Episode One: So You Want to Go On a Healer’s Journey

It’s our first show!

Raymond & Billy talk about how they became healers, what histories & theories inspire their work, and give a brief tour on how the meridians of the body operate. Then we start off the healer’s journey with the Lung and information on breathing, metabolizing grief, herb friends, meridian location (kiss your bicep!) & much more.

Music by Purple Fluorite (Bandcamp // Soundcloud)

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Or read the transcript below!

Healing with Raymond & Billy: Episode 1

Raymond: Welcome everyone and thank you for listening to Healing with Raymond and Billy. My name is Raymond Johnson and with me today, my co-host and co-pilot is Billy Janes. Hi, Billy.

Billy: Hi.

Raymond: Hi. [laughs]

Billy: Hi.

Raymond: Sorry. I threw that at you. Surprise! I just wanted everyone-

Billy: Should I talk now?

Raymond: … to hear both of our voices so they can start to figure out who’s who and which is the difference. I also forgot to mention before we started recording, I’m just going to keep going with this is that when I was setting up my GarageBand, I was feeling so oppressed because you have to pick a male narrator or female narrator. You really should just divide it to where does the tone of your voice sound, treble, bass, but anyway. All right. Welcome everyone to episode one, So You Want to go on a Healer’s Journey. We had a conversation on the radio once before and it went really well and we decided why don’t we keep doing that. Let’s just keep being two healer geek friends who like to geek out about healing. My other tag line for this show is two cute QTs talking QT health. Hey, I did all right on that.

Billy: You did it.

Raymond: It’s a tongue twister.

Billy: I love it.

Raymond: We are both QTs, queer trans, right?

Billy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Raymond: Are you okay in that umbrella, Billy?

Billy: Yeah.

Raymond: I’m in to that right now, that little acronym QT. It’s better than quiltbag. I mean, I do love that even though it’s terrible. Shout out to Kia, my friend. Anyway, so we are both healers. Are you okay with that label as well?

Billy: Yeah.

Raymond: I know some people I think feel resistant to it, at least some other shiatsu therapist. I’m a shiatsu therapist and I think sometimes some of my colleagues, they struggle with picking up that mantle. To be honest, I mean, I get it because it can come out of certain people’s mouth and sound really strange like when people lead with that like, “Hello, I’m a healer,” and I’m like, “No, thank you.” I do inherently believe that all of us as living beings are healers because we are healing ourselves so we’re all healers, but Billy and I, we are just super into that process of healing and we like to talk and find out what other people are doing and how to heal better and faster.

Raymond: We wanted to share a lot of our information especially with other QT folks because there aren’t a lot of resources. If you’re a cis person or a straight person listening, a lot of this advice will probably work for you too, but to be honest I’ve never been cis so I can’t guarantee it. Just kidding. We love you. It will work for you too. Let’s talk about pronouns for a moment. Billy prefers they. I actually like they but I also go by he and I went through a lot in my early 20’s to get everyone to call me he. To be honest, I’ve always, even when I was transitioning, god, 18 years ago, I always talked about … I felt like I was a multitude of genders. I was all genders. I just wanted to be housed in a trans male body.

Raymond: I feel trans, non-binary and so that’s why he is fine. I like he. He is great. He is accurate but they is also accurate, and I like they. The title of this So You Want to go on a Healer’s Journey, because Billy is going to talk a little bit about … We come from an East Asian perspective in our training and we see the body in a little different map so it’s the same body and it’s not like the bones and muscles and organs don’t exist in East Asian medicine. We just also see all these other channels that are running through the body and see how those channels connect a lot of the functions.

Raymond: We both went to schools where we learned about the big 12 meridians and back to Billy, they are going to talk a little bit about the 12 meridians and the channels in the body through the lens of the healer’s journey.

Billy: That was a beautiful introduction to both me and Chinese medicine from our East Asian perspective and that idea of the healer’s journey, being something that we can all go on, it’s really this idea of moving into different phases in our lives and doing it consciously to be able to understand where we are along the path and to be able to either find resources or mentors or plant medicines or other kinds of assistance to be able to move ourselves along to the next part of the journey or to be able to notice where other people are along their path and they’d be able to offer some sort of assistance or guidance or perspective and to know how we play in each other’s processes as well.

Billy: That’s really how I see a healer is somebody who is engaged on the journey in some sort of conscious capacity and so I heard something the other day about these 12 meridians that we talked a lot about in East Asian medicine and the idea that this person posited was that these channels are actually connections that go up to the brain and that the brain that sends a signal to the corresponding part of the body that needs healing, and so it can have a very physical manifestation that when we work with these channels in the body, we are working with a muscle and connective tissue, and we’re sending information along the connective tissue which connects to organs and other parts of the body, but there’s also this idea that we’re working with nerve pathways that connect with processing centers in the brain that corresponds to different parts of the body that may not be even necessarily related to the part of the body that we’re actually simulating or accessing.

