The Power of Non-Action

Ancient Taoist teachings inform us that a superior being, one who is at One with The Way, does not waste time meddling in external affairs. She makes certain of her Self first, then appropriate action arises - without any strategy. She knows, with absolute certainty, that all things will take their proper course, and she moves along with them. She is at one with creation - a “spirit-like” vessel. When we apply this to fertility, most women are drawn to the potency of this innate wisdom. Yet, they are also usually conflicted. They desperately want to know what to do, and are deeply conditioned to strategize and control, imposing their will on creation, and taking on the stress of whether or not their actions will come to fruition. They trust their intellect and their doctors more than they trust their inner urgings. They are almost deathly afraid to let go into the truth that their desires are urging them toward becoming a spirit-like vessel of creation.

Although it is damaging to our health and holds us back from our destiny, it feels safer trying to control. It seems as if our efforts keep us away from the fear of the realization that we are not in control. And the paradox is that if we can move past the frustration, fear and sorrow that we are not in charge, we then become masters of our own destiny. We are in the flow of the great unknown, and then can trust and follow the inner urgings of our own soul, and become at one with the forces of creation.

The potency of “Wu Wei,” translated as the action of inaction, could more appropriately be understood as spontaneous action which is correct according to the moment. Because most of us did not grow up learning this method, it takes some practice to become adept at flowing with the world, and not getting in our own way. We do not become inactive; we become effortlessly potent in all of our actions. Qi gong, Tao Yin, and certain yoga practices can bring our bodies into alignment with this way of being, and through practice, it informs our thoughts and actions.

Our TFS body wisdom retreat will teach you the way to capture the power of Wu Wei, so you can put into action the spirit like vessel that you are.

TFS Retreat Now Available ON DEMAND!


The Fertile Soul now offers a personal fertility enhancing retreat, a 14 hour recorded retreat that delivers everything a live retreat does, except the “live.”  This two day session is broken down into two segments, where Dr. Randine Lewis provides:

  • A vision of hope
  • A new approach to your fertility, shifting paradigms from “efforting” to “allowing”
  • Using the energetic view of Chinese medicine: Yin/Yang; 3 Treasures, 5 Elements
  • Acupressure for fertility
  • Microcosmic orbit breathing process – open the life gate
  • Age and the ovarian cycle; what hormones really mean
  • Qi Gong
  • Spleen Qi diet and nutritional recommendations
  • Supplements for various conditions
  • Guided meditations
  • Releasing Exercise
  • Physical, mental and emotional components of your fertility
  • Exploring limiting beliefs and obstructions to the life force
  • Patterns of imbalance that manifest as various fertility diagnoses
Dr. Lewis guides you through these pre-recorded sessions, and provides multiple exercises and self inquiry processes for you to complete at your leisure.
Q: How is this different from the live retreat process?
A: Dr. Lewis has encapsulated what she considers the most important elements in the retreat process and concentrated it in this very informative two day session. You are not “on the spot”, and don’t have to share any personal information with anyone else. You can go through the information as many times as you wish and have one full year to complete the process on your own. The main difference is that you will not be meeting with Dr. Lewis live. However, the recorded retreat process allows you the opportunity to meet with Dr. Lewis for an individual session after you have had a TCM consultation and have been on the program for three months.

Click HERE for Registration Information


I recently became a grandma. I don't even know how to talk about this. My grandson isn’t even 1 year old yet. His little personality is only starting to emerge. The love I have for my daughter, his mother, now rests, magnified, on her son. It obviously isn’t that I love him more than her. I couldn’t love anyone more than I love her. But when you are one generation away, you don’t have these bonds of being attached, like you do to your children. What you don’t like in yourself becomes an obstruction to fully relating with your children. My oldest daughter will be 32 this year. I had her when I was 21. All of the hopes and dreams I had for her from the day I found out I was pregnant became filtered by that which I couldn’t recognize in myself. I loved her more than I loved myself. That, I promise you, is not a statement to be proud of. I could not give her what I didn’t have. So the lack of ability to give her what I wanted to give her turned to guilt. I always thought I could do better, I knew I could do better. I had two more children, when I was 34 and 38. With each one I had the same experience, to a lesser degree. I loved them more than I loved myself.

You can never be the type of mother who is good enough for your children in your own judging eyes. These amazing, perfect beings are always far more deserving than any separate human being can measure up to. And I know I didn’t. I couldn’t measure up because I saw them as different from me.

