lot of people have that and they find if they get stressed, they get neck tension, which is the Yang channel of the Liver, the Gallbladder channels.
It's all around the neck and the trapezius muscles there and the back of their heads. If you ever get those kind of back of the neck headaches, they're often related to Gallbladder, which means your Liver is stressed and which means you're stressed. That's kind of the pattern. And this is an emotional thing. You're not capacitated to deal with the level of input you're experiencing and it's manifesting as stress.
So that's an emotional response to an external stimulus that manifests as a physical symptom. So people would go take a painkiller, but that's done nothing to deal with what's actually going on. So a better thing to do would be to learn to manage stress or reduce the input so that there's less external stress.
Look, another thing there is when you're getting rubbed and you're hitting a point, it's possibly like a trigger point. What's it called? The ouchy points.
Well, all trigger points, acupuncture points.
Acupuncture points. That's what I am thinking… I forget the name, but it just means it was like an ouchy point. It's like a barefoot name for the, those running around barefoot acupuncturists, but you can't stop the perception that you're going to be able to get it out of your body. You're in Meridian at that point.
That's always one of the things I was like … I really think about the fact that feeling emotions, feeling your Qi and then feeling your physicality, that's all intertwined in that. That's all related, right? So it's constantly getting these headaches in the back of the head and you're getting this tension in the back of your neck. One of the things we're trying to do is go like, “All right. Well, let's feel you know and what's the path of least resistance?
Is it feeling where physically, that tension pattern is coming from?” You're feeling the emotion that's associated to it and I think I can relate to the fact that we're also not embodied that. You can quite often try and intellectualize that idea and it's hard to slow down to get that perception of whether it's the emotion or the physicality.
I was feeling it this morning when I was running with Goji. I was like, “Oh, for the first time I can feel why sometimes when I run, that tension emerges into my neck,” and all I did is it took me having less agenda with my running and slowing down.
Yeah. It's adrenaline which creates stress as well because running is a stimulus to the body that you're in danger. You have to work … In my opinion, you have to work very hard to maintain equanimity while running that you don't have a negative effect on your adrenals. That's another story.
Absolutely. Absolutely. That's why I like barefoot running as a philosophy.
Yeah. And I think if you are stressing the Kidneys, it'll affect the Liver. That's where your manifest that tension from, because the sinews will tighten because the Liver gets stressed. But again, if you can manage it, I think it can be very healthy as well. But, yeah-
It's healthy because then the dog's worn out.
We have a Kelpie. She needs running. Yeah, I think it's healthy that there's … I think from … This is where herbs certainly are useful because I look at … Let's say there's someone with a chronic liver pattern. Herbs that support the liver are going to really support their capacity. So I would look at yoga practice. I would look at … This is why with Tai Chi Yin especially, but you can do this in a Yang practice too.
It's just a bit easier to communicate these ideas to students because it's slower, but you can work on the Liver channels when you're about to bleed for example, because your blood is moving and your body's kind of creating new blood and there's all this good stuff happening on account of your menstrual cycle about to occur. So if you work on the Liver channel in that time, you take your liver herbs, you nourish and support yourself with enough rest and minimal stress.
Which Liver herbs are you talking about?
Well, I'd look at things like He Shou Wu, I'd look at … It depends on the person and the constitution, but typically, you're going to look at … From our end, we're working with tonics. If you wanted to be more kind of medicinal about it, you could certainly work with other ones. But I'd be looking at things like Dong Quai, things like He Shou Wu, things like maybe Schizandra if you're constitutionally appropriate for you, Reishi.
There's all going to manage the symptoms. Again, it would depend on the woman and what is going to work best, but they're the ones I'd be looking at. And for me, I'm a Livery constitutiony person, so liver herbs in general just work well for me and they keep me balanced. Whereas someone who's more of a Speeny constitution person would be better with Qi herbs and so on it goes.
So I think the thing with herbs as we work with them, with the tonic kind of side of things, it's like I'd stick to stuff that works really well for your body and generally, we're going to find that most of the herbs we sell work on the Liver, Kidney, Spleen areas, which are the most important in terms of general metabolic health. For sure, if you're asthmatic, work on your Lung channel. That's super important.
If you're going through a lot of emotional stress with grief, work on the Lung channel. This is where these ideas of emotions become really powerful because it's like, “If I know I'm going to …” say someone dies, it's like that would be a time to really ramp up my Lung herb regime because it's really common. And some of you may even know people that someone dies and then that person grieving gets a really bad respiratory infection or pneumonia.
Actually, I've read some studies that correlate a lot of the secondary deaths after married couples, like say the husband dies and the woman will die of pneumonia or some kind of respiratory failure. And that makes a lot of sense. If you look at what Chinese medicine says, that level of grief is going to injure the Lung literally on a physical level and then it's going to be susceptible to pathogens which are bacterial infections or whatever.
And then you're looking at physical manipulation as well.
In terms of massage?
Yeah. Well, so that's why Chi Nei Tsang is just another tool in your tool kit. So it's like, “Okay. Well, I know I'm going through something really potent and powerful. I'm going to massage my ribs. I'm going to take my herbs. I'm going to talk about my feelings. I'm going to meditate or do some kind of a practice that connects me to my body and myself.”
That isn't a mental thing, like you were saying. This idea of being able to think through your emotions is kind of futile because they're not a thinking process. The brain in Chinese medicine is from the Kidney's and has little to do with feeling, if anything really. It's more of like the feelings tell the brain what to do. The feelings dictate the response.
So if I have to go on stage and I'm afraid of speaking in public, then my Kidney's are going to tell my brain to initiate my panic response and I'm going to go into, like, my bowels might empty. I might start hyperventilating. I might … Whatever people-
That's an extreme.
Well, that used to happen to me when I had to public speak. I used to get the poos. This is what I mean. My belly was so sensitive to things. As a kid, I used to say to my mum, “I feel sick.” And she'd be like, “You have to poo.” And I'd be like, “Oh.” I was so disconnected from that part of my body and I would respond to everything through it.
If I was heartbroken, it would show up in my belly and I was like … I feel everything through my tummy and I was terrified of having it touched because I guess subconsciously knew that that's where it was all going to be. And I actually managed to get through the training without any massive emotional dramas.
A few people I worked on that fully broke down and had some pretty big crises on the training. And I think probably because I'd been meditating and doing a lot of other stuff in the lead up to being there, I was probably in a better position than if I'd gone-
It can just crack you wide open.
