Michael Vasquez has been a practitioner of the Internal Healing Arts since the age of 16. He began his formal training with the Martial practices, where his training & teaching included classes in Korean and Chinese Martial Arts. The natural development of the practice moved from “external” to “internal”, from martial to healing & health. He is now the Director for Transformation Arts and Qi University.
In this interview you’ll learn how to incorporate Taoist principles and tonic herbalism more into your everyday life. This includes:
- How Medicinal Herbalism and Tonic Herbalism Differ
- The Importance of Your Body’s Constitution
- How to Nourish the Blood and Support the Energy
- Cycling Blood, Energy and Shen Tonics with the Seasons
- Important: How to Approach a Household
- The Chinese Approach to Vegetarianism
- The Yin and Yang Aspects of Food
- How Refined Fuels Change Your Chemical Structure from the Inside Out
- How the Make Chicken Tonic Soup
- The Greatest Carrier of Herbs…Period?
- Eating in Moderation by Using the Five Flavors
- Understanding Tea (Camellia Sinensis) for its Systemic Effects
- The Trifecta of Prevention
- And More
Click the link below to access the complete transcript.
Logan: Welcome to The Vital Way podcast. I’m Logan Christopher and I’m here with Michael Vasquez who has been a practitioner of the internal healing arts since the age of 16. He began his formal training with martial practices where his training and teaching included classes in Korean and Chinese martial arts, the natural development of the practiced move from external to internal, from martial to healing and health. Now he is the Director for Transformation Arts in Qi University and in today’s call, we’re going to be diving deep into some of those ideas and how tonic herbalism can really fit into your life. Thanks for joining us today, Michael.
Michael: Thank you for having me, Chris.
Logan: Absolutely. Can you tell us a little bit more about your story and what led you into this field?
Michael: Sure. Pardon me for calling your Chris again, Logan.
Logan: That’s all right. I’m used to it by this point in my life.
Michael: Well, for a long time I was really interested in martial arts and as I began to practice, I noticed there was a great use of energy that happened. So my teachers kind of formally introduced me to tonic herbs pretty early on and connected them with internal practices and as we moved along, helpful suggestions with diet and teas as part of the provision and regulatory aspects. So those elements kind of supported and guided me through some of the more difficult aspects of internal practice. As you evolve and change, you go through greater uses of energy, in the beginning at least.
Logan: It seems a lot of people in the west, we kind of get attached to this one thing like just practicing martial arts or just doing weightlifting or something but we really often don’t see the big picture of how many different things fit together. That’s what got me into herbs in the first place. As I was pursuing my own training, I really wanted to be the best possible and I knew since I wasn’t genetically gifted, I had to seek out tools and other ways. That led me into mental training and also getting very serious about health and nutrition and that in turn led to the herbs. Could you speak a little bit to sort of I guess how that philosophy, how everything ties together from the herbs to martial arts to qigong, that sort of thing?
Michael: Sure. I think we can take the original principle and we can just say this is a life principle that shows up every culture – balance. There’s a specific way that we can use that measure in our sensory perception to work with the less tangible sides of ourselves. So if we begin to recognize in our personalities, in our energetics, in the way that we talk and interact the excess qualities that we might be showing, things that are going into extremes more or less in any areas, habits, patterns, any parts of our lives that show that and then reflectively we also get to see the places where we might be deficient in our lives, we begin to take those in as measures, you might say, for understanding our day to day or even moment to moment understanding of what’s happening, if we’re harmonizing with life or not, interacting with it in a way that supports and suits us.
So it’s a really a consciousness change. That is what we’re talking about and including the balance perspective and then that principle itself is applied to everything then you’re able to see into things more and more as sets of conditions and realize that between those two poles, you might say, there’s all this grey area that we can work with in understanding how to harmonize and balance in whatever given situation you’re working with. Tonic herbs are a big part of that.