Billy: I really love that idea because it made this kind of ephemeral meridian idea of the body have more of a grounding kind of experience to it that it wasn’t just about these supposed lines that map through our body that are imaginary but there are multiple levels of being able to see the body from a very superficial type of level as working with skin and sensitivity and bringing awareness to the body to deeper levels of working with deeper connected tissue that moves into organs and throughout the body down to a very cellular level of getting the brain to process information and then connect the body in new ways that we are just beginning to understand in western medicine.

Raymond: That reminds me, there is a book that I read that I really loved for how it connected some western ideas about how the body works with the more eastern ideas of Qi. I think of us as we’re electricians of the body the way that we … What we’re working in versus … Even though you’re puncturing skin and needle or skin and muscle with your needles and you are having that physical engagement so that’s really interesting talking about bringing it back to that because I feel like with my shiatsu, I am working in the spatial field and in these channels that are under the skin and above the skin but I feel like I can connect with all of them if I make contact with the body.

Raymond: I know there’s a lot of really powerful healers who may be can work totally above the body and they have such … The type of people who can start fires with their Qi hand and stuff like that. They have those superpower cultivated ability but for me, I think in a lot of what I love about the work is that there does have to be that physical contact together and that comes with being in the room and my hand fully on their body. I do also want to backtrack a little bit in giving official disclaimer that we’re not Western docs. You’ve probably figured that out by now, so we do not diagnose or treat any diseases. But I like what you were talking about with healing.

Raymond: We want folks to consider this as a gateway and inspiration to where you might want to go on your own journey and you’ll still need to assemble your team to help and we’ll talk a lot about that in every episode like what are different members of your team and how do you go about choosing them and that team can be everything from plant friends like Billy talking about herbs. It can be therapists, it can be ancestors, it can be community, it can be surgeons. There’s all sorts of things we just are wanting to really broaden the understanding of health to really go beyond pathogenic things, but we live in a certain culture that we have to give a disclaimer that we’re not western docs and we don’t do that. I don’t want to be those anyway so I’m okay making that disclaimer.

Raymond: My other disclaimer is that I swear a lot. Sorry, Mom if you’re listening. I try and be professional and keep … I get exuberant and study show that people who swear, it means that they’re often more honest so please just take it to mean that … Also, maybe an object lesson that if you restrict your kid too much throughout their childhood they end up getting a master’s degree in writing and become a motherfucking poet about the curse words! but I will try and rein it in a little bit.

Billy: I hope not.

Raymond: It depends on if my mom actually does end up listening maybe? All right. Do you want to go back to more healer’s journey stuff?

Billy: Yeah. I like what you said touches about the way that as a shiatsu therapist you work with the channels by touching the body, to me that really speaks to the different levels of body and mind and the connection that we can have through accessing the body. It’s that idea that these meridians that are in our body, they have different levels from very superficial. Some are said to be even outside of the body energetically that you can work with to deepen the body access through either a deeper tissue work like shiatsu or with a needle and that these meridians are not because they have these different levels from the growths where they’re very physical to the more ethereal or spiritual. You can access the emotions that are related to the meridians as well so it’s not simply just about the anatomy that we also have this emotional system that is built into our body and that you can access this emotional system to be able to move this energy as well.

Raymond: I love what you just said. I love geeking out about what I do. I guess I’m in the right profession. I was thinking for a moment about how as an outsider I just might sound really … A lot of what we’re talking about might seem woo-woo or esoteric or these kind of weird ways or people who are not used to … It’s like, “How can waving your hands above my body really do anything?” I get it. I’ve been there. To be honest part of why I love this work is that because there’s so much … All right. Where am I going to start? One, I love the inclusion of mystery. I love that there’s a lot of things I do that I don’t know why they work but I just see really great results and that’s enough for me.

Raymond: I feel like I’m probably not going to figure out how or why it works exactly in this lifetime but that shouldn’t keep me from doing it in the meantime. That’s a lot of what drives my work is that feeling the effects for myself and seeing the effects on my clients keeps me going and it’s real. It’s a real experience and we’re having this real interactions and see growth and change happen together in community. That’s a lot of what draws me to this work too is that it’s a really interesting type of connection, it’s a really interesting type of intimacy. I think that as human beings we have a long history of it so I feel connected to people who do the work, not only now all over the globe, but also everyone in the past.