Yeah. I think, if anything, meditation did that more for me than Chi Nei Tsang. But Chi Nei Tsang really for me, gave me a practical tool and a piece of biofeedback where I could … I know that if I'm touching my tummy, it's really sensitive and inflamed that I need to probably, first of all, check in with my diet, maybe drink a bit more water and then look at what's going on emotionally in my life and what I might need to balance out.
And similarly with clients and anyone I work on, it's just like there's so much information there. You look at the navel area, it's where we were connected to our mothers for 10 months of our lives. So there's all of this idea of nurturance and what we did or didn't receive in the womb that remains with us after we are born. Again, this is energy that doesn't disappear or just get consumed. It just changes form.
So it still exists. Our ancestral line, the navel is associated with the ancestry of our entire lineage. So I've had people that are very open, energetically have big visions of their past lives and various things through that center because they've been able to connect to it through that. And again, there's a transmission that occurs when two people who are energetically open work together.
So that's something that can happen if I'm working with someone who's on that level, I suppose. I've had people obviously with trauma stored around their uterus and different parts of their body where we've worked through that kind of stuff. It's always really interesting what the body holds that the person isn't willing to share.
And I mean I would never … It's something as a practitioner obviously you're really mindful of, but I never try and force anything out of anybody. Often, I'll see or hear something that I try not to … And I mean that more on an energetic level. I don't literally hear anything but I can sometimes have visions of things or whatever and I'll just wait and see if the person wants to share that with me or not.
Sometimes I might offer it if they ask, but that's probably the trickiest part to navigate, I guess because often, like I said, it's stuff that we've blocked away for a reason.
Well, it's interesting. I think what you're talking about there when you didn't get blown out of the water and have a huge peak experience that was hard to integrate, which I think is an interesting. It's like anything. It's like whether you go to meditation, silent retreats, plant medicine or you do like huge doses of the mushrooms when you begin to like in a lot of the time and sometimes it's because we're desensitized and sometimes, it's because when we need it.
We have this huge peak experience that's super transformational a lot of the time. And then it's, “Okay. And now it's a time to integrate.” And what is integration? Well, integration is you know, you've got a lifestyle that consistently is supporting you to stay healthy. So your physical tissue and your Qi can work through anything that you're bringing up as well that you've got the foundation so that psychologically, you can handle these changes that are occurring. And it's quite simple, but-
Jing, Qi, Shen, right?
It's very simple, Jing, Qi, Shen. But what I like … Again, what comes up constantly with Chi Nei Tsang, it's like, “Oh great.” Well, we like a peak experience and they're fun. However, generally … Especially if you're going to be doing the chop wood, carry water and integrating a little bit into your own lifestyle, you are consistently working psychologically and emotionally on something.
And hopefully, you can keep that in a point where you don't consider yourself that you're someone that … You've got something wrong with you or you're bad or broken because you always have to be working on something. That's the development of our Shen. It's the whole point of taking life experiences and taking it through the peculator and hopefully, bringing out some wisdom so that our virtuous nature can come forth.
So I mean, important to not expect all these knock-it-out-of-the-park experiences. I like to, I think, when it comes to Chi Nei Tsang. I know that's definitely-
I mean, I don't think that's common. I mean, I think for whatever reason … My yoga teacher talks about this a lot. He's like, “The karma has to be right for these things to happen. You can meditate for 40 years and never have a peak experience. It doesn't mean you shouldn't meditate.” I think he says that he's meditated for 40 years and never had a peak experience.
And I've meditated for less than 10 years and had a bajillion peak experiences. And why, I don't know. For whatever reason, I'm predisposed to them and he isn't. It doesn't mean that he shouldn't teach me or that he shouldn't teach or … He is, as far as I'm aware, a very advanced meditator, far more advanced than me and able to maintain his focus for much longer. And I think it's just like anything.
It's like for some reason, sometimes certain stars align and stuff happens and other times it doesn't. And I think that's my experience with Chi Nei Tsang. I've had clients where we just have a beautiful healing, connection. I just massage their bellies and we spend time together and that's all it is. And then there's people that are puddles on the floor and I have to spend three hours talking to them to get them calm down again. So I think it's just-
And all in all, if we're trying to sustainably create this ongoing system in our lifestyle to help us consistently transform right, I think that's kind of fair to say whether it's on a micro or macro level as we're moving along, we'd love relationships to become richer, to work more towards passions or get more onto the path of our destiny. I think this has been a really, really nice practice for me.
It's not something I'd sit there and do in 20 minutes of every afternoon, but every now and then, I can really … I feel it and I get in there. And it's a nice one having a tool and the arsenal because you're moving along and you get to these crescendos when you're possibly going to really get some distinction on an emotional set that you have or something that's going to allow you to create distance between your noticing and your reaction, something most of us are working on and especially working on at the moment.
And then just having … And then you've got your herbs to support that. You've got your personal practice, your time in nature, your relationships and having … You've got your physical practice and you've got your fascia stretching, whether it's Yin or whether it's the work I'm doing with Benny, Movement Monk Benny. We got all those things.
But then having this … I think this in the arsenal, quite often for me, it's enough to just bolster all my efforts to make sure that I bring it up to cresendo that point and then I don't just … it doesn't just slide back down and actually I can't get the boulder over the mountain. It's just one of those things I can use to just really bring it along that physical touch, that physical manipulation.
And it's the same with any deep healing, as you were saying, when you've got menstrual issues that are hardcore congestion in through the female sex organs or a tumor sitting within an organ. Why would we not touch these things? It's so difficult for the body to overcome these huge blockages.
Well, it's painful, is reason one … Usually when there's stagnation, which is what you're talking about in those two examples, then there's pain because things congest around there, the toxins build up and it's usually a got an emotional component. And pain science is one of the most fascinating areas of science because it's purely subjective. I could have cut my arm off and you could cut your arm off and we can both describe completely different levels of pain.
It's not like there's one pain scale that everyone, like they go, “Oh, happy pain or sad pain at the hospital,” but they're completely subjective experiences. You tell the doctor how you're feeling and that's where to digress a little bit. Like lower back fusion, it's proven to be completely pointless. It doesn't stop lower back pain whether it's fuse the discs of the lumbar spine, usually, it's all completely, the surgery is a waste of time.
And I feel very confident in saying that, what was actually proven to be best is psychotherapy and movement. And the combination of those two are going to relieve stress. They're going to manage emotions. They're going to support the Kidney and Liver channels, which low back pain typically is correlated to. So we're looking at this system, I suppose, with the body as opposed to individual symptoms.