Logan: Could you give us like a concrete example of what an excessive health condition might be versus a deficient one and maybe how those would be I’m going to use the word treated with herbs but Laurie said we should stay away from all that so work with herbs as well as maybe other lifestyle practices?
Michael: Sure. A common thing that we do a lot when we’re getting ready to do anything, maybe exercise or even getting ready for work or some people like an interview like this is we pump ourselves up, which in a way is really pushing ourselves into an extreme direction whereas we might enter balance in our application of this if we just kind of slow it down, relax and harmonize. So excitement, we can relate to excitement and joy as a good thing but then if it’s an extreme case, it can actually cloud the way we think and make it difficult for us to speak. We can be over the top with that in that direction and so it can cause forms of blockage. Any extreme, you could say you can’t have too much joy but actually you could have too much joy. You could have too much of anything.
Conversely in a deficient situation, oh my gosh, there are just so many of them. When we work so hard, obviously we become exhausted. That’s a showing of deficiency. If we don’t pay attention to that rhythm is we end up putting out all of our juice. At the end of the day, we’re exhausted and we’re in a loop that is actually sending us downward, our immune system, our endocrine system, everything is kind of going down that. But if we learn to balance that, maybe we don’t pump ourselves much so much, we learn how to maintain our own relaxation, our own ease and we move into things with a gentler perspective and have more flexibility, not necessarily with all of our intent in our will but we’re more open to seeing what’s happened. Then we can move with things better. So this is an idea of how we might balance conditions that show up as extreme or show up as deficient perhaps right in the moment as we recognize it.
Logan: So speaking of tonic herbs, probably a few people listening aren’t familiar with that. Could you explain what sort of sets tonic herbalism apart from I guess other styles of herbalism?
Michael: Well, there’s medicinal herbalism which is having to do with dealing with imbalances that we would say deeper into the system so they’re causing the bodily systems to malfunction or organ problems. These are where medicinal herbs would be more useful. Tonic herbs would be used for a person who’s more or less in a healthy place. They may be facing some imbalances or conditions that are more superficial so they’re easily taken care of with physical exercise, herbal support and dietary and what the Chinese would refer to as the first form of superior medicine which is called right thinking. This has a lot to do with consciousness again.
So all these things boil back down to allowing our mind to change and balance as life teaches us and tonic herbs are a big part of understanding how to help ourselves through deficient conditions where we might need a little extra energy boost as well as relaxing and sedating ourselves where we might be in the wrong kinds of dietetic conditions you might say.
Logan: So it seems that sort of the small notes, it’s really towards aiming for that balanced point. Obviously, there’s no real balance that you reach. It’s a continual process you go through. With this idea, it seems that you’re trying to get away from swinging from one extreme to the other extreme and really sort of more teetering on that balanced point, being able to quickly or easily go back and forth as you need to with greater awareness, what you do with your diet, what you do with herbs, what you do with your lifestyle. Is that correct?
Michael: That’s correct. Balance is exactly a state of flux that we need to get used to. We like to box things up again into certain places so they’re all safe and sound and we can always put it this way but in fact, that’s the opposite thinking of the balanced way of perception. Also, knowing our body constitution is another area that’s very helpful for us. That helps us balance in much longer way of our lives and keep our longevity and overall lifestyle in a much highly supported place.
Logan: It’s great that sort of these fantastic tonic herbs are gaining in popularity across the world, especially in the west. But along with that, it seems some people get attached to the idea and they really don’t have sort of this philosophical framework or any sort of herbalism background so that kind of leads to some misconceptions about these things. What would you say are some of the biggest misconceptions surrounding tonic herbs?