Raymond: I was also thinking that if you do to fancy yourself a little bit more of a western enlightenment style scientist, a lot of this is related to quantum physics stuff and that’s … I think I started talking about this book called The Spark and the Machine and that’s the book that really connects western and eastern things for me. It was written by actually an ER trauma doctor and so it was fascinating what he really breaks down. If you want the nitty-gritty stuff but right now what I was just thinking about like it’s difficult for us … We feel really real and we feel really concrete but when you start to zoom in, the lines about where we end and where other things begin start to get blurry.

Raymond: You can think about it in these really severe thought exercises like if I cut off my arm, you know what I mean, what part is me and what part is gone and am I still me? Is that arm still me? When does that arm that got severed stop being me. At what point did it stop being me. It is true that there is a loss and there is a grief and people go through that experience taking this from the flippant to the reality. If you do have something, anything in your body is amputated, it’s a really complicated thing that you go through. It’s not just some one off thing that it changes your relationship to your body.

Raymond: I’m trying to wind my way back to how do you get this on to a more subtle level. Everything is interconnected and I think that’s what you were talking about earlier too, Billy, is that everything goes up to the brain and they get sent back out again. There’s points all over the body that if you’re touching things on the ankle that it’s going to connect with the nervous system and things like that and that’s a lot of what we talked about. There’s channels. I also have been thinking a lot about the more functional anatomy and how the body works and how we have all these muscles that we name but that the people who did that were pathologists and we’re looking at basically dead bodies.

Raymond: They weren’t looking at the internal human being as it was moving through the world in being active and being alive and that the way that we actually exist in the world is we’re more a series of like – I think of it as almost like tinker toys and rubber bands at all our joints. We’re just these connections and then we almost just have one giant sheet of connective tissue that brings it all together. It’s not so much that we have 200 individual muscles but that it’s all sort of connected, because you have the muscle but it’s next to the tendon and it’s wrapped in the connective fascia and if you pull on one then other things are going to go with it.

Raymond: There’s a lot of microcosm and macrocosm in our work and so that’s where the emotions come into play and I think that people are starting to maybe get a little bit how much. The tiny things can affect big things. I was reading this book by, I think it’s Giulia Enders and it’s one of those not a micro history but just it’s more of a popular book. It’s not super scientific, it’s a New York Times best seller. She really just talks about what happens, what do our lips do, what does our mouth do, what does the esophagus do? Like just works our way from one end of the digestive tract to the other and I love the section that was basically all about gut bacteria and probiotics and things like that, and really talking about how little tiny bacteria that live in our colon can send signals up through those channels that Billy was just talking about, up to our brain and make us do things.

Raymond: If I say, make us do things, I mean make us get out of bed and go eat certain foods. I think even from a western perspective, people are starting to see a little bit how the tiny things trickle out to become big things and a lot of our work is directing and changing the currents of the tiny things and seeing what the big ripples that come out.

Billy: Especially what you’re saying about the more functional aspect of it when we think about our posture for example and the way that those muscles tell our body, send signals to our brain about what’s happen in our environment if our bodies are constricted, our chest is brought together, our chest is brought together. Our lungs aren’t able to fill up to full capacity, our body believes that we’re trying to protect our internal organs. It will send a message of distress to our brain and increase anxiety as our brains begin to try to scan the environment for what’s wrong so that we can be able to see how we can protect ourselves because our body is in distress. It thinks that’s a very real connection between our muscles and our, what we might call, spiritual selves.

Billy: This idea of the spiritual selves or the channels being outside of the body in some way, those are also metaphors for being able to understand that our physical body, our posture, the way that we’re moving in the world, environmental stress, all of those things have impacts on our bodies and on our spirit and that those two things are really connected and how do we connect to those things in ways that lead to healing of our bodies and lead to a more whole sense of self? That search for wholeness, I think is really key to that healer’s journey that we’re talking about is really finding and collecting those parts of ourselves that we may have had to cut off or submerged in order to move through the world either at one point in our life or currently have to do because the world especially for QT peeps can be a very dangerous or hostile place in order to have a sense of wholeness that wants to divide people up into binaries black or white or make or female and how to, even with this GarageBand voice recording.

Billy: Finding that wholeness as part of the healer’s journey is really … I think what this work that we’re talking about is and accessing the body is one of the ways along with plants, friends, and therapists, and all of those different resources that we will be talking about in every episode. That I think for me what I’m really excited about with this podcast.