So if I was looking at menstrual symptoms or a tumor in my sessions, it's like tumors are typically cold stagnation, so you want to warm that up. And again, cancer's a tough one for us to talk about. As everybody knows, it's the big thing you can't talk about. And if I have someone come with cancer, I obviously don't work directly on their tumor usually because it's not appropriate, but I'll do energy work on it.
So I've only worked with one person with bowel cancer and that felt to me like a black sticky tar-like energy, so I just spent time countering that with healthy Qi. And she was going through different courses of treatment anyway, so it wasn't really appropriate for me to do anything beyond that. I was just there to support.
But from my experience working with a lot of types of infections and things as well, anytime I felt anything really chronic and bad, its felt like black tar. I can, in really heightened states, which is not frequent for me, unfortunately. I can feel like I can pull that out. But that's only been like twice that I've felt that. And I've spoken to some acupuncturists and healers about it that I know and they have said, “Yeah, that's when you're a really strong Qi Gong practitioner.
You're able to actually pull that out on an energetic level,” which I'm sure there are healers out there that can do that. I'm not at that point. But yeah, I think normally, it's like, well, if you're warming it up, you're increasing blood flow and circulation. In general, these are going to be really helpful things to get going. Like menstrual disorders work really well with Chi Nei Tsang. If anyone out there has any kind of menstrual stuff going on, start massaging your uterus every day.
You don't have to do anything fancy, just scoop around your pubic bone and your inner pelvis and just get in there. And if it feels painful, spend some time rubbing it until it stops feeling painful. It's that simple. It doesn't have to be complicated. In Chi Nei Tsang we have lots of complicated techniques and I've certainly used a lot of them, but I also have found when teaching people, it's best to just … simple, simple, simple.
So just if it hurts, spend some time on it, breathe into it, send some love to it, give it a good massage and generally, you'll find that these things dissolve. That's what I've found really interesting in my body. It was like you feel something that feels like a huge knot or a lump that it's really painful and it's like, “I can't possibly deal with this.” And 10 minutes later, it's gone. And it's like, “Wow.”
And sometimes, it's not.
Yeah. Well, sometimes it's 20 or 30 or 40 minutes later. And like I said, I've had clients that come back three or four times and I finally get to a point where I'm able to soften them up enough. So there's lots of things that can happen...
But yeah, I think in general, anytime we're looking at pain when there's touch and those kinds of things, it's generally coming from some kind of Qi stagnation and it's usually helpful to massage it. Again, within reason. Don't go hard on yourself.
Well, that's kind of the real … we mentioned barefoot running. It's like that's something that's very obvious for people to say, “You start running barefoot, not in shoes. If you put that little bit of new stress on your ankles and your arch and your knee, the whole rule is if you feel little tweaks or if you feel anything becoming, feeling really vulnerable, you open yourself up to something.
That's it. Your session's done for the day. And I feel like it can be the same like this. And in terms of techniques, I mean, I really started like going deep when I let go of the techniques. When I was rubbing my organs and I let go a little bit more of going like, “All right, now here I'm in the duodenum. Okay. Now, in the pyloric valves and …” again, I was intellectualising a lot rather than just getting to know myself through feeling and through touch.
Because my mind quite often works like if I can't explain what I'm doing externally, how do I justify doing this in the first place? And through that, my techniques got more advanced in relationship to my unique little organ system rather than trying to use a particular technique. That was really nice, getting that little insight.
But I think that's just something … This is … Everyone's on practice here. Even though it's called Chi Nei Tsang, it's literally just you sticking fingers and-
Yeah. Well, look, I've only received Chi Nei Tsang from probably let's say 20 or 30 people in total in my life and let's say 30 of them were on training. Oh, sorry. 20 of them were on a training. And then I've had Master Chia, Utah, the lady in Guatemala, the guy in Thailand, probably … I'm trying to think of any other professionals who've massage me … oh, Sola.
I've had a few professionals messaged me and they've all been very different in how they approach Chi Nei Tsang. And even friends of mine who having received them from me were like, “Oh my God, I have to go study this.” They called me up and were like, “It's so different to what you do and I wanted to learn what you do.”
And I was like, “Well, I think like anything … Anyone who's learned to teach yoga or done anything, it's like you put your own spin on things.” So I certainly think while I respect Master Chia's work and his techniques … And he's very much a stickler for the techniques. I'll often start much further along than he recommends in the flows that he teaches and stuff.
I think I've just found intuitively there's different techniques I'm really comfortable with and ones I'm not comfortable with. There's ones that I've found effective in general for people that I wouldn't … I had … Utah did one on me one time where she just pulled my spleen for like an hour and went, “Oooh,” and that was it.
And I was like, “Well,” and it was amazing, but on paper, that sounded like there was no flow to that. It wasn't a massage per se. It was kind of a shamanic style of healing. So I think there's probably a lot more of my influences from her and on that side of things where it's just-
She's Mantak's student-
Yeah, yeah. She's in her 60s and has been living with him in Thailand with her husband for, I would guess, 20 or 30 years. I remember speaking to her about it, but I can't remember exactly. And she's European, so she travels all through Europe teaching this and she's a master in her own right. And just like … we've spoken a few times about that she has a different style to Master Chia and teachers differently to him.
And I know there's people in The States that have developed their own versions of Chi Nei Tsang now and this woman in Thailand who has her own version. So I don't think there's a right or a wrong way. I think it's anything that just each practitioner will have their truth and the best way of expressing it. But I think if you're just curious about touching your own belly, you've got permission.
Go do it. And it's interesting. The history of it, I find really interesting because it correlates a lot to what happens in our culture now. I think is, it became unfashionable to touch. The healers weren't allowed to touch the higher cast of person they want … Especially not allowed to touch women. It went from being like a village-based medicinal practice to like a more systemised medicinal practice.
And Chinese medicine has evolved a lot over the centuries and the millennia. So Chi Nei Tsang came about from a much older time when hands-on healing was considered appropriate and then that lost favor especially as Western styles of healing penetrated into China. And I'm studying acupuncture at the moment. So I just learned that that was around the late 1800s, early 1900s.
But yeah, I think when we look at that, we see that we lost a lot of the touch based healing arts from China. And massage, in the West, is very different to Tui Na, the Chinese style of massage, which is more similar to what I have learned. And you've had massages with John, our acupuncturist. He gets into all the gristle and runs up and down the bones and gets right into all the fascia.
Most Swedish style massages, they're nice for moving Chi at a superficial level like you're talking about, but in terms of getting Chi into the joints, which is where it really matters and that's why Yin Yoga, Qi Gong, that type of massage is so important because the joints are where the Qi … This is when you talk about calcification and stuff before. It's where the Chi will stagnate the most easier because the joints are dense.
