We've all been chasing beauty and eternal youth down the wrong path for decades, so you might be surprised to find out that one very powerful antidote to aging + longevity has been right under our noses this entire time. Quite literally.
Im no sage by any stretch, but I have learned a few things along my journey as a holistic practitioner - heck, as a woman - and I'm here to tell you, the secret to eternal beauty is inextricably linked to our heart centre.
There is no pill, potion or overpriced cream that will get you anywhere near it. That secret lying beneath your nose - in your heart centre - is what Chinese Medicine calls Shen.
True beauty is not successfully found in any external endeavor, but rather, a side effect of a well-cultivated spirit.
In the West, we've put the cart before the horse; physical beauty at all costs. This is not a sustainable approach to beauty, nor happiness, nor to ensure self worth. We don't attain self worth or happiness from external beauty, we attain external beauty and longevity from happiness and self worth. It can't be excavated from external endeavors, but rather, as a side effect of a well-cultivated spirit.
Photo by Nitsa Citrine
Eastern cultures are well versed in the ancient art and science of cultivating all three treasures (Jing, Qi and Shen) through Chinese medicine practices. East Indian medicine does this through Ayurveda; the Chinese, through Traditional Chinese Medicine. However you approach it, it can't be denied that it works.
I'm going to share with you my 3 Must Do Daily Rituals for cultivating Shen/Spirit/Beauty and my beauty tonic that I regularly use with clients to build Shen and blood, the two biggest secrets to cultivating deep wells of beauty, inside out.
As we age, all three of our energetic treasures (Jing, Qi and Shen) deplete if we are not actively working to protect what we were born with. Through stress, lack of sleep, hormonal imbalances, worry, fear and other taxing emotions, will deplete the Shen that sits in our heart centre. Aging is a byproduct of this inflammatory state of being and not just from physical abuses alone (smoking, drinking, late nights).
Cultivating Shen can greatly alleviate stress and anxiety from past traumas, heartaches, relationship challenges, perceived failures, depression and more. More than alleviate, it can recalibrate the heart centre, allowing us to perceive new ways of being, reacting and adapting to life's challenges.
Because the heart is actually the first brain in the body - containing more neurotransmitters than the head brain - it is looked upon in neuro-scientific and quantum arenas of medicine, as the organ of perception, intuition, compassion, empathy and expression.
Without the power of the heart, we cease to be whole, effective humans - in love AND in work. Healing the heart gives us a huge leg up on creating the life we want, manifesting our greatest desires. Because 'becoming' requires letting go of old outdated beliefs and emotions and acquiring new healthier ones, building Shen energy gives us the fortitude and courage to move forward and let go in harmonious ways that serve the soul. Nourishing Shen and cultivating beauty happens when we stop thinking (get out of our own heads) and start feeling (drop into the heart brain). The result? We don't age nearly as fast and in fact, can reverse signs of aging the more we adopt rituals that cultivate Shen in our daily lives. Below I've listed some of my most transformative ways to do this under my 3 Must Do Rituals.
This is the perfect time of year to adopt rituals for building our Shen; as we enter into the Yin season of winter, we are also in the winter phase of our lives. This phase asks of us to get quiet, self reflect, regenerate our core life force energy, let go of old fears and beliefs that no longer serve (and sit in the cellular memory of our heart's brain centre) and listen to what seeds are being asked to get sewn for the next phase of our growth. We can't grow and expand without going in and clearing out first. This is prime time to do so.
Think meditation, self reflection, restoration.
Tonifying our Shen, a.k.a., working on our spirits, our hearts, our desires and working through old pains, is a fall/winter season ritual that will have you flowing with life, not against it's currents.
Photo by Nitsa Citrine
S O W H A T I S S H E N, A N Y W A Y S ?
SHEN is described as our 'spirit' or 'higher consciousness.' The most valued of our three treasures (Jing, Qi, Shen), Shen reflects our higher nature as humans. It is exemplary of the Love that lies in our hearts, who's qualities include compassion, kindness, generosity, acceptance, forgiveness and tolerance.