Raymond: I love when you were talking about the metaphor aspect because I think that’s probably a lot of why I was drawn to this work as well. I got my bachelor’s degree in environmental science – when I was 18 to 22 is when I was in college – and had in interest in that, but I veered off more into nonprofit land and social service work and things like that, law firms. That’s where I was making money, day job, things like that. It wasn’t until I circled back. I was laid off in 2009 and was trying to look for a bunch of different jobs and basically my two sectors I was working on were the ones that took a big hit at the time and I just was like, “You know what, I got to do something different.”

Raymond: I spent a lot of time going through what-color-is-your-parachute process and trying to figure out all that. I realized I was like, I don’t want to sit in the computer all the time because I was a writer and I knew I had to sit at the computer to write and that part was fine but I didn’t want to sit in a computer at law firms and things like that all the time. I was like, “I think I needed to do something in my body.” I’m someone who is not … It’s like I went to shiatsu school and I knew I was disembodied or not connected to my body but I’m still unraveling how disconnected from my body I was.

Raymond: And am currently, but I can also see these huge differences in these openings, and it’s exciting when I see that because then that makes me keep going. I think that’s also why I’m excited to share those things that I feel like open doors for me personally especially related to the … I mean, essentially the trauma that we all absorb being QT’s in this world. I mean maybe there are some folks my age who are queer trans person who somehow had some magical socializing experience and didn’t go through it but I think for the most part we all have kind of a version of C-PTSD, that’s because we’ve all been a little bit held hostage by our families and by the culture.

Raymond: Even the ones that loved us and were doing their best and I do not mean to say that like … I’m not trying to incarcerate someone’s parents for not, whatever, but I’m more saying that even if someone who does love you and is doing their best and doing exactly what they think is best for you, they can still actually be brainwashing you and that will fuck with your nervous system. I think that’s a lot of what I’ve been unraveling too with my shiatsu work. I specialize in working with folks who have PTSD. Maybe not even been officially diagnosed with it, but they read a lot of the materials and they feel like, “Oh, that might be me,” and then they want to start maybe exploring some of the work and unwinding of certain things. I don’t know. Did I have anything else to say about that? I don’t think so, or if I did, it went away.

Raymond: You were talking about metaphor. That’s what I wanted to go back to. I had this colleague once who she’s an acupuncturist and she was just rolling her eyes about some client who was talking about the pope and was really excited about seeing the pope and this acupuncturist is an atheist and so they’re like, “I’m really surprised that this person is like that, I didn’t know that they were that into it.” I teased her about it because she’s like, “I didn’t strike them as someone who’d be into something some magical.” I was like, “Says the person who sticks needles in people and to release toxic wind.” She was like, [scoffs] “That’s a metaphor.”

Billy: Right.

Raymond: I’m like so is Catholicism. That’s all metaphor. It’s all metaphor. It’s all story. That’s how we’re built. I don’t think it’s an accident that I have my MFA in creative writing and that I also do shiatsu therapy. To me, it feels so connected because it’s about the stories we tell about ourselves, about each other and I think maybe it’s almost like I had to learn how to change the story on the page like learn how to edit it and shape it and create it. Now, I feel like I’m applying that skill to my body and to my life and that’s what healing is for me.

Billy: I really love and connect with how you just talked about kind of the experience of metaphor and the body and the way in which writing in essence to writing your body where you’re writing the narration of your experience of your body and there is this really great book that I read called Rhetorics of Materiality and it talks about this philosophical basis of trans understanding of the body and the location of the body. It’s way too much to get into but it really talks about this kind of metaphor and I think that one of the things that the power of the QT person is in awareness perhaps of the metaphor of the body that as this person may not have and about the traumas in a way of living in a world that doesn’t acknowledge a reality that we are aware of.

Billy: This acknowledgement and recognition for ourselves of it and the process of becoming tied to our bodies as they are and as they maybe in this transitional process of who we are in our lives is a series of transitions. That process I feel like is so key to talking about this hero’s journey because that’s really what it’s about. It’s really about that robust travel, about that person who is undergoing of a highly individual experience to, in Jungian terms individuate or become this individual who’s destiny is outside of the culture, and who comes back in and changes the culture by bringing these gifts that they’ve gotten on their journey to be able to move the culture forward and at the same time find wholeness for themselves.

Raymond: That just reminds me, I did a writing workshop once with Amy Bloom and she was talking about she had found this book at a used bookstore that was the 58 plots in literature, something like that like how there’s really 50 stories or whatever and how she always loves reading those guides. There’s only eight stories. There’s only these many stories but that you can almost really boil all stories down to a hero’s journey or a stranger comes to town. Even those are really the same story from two different perspectives.

Billy: Yeah.