There's no blood. Blood andi are really close, but when you're looking at an elbow or a knee, there's very little blood in there. And so these are really prone to deterioration really quickly, especially if our Liver is struggling, which again, like we said, everyone is stressed. So that's really common in our culture. So it makes a lot of sense to do these painful joint based massages like we do in Chi Nei Tsang.
Chi Nei Tsang isn't just the belly, just to be clear. It covers the entire body, so we'll do anything that needs doing, really. I've done Chi Nei Tsang on a friend of ours who's in his 70s … Nearly in the 70s and it was all around his knees and his pelvis because that was what was required. And it's really about where are the blockages of Qi, how do we break it up so that these blockages are removed.
Again, it was a very painful session for him, but he felt incredible and could walk differently afterwards. So it's these kinds of ideas of maybe the session won't be that fun, but the benefits are going to be huge because you're breaking up adhesions and … Yeah. Anyone who's had a frozen shoulder and had manual therapy done on that, I've heard it's very, very, very painful. And it's the same idea. It's like to get that fascia to dissolve-
Adhesions on the fascia, yeah.
… Yeah, you need to heat it up and it needs to be broken up in a lot of cases. And there's some really interesting work around how sensitive fascia is and that breaking it up isn't always that helpful if there's a really strong emotional component because it just creates more trauma. And I think there's something to that, so I think you want to work with a good practitioner who understands the nuance of when it's appropriate and when it isn't.
Or have your own ability to actually process emotions and just look historically how you've done it that it's very accessible.
Yeah, I've worked with this really inspiring woman when I taught yoga in Newcastle. I think she came to my classes for … I'd want to say like 18 months to two years of Yin Yoga and she had a frozen shoulder and she'd just sit there. She'd sit next to the wall and she'd do half versions of everything because she couldn't really do a lot. And I remember speaking to her and she's like,” I can like lift my arm up over my head now.”
She was just … And it took a really long time, but she just kept showing up. And that was a really inspiring to me and that's really indicative of how long it takes to change fascia. We're literally talking about reshaping ourselves and the shape we are is because of our thoughts and how we respond to the world and how we respond to life and what we were conditioned to postulate ourselves toward or against.
You'll see people in families have same posture and those kinds of things and it's because we learned so much of this and we're conditioned as children to pick up on our parents physiology and their responses to things and how they … We've both done therapy, all about that. So our bodies hold that just as much as our minds and our personalities and our thoughts and emotions do.
So it's a lot quicker to change a thought than it is to change the body. I think that patterns are very slow to change, but again, I would say the pattern is more closely correlated to the body. The yogic tradition talks about samskara's and vasana's, so these character traits and conditioned ways of behaving. So a samskara is like a conditioned pattern of behavior and vasana is like when that becomes who I am.
So I might say I'm Tahnee and I am a yoga teacher and I've been doing the thing, teaching yoga so long that I identify with that as me. And if you take that away from me, I'm going to suffer because it's who I am. And that's just a silly example, but it's a good one to demonstrate it.
So when we look at the body, the body will often mirror these same ideas because your yoga teacher will walk a certain way and they will hold themselves a certain way and they will think certain things and they will speak a certain way, and so as a result, you start to embody this idea of something instead of actually just maybe being more authentically like you.
And so yoga is all around how do we remove these hats that we wear, all these masks that we wear to the world and find out what's really underneath. And I think Chi Nei Tsang is one of the tools that we can use to start to dissolve some of those attachments and conditioned patterns I suppose. So I think it all fits into me to the same framework.
I separate yoga and Taoism when I teach because it's easier that way, but I see them as being very similar, if not the same, at the risk of offending some people. I think that the ideas fundamentally are very, very similar.
When you get bare bones about it, everything is, unless there's a very, very unique spiritual intention that someone would have.
Yeah. Well you could look at maybe Tantra as deviating because it starts with the assumption that there's oneness, whereas … I mean, I think … Oneness to me is a whole another podcast, so I don't think we'll go there. But if anyone's interested, let us know and we can go there because I love talking about this philosophy stuff.
But coming back to Chi NeI Tsang, I think when we can embody ourselves fully and unify with ourselves, that's the first step. It's the absolute foundation. It's the fundamental step to any personal growth and transformation and evolution, which is what this path is about. You can't take tonic herbs without changing and evolving and this is why we do this. It's certainly what motivates me to get out of bed every day.
And it's not this idea of becoming someone better or … It's just like I can feel that there's so much that I look through when I look at the world that isn't me. And it's like … And I've felt me, and these two things aren't completely congruent yet and that's okay. I'm still really young and I think that there's time, but I think that the more I practice and the more I explore these really ancient healing traditions, that I can feel this congruency coming.
And that's what yoga talks about. It's like we start to abide in our true selves. It's not this split where we think we're one thing and we do something else. And we're all hypocrites, every single one of us, and yoga doesn't say hypocrisy is bad. So much as it says, well, it's a sign that your inner and outer worlds aren't aligned. You say one thing, you do something else. You think one thing, you do something else.
There's no congruency there. It's because you haven't fully integrated. And that's what I think all of these healing tools point us toward. It's this idea of being able to be congruent and cohesive and consistent and all of the good things.
So we'll put the video from the Nourish Her Yin event where you're on stage taking everyone through a little massage sequence.
Can we do a better video than that?
Yeah. That's what I was going to say. It would also... Goji's (dog) getting in there. It'd be really good to just have a couple of different series like YouTube videos.
Well, what I've got in mind is doing a self massage one and then showing a simple partner massage or something, just a little flow.
Well, especially it's a good for mums and dads in the household to just have a little bit under your belt in terms of a little digestive flow.
Yeah, well, if you have a bubba, I wouldn't do Chi Nei Tsang so much as just rub their tummies really gently in a circular … So you want to go, I'm never good at this way, but clockwise, I think. Is that the right way? Yeah. So you want to go-
Looking at the belly clockwise.
So if you're looking at your baby's tummy, you want to go clockwise around. So basically, from their right to their left, an arc like a rainbow, that's going to help, especially if they get colic or any kind of constipation or anything. It's going to help to move what is stuck. And babies, like us, they process a lot through the digestion.
They're very open energetically, so it's always interesting to have a look at what else is going on in the family life if that sort of stuff is happening, what they might need to be buffered from or what they might be experiencing. I mean, these amazing little perceptive beings they are, so pretty cool. But yeah, Aiya doesn't love being massaged, unfortunately.
I always had dreams of, “I'll massage my baby.” And Aiya is, “Oi, get off.” So maybe when she's a bit older, she'll appreciate having a massage therapist mum.