All three of my children are out of the house now – one in boarding school, one in college, and one married with a family of her own.  So the role of caring for my children’s day-to-day needs is history.

I had the great pleasure of being present for the birth of my grandson. And I have never had a prouder moment in my life, than seeing my daughter being able to bring forth life; watching the power of life’s longing for itself come through her. Her labor was prolonged and difficult. Her husband was a great coach – strong and loving. They were an admirable team. And about 24 hours later, this perfect little boy entered the world.

I can honestly say that I don’t love him more than myself. I love him as myself; as an expression of the love that I am. Without dreams or aspirations, without wondering if I will measure up to the task of being his grandmother. Without wondering if his parents will measure up to the task of being his parents. I watch them being the perfect parents for him, loving themselves through each other, and through him. And I watch in awe, how Kahlil Gibran describes:

Their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.


Mothering is not a role; it is love. The role of mothering can be from love, but doesn’t have to be. You can look around the world and see women in the roles of mother, whom we can easily judge ought not to have this privilege. Animals, as well, occupy mothering roles as they care for their offspring just until the little ones are capable of surviving on their own. When the role of motherhood is coveted more than the ability to express our inner love, it can become an energetic obstruction in the body/mind. We want what we don’t have, and don’t want what we have. This produces a tremendous amount of stress in the body/mind, which the energy of love does not produce. At our last retreat, one woman stated that her highest aspiration was to learn to love herself. Within two days, she had recognized and began living from the strength of this self love.

I recently was discussing with a friend of mine how I didn’t occupy the role of motherhood very gracefully, as far as conventional standards go. Each of my three children would agree that I wasn’t a typical cookie, soccer, PTA mom. They would also agree, that I did not put my children first. As much as I was able, their needs were cared for. They were and are fiercely loved. And I hope from this modeling they learned to pattern the ability to always put themselves first. I know this is not highly valued in our society. Women especially are taught that it is esteemed to put others first: your spouse, your family, your children, your boss, your work, your friends, your reputation, etc.

It comes as a great shock to step out of these roles that have become carriers of your esteem. What if you were none of these roles? What if your worth came only from yourself? Some wise sages throughout the ages have made this very declaration:

Be a light unto yourself.

Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is within.

To thine own self be true.

Do not lie or do what you dislike.

Be as you are.

Attend only to the sense of your own being.

Can you imagine what it would be like if you were to be fully and wholeheartedly responsible only to the truth within? You would be responsible for your life, your health, your fertility, your happiness. Do you really want this? When one learns to live from this inner truth, the world tends not to be so problematic. Our minds tend not to cause us disturbance. But the price is we no longer can blame anyone or anything for our unhappiness.

NEW! Connect with Dr. Randine Lewis Live on Tuesday, March 4th at 7pm EST

Falling Pregnant:
The Fertile Soul Method vs. Western Reproductive Medicine:
Which Medical Approach is Best?

I consider it almost irrelevant to find the dividing line between natural treatment and medical intervention. Your body is a reflection of your thoughts, feelings, dietary intake, actions, and sleep patterns. Hormonal and ovarian output, as well, is a manifestation of your lifestyle. Therefore, what you do to enhance your lifestyle, will invariably impact the overall health of your body. If you live in such a way that enhances your wellbeing and vitality, it reveals itself in a harmonious endocrine and gynecological environment.

Yet, if there have been patterns of imbalance along the way that have left you with medical diagnoses that might impact ovulation or implantation, there may be some confusion as to how to address them. Many people get stuck here: do you treat it naturally - change your diet, lifestyle, go to acupuncture, take herbs, consult naturopathic medicine, etc., OR do you opt for a visit to the reproductive endocrinologist?

And, because of the advancing clock, they are most afraid of not doing anything, and act from fear, jumping into medical intervention without addressing the most obvious, natural course. Why not do both?

Most of the people who come to retreat or meet with me individually arrive at the place where there is no conflict. They adopt certain lifestyle modifications, stress reduction, dietary adjustments, and natural supplements, as they calmly look into whether or not medical testing or intervention is necessary. This tends to breed much less fear, resulting in hormonal balance and better ovarian output.