Michael: Well, in the west we tend to apply ourselves symptomatically to things because that’s kind of the way that we’ve learned. You’ve got this problem; you take this drug or this substance and it fixes it whereas tonic herbs is in consideration of the whole self, the constitution, the diet, the emotions, the mental abilities, clarity or inclarity, the general patterns and habits a person has. They’re all part of understanding how we would balance ourselves if we were using tonic herbs as part of that balance. So it really is a much larger picture than trying to fix something symptomatically or very quickly. We have to take a larger interest in ourselves, which truthfully we’re all our own favorite subjects so that shouldn’t be hard because it seems sometimes it’s just that we haven’t been introduced to the life study perspective. Even to say that, it sounds like work for the rest of my life but actually it’s just paying attention and remembering, learning from our experiences. It’s not rocket science. We’ve been doing it for forever but since technology has become a larger part of our lives, we have let go of some of these more basic elements that we really still need to do our thing day to day.
Logan: It seems that with the sort of western style of approach, it’s a reductionist scientific approach looking at the symptoms. We see an herb and it’s like oh, this active constituent of the herb is supposed to help with this specific symptom or disease. Then like you were saying, we lose sight of the bigger picture so we are unaware of facts like our constitution or the constitutional effects of that herb. Thus a person may be taking it for something but not realizing that really constitutionally it doesn’t match up. Could you speak to this issue and also I guess maybe the idea of just for simplicity’s sake, cold versus hot in the different herbs and how that might interact with people?
Michael: Sure. The first steps that I would work with anybody would be to offer a body constitution read and that would give us a general understanding of their genesis, habits and patterns. From that point, we can begin to discern if there’s say in a more yang direction that they might be needing some yin tonics or some energy tonics. In general though, if we’re trying to decipher basic atmospheric temperature inside generally speaking, the general attitude a person would have, the way that they work with seasonal changes and generally what imbalances they’re suffering from, we’d be getting an idea of the temperature generally of their condition, which is kind of an important understanding. If somebody’s running very hot, we can work with herbs to cool that down. Also, that suggests that I need more yin herbs as support.
Generally speaking, I try to give this basic message to people who are learning herbs which is nourish the blood and then support the energy and then we’re able to carry the shen or the spirit. So we work with the three treasures, breath, blood and energy or jing, qi and shen. The reading of those gives us a way to have a more long-term approach to being able to adjust the herbs as a person changes. So in the beginning, we’re going to be facing the initial patterns and tendencies. But then as the person works with the herbs, they’re going to begin to change and open up. They’re going to go up and down. There’s that stage where things are in both places and then as we begin to kind of gain some momentum and stabilize, we’re able to create the long-term changes. This is a larger picture that we begin to pay attention to everything we think, feel, say, our actions, everything that’s happening, the way that we approach anything as far as our emotions go and our way of thinking, and start noticing how that affects our general temperature and our general attitude, our will, intention, the way that we face things and what imbalances are coming up to the surface first. Those are the ones we deal with first.
As we deal with those will subside, go away and transform and then the second layer comes in. So it’s just a process. First, we deal with blood and energy and it’s just the body and the breath, which is signified by the energy herbs, breath, qi same, jing is like blood, with body and then shen is with the spirit and the emotions and the clarity and willing intent of the mind. So we’re looking at all three of those as a foundation, where we come up strong or where we come up weak, deficient or excessive.
Logan: I know it’s a lengthy process or tough to do on the phone but could you give a couple examples of some questions you might ask or things you might observe just to tell if someone is on the hot side versus on the cold side just so people listening might get an idea of one aspect of this for themselves?
Michael: Sure. Qi of course is going to have a more aggressive side to it. There’s intensity with it. There’s usually redness, basically redness in the face. Circulation is usually high. These are all tendencies of more extremity so that there’s just a larger presence. The voice is louder. The look in the eyes is usually fairly intense. Their being is hard to miss, you know you’d say that, and they could very well be type A personalities.
The opposite of that is going to be a more fragile, ectomorphic kind of body structure, thinner, cooler, dryer often and more frail, tends towards cold or wants to stay away from things that are cold, likes hot drinks, warm environments. These are the kind of two extremes and then we have variations of that are slightly coming towards the center. Often those don’t really have a central balanced one. So there are really five types and those are really the basic five. Then each person is usually a combination of two to three of those types. As we work with harmonizing the true elements come out and the true way a person is will show itself. But we have external things that have happened after we’ve been born that created certain conditions that exist already so we’re kind of moving through those in the beginning to see what the true frame of the constitution is.