That's all I was thinking. It's like when you get a little bit older, it's like having your little herbal remedies around and you have your Gua Sha stone around-
She does like Gua Sha.
… she does like Gua sha. You have your little Chi Nei Tsang technique. I mean, all we're talking about is a very practical focus even like putting too much on it and it's just very simple skill sets that hopefully, are going to keep you out of a doctor's office.
Yeah. I kind of always think-
Or a naturopath's office.
Well, I've said this to you before, like about being a cool old grandma, and I think it's such a shame in our culture. We've lost … I know … even when I was in Japan, when I was 16, the grandma and grandpa and the aunty and uncle all lived in the same compound and they were old, the grandma and grandpa and they did all the prayers.
They'd light all the incense, set up the alters every morning, facilitate that. If I saw the kid had a cold or something, grandma was boiling up stuff. I was too young to really comprehend exactly what it was, but now I'm thinking she was probably doing some herbal treatments or something. It's like they were holding that wisdom and that role in the family of just providing the health care. And you'd use a doctor only in a really extreme situation.
And I think there's really something … I know you saw me, I started reading nursing books and how to look after sick people because I was thinking, “Well, if I Aiya's unwell, how do I manage that?” And I think there's this lack of skill in our culture that us younger people have especially, that we don't know basic home remedies for things that aren't silly.
Like, “Oh, garlic if you have a cough or whatever,” I'm thinking more like, “How do I actually know when a fever is okay and not okay?” Because fevers, in my opinion, are an incredibly powerful healing tool and it should be left alone in general, but I know there's a point when they can get dangerous too. So it's like we've got to … how do we know the difference? And I think we've lost, in our culture, this kind of home based health care.
We just give our power away so easily to doctors and nurses and naturopaths and whoever, dieticians and whatever, instead of using our own wisdom and our own knowledge. And I guess it's because we don't have access to it anymore. So that's why the Asian traditions are so interesting to me, I think, because they're still quite strong in their lineage.
They've certainly been impacted by Western medicine, but they've had less input. I think that's … The medicines are so powerful. They're always finding... I was just hearing the other day about formula from ancient China that is apparently incredibly effective against malaria. It was found in an old scroll translated by an archeologist and the herb just needs to be prepared a certain way in this formula so that it can be effective against malaria.
And it was translated incorrectly the first time and now, they've translated it properly and it's being used clinically and it's incredible. And this is 2,000 years old or older wisdom that we've lost and has been uncovered by archeologists. It hasn't been passed down through the healing traditions because they've been bastardised so much by all the various factors.
So to be able to … when Aiya is sick, I pinch her spine, which is a Tui Na pediatrics technique and all you do is … And gently, not like pinching, pinching, just run up and down the spine pinching. It stimulates the Urinary Bladder channel, which stimulates every meridian in the body. It's just a simple way to give them a little boost.
And kids are so quick to heal generally, so they don't need a lot to get over the edge of getting well again, stuff like that. It'd be cool if that was … It'd be cool if when I was a kid and I was complaining about a sore tummy and my mum thought that, “Oh, maybe there's like … I could give her a belly rub and talk to her about our emotions and …” My mum didn't know so I was fine, but I hope if I could offer that to Aiya, that would be cool when she's 10 or 11 or whatever.
So anyway, I think they're important things to have in your awareness if not in your tool kit. And they, like you said, it's not about going and getting fixed or seeing a practitioner or... Losing your sovereignty. It's about gaining some education and some self-awareness and some capacity out of that experience, so you go home better prepared for the next round of whatever's going on. God willing, that doesn't happen again.
But yeah, I think we don't ask enough questions. We don't use our medical teams as educators. And I think that's where the difference between what we do and what … Not even just other companies, but other healing modalities do, is this is lack of education. It's not around empowering the person with education, it's around being the authority. And I don't ever feel like I'm an authority.
It's like, how would I possibly know what's going on in your body over you? That's just ridiculous. But there are patterns and trends and things that you can see and feel and you can offer and maybe that gives them a different perspective. And there's an analogy I really like of, we're all climbing our own mountains, but it's like some of us have already done a crevasse or a really big rock face and we're like, “I've done that before.
I can give you some tips.” It's not going to help them get up the mountain, like forever, but it might help them just climb a hurdle. And I think that's a really nice analogy that we're all teachers and we're all students. And so we have to remember that.
Yeah, I like that too.
And I think as well, the only thing like worth reiterating, it's like, remember when we're trying to get through to my mum's belly?
Yeah, really painful and she had so much tension, she's in a wheelchair. It'd been years and she'd had to a lot of palpations here and there.
And can you imagine emotionally what … she hasn't been able to process through lack of being able to communicate and having any way of-
Yeah. Lower brain function, all that stuff. But I remember you gave her her first rub and she didn't last long.
She hates her daughter in law.
No, she doesn't. Yeah. And then we found a guy, unfortunately, he's now in the Philippines, fortunately for him, but unfortunately for us. He used come to the house, but he's in the Philippines now and he's got a retreat. He used to come every single week, but it was just to talk to him.
It took six weeks before … Very gentle sessions for an hour before mum actually started releasing the tension through her whole abdominal wall. And I relate to that as well, but still, we really pause a bit and then she kept on persevering after that. I think it's easier when it's not your daughter in law or her son doing it, doing the healing.
But regardless, whenever I'm down there, I'm still getting in there and giving her a belly rub. And it's always a victory when you get in there and you can still feel … You can get your fingers straight away right down there. She's obviously processed something that's then going on. And it hasn't … Sometimes we have unrealistic expectations when it comes to healing modalities as well.
If they're going to give us a little extra few percent, a little 5% or just the ability to process one little emotion, if you physiologically change and don't have tension somewhere, you can absolutely bet that actually, you've shifted something emotionally.
You might take some inquiry as to what it is … but then I may be able to get into mum's abdominal wall and then because obviously, sitting in a chair, in a wheelchair for a lot of the time, there's going to be some issues there with having build up and we can actually get in there and massage in and around through the colon. And through managing my expectations on wanting it to just to heal everything, but we've got the tool
Well, if it was being done daily. I mean, this is what Master Chia says. He says … And God bless him. He's a classic practitioner guy where you do all the things every day. You do the six healing sounds every single day. You do a self massage every single day. You do your energy cultivation practice every single day. There's never ending really.
It's not that bad, but it's a list of things to do every day. And I know for me, the reality is that that's not going to happen. At the moment, I try and practice yoga every day and meditate at least every dayish, maybe every couple of days. And then, it's like … Well, I'm trying to do some work on my pelvic floor at the moment, so that's a priority for me over self massage.