I work with women who are concurrently undergoing diagnostic methods or treatments from mini-IVF to pharmaceutical IVF, donor IVF, or are using gestational carriers. They do not throw out their natural, balanced approach while purchasing interventional methods. One improves overall health and well-being; one does not. One is meant to be a short-term procedure; the other is not.

When you broaden your approach to your reproductive care rather than narrow it, your options tend to open up.

Looking forward to connecting with you all on March 4th,


To join in dial 605-475-4000 then access code 794774#

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Do GMOs Effect our Qi?

Qi is the vital life force of life. Without qi there is no warmth, no animation, no breath, no heartbeat, no life. Although there are more divisions, for simplicity sake we can divide the vital life force into three major categories: original qi, nutritive qi, and protective qi. Original qi is the primary energy necessary to give and sustain life.  It is the basis of kidney qi, and makes up the entire yin and yang functions of the body. It gives rise to the reproductive and primary organ functions. Once this original qi combines with the energy we receive from food and breath, it is refined into two other functional categories: nutritive qi, and protective qi. Nutritive qi is similar to blood, and circulates through the meridians, feeding and nourishing the internal organs. Protective qi is a little more surface, traveling throughout the skin, muscles, and mucous membranes, keeping us protected from the outside world.

Although they all function together as a whole:

Original qi is essential to core functions and reproduction.

Nutritive qi is crucial for nutritient and qi delivery throughout the internal organs.

Protective qi defends us from external influences and pathogenic factors.

We could say that the nutritive qi is the pivot between the original and protective qi.

Now that you have had this basic introduction in the vital life force, let’s introduce the topic of genetically modified foods like most of the corn and soy on the market. In making the plant hardier, it is genetically engineered to have greater protective effects against pests, and a greater ability to withstand the effects of pesticides. In other words, it strengthens its protective qi. These genetically modified plants, however, are no longer able to reproduce. So farmers have to purchase new seeds with the capacity to seed.

When we view this scenario through an energetic lens, we can ask what energetic function is being disrupted. In this situation, the genetically modified plant has sacrificed its original qi for extra protective qi, while retaining the ability to provide its nutritive function. Because of this, the Department of Agriculture gave GMOs their stamp of approval. Laboratory animals seemed healthy and without any untoward effects after 90 days on GMO diets.

However, four, six, 18 months later, the laboratory animals had challenges reproducing, developed alterations in their ability to suppress tumors, and developed overactive immune systems.  Similarly, many of our reproductive issues stem from alterations in our environment. Pesticides, pollutants, and dietary toxins all contribute to ovarian failure, poor sperm production, PCOS, autoimmune infertility, implantation failure, endometriosis, and fibroids.

What can you do? The spleen qi diet asks you to avoid sugar, refined carbohydrates (especially wheat), and dairy. Add corn and soy that have not been labeled “non-GMO” to this list. Eat organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and non-GMO grains as much as possible. Try to avoid farm raised fish and animals that have been fed GMO grains as well. While it may sound daunting, this type of eating plan reduces the likelihood of infertility, inflammatory processes, diabetes, and cancer.

The Spirit of Emergence

The Spirit of Emergence:
New Years Resolutions and The Wood Horse

by Randine Lewis

In Chinese astrology, the next new moon will move from the year of the water snake to the year of the wood horse, representing new beginnings, growth, and emergence. The spiritedness of the horse demands respect, not force; love, not fear. We will continue this theme in our February retreat.

How are your New Years resolutions going? I know - it's only been a week, so chances are they are still strong. Maybe you've vowed to stay on the spleen qi diet and are carefully avoiding sugar, refined carbohydrates, gluten, and dairy products. Good for you. Perhaps you have resolved to focus your efforts more intently on baby making, reducing stressful work obligations in preference to more enjoyable and life enhancing pursuits. Great!

Eat better; sleep more; play more; stress less; more sex; less TV; walk everyday; quit drinking coffee; find a new church; no more wine; put more intention into how to get pregnant. Add whatever you want to the list; manifesting can be a powerful tool. It's an art, really. Whatever you really set your mind to, you can accomplish. Chances are you've done it all your life.  Apply yourself at school and you are rewarded with a good education. Apply yourself on the job and you are rewarded with a good paycheck. Apply yourself to the dating scene and chances are you'll end up with a partner. The New Year brings about new hope, new possibility, and a chance to do things differently this year.