It manifests as wisdom and it's strength or weakness informs our capacity to carry broad perspectives and understandings of our lives and others - to rise above the polarities of good/bad, right/wrong.
It is our spiritual radiance when it's at it's strongest and can help cultivate a non discriminatory, non judgmental awareness needed to become wise, resilient and powerful.
Because Shen resides in our organ of perception, intuition and expression - the heart - it deeply affects our ability to be guided in the right direction in life. It effects how strongly we are guided by intuition, or misguided by hurt, stress, anxiety and pain that remains unexpressed in the heart after traumas.
S H E N D E F I C I E N C Y
When Shen is deficient, the Ego tends to arise, competing with the guidance of the heart. We then can become easily guided by ego driven agendas that mask or constrict our power and purpose.
Addictions to ego validation then arise in the forms of anger, greed, fear, worry, sorrow, frustration, all forcing Shen into further deficiency. Some other symptoms of Shen deficiency are:
~Addictions to worldly objects or outcomes for validation or temporary peace.
~Sleep issues - insomnia, broken sleep, difficulty falling or staying asleep.
~Detachment - from people, nature, the Self, our needs, the ability to Self care with compassion and free of judgment.
~Lack of mental clarity
~ Sorrow, melancholy, hopelessness, victimhood.
D R I N K.
Drink your herbs. There are specific Tonic herbs that encourage cultivation of Shen/ opening of the heart centre. Some Shen tonic herbs stabilize emotions, others help to rebuild lost, broken or hiding Shen. When emotions stabilize through the use of herbalism, emotions begin to inform and not dictate our lives - we can then begin to use emotion as a guide instead of being imprisoned by them through reactive states, which cause further depletion. Shen tonic herbs have been used for centuries by great sages to achieve enlightenment, harmony, peace and to attain more powerful interaction and communication with the Gods and with Nature. The ritual of the daily tonic is my way of offering these herbs up in a truly joyful form, flooding the body with their immense benefits - in this case, to beautify the soul, tonify the blood, clear the skin, reverse signs of aging and bringing the light back into our eyes, from the inside, out. I won't get too deep into the consciousness of water in this post, but the alchemy that occurs in these liquid forms of feeding Body, Mind, Spirit, clears old cellular memory out of the nervous and energetic systems and injecting the conscious messages from the herbs, into the body-mind that create new realities and possibilities. It's a deeply studied science and practice both ancient and modern, and the effects of ingesting tonic herbs in this form is intensely powerful.
S L E E P.
When Shen is disturbed or depleted, forms of insomnia ensue - difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, broken sleep, waking up still tired, no sleep at all. There is a huge hole in our sleep education that is rarely addressed - 8 hours of sleep is NOT the only important thing; equally if not more crucial, is WHEN those 8 hours of sleep take place, and the quality of those 8 hours/how deep is that sleep? In Chinese medicine, your organs rest and recover during different times of day and night. Falling asleep anytime past 12 midnight, depletes your energy reserves two fold. In order for Shen to rebuild, solid sleep before 12 midnight, must be accomplished. Stress, anxiety, worry, fear, heartbreak, trauma, all disrupt Shen and thus, our sleep. Tonic herbs are a genius way to start rebuilding Shen, calming the heart centre and recovering your sleep ritual.
Photo Courtesy of Sun Potion
G I V E + R E C E I V E.
An ancient method of developing Shen that's yet to go out of style, is to give freely. It's a known cure-all for a closed off heart. It is said that the reward for true giving, is Shen. We can very easily get stuck in self victimhood, loathing and self protection when we are dealing with a constricted heart centre. The antidote to this is the classic grinch move - give when you don't feel like it, give when you're afraid to be vulnerable. Through this experience, we create new neural pathways both in the head AND the neurochemistry and biology of the heart that teaches us new ways of being open to Self and the world. This practice reduces anxiety, reverses aging, increases longevity, builds the spirit. The Yin aspect to the Yang of giving, is to be able to receive. We can't successfully do one without the other. We are entering the season of giving, so we must learn in this phase, to give to ourselves, and to receive from others, as readily as we are willing to hand out love. This practice builds Shen, tonifies the heart and teaches us that vulnerability is a core principle of the resilient strength we will require, come spring and summer, when we must activate these principles into action and new realities.