Logan: All right. Upon first hearing that, it sounds pretty simple like cold and hot, yeah, I can see those pictures but obviously when working with people, it can begin to get a bit more complicated. Do you find that sometimes one area of the body will be hot versus another one cold? I know in Chinese medicine, you have things like false heat, which is heat arising from coldness or stagnation and different factors that can play in here that make it a little bit more complicated.
Michael: Absolutely. There are all kinds of conditions of deficient fire, excessive cold and hypotheses are occurring all the time. Organs are out of balance. There are strengths in some places, weaknesses in others. Circulatory systems can be narrowed in certain areas causing heat in certain parts of body and cold in other areas. That’s why it’s really beneficial to have not just the herbs but the diet and the physical practices. When we have the physical practices to work with and the herbs together, that really is a really good first place to initiate things from because you can really start to learn what you feel. My teacher introduced this to me in the beginning as take a little bit of tonic herbs then you practice in the mornings. You begin to actually notice and be able to tell what opening feels like and conversely when things shut down. Then after you’re finished practicing, to leave that in extension and openness that’s happened after practice and the herbs actually teach the body how to do that, how to stay open. There are not very many things that support that perspective like tonic herbs do. It’s really good for balance.
Logan: Yeah, I love that people really cultivated and started developing that awareness. I feel that is a lacking thing in many people just because they haven’t focused on it. I love what you said there because there are so many ways we can sort of focus our attention on different things, yet I guess in the west we tend not to do it too much internally but the herbs are great for that. The more you use them, the more you bring that awareness to them, the more you can begin to feel those energetic effects. I know personally that over the years in cultivating this, I can take a smaller dose of an herb and notice those effects, notice certain areas of my body that it may move into. For me, that’s really exciting. It all kind of speaks to that idea of balancing. It’s like if I take a huge dose of something that can throw me to one extreme or another because I’ve sort of cultivated that awareness and I seemed to need lesser amounts of things as time goes on.
Michael: Yes. I think each person who takes on building an herbal pharmacy for themselves probably go through phases of using things a little bit recreationally. Actually, you really have to do that. To actually understand each of the herbs, you have to know what it feels like to do too much and not enough. You also have to notice that some herbs no matter how good they are, there’s so much that’s written about going out with you and you just have to pay attention to stuff like that, no matter what you’re hearing about it and how much you want to take it.
Logan: Yeah, that’s one of the things that I really enjoyed about herbalism. It’s like every herb is kind of like a person out there. They have their own personalities and everything. Some herbs are just going to be like eh, that’s pretty cool but other ones are going to completely match up with you. Other ones are not going to match up with you. Sometimes, you might even have a love-hate relationship with an herb. On that note, what are some of your favorites? What has been instrumental in your sort of process over the years?
Michael: Wow, that list is fairly extensive. I’m a big fan of schisandra, codonopsis, dendrobium, asparagus root. Eucommia is one of the herbs that you people seem to know very much about but it’s really, really good for knitting up the back and the knees, lifting up the back so I’ve used a lot of that with niu xi, what’s called cow’s knees. Both of those together are a really profound tonic for say from the knees to the solar plexus, strengthening of that whole middle area. So I’ve used that a lot.
Then he shou wu now more since I’m getting a little older. I’ve stayed away from some of the hotter ones because I run a little warm so I don’t need them so much. Deer antler and ginseng, I’ve used them but I don’t use them so much. I like American ginseng. But lately, I’ve been more focused on going back to blood formulas and blood tonics because that’s really something that I, like everybody else, spend more time with energy tonics and I think you should really cycle your blood tonics, your energy tonics and the shen tonics. I’m getting to an understanding of what those are, how to harmonize. You’re going to find out which ones harmonize best for you. Then seasonally, you’re working with those in different ways.