There's things that are just getting prioritised over that and I think that's fine, but you can't expect results if you're not doing every day. It's like tonic herbs and Ron Teeguarden's thing, it's like the number one rule is you actually have to take them for them to do something. It's all well and good to sit them on the shelf and look at them, but if you're not taking them, it's not going to do anything. And that's the thing, same with all of these things.
A weekly Chi Nei Tsang is good, it's not going to do anything. It can be hugely transformational, but it's not going to be as good as doing it daily. It's like meditation, going and doing a retreat once a year. Every year is great, but if you're not doing a daily practice or at least a daily-ish practice, it's not going to happen.
You're not going to really reach the ultimate levels of concentration and absorption and eventually, transcendence that come through meditation. So I think a lot of us have very high expectations of things without really appreciating that it's the small daily efforts that are the most powerful thing.
So if every single carer on your mum's team was able to massage her belly and was willing to do it and was willing to bear her pain as they did it, which, all of those things are very big things to ask of someone, then perhaps it would be slightly different because she's getting that therapeutic treatment daily and it's going to … because she's not walking so her colon's not moving, her organs aren't moving, her blood's not pumping and moving.
It's a tricky situation. It's like one massage when you're there once a week is basically holding back the deluge of … Suffering that's coming
Which some … Well, as we as we know, when you're caring for someone … and I'm not even there full-time caring anymore. It's been a few years since I've moved up to Byron. But sometimes, you need to psychologically set your mindset when you are caring for someone that that's all you're really doing with what's realistic with your time.
It's stopping that tidal wave of symptoms from coming forth. And that has to be okay sometimes. But you're right, if you can, if you actually want to get some momentum for and take the glass ceiling of what's possible with these practices, you need consistency.
Yeah. I know. So for example, if I … I'm pretty lucky now. I don't have much going on with my digestion anymore. I don't have … Well, not lucky, I've done a lot of work on it, but I'm in the place where I'm cruising through it now. Digestion works pretty well 90% of the time periods of great. I don't really have any reason to be diligent at the moment about my practice.
I have a meditation practice for processing a lot of my emotional stuff in an embodied physical practice, so I don't feel like I hold onto stuff too much. There's definitely weeks where it's better and worse of course, whereas I think if I were me 10 years ago, I could see the relevance of a really committed daily practice to Chi Nei Tsang.
And I know that there'll be times when it comes up again as something that I need to have in my life every day. In terms of receiving it, I think I would always opt to receive it if I could every now and then because I feel like it's such a powerful way of connecting through another person. Like I said, when there's transmission in the human-to-human contact, something different happens.
I just had craniosacral recently. I've had a couple of sessions now with this local lady and I don't need to go and see her and have craniosacral because of anything, but she's … In her presence, I drop into this really deep state of absorption and it's really beautiful and I can feel some very healing on a cellular level for my body. And that's worth it for me.
There's no mechanical reason to go and have craniosacral. It's just this meditative space that I entered that's just really beautiful and I can get there on my own, I can get there with meditation and yoga nidra, but to have someone holding me and supporting me while I'm in it, that to me is really beautiful kind of thing.
And I don't know, there's just something really magical about that that I love and I've always loved working with people. I feel like that person to person intention of healing and supporting and taking care, that's a really powerful thing. So yeah, I think that's where I see myself as a practitioner. It's offering some nourishment, education, support, feedback, that's it. And then … Oh yeah, there's organs and things involved and-
With the organs, do you feel like it's a little bit like … We'll bring it home soon. But do you feel like it's a nice personalising or personality forming aspect of the organ theory? A lot of the time we're talking about organ systems in Taoism and in TCM as well.
Spleen with a capital S, so we're not actually talking about just the physical organ, and of course, when you start thinking and feeling in that way, naturally, nothing changes even when you are working on the physical body. But did you feel that brought more color, not just a narrative when you were working on the physical organs?
I still feel them energetically more than physically. I know this has been an interesting transition for me because I came from anatomy and a very scientific, wanting to prove … Well, the spleen is actually … The spleen and the pancreas in Western physiology and a part of me is still really fascinated by that stuff.
I love Daniel Keown work and there's different people who … My teacher Paul Grilley very much tries to overlay Western physiology with Eastern models of spirituality and a part of me really values that and mentally, like I guess you were saying before, wants to prove something and validate it. So I think there's still that part of me.
But as I'm getting older, I feel like I care less about that stuff and I'm really confident in my perception of those things as being beyond kind of a physical mechanistic organ that's, you know the spleen technically, filters the blood, supports the blood in terms of the immune system and all that stuff, helps to manage pathogens and white blood cell counts and all this kind of stuff.
That's super interesting and great from a Western perspective. But to look at it from Chinese medicine perspective, it's responsible for the purity of the fluids in the body, the energy in the body. It's responsible for transporting all of the Qi from the food we eat up to the Lungs. It's this incredibly integral role in terms of us having any energy to participate in life.
It's all about how everything in the body is transported. And if you look at that on a macro level, that's everything from the Blood to the Qi to anything that needs to be moved. And that's a constant process in the body. So I think of that … It has more of a personality and it's less of a machine I suppose, which is I think how Western medicine kind of use the organs.
It's like, well, the liver just cleanses the blood and detoxifies it and duh, duh, duh, duh produces the bile and whatever else ,helps to manage the hormone balance and all this kind of stuff. And it's like, yeah, but when you think of it as a General, when you think of it as the overseer of the entire body, when you think of it as this allocation of resources and this ability to know what's required and where to nourish and support our upright ability to meet life and to keep us flexible and to keep us responsive and creative.
And that to me is a much more interesting take on the organs, I suppose, than just like, it's responsible for keeping the blood clean, the hormones balanced. Because I can see all of those things as being outcomes of those mechanistic things, but to talk about them in a more poetic way and in a more expressive way for me.
And I can also see … when I think of it that way, I can see when lifestyle can really affect it because it's like, yeah, if you're not having fun, if you're stressed out and you're not enjoying and feeling creative and expressed and purposeful in your life, then you're going to feel rigid. You're going to feel inflexible, you're going to feel stiff, you're going to feel tight, pent up, bound up, grit your teeth, clench your jaw, tighten your ass. That's the Liver being out of whack.
Tight and brittle wood.
Yeah. Brittle wood, right? Inflexible, going to crack and snap under pressure wood and then you can imagine … Yeah, I could feel how that would generate anger and generate these intense emotions. That to me, I get a lot more out of that than I do out of Western medicine and biomedicine in that sense.