My guess is this is not your first time around making resolutions on the baby scene. And maybe your resolve is wearing thin. Will it work this year? What has been done wrong? What needs to be done better? And the effort mounts, only to leave you where you were last January.

Why don't the efforts of intention work so well when it comes to pregnancy? When the power of manifestation moves from an activity geared toward what you don't have to an effortless art within the flow of your life as it is. The art of creation involves a feeling in your heart - the same quiet urge that longs to bring forth life. It is silent and non-demanding. The mind interprets this deep longing as something missing - and goes about in mad pursuit of it. That's the problem when it comes to creation - the mind's interpretation. When you are in pursuit of a job or more money, that usually isn't problematic, because a stressed body goes right along with getting what you don't have. But the opposite is true when you wish to bring forth life. When the mind grabs hold of this desire it puts the body into a state of fighting for what it wants; and stress hormones prevent its receptivity.

Go back to the feeling in your heart. Feel its presence. Be with it. Tend to it. Be grateful for it. Have confidence that it isn't there by mistake. Feel it in every moment of every day - prior to any activity that you undertake in pursuit of it. Trust it. Look at any conflict that arises in the mind (which will then be manifest in the body), which puts you in a state of stress.

The last element to this successful art is getting back into the flow of your life, as it is, with indifference to how this desire will be made manifest. Do not give your attention to your mind's imaginings - you do not need to concern yourself with how, or when. No need to think about babies or pregnancies or have dreams of toddlers dancing in your head. The Chinese character for Intention belongs to the soul, and it means resonance with the heart. If what is true within your heart is rooted within your "jing" or essence, your life becomes a walking magnet of intention. If it is not rooted within the jing, it will fly off, leaving you bereft. Jing Shu means, If you have to defend what you believe, it is not in your heart. Remember - respect, not force; love, not fear. Do not break your spirit trying to control the life force. Become aligned with it.

So, eat well. Rest well. Play more, work less. Make the rest of your life how you want it to be. And attend to the origin of life, which resides in the heart. Trust it with assurance, and let go of everything else. Be prepared to meet your life as it is, fully, and do all that is required of you as the granting of your desire unfolds. Trust this feeling in your heart and become its instrument. It is not there by mistake.

Please contact us at with any questions and sign up here for our February retreat. If you would like to take advantage of our payment plan please select it at the checkout.

With love and blessings,


e = mc2: Part 2

Energy cannot be created or destroyed; only transformed. Energy and matter are interchangeable. Your physical body is energy made manifest. This embodiment of energy comprises the ongoing process of breaking down its hundreds of trillions of cells to make more. Each of these hundreds of trillions of cells is composed of hundreds of trillions of atoms - mostly energy, beyond which is space. Space is spirit, energized and made manifest. E = mc2. We are infinite, like the speed of light, energized into the process of creation itself.  If we limit ourselves to working only with the physical form, we can’t access the true power of creation, healing and transformation – that interface between c and E.

Chinese philosophy tells us that the one Spirit of existence becomes manifest as the friction of opposites (yin and yang). This energetic division gives rise to what is referred to as the “Three Treasures” – Jing, Qi, and Shen; or essence, energy, and spirit. m, E, and c.

Your ovaries carry the potential of essence or Jing (m).

Your heart houses your spirit (c).

Your hormones convey the energetic interaction (E) of the two.

Most women who come to see me have been to doctors who have tried to manipulate their ovaries with artificial hormones. This is working strictly at the level of controlling and manipulating the already manifest form, (m). All this can do is utilize what has already been made manifest - the realm of the past, which has literally already exhausted its capacity. It cannot transform, heal, or open up to a new potential. This is precisely why when hormones manifest an exhausted potential (high FSH, low AMH, etc.,) a successful pregnancy is the exception rather than the rule.

Chinese medicine and qi gong practices view the body as a microcosm of the vastness of spirit that brings the universe into existence. You have that same power within you. You have access to bring creation into manifestation. But it is not at the level of m (form.) Form utilizes that which has already come into existence.  The interface of E and c spark the potential that manifests as a new possibility.

When we work with the interplay of energy and spirit through the body, new possibilities arise. Energies shift. Manifestation changes. A new potential, made manifest through form, emerges.