To build blood is to build beauty.
There are two potent principles in Chinese medicine that contribute to glowing, radiant beauty in a woman in particular. One, we just learned is our Shen and cultivating Shen through tonic herbs and spiritual practice.
The second is our blood. Specifically, it comes down to three aspects of the health and quality of our blood:
Movement of blood - how strongly it's able to circulate through the body.
Building of blood levels - how much quality blood is present in the system at all times
Cleansing of blood - how clean blood is that's circulating through your body.
When we have weak circulation, distribution, quality or quantity of blood, we become weak, our skin dries up, our minds get cloudy and unfocused, our hormones become unbalanced, sleep disrupted and more.
Blood is not looked at in the west as a component of beauty or regeneration, but it is a core factor in ancient medicine. In fact, the moment I start implementing blood building foods and herbs into my client's daily rituals, they will start to see vast improvements in their energy levels, focus, cognition. Mood, drive and a huge side effect? Their skin, hair, nails and eyes.
B L O O D B U I L D I N G F O O D S
Root Vegetables. Fruits: pumpkin, sweet potato, squash, carrot, corn, parsnip, yams, peas, stewed fruit, onions, leeks, garlic, turnip, mushrooms including oyster & shiitake, spinach, chard, kale, Chinese greens, beets, parsley, lychee fruit, coconut, grapes, cherries.
Cooked rice + Congees (well cooked rice with herbs, protein, greens etc.)
Clean + ethically sourced protein: chicken, beef, pork, quail, goose, rabbit, frog, organic liver, pigeon, eggs, organic bone marrow, legumes in general, chick peas, black beans, kidney beans, fava beans, mackerel, tuna, anchovy, perch, eel, catfish, oysters, seaweeds.
Fresh ginger, black sesame seeds, dates, figs, wheat grass, miso.
Salads, raw fruits, sprouts, raw vegetables, excess amounts of tofu, dairy or nut butters and other high oil foods overly sweet foods, refined sugars, chocolate, cold foods like ice cream or smoothies, iced drinks ie. ice water. Cold foods stop the flow of blood and Qi and can cause stagnation and lack of flow. For this reason, all cold, frozen foods like those green smoothies, should be avoided in the colder months of the year as well.
Below is a tonic I've curated for my clients that I regularly take my Self. I could NOT live without the ritual of the Tonic in my life. This one addresses the above two key factors in radiant beauty inside to out; Shen and Blood.
This tonic is carefully designed to build, cleanse and cultivate Shen and Blood.
It will easily take you from trick or treat season to trimming the tree season. Liberate your soul to clear your bathroom counter of unnecessary and less useful expenses.
We can't forget that we ARE nature; that we can find our true nature, through nature; that, once we start aligning the seasons in nature with the seasons of our lives and cycles, we can adapt and excel beyond surviving into thriving beauty.
Beauty IS a state of mind. But it's equally, a state of heart-mind. We can't simultaneously deprive our own hearts of joy and peace and attain radiant beauty. The journey within is the fastest, most sustainable route to lasting external beauty.
Photo by Kerry Ford
Each ingredient serves the purpose of clearing toxins, moving the blood, building the blood + cultivating Spirit/ Shen.
Youthful, resilient, soft, healthy aging, supreme Shen tonic for the
Heart, mineral rich, cell renewal, deep sleep/alleviates insomnia
By way of calming the spirit, amino acid rich.
Photo Courtesy of Sun Potion
T U L S I / H O L Y B A S I L.
Calms nervous system, promotes blood circulation.