Logan: So what are some of your favorites on that front? Tell us a little bit more about how you cycle them and why you feel that’s necessary or helpful.
Michael: Well as the seasons change like as winter comes, we definitely want to change our attitudes in general. We should slow down. We should come inside, become more introverted because it’s natural. We’re following season. But in the western world, we don’t really pay attention to that so much. But if you started doing that more as an herbal practitioner, you start recouping a lot of energy that you’ve been losing. One of the things about winter is you don’t want to sweat too much. That’s not something people think about that much, especially if you’re trying to strengthen up your body. You’re on your program so you’re doing what you do all the time and you’re always excelling.
Well, this may not be the long term best approach or even the best approach for developing yourself because you’re actually at some point fighting yourself. So learning not to do that, in a lot of ways, that happens when we start looking at say blood tonics and not so much energy tonics because it’s more nurturing. We need to let the mind change a little bit in that direction because the energy tonics are more yang in that direction. So blood tonics, yin tonics are a consciousness change.
I like a lot of the bluperum combinations. Specifically for men, the bluperum and dragon bone combination is really good as is any stress formula. It stabilizes the mood, stabilizes the spirit and it’s a good liver tonic. It just helps with a whole bunch of things that men work with a lot. If there are addictions, it works with that. It works with improving the willpower, strengthening the mind, things like that. So that’s a real common one for men, to work with the blood. For women, dong quai and bluperum combination or bluperum and peony combos are really good. The energy tonics, there are just a host of them. I can go on forever with those but I like the tai qi formulas and I use a seasonal chicken soup tonic recipe pretty regularly during the winter. I don’t know if you do that or have heard about that.
Logan: Please share. That sounds interesting.
Michael: This is something I try to get everybody who is lightly interested in herbs on, a good starting point. Basically, you just take the chicken and throw it in a crockpot and you can work with some blood and energy tonic herbs. So you put a little raw romani in there, some schisandra, some dragon eyes, lychee, a little he shou wu, American ginseng, dong quai and you cook those all with the chicken over say eight hours. Then in the next few days, you just have a cup here and a cup there of this broth.
The way that it affects your energy, your qi as you change seasons and it just keeps you place that’s kind of regulated the whole time is really powerful. It really helps that transition and it makes wintertime kind of almost like the sun’s shining inside. That’s how I do it. I’ve been using it for years. One of my teachers showed it to me. You can use variations of it that are more about the blood or more about the energy. It’s very versatile and chicken is world-renowned, known to be the greatest carrier of herbs beyond anything, beyond licorice, beyond alcohol. Chicken soup has a certain elemental ability to lead the herbs where they go. They’re the best carrier.
Logan: Wow, I’ve never heard that one before. That’s amazing. I’ve definitely done some different soups and stews and things like that but not quite on that level. I’m definitely going to give that a try and I’ll have to report back to you. It sounds amazing.
Michael: I’ll send you a recipe for it.
Logan: All right. That sounds great. How often do you have something like this? Is this a daily sort of thing in the winter months?
Michael: Yeah, there’s a crockpot sitting on the counter over there now. It’s been there for a couple of days. When it’s emptied out, we’ll probably give it a day or two of rest and probably do another one.
Logan: Nice. Do you do a couple of different boils of the chicken and the herbs in there before changing out what you use or is it just one time through?
Michael: It’s one long one, like eight hours or ten hours.
Michael: Also, I should say, too, if you’re planning to take on an herbal pharmacy and you live with somebody, realize that, like especially in my house, we have totally different constitutions so the herbs that we need often don’t work together. You need to consider that. Even though you may be into an energy tonic and the person that you’re with is interested in that, your constitutions being different, eventually you’re just going to separate in the kind of ways that you use herbs because of the constitutional differences and not just trying to mush them together because you’re close.
Logan: So do you have like a separate pot going for each person?
Michael: It had to come to that because my roommate is the opposite body constitution of me. So we can crossover in some places but in a lot of places, we just can’t.