Raymond: All right. Let’s see. Would you like to start our tour of the meridians, Billy Janes?

Billy: I would love to. I think really what today’s episode, but we wanted to start talking about is the long … And this is one of the channels that … And potentially kind of meta in a way which trying to ground what we’re talking about today regarding healing and really bringing it down to this embodied point is one of the challenges of talking about the lung because as we know the lung is all about air. We breathe in the air and with the metaphor of the lung, we talk a lot about breathing in inspiration that we’re breathing in this heavenly nourishment into our bodies and that heavenly nourishment comes in and brings circulation into our brain, a sense of inspiration of thoughts and ideas, and movement.

Billy: Really this lung meridian is about this opening up of ourselves to a new possibility and inspiration to begin the hero’s journey and how we go about moving in the world because of that. Some of that has to do in a very embodied sense about the opening of our chest to be able to breathe in air, to get proper circulation into our body and into our brains and also how we process now that we’ve decided that we’re inspired to move along our journey, how do we deal with some of the grief patterns of what we’re leaving behind as you inevitably go on that journey.

Billy: How do we deal with the grief of leaving behind people who may not understand where we’re going or the grief of loss, of having to let go of leaving point A to go to point B. It is a loss to leave your house to go to work because you’re leaving something and so really that kind of … There’s that embodied part of it. There’s that embodied part of it and then there’s that spiritual part of it so the very functional breathing part and then the relationship to the inspiration and that co-friend grief that is related to that.

Raymond: I love the thing about the lung being about the first step of the hero’s journey and that the first breathe. Sometimes when I … We haven’t been talking too much about Qi and I think that’s really fine because it’s an esoteric thing but it is I feel like what gets put a lot. It’s the first thing people think about after acupuncture. They know about acupuncture then they know there’s this mysterious Qi thing that we’re working with. That’s when I talk about electricians of the body, you can think of that as the bioelectrical impulses in the body because what makes our bodies alive, what makes us zombies, actually, western scientifically can’t in a laboratory differentiate between what makes me alive and what makes a zombie not alive.

Raymond: What I mean is no western lab has been able to identify what makes me get up and move. What makes me take that breath, what makes me want to move forward? That feeling which sometimes I’ll have people do an exercise where they take a really deep breathe in through their nose and then you … Let’s just take a moment and talk about abdominal breathing, real simple abdominal breathing exercises so you’ll inhale slowly through your nose and when you’re doing that, gently push your belly, your belly button out, just real soft, not forcefully but just let it go out while you inhale in and that will help give your lungs a little bit more space like Billy was talking about.

Raymond: Then when you exhale, you’ll bring your belly in and out to your mouth. Congratulations, everybody. We’ve meditated. That’s all it is. We concentrated on our breath. It’s a really simple practice. It’s really amazing. Someone, a teacher of mine once talked about when you pull the diaphragm out like that, that diaphragm is really thin muscle, that’s inside our abdominal that help pull the lungs. The lungs are doing their own involuntary thing but when we are … That feeling of making our chest expand like we feel like we’re making our lungs breathe, that’s actually really our diaphragm muscle and that diaphragm muscle connects to the pericardium which the pericardium is the muscle that surrounds our heart.

Raymond: By tugging on that pericardium, it’s actually gently squeezing on the heart so when you take a deep breath, that’s why you relax because it’s a little bit like giving your heart a hug. It sounds really cheesy but it’s totally what it feels like and it’s a great practice for that heart-lung connection. I also just wanted to back up a little bit and talk about where … When we talk about the lung, there is a meridian and where it’s placed on the body. It starts … This is fun to do on radio. I’m sorry, podcast. I’m a lady showing her age. You’re probably thinking about lungs or in your chest and that’s true. They probably are. That’s about where they’re located under our sternum, not everyone but most folks probably.

Raymond: There’s also an energetic channel that has really strong connections to the lung organ and so the meridian starts at the front of your shoulders so if you … Let’s see, if you follow your collar bone all the way to where it connects to your shoulder and go a little bit underneath it to … You’ll actually feel a lot of those really soft tender spots. That’s probably the lung one that’s the opening of the lung channel. Then if you tap down the inner part of your arm so …

Billy: Okay. I would say if you’re going to show off your big muscles and you want to kiss your muscle, you go ahead and lift your arm up to your face and kiss your muscle. That’s where the ling meridian goes on your bicep. Does that make sense?

Raymond: It’s brilliant.

Billy: I just came up with that. I totally just kissed my bicep. I was like, “Oh my gosh. You’re right.” You have to try it out to know. Hello?