I'm still interested in that stuff obviously, and I probably won't ever stop being, but I think probably learning to … Master Chia was very emphatic that we had to know the organs as personalities. And I remember when I first started taking tonic herbs, I could start to feel like I had this relationship of sorts with the herbs, which was kind of funny and they were like my friends and I would have thoughts about them and they would offer me certain perspectives.
I was kind of like, “Well, this is a bit strange but nice.” And I feel like that's what he's getting at with the organs. It's like the only way you can work to heal them is to have an understanding of them and to become friends with them. And I think that's what happens when you work on your own body. That was certainly my experience, especially when I was regularly doing self-practice.
I was really starting to get a sense of like, “Oh yeah, okay. I can feel my Spleen is sad.” It's not coping well. It's having a tough time and it's like … Okay. Well, yeah. I use my brain all the time. I think a lot. I'm eating a lot of cold foods. I have some anxiety because there's some stuff going on and I'm trying to work stuff out all the time and problem solve and not eating regularly and taking care of myself in that way.
The Spleen loves regularity. It's that consistent mother-centered, nurturing, grounded anchor in the middle of all the chaos of the other elements swirling around. And so it's that point that everything comes back to, and if that's not there, we feel really out of whack. And I especially feel really out of whack because I was outside of my constitution.
So I could feel that that was going on for me and then I could feel that shifting, so. And now, I don't have to touch myself so much to have a sense of that. I think... It's less. It's a more embodied thing, I suppose. It's like with yoga, used to be that I had to activate a meridian or do a shape to kind of feel that Qi change and now, I feel like too bigger a degree, I can do that with my meditative practice. Certainly not … It's not really easy all the time, but it can be so, yeah.
Yeah. That's incentive for everyone to stay consistent.
Yeah. I don't know. And we're all just different percepters. I think I feel energy very easily.
You do, yeah.
It has never been a problem for me, whereas I know for other people they're like, “What the fuck are you talking about?” And I think that's fine. They've got different skills. I do believe we can all learn to feel it though. I just think our minds are very challenged by the idea and it can take some time.
And also just being realistic with your own expectations. I know, for me, likewise can feel energy, but it's not a primary thing. I can feel a fun story emerging from connecting to that earthly element, that moist groundedness within myself. But communicating that, a lot of the time … There's certain elements that feel quite sacred and communicating..
It isn't something that I necessarily wanna have to do. So the expectation that I could have from listening to you is the ability to then really be able to … One of your great gifts is with efficacy, communicate these things you're perceiving. I feel I can do it in my own right, but-
I don't know. I feel like it's really difficult. You're trying to describe intangible things. You're trying to describe a subjective experience again. What I perceive as my Spleen, that's pretty much impossible for anyone else. You might work on me with some awareness and perceive something, but it's still through your filter.
So I think it's … When we're talking about subjective experiences, that's why it's so difficult to teach spirituality and that's why there's so much dogma because it's easier to make a rule up than to say, “Well, this is a challenging thing and you need to feel it for yourself. And the only way to do that is to practice enough that you get the capacity to be able to do that on demand.”
And you might get lucky and have a peak experience, but that's pretty rare. And to replicate that is just about impossible. And really, it's the diligence of showing up every day that gets you there. And people don't want to hear that. They want to hear that if I meditate for 20 minutes twice a day with a mantra, I will be enlightened. And it's like, “Well … yeah.”
And if that mantra cost you $2,000 though Tahns..
Well, like I said, I think there's a path for every monk. That's another classic, clichéd saying. And I think it's true. I think for different people, different things at certain time-
Certain times, yeah.
… Yeah, offer some perspective. But I also think when we look at these lineages, they all existed within a system and the system involved behavior and ethics and awareness practices, cultivation practices, practices of not just focusing on one particular part of the body and the brain and the mantra or whatever, but using various techniques and tools to activate different parts of the body and brain depending on what was required of the individual.
They were very personalised practices. My teacher talks about functional spirituality, functional yoga, functional meditation. It's like you have to do the techniques and practices that work for you in the moment based on what you currently need and you have to be prepared to let them go and for things to look very different in 10 years because you're changing all the time.
And I know for me, maybe 10 years ago, I was doing Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, which I just shudder now to think of doing that daily. I'm like, “Yuck.” And there was a lot of resistance there at the end of that for me because I felt so bad in my body, but I didn't … That was my framework of what yoga was at that time, except for this … The first guy that had ever taught me, he taught me energy cultivation.
So I had this little like inkling that there was something else out there, but I didn't know what it was. And if I hadn't have done Ashtranga, I wouldn't have found Power and I wouldn't have found Yin and then I wouldn't be here. So I feel like these things are all important. I think... To think that you have the way and you are there and you've reached some state of something like enlightenment and or whatever, I think that's a mistake.
I think to acknowledge the gifts of whatever practices you're intimate and familiar with is awesome and for sure, it will come down your mind and you know, it does. It gives you something to think about. It gives you something to repeat. It activates this center of self in the center of the brain, which is like the beginning of our awakening to spirit.
These are all very powerful techniques. And I use them. It's just it's not the only technique. So I think that's where I got a bit frustrated with. I see people talk about Chi Nei Tsang like, “If you just do Chi Nei Tsang, all of your health issues will be gone. I was like, “Of course, that's outrageous a claim.”
And that's certainly a slight exaggeration because in the beginning of that-
It's the same with herbs. I mean, I've heard people bang on with-
I mean, a slight exaggeration, not of the reality in terms of what people are saying. It's just a little … and you're right. Like-
Yoga will save your life. It's like, “Well I know most yoga teachers need to go to therapy as well".
And ironically, yoga, in the Ayruvedic system, used to have a whole branch of psychology.
Yes so did Chinese medicine. These guys were much smarter than we are. They didn't separate the mind and the body. They didn't put it over there and they said, “It actually needs to be addressed.” And that's what's so elegant about the Vedic system and yoga as well as Chinese medicine. But yoga really outlines it well and it has been preserved really well.
It's this idea of explaining how the brain works, explaining the functions of the mind, explaining the perils of having a brain and a mind like The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, that's what he's lining up. He's like, “Guys, it's really tricky to have a head. It's going to fuck with you through your whole life. It's designed to distract you and upset you and it's not particularly helpful.”
So we've got a system here, it's called yoga and it can help you master it and it's not like defeating it and beating it. It's that great analogy of … It's like having a wild stallion and being able to put a harness on it and let it pull your carriage. That's the best case scenario with the mind. It's like let it work for you.