Logan: That’s very cool. That makes a lot of sense. I guess one more question on this, I know you probably are working with a lot more of the raw herbs in putting this together and that’s probably best because in sort of cooking and preparing them along with the chicken stock is going to probably sort of blend everything together. But if a person wasn’t as practiced or didn’t know where to get those, could they use sort of the extract powders that we have at Superman Herbs or from other places and kind of add that in there while it’s cooking? Would that work as well?
Michael: Absolutely. There’s no problem with that at all because they’re all in the same pot and they’re not going anywhere, right, except in you?
Logan: Right. Very cool. So on that note, you’re a big fan of cooking with the herbs. What are some other ideas beyond this tonic broth that can help people get started and what are some different ways that you cook with these herbs?
Michael: Well, seasonally there are all kinds of things to do, following the qi notes a little bit and this has to get to the discussion also of vegetarian, non-vegetarian, veganism and all those kinds of things, I kind of take those individually because I don’t pretend that I know better than somebody about their opinion about whether they should be one of those things or not. Now Chinese medicine and diet involves needs in their nutritional aspects of their cooking and a lot of it has to do with the broths, which they don’t consider to be—if you just eat vegetables with meat broths, you’re still a vegetarian in the Chinese way of thinking.
But more of the orientation is to start looking at for example, you start with principles like yin and yang orientation. So foods that grow in the sun are probably more yang. Foods that grow in the earth are probably more yin. Foods that are soft, wet and cool are more yin. Harder, spicier, drier more yang. So you start looking at that a little bit in what you’re eating.
The five flavors theory plays into this, how the flavors of pungent, sweet, sour, bitter and salty, all adjunct food. There are foods that affect the lungs or specific organs and learning about those elements, stomach, spleen, and gallbladder. And then there’s the movement of food and how TCM classifies them. Some foods are lifting. Some foods are floating. Some foods bring the energy down and some bring it in. So all of these elements are part of what we might be considering as you’re learning these kinds of things.
The kind of herbs that you use, there are nutrient herbs: avocado curls, astragalus root, Job’s tears, angelica, Chinese yam, chrysanthemum, codonopsis, cordyceps, eucommia is in there, foxglove root, gingko, lily bulb, longan fruit, lotus seed, white fungus, wintermelon, tangerine peel. Those kinds of herbs are considered more humid food herbs and so we can use them as concentrated foods. As we learn about their qualities and their categorization, we can begin to add them in small amounts to the food. That’s how you begin. You work with one or two herbs in a dish and then you feel what you feel afterwards. That’s a very important part of it. It’s not like just taking something and hoping for the best. It really takes a lot more paying attention and hopefully we’re interested enough to pay attention to ourselves. We’ll come to this like later on in life but you can start anytime. That’s for sure.
Logan: And there’s this Taoist idea of sort of as you go along with the immortals, they begin existing less and less off of regular foods and more using sort of the refined fuels, using these herbal tonics along the way. Could you speak to that idea?
Michael: You bet. My teacher used to talk to me about that a lot. As you used the refined fuels, you might say is what we start calling the herbs, they’re concentrated and they have a different way of interacting and slowly they’re changing the overall chemical structure inside of us. So what we used to use is a more gross form of food like you could say large amounts of meat might be akin to diesel fuel and an engine as a diesel engine. But then as we work with ourselves and we refine the engine inside, we begin to need other kinds of fuel that are not so crude. So the herbs begin to put in place right there.
We also need less foods and we learn how to combine foods so that we get the highest nutrient value out of them. We also use the five flavors. When you use the five flavors correctly in a meal then you satiate the stomach in a different way so that there’s not so much interest in overeating so moderation now becomes much more possible, which I know is probably one of America’s greatest issues, moderation.
Logan: So eventually at some point, I guess the idea of immortality is achievable in this sense. You kind of switch from a diesel engine to a cleaner running engine and eventually you move onto like a Tesla. You’re running off electricity.