Raymond: I know, right? Oh my goodness. If you think about how you have the soft tender inner part of your arm and then the rough armored part of your arm. We’re focused on the tender inner half and then you want to be at the top of your arm. If you connect that point and then you kiss your bicep, that’s another good point and if you get to your elbow crease, you want to … That runs along the upper, outer ridge. We’re going to include some photos when we put this show up, we’ll do that so that people can look.

Raymond: Then it runs down through your wrist and then to your thumb so that’s where the channel ends so if you were getting an acupuncture treatment and they wanted to do some lung point, that’s where they would stick the needle is that concentrated areas. I like to also think about. Part of why I wanted people to think about where it was on their body is because there’s a lot of gestures that can go with it and I kept thinking about that as Billy was talking about the other aspects of the lungs, sort of you’re taking your first breath and so you’re opening your arms up and welcoming that gesture and things like that.

Raymond: A lot of times there’s a lot of yoga moves that I feel like are related to this or Qigong or things like that. A lot of times why certain gestures go in certain ways is because that’s where a meridian is located on the arm or on the leg. Then a lot of times those are just metaphors for what our bodies are naturally doing. You’re talking about the posture and you’re feeling sent over or you’re feeling sad or you’re feeling grief, you’re struggling and then maybe you realize what you’re doing and you start to work your way through it and one of the first things you do is you sit up and pull your shoulders back and then your arms naturally open out.

Raymond: If you pay attention to that gesture and where the muscles are originating, that’s probably going to be the lung and large intestine meridians which we will get into in episode two, the paired meridians, take two. I mentioned the large intestine and then that made me realized that I needed to call back the docent to give us the long tour of the 12 meridians. The reason we started with the lung is because all the meridians have the same name as the organs and so I’m using those a little bit interchangeably like if I talk about large intestine, lung, there’s the organs meridians. Back track.

Raymond: The lung is the … You can take the 12 meridians and they’re connected to the 24 hour cycle of the day each. You can divide the day into two-hour chunks and that period is when that meridian and that organ is mist active. This is when it’s that meridian’s time to shine and so the lung’s time to shone is at 3:00 am because … I don’t know if this is true because you never know when you’re learning from some weirdo white t-shirts but they’re always like that is when the first breath of the Ashram when you’re awakened, whatever.

Raymond: I was like 3:00 am sounds a little early but I would maybe but that 5:00 is the wake up time and your breathing does change before you wake up like in your body temperature changes and things like that. All right. That’s why we choose the lung so we’re going back to that story aspect if you think about the story of our day and thinking about the rhythms of your body and that way. We’re starting with the lung and then what comes next Billy Janes?

Billy: Then we have the large intestine. We’re supposed to play the Price is Right music.

Raymond: (singing) I can totally add that in.

Billy: I love it. Post-production. Large intestine is in your abdomen and so interesting lung to large intestine, those are connected but we’re going to talk about how those are connected in future episodes. Then after the large intestine, it flows to the stomach and the stomach to the spleen. The connection between the stomach and the spleen is it’s all about digestion and movement of the energy throughout the body to nourish it. Then after that, that energy goes to the heart so that we can get the blood pumping into the body and then the small intestine to separate out some of the things in our digestive process and bladder is one direction that that goes which is after small intestine.

Billy: Then to the kidney which is where a lot of our powerhouse for some of the body processes are to the pericardium which is the heart protector. It’s the sheet around the heart. Then there’s this little mysterious world called San Jiao. The San Jiao is often called the triple warmer but it’s really about the distribution of fluids in the body and an elevator for moving the energy throughout the body. Then we have after that the gallbladder and the liver. These are really about the ways that things move in the body and how smooth they flow and how things transitions, transitional parts in our life.

Billy: If we took … Raymond talked about these kind of things being on a clock of numbers of 3:00 am is where the lung begins, you can likewise take each of these meridians and look at them as though they were on a circle and that the lung therefore as we move along large intestines, stomach spleen, it comes all the way back around so that the liver then reconnects with the lung. It’s like a nice big circle and the circle can also be placed over the hero’s journey map which is large circle and that begins at the top of the hero’s journey with the lung as the hero begins their journey and inspiration to take their journey and then it goes all the way down with kidney and bladder being at the bottom of that map.

Billy: I guess we’ll include an image with … At the bottom is where the waters are, is where the kidney and the bladder are. Each of these meridians or these channels, the lung and large intestine, they each belong to a different element. This air element that we’re talking about related to the lung, that’s what the lung and the large intestine are as they’re related to the air element, and then the stomach and spleen are related to the earth, the heart and the small intestine are related to fire, the bladder and kidney are related to water.