Don't try and suppress it, which is what some of the other traditions do, which is just another recipe for disaster. We've all seen what happens when you repress sexuality or anything and then at the same time, don't let it run wild
And suppressing it can be hidden a little bit. I feel for myself, not intentionally by the teacher or the system necessarily, just probably in terms of the context of how it's taught and where the students are at in terms of what they're able to listen to. It's just like, “All right. And let it go. Let it go. Let it go.”
There's no actual like getting in and gritty with the mind and with the intellect and understanding its nuances and understanding where its patterns and stories have come from historically. It's this constant, “Just ignore it.”
Just ignore it.
I mean, there's the psychotherapy way, which is to try and understand it. I don't think that's always necessary. I think it can be really helpful, but I think there's that great story that I heard on a Seth Godin podcast about Pema Chödrön.
And she was talking about how she was at a meditation retreat and this guy kept making this clicking noise and through her whole seat, she was like, “I'm going to get up there and I'm going to tell this guy to shut the fuck up. He can't keep clicking. It's driving me nuts.” So she stands up at the end of the thing angry and ready to go, which is ironic because she's one of the world's top meditation teachers and authors.
And she walks up to this guy and turns out he's sitting next to the radiator, which she couldn't see because it was behind the pole and the radiator was clicking because cos they just … When they're heating out, they go, “Click, click.” And once she realised that, it was like, “Oh.” Everything dissolved.
All the anger dissolved. She could sit without … She just ignored that noise because it was just background noise. And that's what we're looking to do with the mind. This is my analogy now, but it's this idea of … I think all the time, but do I take every one of those thoughts and flush it out and turn it into a story and an idea and execute something from that?
No, of course not. They're just … Of course, there's the clouds in the sky analogy, but it's more like … I always think about it as like diving under water and a big wave. And there's always that a rush at the top. You can feel like there's momentum and the shit going on. It's all crazy. But it's superficial kind of nuttiness and then deep, deep, deep down as you submerge, it's still and quiet. And so you're beneath it all. You're still there with it.
If you want to engage in the madness, you pop your head up and it's all going on and you can use those thoughts and play with them and whatever. But that's a really … I find for me, anyway, that was a really important step. It was like learning to submerge, to just draw back enough that that thought process could occur without my intervention because I see it as a constant stream.
It's kind of like … But what we can do is we can learn to widen just like we can only see from ultraviolet to infrared. If we put on night vision goggles, we suddenly can see something else. Right? So all meditation, yoga, Daoism things teach us is that we can open up our spectrums so we can see on a multidimensional level.
So that's why Master Chia talks about being able to see ultraviolet light as a practitioner. It's not literally your eyeballs see it so much as … It's you can perceive at a different frequency this healing energy coming down, which is available to all of us all the time, but we're closed off from it because we don't know.
And we utilise it in a Chi Nei Tsang massage to pull into your organs.
That's what … As a practitioner, you're not supposed to use your own Qi. You're supposed to use universal cheat because if you use your own Qi, you die. It's like when we talk about peak experiences. And this is the difference between what goes on when you go on have plant medicine or even when you do a lot of really powerful kriya or something.
You're usually using your own Jing, your own Qi to shoot yourself up into the stratosphere, which is really fun, but you've got to have energy to come back down. Just like you send a rocket into outer space, you need to have the same amount of fuel or more to get you back to earth. So it's super important to have enough fuel.
And so many of us, when we do a lot of spiritual work consistently, get exhausted. And I mean, I see this just about constantly at SuperFeast where it's like, “Oh, I'm doing this course and that course and this training and this retreat and this and that,” and duh, duh, duh "And I'm tapped out and I feel like, “Shit. I've got no Jing left.” It's like … Yeah, because you're constantly draining yourself.
You haven't tapped into source or whatever you want to call it. That's an easy way to label it, but you haven't tapped into this flow of energy that … And this is what Shiva and Shakti Awakening Kundalini, all of these things are about. It's about, “Can we free up the spine to be a conduit for this energy so that we don't have to be drawing from ourselves?”
Yes. We don't have to be chipping off the wax of our own Jing candle throwing that into the furnace.
And again, I'm certainly not saying I'm perfect at that, but I know there's things I can do to amplify that capacity.
Well, that's lifestyle design to an extent as well.
Yeah, it is.
And then just being super realistic about the fact that you're at your edge, feel it. You say it all the time and I'm like, “Oh my gosh.” I don't know. I did something and now I feel really tired. And it's like, “Oh, yeah.” Well, that's how you feel because you're tired.
I had a beautiful student say this to me the other day. He came to class. He'd been working outside in the heat all day. It was really muggy and hot and he did Yin and at the end he was like, “Oh God, I feel like shit. I just feel like I want to go to sleep.” And I was like, “Well at the risk of sounding like a captain obvious, you're probably really tired.”
And I think … I don't know … and I certainly am not immune from this, but I just don't know why our culture is so bad at saying, “I'm tired. I need to have a rest. I need to have a sleep.” Because there's some bizarre thing that we've all bought into that rest is bad and sleep is for eight hours a day and duh, duh, duh. And it's like, “Why can't we just have more of that?
Why can't we prioritize … Why can't we start from rest and then let everything else happen.” That would be cool, instead of just piling more on our plates and then chewing like maniacs, trying to digest it all. I mean, I don't know. That's a big philosophical question, but I think it's an interesting one
Along the way, you can give your small intestines a little bit of a rub, get into your belly button. It's always a really, really fun ganglia in there that Tahns loves getting into, but that's something personally, I've really experienced. That's been my real chip away.
I've been really getting a nice and deep and scooping in through my belly button and feeling the grittiness and all your touch points and all of a sudden, you can feel your spine deeper than you've ever felt before. So that's the opportunity that you have everybody. So I mean-
Become a prober.
Yeah. Watch the video. If you vibing it and Tahns goes off basic, you can generally start through the colon and this is where we … This is how we scoop in this area and this is the kind of motion that we move along and you got a little bit of a general flow in that video.
Yeah. I mean, I do workshopy things which I think … Are just good ways to intro people to these ideas on a very general level. I think if you just keep an eye out, we'll get the videos up and you can ask any questions through SuperFeast and we will happily answer them if we can.
Yeah. We'll put some book resources as well. The video in the show notes.
Master Chia has a self massage book, which is really good and I think better than the Chi Nei Tsang book for beginners. The Chi Nei Tsang book is quite technical and long, and I just personally think that The Qi For Self massage book is way better itself. Yeah, something like that. I'll put it in the show notes for you all.
Cool. Thanks, Tahns.
No worries. Thanks guys.