Michael: Right. Your quality of life is changing because how much you eat is becoming less. You become efficient with the understanding of how to work with seasonal changes and what you need as things change so you’re adapting much better. And overall, your consciousness is present. I can’t say enough about those human qualities and how much they’re a part of the overall traditional knowledge of tonic herbs, internal arts, diet. Without the consciousness element, the major categories are not very useful.
Logan: That makes sense. You mentioned with the whole eating in moderation thing that if you use the five flavors you can basically be satiated sooner. Could you talk a little bit more about this idea? Are you trying to balance the five flavors in every meal? What are you trying to achieve with this that could help people get more of that satiation?
Michael: Yes, you are trying to balance them within each meal. It’s the combination of a little of all of those that create a feeling of satiation in the body. If you’re going to embrace all of those flavors, it’s just about impossible not to cover the base of nutritional, too. That’s kind of built into that whole structure right there.
Logan: That makes a lot of sense. You’re also a big fan of herbal delivery through the use of tea. What are some of the ways people can get started in doing that?
Michael: I’m not sure if you’re asking me this or not but when I refer to tea, and I know a lot of people use that term loosely and I mean it very specifically one plant, the high grade teas are something that are becoming more and more known now. But I still think the knowledgebase around that is not quite solid here. We drink good, flavored, high grade Chinese teas because we like the taste of them, which is great. That’s an important part of it. But it’s not known too much that there are whole canons, text written on tea and how to use it.
For example, all the different processes of tea are actually broken down for different parts of the body. So your white teas and your green teas are going to be more immune direction. Your oolong tea is going to be a digestive tea. Your black and red teas are going to be cardiopulmonary. Your puer teas are going to be working on your circulatory system and your digestive system and the mood in general. So there are ways to use the different teas as part of what I call the trifecta of prevention. One of the elements is understanding how to use high grade teas on a regular basis as part of your prevention.
Logan: Very cool. Can you go into a little more detail on that, this trifecta?
Michael: Well, basically that’s your diet, your tonic herbs and your internal arts practice. Within the diet, it contains the knowledge about the teas, what you eat and drink and then the tonic herbs are of course foundationally underneath those things. They’re added to and supplement what we’re doing with our nutrient elements. And then the physical practices as a measuring gauge and overall way to keep the qi moving because the great concept here that we have to understand as we get older is if we don’t keep moving, things just stagnate. That’s a big part of change. Movement and balance are our life. So we need to embrace that pretty constantly unless we’re giving up. That’s what they say. You don’t really die. You just quit wanting to live.
Logan: Very cool. Where would you recommend someone sort of start with all this information? Let’s say this person is like okay, I understand herbs are great and I’d like to learn more about this. Where should they go and I guess also how should they begin to even develop their own herbal supply so they can really start working with these herbs and start getting the benefits from them more so than just taking a couple of pills, extracts or that sort of thing?
Michael: I always say a consultation is the beginning place because we figure out the body constitution. We look at the past patterns, habits and tendencies and we begin really from the nuts and bolts of what is right in front of us. That’s really what we’re looking at. From there, we have a way because the more honest and sincere a person is, the greater chance we have of affecting everything. In fact, that’s what they say the number quality is for this kind of learning. It’s sincerity. You have to be honest and that honesty will give back to you that understanding that you’re looking for. We’re essentially trying to learn from within and from outside of us.
This was something that my teacher gave me. He said if you have a question, all you need to do is post and not forget it. The answer will either come to you from within or from outside of you. “Don’t just believe me. You have to test it,” he said. It took me a little while. First, I got my belief but then I started working with that and I’ll be damned if the answer does not proove. That’s what they’re coming out because we’re checking out for the average person. If we call our realities to us and we really want to change, we just need to get clear about what that is and open ourselves up to it and it will come to us.
