It’s pretty scary out there right now. I’ll admit to more than one freakout in the past weeks, and I imagine you’ve lost your composure at some point, too. It happens to the best of us, and all we can hope for is a good friend to talk us down (thanks, Paul!) and some support to keep it together going forward.
We’ve finished some Spagyrics to boost immunity and resistance to the coronavirus, and there are more to come, but I also think a focus on emotional health may be helpful for everyone.
So, back during one of my panic moments, Paul reminded me of a couple things:
- you need to breathe
- taking some Amber always brings calm
Since then, I’ve been doing breathing exercises and mindfulness meditations a few times a day, especially pursed lip breathing- inhaling deeply through the nose, and then exhaling through tightly pursed lips, like I’m blowing through a straw. I learned this technique from a relative with COPD, as it helps the lungs clear out stagnant air and creates back pressure that helps hold the lungs open so that breathing is easier.
I don’t have COPD, but this technique also really reduces the self-reinforcing loop of anxiety-shallow breathing-shortness of breath-more anxiety, and after just a few rounds, I am calmer and more alert.
I’m also really relying on our Baltic Amber lately, and I find it brings a soft wave of calm, collected energy, followed by a feeling of strength and protection.
Amber is amazing stuff, it’s the fossilized resin of ancient evergreen trees, and it’s found all over the world. We work with five different kinds, and each is protective in its own way, from the uplift of Borneo to the centered contained quality of the Kenyan.
The Baltic is the original Amber we first worked with, and it’s the most versatile and general in energy, useful for many situations where energetic protection is needed, but without creating isolation. It’s also the one most used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, where it is considered a Shen tonic.
You may have heard us mention Shen before, since it is such a useful concept without a corollary in Western healing. Shen is one of the “three treasures” of the body- along with Qi, which is energy and vitality, and Jing, which is creativity and vital force. Shen is the peaceful spirit of calm strength that resides in the heart, which is a subtle idea, but it’s considered the most crucial principle to keep in balance, since it is the source of the other two treasures.
This may be counterintuitive, but if you think about the last time you were very stressed, and how physically depleted and creatively empty that made you feel, you can understand how important it is to keep a reserve of Shen to protect your other important energies. Unfortunately, with life in general, and especially now, our Shen can get disturbed and depleted, leaving us more vulnerable to attacks both energetic and physical.
In a different framing, conventional medicine, especially the new field of psychoneuroimmunology, has shown that uncontrolled stress has a direct, damaging effect on the immune system, making us more vulnerable to infection and disease. But please don’t let that fact be a source of stress for you! You can control quite a bit about your stress response, and Shen tonics are a great way to start.
You can find all our Shen tonics in our store here, and I’ll list a few below that we hear are most useful.
First, the Baltic Amber I already mentioned is great for internal calming and peace of mind, and as I described above, when you also need an energetic buffer between you and the energies around you. I think one reason we’re finding it so helpful right now is that Paul and I are both energetically sensitive, and we want to help and not see people suffer; at the same time, the media wants to amplify everyone’s suffering to create a current of fear, and that energy sometimes overwhelms us.
Amber is perfect for that moment (as is turning off the news), and when I take it, I can first feel it calming me internally, and then gradually, that calm spreads out around me and pushes back the external fears, worries, and frightening chatter, giving me a little space to breathe and collect myself.
Once I’m back into a more positive place, I can add some Sacred Lotus to my energy, since I find this embodiment of Quan Yin intelligence to be very helpful for maintaining compassion and a willingness to help, balanced by the reserve to protect myself when needed so as to not become depleted or burned out. Sacred Lotus is also helpful for those of us who are least compassionate with ourselves, even when we need that grace the most.
If, in response to stress, you tend to mirror the feelings of those around you, consider a more stabilizing Shen tonic. For years in our event booths, we had a silly slogan: “hold your own with Dragon Bone”, and that’s a good summation of this Shen tonic’s energy. Dragon Bone is a Spagyric extract of fossilized dinosaur bone, which has a stable, strengthening energy that keeps your core steady in the face of others’ sadness, anger, and other turmoil.
Many Shen tonics are stabilizing like Dragon Bone, but one, Albizia, has the opposite energy. If stress tends to make you withdraw, shut down, and curl up, this beautiful flower could be very helpful.
Albizia lifts the feeling of weight in the heart that can accompany stress and sadness, bringing back joy and lightness. It’s known as the Tree of Happiness, and its little pink feathery flowers look like the feeling they bring to the heart.
Paul’s favourite Shen tonic is Antler Reishi, a special form of Reishi mushroom that creates red deer antler formations under certain growing conditions. Antler Reishi is hard to find, as we journaled a while back, but it is worth it for the medicine it carries.
Antler Reishi is an adaptogen and immune tonic like regular Reishi, but with a more spiritual focus. It is uplifting to the mind, and creates a feeling of elevated perspective and wise insight into stresses and difficulties. It also protects the breath as a spiritual function, and so works well in conjunction with my simple breathing exercise, or with more structured Pranayama, Taoist breathing, or other energy work.
Finally, if all these energies sounds supportive to your needs, our Shen Somalixir might be a good fit. With Dragon Bone as its core, Amber for a protective field, and other herbs and minerals to round out its effect, Shen stabilizes and lifts your Heart Spirit so that you can be calm, strong, and peaceful for compassionate and useful action in the world.