Billy: The pericardium and San Jiao are something known as supplemental fire and then the gall bladder, liver are wood. Each of these different elements has a flavor to them and we’re going to be talking about those different flavors and how they impact the hero’s journey as we move along in.

Raymond: Thank you. That’s great that you … I was thinking about the five-element cycle because we hadn’t really quite touched on that either which is another way of looking and mapping the body. It’s also interesting that you called lung and large intestine the air element and I always think of it as the metal element and there’s always … But there’s all these different … Because I think a lot of people have … I think also thinking about the four elements and they’re five. What’s this magical fifth element. We’ll say five elements for next week with large intestine because lung and large intestine are both, they’re paired meridian so they’re both the air metal that we’re talking about. We’ll keep talking a little bit about some of the same emotional stuff that comes up with lung is also related to large intestines so we will dig a little bit deeper into that in the next episode as well.

Raymond: I did, before we go, want to circle back a little bit to grief only because we wanted to share some of our coping mechanisms related to that and one of mine is going back to … We talked a little bit about the … Earlier, the abdominal breathing and meditation. I don’t have … I’m not the best meditator in the sense of like I don’t get up at the same time every day. My spiritual practice is something that I’m always striving to be a little bit more regular but I’m really amazing on the spot meditator, that is when I use  my breathing practice.

Raymond: My practice is just cultivating learning how to take really deep long, slow belly breaths. It’s essentially muscle. I think that’s the thing. People think about meditating and there’s a lot of talk about how many breaths you take or what’s your mantra or what’s … For me, it’s more about what’s the bodily purpose of meditation and that the reality is that if you are concentrating your focus and you’re doing some form of intentional breathing, that’s it. That’s the medicine. The medicine is that and the medicine can come in a lot of different ways depending on who taught you how to do that breathing, and that’s amazing, that’s culture. I love culture.

Raymond: I love learning about new different styles and there’s specific patterns of breathing you can use to control your body temperature to stay warm if you’re up in the mountains. There’s definitely tricks and all sorts of things you can do if you take a whole yoga class on breathing or go different traditions but I also just want to really bring it down to taking a deep breath. Really, it just what it boils down to and I think in some ways that got ruined for me because of how people use the terms like “take a breath” or “relax”.

Raymond: All these things that are like the least relaxing thing and are actually just made feel like I was … They’re often used against me because I was having an experience of the world and I was being told that my experience was wrong or inaccurate. That creates a disconnect because as Billy was talking about we have all these experiences and we’re moving through these different pathways and we’re constantly being told that what we’re experiencing is not accurate, that starts to mess with your head and it starts to make you not be able to trust what you’re seeing and feeling and experiencing, so that’s been a lot of my process.

Raymond: Taking that slow deep breath, what it does is it gives that heart to hug. It also slows down the rate and it tells my brain like, “Hey, I know that maybe we were in crisis and things were going really fast but I’m sending a message back to my nervous system like we’re okay now. I’m inside a house. I’m a room alone. There’s not a tiger. There’s not someone yelling at me.” Whatever was the thing that set off my system it helps me have a conversation back with my brain because my brain is sending signals to my body and I’m having this reaction that makes me feel terrible.

Raymond: If I’m able to see that that’s what’s happening and I’m aware of it, then that’s also where meditating is a good mental practice. I did this interview with this guy when I was writing for the newsletter for the temple I was a member of years ago and he had been a member for many, many years and he lived a very small life. This is a self-described small life but he was a super prolific artist and wrote lots of poems and lots of Zen inspired things and little songs and whatever, and had this very quiet simple life.

Raymond: He’s like “meditation for me is lifting weights” that it’s something that you do to make yourself stronger so that when you go out in the world, you have the skill like you can run and catch the bus and not hurt yourself. You can walk on ice on the sidewalk and not hurt yourself. Meditation is not like spa calm dreaming, whatever type stuff, that’s just relaxation and that’s nice. I like that stuff too but I feel like meditation is more like … if you think of it as a diaphragm workout. If you want to just eliminate any woo-woo aspect, think about like you know what, I’m going to do some diaphragm exercises and it’s going to … The other thing it affects is your vagus nerve. Am I saying that right? I just realized I’ve only read that word.

Billy: Yeah.

Raymond: I was like I don’t I’ve said it out loud. Is it vagus, vagus, vagus? Vagus.

Billy: Maybe it’s vagus. [vah-jus]

Raymond: Vah-jus!?

Billy: I love that. Let’s go with that.

