Self-cultivation practices such as meditation and yoga are useful in developing an upright stature, conscious way of living and enhanced quality of life. These practices require dedicated discipline and consistency to acquire higher states of self-awareness and increased levels of mastery.
Oftentimes those who attempt to practice or even those who have upheld consistent practice run into roadblocks along their journey, be it with self-discipline or personal frustration, and feel as though they are not progressing quickly enough.
Because of the difficulty of these practices, many give up or fall out of practice, and do not reap the potential benefits.
Fortunately, through the revolution of modern herbalism and information on ancient medicine, we have access to one of the most powerful tools for overcoming these obstacles.
This tool is Reishi mushroom. Here are six facts about this incredible herb explaining how it can enhance our yoga and meditation practices.
1. Reishi mushroom has been held sacred by daoist immortals, spiritual sages and practitioners of oriental medicine for thousands of years for its ability to speed up our process in spiritual attunement.
Its name, which means “spirit mushroom,” is so called for the signature characteristic it has of accelerating and opening us to our true spiritual potential. By combining a consciousness-awakening herb that is naturally grounding, centering and calming with practices requiring stillness of mind and long periods of concentration, we can truly make leaps and bounds in our practice.
2. As a mechanism of action, Reishi goes to the heart channel, which in Chinese medicine houses the “shen,” or “spirit mind.”
The health of the shen indicates the clarity of ones mind, and spirit, and is easily imbalanced by the challenges of today’s world, leading to confusion, lack of direction and anxiety. By nourishing the heart with Reishi, we are able to enjoy these practices from a place of heart.
3. Breath in Latin is known as “spiritus,” which means spirit. It has been known amongst almost all spiritual traditions that the breath is sacred, and both yoga and meditation utilize the breath as a vehicle for transcendent experience. Reishi mushroom affects the lungs, boosting the health of this organ and enabling us to overcome grief and breathe more connectively.
The health of the lungs is associated with our ability to let go of grief and cut loose energetic chords that no longer serve us. In Chinese medicine, the lungs are connected to spiritual refinement. In application to meditation, yoga and Chinese medicine, stagnation within the lung channels can affect the circulation qi of heaven and earth, creating an inability to move forward and let go of past traumas. By boosting the lungs to their full potential, we are able to transcend past hurts and move forward in our dedication to breath and body practices.
4. Because Reishi enters the liver channel and protects it through detoxification, the liver is able to properly circulate qi, increasing emotional flexibility and reducing anger, resentment, depression and irritability.
Anger and resentment are roadblocks to concentration and spiritual development, and pull the body out of alignment with the silent cultivation techniques of meditation and yoga. This being said, it is a natural emotion that affects most human beings. By keeping the liver healthy through the use of Reishi, we find ourselves better able to connect to our spiritual nature while doing meditation and yoga. In addition, the resentments we normally dwell on lessen through the free flow of liver qi, which indirectly loosens tension in the tendons, ligaments and sinews.
5. Willpower is strongly required to maintain both yoga and meditation practices. Reishi mushroom enters the kidney channel, which in Chinese medicine strengthens willpower, personal purpose, motivation and drive to live out our purpose. It also aids in the resolution of fear.
6. For thousands of years, the wisdom of Reishi was kept secret amongst spiritual masters who lived as hermits in the seclusion of the mountains, entirely immersed in constant cultivation of their true nature as walking sages between heaven and earth.
Slowly, ancient emperors discovered that this mushroom could strongly enhance their self-development, and they began to depict it in royal artistry so that the health, abundance, strength and wisdom it symbolized would be forever associated with their rule. Based on the high esteem of everyone, from ancient sages to wise emperors, the legend of Reishi lives on today, enhancing the spiritual nature of all who use it.
Personally, I find taking an extract to be the easiest and most potent way of consuming Reishi. Extracts are fairly cost-effective and allow great flexibility in how I use them. I can simply put some in my mouth and swish around with water, add directly to hot water to make a tea, add to juices, smoothies, elixirs, teas or milks for a tasty beverage or add them to ice cream or yogurt (really!). It’s even possible to make chocolate with them.
May it be of benefit!
Author: Brandon Gilbert
Editor: Toby Israel