In my clinical practice, I could work with the interface between matter and energy, but I found that an individuals habitual tendencies pulled one back into the patterns that caused the dysfunction to arise in the first place. When I started conducting retreats, we were able to access the interplay between spirit and energy, made manifest. New possibilities are the rule here, not the exception.

e = mc2: Part 1

A Study of Energy When I was about to start my studies in Chinese medicine, fresh out of Western medical school, I asked the dean for some tips. She said, “Forget everything you were taught about Western medicine.” She was asking me to open my mind and begin with a clean slate. She must have come across my type of intellectual arrogance before; those who take pride in the accumulation of learned knowledge.

During my first year, one of my TCM professors was talking about Qi, and said that Qi could best be described as energy taking form. Energy was where the power was; form was not. I raised my hand and argued with her, challenging this obvious mistaken assumption. I knew that mass was mass and energy was energy. We studied behavior characteristics of matter in the form of cells, tissues, organs and organisms. We could say that form had energy, but that was as far as we could go.

She listened to my tirade, and quietly but firmly suggested I look up Einstein’s theory of relativity in the library during the next break. I didn’t need to. She made her point. I had simply forgotten. Blinded by my own intellectual arrogance, I forgot the most basic scientific facts, and had gotten duped into believing that matter, form, and physicality held the ultimate truth. This was the reason I started studying Chinese medicine in the first place; medical science couldn’t rectify what ailed me. Could it be energy?

In the early 1900s, Albert Einstein found that as mass accelerated toward the speed of light, it got heavier. Although mass couldn’t ever move at the speed of light, the closer it approached c2, mass and energy were found to be infinite. This established the theory of relativity, representing the relationship between mass (m) and energy (E). Thus, the conservation of mass and energy proves that mass and energy are interconvertible.


Energy equals mass at the speed of light squared. In other words, Qi could be described as energy taking form. I’ve learned to open my eyes through the years, and not make assumptions. When I think I know something, I am usually in for a good lesson in humility. Life continually shows me that physicality and form are not in charge. That which animates matter makes the difference. When I can show someone ways in which their energetic patterns are causing physical dysfunction, then they have the power to change it. If they believe matter is in charge, they continue to be at the mercy of a medicine that can only manipulate the densest form of energy, matter.

Why I Want a Child

During a recent retreat, a woman who returned to her third retreat asked: “Can we explore the reasons why we want children?” We started an exercise, writing on the board the collective reasons why everyone there so desperately wanted children. Some of the reasons were:

To leave a legacy;

To give my life meaning;

To experience unconditional love;

To be part of a family;

To fit in;

So that we can be like the other couples we know;

To experience the development of a new human being;

To pass on the things I have learned in my life.

Each woman had their own personal reason for wanting a child. When we stood back and looked at the list of reasons, we all saw in black and white the most obvious thing:  None of the reasons required a child for its fulfillment. We can leave a legacy without a child. We can find meaning in life without a child. We can pass on the things we have learned, experience unconditional love, and fit in where we want to fit in – with or without children.

We also realized – if all of the “reasons” were taken care of by living a fulfilling life that doesn’t require us to place our needs on a child; the desire for a child remained. Yet now, it is unburdened by “reasons.”

Can you see that all of the reasons why you want a child are energetic attachments that you place on the desperate need to have a child? This unmet need becomes an energetic contraction, which, as far as the body’s wisdom is concerned, is placed on the category of scarcity. Lack. What I don’t have. And it creates more contraction – the form of stress hormones, which actually deprives the body of the ability to access and utilize the reproductive energies.

I encourage you to get very honest with yourself. You might want to try to journal about the reasons why you want/need a child. And fulfill those areas of lack with other aspects of your life. Then the pure longing for life has a greater likelihood for being fulfilled – unimpeded by the contraction/fear of its loss.

Doctor Patient Relationship

Those who come to retreat often ask what is the most important trait a doctor can have? According to the ancient book of healing, the Su Wen, chapter 39, those who are best at working with people are those who are satisfied with themselves. Without confusion or distress, they can follow the Tao, and reach an illuminated life. Through the deep examination of oneself they can be free of confusion and lift the veil. Commentary by Father Claude Larre:

The most important thing for healing is the relationship between the practitioner, the spirits, and the patient. Heaven represents the organization of nature, and the movement of the four seasons. In our body is the same life that is in a tree or flower, or in the weather. Have the consciousness to observe the natural order and find it again in oneself and in another. If you understand that you must be in harmony with Heaven, you will practice clearly.

