Some general thoughts about immunity...
You all probably know by now that at SuperFeast, we come at the idea of optimal immunity from a little bit left of centre. We would like to share some thoughts with you from the Taoist tradition that we hold dear, in the hope that it might inspire you to become more health sovereign, Coronavirus, or no Coronavirus. These ideas form the cornerstone of our general health philosophy at SuperFeast. If you want to hear about our simple immunity tips during this unsettling time, head over here now.
So what is an immune system?
An immune system is your body's first line of defence against invaders and its own cells that are not functioning correctly. To have a healthy immune system, one needs:
- a healthy lymphatic system (which relies on the free flow of Qi),
- healthy bone marrow (to make blood cells - relies on strong Jing), and
- a healthy Spleen (Qi again, as well as Blood).
A robust immune system is the result of healthy cellular metabolism. Healthy blood requires a healthy Liver, and a healthy Liver requires low toxicity and a healthy environment. And healthy emotions, but we'll get to that later.
For this reason, there is no single solution to make your immune system rock. All your general health tips are relevant. Sleep, manage stress, eat well, avoid contaminants in your environment, etc. All these tips address our physical body.
But what about our energy body and our mind?
This is where the Taoist philosophy really shines, and in times like these, it's super relevant.
In the ancient systems, everything begins as energy, known as Qi. When things (inside, outside) become out of balance, we are required to draw on our reserves of Qi. This is fine from time to time. But do this frequently, and we end up weakening our whole body, including our immune system. Our society is addicted to this kind of thing - caffeine is the most popular drug on the planet, we have a FOMO culture, and many of us find it hard to say no. So, once depleted, where do we find the energy to strengthen our immune systems, and how do we replace our Qi savings account?
The only ways to get more Qi to power your immune system (BEFORE WE GET SICK) are to
- eat good food (gu qi) and digest it properly (!!) and
- through energy cultivation (sleep, then herbs, Qigong, some forms of meditation, etc.).
If you are already sick, you need to REST. This may mean you need to take extreme rest. Sophia, one of our SuperFeast herb experts, often talks about how extreme exertion requires extreme rest. Many of us don't realise how exhausting our lives are because it feels so normal to feel depleted. Now is the time for radical self-honesty.
Some of the most powerful forms of energy we can experience are our thoughts and emotions. Negative thoughts and emotions can be hugely detrimental to our health - they can block our Qi or drain our Qi, causing our organ systems to be exhausted and become empty. Again, this can happen suddenly and intensely or at a low grade of intensity over time. Taoist practice is heavily built around learning to separate our sense of identity from our thoughts and emotions and is very similar to the Yogic tradition in this way. When we learn to disengage with our thoughts and use the energy of our emotions for healing instead of destruction, we become incredibly powerful.
We are looking to feel a sense of stability and ease, even when the external circumstances are weird and unsettling. This is not to say we do not react to life, but we do not react with drama, and we do not create suffering. Instead, we meet each moment as it comes, and we attempt to stay close to ourselves and our inner wisdom instead of allowing ourselves to be swept away by the energy of the masses. Feel what fear feels like, feel the anxiety. Chances are, as you feel it, it will dissolve and be replaced by a sense of calm. All feelings want, is to be felt. If we have a lot of old, unfelt feelings, this can take a whole lot of time to work through (this is trauma) and it's important to go gently and keep a sense of humour about it all.
Any disharmony we experience (physical, emotional, mental) places a higher demand on our Qi reserves. There is only so much good food, herbs and Qigong one can take to balance ourselves out. The disharmony, the root cause, needs to be addressed. The crux of it is to come back to a sense of harmony. Which comes through remembering how to coexist with nature. Nature is unlimited and is our original source of Qi - Taoist healing uses the energy of nature to purify and heal the human body.
Take a moment to think about it - where is the virus most virulent? Mostly in cities and highly, densely populated areas. Who is it affecting the worst? Older folks, with preexisting health conditions, who have a lifetime of toxicity accumulated, whose systems are already under strain. Viruses are attracted to toxicity - to damaged cells and poor Qi circulation. This is why, thankfully, children are rarely affected by this particular virus. Good news for the parents out there! For those in the community who are older or already unwell, now is the time to practice caution and take extra care. It's never too late to put your health first.
If you ARE sick, you will want to use 'regular' herbs to treat your illness, or Western antivirals (there has been some success with HIV and malarial drugs), but please take no tonics and practice no Qigong while sick. It will strengthen the Qi of the pathogen, and we don't want that. The exceptions to this rule are Reishi and Cordyceps, which can help clear phlegm and strengthen the Lungs.
We can all take responsibility for our health at this time, so we're going to focus on what we CAN do. For most of us who are in reasonable health, and fortunate to live in a first-world country, the chances of a serious illness are very, very low. If you are sick, stay home. Reduce the strain on the medical system. Keep your kids home. Embrace that this is going to get messy. We all have to lean into uncertainty.
Mortality is coming into question as people are becoming aware of the virus. We are all mortal, and it is good to remember this and practice becoming comfortable with this. It is only fairly recently that we have been so insulated from the cycles of nature that we have forgotten our mortality. Life is complex and wonderful and bittersweet. We are all a part of the tapestry. We will all rise, and we will all fall. But ideally, we do so in our time and not before.
The media are profiting from fear and creating hype. Eyeballs = profit, and your attention and energy are your currency. Keep it for what matters. Yourself, your family, your community. You do not need more than a week or two of supplies. Supply chains are still open, things in China are improving already. Australia has a low population density and (thankfully) a public health system. Support each other, be gentle, be kind. We will likely see an immense impact on the service economy, so if you can, support your local businesses and keep your money moving around in your local area. I am also a yoga teacher, and many of my colleagues are losing their jobs and their livelihoods. My father works in tourism and has no work. It's going to affect many people close to us. Do what you can.
Personally, locally, globally.
How you relate to your energy, your mind, your body, your family, your colleagues, your community, your nation, your planet.
We can all do our part, take care of one another and stay calm.