Shen tonic. Calms the spirit. Nourishes the blood. Cell regeneration, digestion, skin health, mood balancing. Rich in B vitamins, supporting strong sleep habits + combating stress. Longevity and beauty tonic. Nerve growth and healthy neural development. Hormone Balance. All of which support beauty, inside to out.
Photo Courtesy of Sun Potion
P O M E G R A N A T E.
Symbolic of fertility/youth, reincarnation, prosperity, eternal life
Creativity, beauty, the birth of new ideas. Improves circulation,
Supports lungs (grief) and spleen (worry).
Photo by Nikki Haun
M S M P O W D E R
Methylsulfonylmethane is an organic sulfur compound naturally occurring in some green vegetables and found in the human body, MSM is what keeps skin, hair and nails young, elastic and vibrant. As we age, our sulfur levels decline, especially under stress. Replacing it can help systemically and indirectly, to clear the skin, strengthen the nails and hair. Supports the liver and digestive functioning, creating calm minds and outer beauty as a result. It's often used to hold on to youthful appearance. Prevent wrinkles, scar formation, dark spots and sun damage.
MSM is necessary for collagen production, preventing skin sagging, wrinkling, cracking and dryness aka it replenishes YIN (and youth). It can also restore hair growth and helps combat the unwanted physical byproducts of stress.
K O M B U C H A.
A well known fermented food rife with good gut healing probiotics (symbiotics, actually), Kombucha reduces inflammation, heals the gut, builds immunity and supports digestion. The gut is a brain full of neurotransmitters. Without good bacteria, our mental health suffers, causing stress, anxiety, insomnia, and other symptoms that age us exponentially.
Photo by Nikki Haun
L I M E.
Is a detox agent involves in Phase 2 liver detox. The Vitamin C content supports immunity and combats stress, while adding MSM in detoxing unwanted pathogens that create inflammation and premature aging.
M A G N E S I U M C I T R A T E (N A T U R A L C A L M)
The stress mineral. The heart mineral . Calms the mind, relaxes musculature, readying you for sleep or calm, focused activity. Sedates stress, replenishes body of magnesium lost during peak stress periods. Lowers cortisol levels, improves skin quality, can help fight inflammatory skin issues. Slows aging process by supporting central nervous system/adaptation to daily stresses.
S P R I N G W A T E R.
Water archetype. Ancient archetype for emotional/spiritual body/consciousness. Flow, freedom, expression, cleansing. Spring water from local sources restructures cells for optimal health, clears old cellular memory, decalcifies the pineal gland, liberation and strengthening our free will/freedom of thought and speech. Creates clean blood and cerebrospinal fluid, which flushes through the spine, where our chakras sit... the seat of our consciousness. Clears cellular debris, clears skin, supports nervous system and better sleep.
B L O O D Y B E A U T I F U L
1/2 bottle G&T Kombucha, cranberry/berry flavour
1/2 cup organic pure pomegranate juice
1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
1/2 lime, squeezed
1/2 lime sliced for garnish
1/2 tsp. tulsi/holy basil powder Tulsi
1 tsp. Sun Potion Pearl Powder
1/2 tsp. Sun Potion Ashitaba Powder
1 tsp. MSM powder
1 tsp. Natural Calm Magnesium powder
Pink salt (for rim of glass)
Bloody Beautiful Slushie
Add all ingredients except kombucha, to high speed blender
Blend on high for 30 seconds to allow ingredients to alchemize
Add kombucha and pulse to mix (Don't over blend kombucha)
Pour into a rimed mason jar with garnish and drink up, beautiful
Bloody Beautiful Margarita
Add all ingredients except kombucha, into a martini shaker or mason jar
Place lid on tightly and shake till you cant shake no more
Remove lid and add Kombucha then shake lightly to mix thoroughly - you don't want to shake the effervescence out of it
Wet the rim of the martini glass and dip into pink salt, black salt or lime salt
Add ice and lime garnish to martini glass and ice
Photo by Kerry Ford