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Cultivating Shen

cultivating Shen



In our modern society we tend to put so much emphasis on external or physical beauty. But this is not sustainable. If we measure our self worth with our standard view of beauty we know that this beauty will not last forever.

Thalia Skin asked me what true beatuy means to me,  a while ago. And this still stands now.

“I find true beauty in imperfection. In Japan, there is an art called Kintsugi. Broken ceramics arecarefully restored using a lacquer resin and gold, accentuating and highlighting the cracks. Our scars, lines, heartaches, and experieces we collect along the way makes us who we are. To me true beauty is this strength to embrace our fagility and will to quest for deeper, more meaningful life.”

We often talk about three treasures. Jing, Qi/Ki and Shen through Chinese and Japanese medicine practices. As we age Jing and Qi/Ki will be depleted for most of us. Of course we are actively working to protect them through our lifestyle choices and taking herbs to support them. But it is not a realistic view to think that we can look and behave in the way that we used to do when we were younger.

Personally I don’t see that Shen needs to be depleted as we age. Shen, by contrast, can and should be glowing more than ever.

Shen is described as our spirit or higher consciousness. It is our highest nature as human beings. When Shen is thriving we live life with compassion, kindness, generosity and acceptance. It manifests as a deep wisdom that guides you to understand that there is no right and wrong, mine and yours, high and low, or full and empty. Becuase it is one.

Emotional life also depends on the Shen of the Heart. Only the Shen can recognise the emotions. Emotions definitely affect all the other organs too, but it is only the Shen that actually recognizes, feels and assesses them.  When we feel sad, angry or worried, it is the Shen of the Heart that feels these emotions.

With our experieces and wisdom that we have (hopefully!) cultivated and working to shift  through our past tramas, stress and perceived failures Shen can be built and nourished. The inner beauty that radiates through this wisdom and strength can affect and influence others. Isn’t it, after all, the purpose of our existance?

In fact giving freely is one of the most powerful way to cultivate Shen. It is a known cure-all for a closed off heart. Self victimhood, over-entitlement and loathing can constrict our heart. Being vulnerable enough to share and give to others is a gift and previlage.

As the weather gets cooler we enter into the Yin season. This season will ask of us to reflect, and go quiet. It is the time to let go of what is not serving you any longer, and also to restore our energy so that we can grow and expand again when the time comes. It is a perfect time to work on our Shen.

Ways to Cultivate Shen

Use your Shen tonic herbs. 

Some Shen tonic herbs are stablisers and others are heart opener. These herbs have been used for centuries by great sages to achive enlightment, harmony and peace. These herbs can tonify blood, clear skin, bringing back harmony and contentment into our heart. I always see herbs as my allies or wise teachers, especially these Shen herbs.

Examples of shen herbs :


Reishi is one of the most precious shen herbs (along with many other benefits). Hard mushroom that has a long history to access deeper percetoion, to open crown chakra and clear old baggage. It is not a psychotropic mushroom but it may affect neurotransmitters like dopamine, melatonin and DHEA.


Another mushroom that is revered as a Shen herb for its grounding and also uplifting.


Known to help overcome anxiety, hearbreak and stress


fortifies the thymus gland and knowned to increase SOD, powerful antioxidant.  It is also grounding with high amounts of minerals, including calcium, zinc, potassium and more.

Asparagus root,

Not to be confused with culinary asparagus this herb is known to help us let go of material baggage and freeing the spirit.


It is a stablising herbthat can also help us cultivate our will power. It is also used to detoxifies the liver, lymph and blood.

Our Sprit Blend

A blend of

Asparagus root
Luo han guo




Give Freely

Meditation, Self reflection 

Breath work

Qi-Gong / Tai chi/ yoga or other mindful movement

Artistic and creative work

It is as important to ground ourselves to the earth in a harmony with material life as to cultivate the spiritual liberation. These practices as well as understinding how to flow wih the natural cycles of nature is essential.

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