Logan: I like what you said about starting with the sort of constitution, understanding that. That’s such an important thing for people to do because if you get them, that’s going to sort of help guide you for your entire life. Of course, there are all kinds of different types of constitutional readings, personality typing and whatnot out there. I think they’re all useful as long they’re valid to some degree. What I like about the Chinese one working with some of the different aspects is, as you were saying before, it’s holistic so it’s not just about the physical health. It’s also about the mental, the emotional and spiritual. All that really ties together in this system, which is really important because you really find that those different aspects tie together. So if you have a problem in one area, it can be reflecting in another or caused by another so it’s very important to really look at this more holistically.
Michael: And one of the greatest one-liners one of my teachers gave to me is: We live our lives and we have our vices and our things that we harbor that maybe aren’t the best for us. So instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water, just give up on only going in that direction. If we’re not trying to disrespect ourselves or making it difficult with ourselves around our imbalances and we’re more focused on learning how to balance ourselves, the imbalances will begin to start to take care of themselves and it’s an indirect way of working with ourselves. Because a lot of times when you apply your directness to something like I should change, I need to quit this, I should eat less, how well does that really work? Not very well. But when we can look at the problem indirectly and begin to support it from the other side, just start to do good things for ourselves, not worry so much about what these imbalances are but you keep a clarity with them, we begin to see how they lose strength and how the other side of what we’re moving towards starts to take over, starts to become more our good habits in a sense.
Logan: Yeah, I agree with that. If you can go more or move forward to what you want, the other stuff, the less good stuff just seems to fall away and it’s an easier approach oftentimes than trying to fix what’s wrong with you.
Michael: And don’t forget real.
Michael: That’s something that somebody told me when I was young and it took about a thousand pounds off my shoulders. It’s not real. Save yourself and just simply refuse it on every level.
Logan: So any sort of concluding thoughts to try to tie all these together? We’ve covered great things from the constitution, different herbs, different delivery systems from chicken tonics to teas and all that. Definitely, I learned a few great things here so I look forward to talking with you more in the future but any sort of concluding thoughts that can try to wrap this together?
Michael: Sure. We’re all becoming very aware that we live in a time now where some of the things that have been our foundations in society are crumbling or no longer considered to be what we used to think of them. The responsibility is now coming back on ourselves, which feels like a big load. But it was always there. It’s not a big load. It’s just us knowing ourselves and to invest in knowing yourself, self-awareness and spending time with yourself regularly through these frameworks, use the frameworks if you need as an excuse but really what’s important is you start spending more time with yourself because if you look at the world, you’ll see it wants to separate you more and more from yourself. So the true medicine for ourselves in the first place is just to get back to ourselves. Come back home. Use these frameworks like diet and tonic herbs, learning an internal practice to spend time with yourself and know yourself better so that you can know others in your place and your connection to all things.
Logan: Right. Was that the oracle of Delphi that says, “Know thyself” on the top of it? I do believe I’ve tried to live with that as a guiding principle throughout my life or at least the last decade or so. Thank you much for that. Where can people go to find out more about you and your services, Michael?
Michael: They can come to TransformationArts.org and my QiUniversity.com site is under construction and will be up probably within the next three weeks. So right now, you need to go to my mother ship with TransformationArts.org or you can find me also on Facebook.
Logan: All right, and we’ll be sure to include links to all that in the show notes and probably a couple of weeks from when this gets going so QiUniversity might be up at that time. I’ll include a link there as well. Well, thank you so much, Michael. This was a great interview. We learned a lot. I know I personally did and I look forward to trying this stuff in the future, especially that chicken tonic soup.
Michael: All right, thank, Logan. Thank you again.
Logan: Thanks everyone for listening. As always if you want to be so kind as to head over to iTunes and leave us a review, that helps other people find out about the show. You can also just directly link them to the website and all that. We do appreciate it. We’re trying to get more of this herbal wisdom along with just general health and nutrition wisdom and all the different attached parts of peak performance and optimal living out to more people so we appreciate if you help us do that. Thanks so much for listening.