Raymond: The vagus nerve which that’s related to our stress response and things like that. Basically anxiety trauma, PTSD, they all use the same channels. I mean, they have different names depending on what your doctor gave you, when they occur, stuff like that but a lot of the actual, physical manifestations of it is a spectrum of the exact same things. It’s all on the same nervous system. This is why it’s such a powerful medicine to help with so many different things. I really encourage people to just find one that speaks to you. It really does not matter which one it is. Really the key is slow breathing and you’re concentrating on it.

Raymond: Anything that helps you do those two things is a great meditation practice and it helps me with metabolizing grief as it … A lot of times the anxiety or the trauma response, I feel is actually I’m just a human being who’s grieving. I was reading something recently about how … Even psychologist they talk about episodic depression. Not depression like brain chemical but just the natural human depression that happens after a loved one dies. We have this human experience depression but even in western standards they say that the grief process is going to often take six to 12 months to leave the body so it often takes a really long time for us to really fully express and understand and move through the grief that we’re feeling.

Raymond: If you’re someone that experienced a lot of loss and a lot of it back to back, like I think people we’re so hard on ourselves because we don’t realize that it’s okay to still be having a bad, sad day because you’re grieving something that happened two years ago. I feel we’re like two days, got to go, but sometimes 20 years ago, there’s still shit that I’m working through and I’m like, “Oh, I just closed out some shit when I was four.” There’s no timeline on it. There’s no timeline and that’s really what they mean. I think that’s another thing I’ve heard all the time. There’s no timeline on grief and I’m like, “That’s just some shit people say when they’re pitying you.” I know that’s not … I have a really hard … I share that because I have a really hard on myself voice in my head and that’s that voice. This is how I counteracted is I present it with these very simple facts like, “Hey, self. It’s going to take a whole year or more and that’s okay.”

Billy: Yeah, absolutely. The whole process of grief is not a linear process so to be in various stages of grief whether it’s denial, or anger, or acceptance, or sadness. All of those different places you jump around in those places and it reminds me of a really good website that I often suggest for my patients. You can find it at tinyurl.com/anxietymeditation and it’s a UCLA website with guided meditations that you can listen to. One of the meditations is called dealing with difficulties and it can be used either for difficult emotions or pain or grief and so that’s definitely one resource that I would recommend.

Raymond: I like that one. It’s real simple and effective. It’s really nice. Do you want to just do a little brief what herbs you would do and then I think we’ll just … We’ll put … We can talk about the lung a little bit more next week because didn’t even touch on cupping so next week we can talk about that too.

Billy: I love it.

Raymond: If you have any herb stuff, you want to add. We’ll make this Billy’s Herbal Corner.

Billy: Yes. Oh my gosh (singing)

Raymond: Come on down.

Billy: Now for the herbal corner moment with Billy. One thing that Raymond was talking about was giving the heart a hug and that’s exactly what Leonurus Cardiaca or motherwort can do. The reason it’s called Leonurus Cardiaca is because Leo, Leonurus is the lion and then Cardiaca is the heart. It’s this idea of gently hugging the heart and bringing some courage and strength to it to be able to process the emotions. If you want to get some motherwort tincture, you can take five drops under the tongue during periods sadness on a daily basis throughout the day. That can be really comforting and relaxing.

Raymond: I also have used motherwort, that’s what you just said. Hawthorn berries, I’ve had good success with that. Tell me about hawthorn berry. What do you know about hawthorn?

Billy: Hawthorn is great. You can use it longer term to lower blood pressure if you are on a heart medications. It would be good to talk to your doctor about that. Any of these herbal recommendations we have, it’s good for you to consult your doctor if you are taking medications or having any life threatening illness but hawthorn and herbs are generally very safe. Hawthorn berry is wonderful for calming. It has digestive properties in it which is really good for that gut-brain connection. Having hawthorn berry infusion, having hawthorn berry tincture or even a tea will be nice and calming.

Raymond: Nice. Now, I’m going to add motherwort to my repertoire too.

Billy: I love it.

Raymond: Okay. We’re going to go into more detail in the next episode about the five elements. We’re going to talk a little bit more about lung only because I wanted to talk about cups and cupping because it’s so good for lung stuff like bronchitis and asthma, but that’s going to take more time and then we’ll also dig in to large intestine in the next episode.

Billy: Yey.

Raymond: Yey. Thank you, Billy Janes.

Billy: Thank you.

Raymond: I love it. Two cute QTs talking QT health.

Billy: (singing)

Raymond: (singing) Here comes the buffer music.

Billy: Yes.

Raymond: Thanks for listening. See you next time. Listen to you next time. That sounds terrible. Thank you for listening.

Raymond: (singing)

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