Acupuncture has to move the patient’s spirit to be successful – it is not merely mechanical. You first must have a deep understanding of your own life before pretending to know life in another, especially the disturbances in the development of life in another.

You also must not be blocked in yourself, or full of the desire to heal. You have just to do your best, very quietly, and then let go. You must not have inner agitation or desires, even the best of desires. if you do not have desire, then you have a real relationship with the patient and are not forcing the patient to correct his spirits to please you. To be satisfied with yourself means to harmonize yourself. The best way to cure a patient is to remain in the natural expression of your own power of life. To desire too strongly is stagnation and blockage in your intent and will, and it diminishes your ability to cure.

The texts never say that you must desire to cure. They repeatedly say to be calm and quiet without special desire. Wanting something is always dangerous, even if you are wanting the best thing in the world – the tension in you is bad. Let the life of the spirit grow in you, and bring this to every part of your work.

In my opinion, fertility knowledge and expertise are secondary to being real. Having a spirit to spirit relationship with the patient is where healing occurs. What’s important to you? Do you need to emote? Do you need to understand what your practitioner is doing? Then that needs to be part of your treatment. Does your practitioner have a desire to heal you? According to Chinese medicine, that is a problem. Real healing happens when an acupuncturist gets themselves and their desires out of the way and puts you in touch with the source of healing – which is not them. They are merely a conduit of spirit.

Tending to a Broken Heart

One of my friends and associates was dealing with fertility issues, and after an IVF had failed, she told Ram Dass that her spirit had been broken. He responded that no, her spirit wasn’t broken; her mind was. Our illusions can be crushed; our dreams can be shattered, the way we think things should be can be interrupted by life, leaving us feeling lost and broken. But it is not the spirit that that is broken.  Your spirit can’t be broken. It is what picks you back up when your plans have been derailed.

TCM recognizes that the heart , which houses the spirit, is pure and incorruptible.  Just outside the heart, though, is the heart protector, which is the interface between the smaller mind and the wisdom of the heart. The heart protector absorbs the wounds, and suffers the pain. Every time it feels as if the heart is broken, it is an opportunity for the protection of the heart  to open up and let more spirit through.

When I was going through my second miscarriage, it seemed as if I was getting sucked into a void where nothing in the world made sense anymore. Grief stricken, lost and confused, it was my spirit that came through, picked me up, and let me know that it was in charge. What was to be would be. The miraculous was at hand, in process, and it was not my job to figure it out. It was not even my job to heal the pain, but to surrender to it. It opened me up to something greater than the need to guide and protect the direction of my self will. The desires of my own soul were not neglected through this process, but could finally be fulfilled – in ways far beyond my limited mind’s ability to orchestrate the movement of the universe to give me what I thought I needed. My son came through when I could get out of the way.

The direction of my life was made clear when I was no longer playing the role of actor, director, and producer.  I could rest in the reality of the divine movement of the play of all of existence, in which I was an integral part; where my future was being divinely guided.

Another friend is going through a heart-wrenching breakup right now, where it seems as if the reason for being has been snatched away from her.  How could life be so cruel as to take away one’s greatest love? There is no way to explain the ripeness of moments like this – the raw potentiality of a broken heart. When the heart breaks, the mind’s direction is shattered. It is then that the spirit can rise, and direct our course without our interference. What I do know is this – her life is being divinely directed. Those who are crushed by pain have the greatest opportunity to live according to the incorruptible light of spirit, the unconditional love and joy of existence itself. I feel her pain, and I hold it in the light of spirit, knowing it is not a mistake. It is a miracle in the making.

The Shen

One of the most ancient texts of Eastern healing, written 2000 years ago, tells us: All diseases arise from the heart; all healing comes from the heart. The heart they are referring to is not just the anatomic heart muscle; nor is it simply the emotion of love; the ancients call it shen.

Shen is the spiritual power depicted by the Chinese character:  ? representing an altar, through which extending influences flow from above/beyond. Other definitions of Shen include:

The very essence of divinity; Consciousness; Spirit, infused from heaven. Pure, infinite, cosmic light, a luminous  force of vitality which comes from the divine. Shen is the means through which the will of heaven is known. The Shen encompasses the highest mind of consciousness that provides insight and makes you conscious of who you are. It is the energy that enlivens the body and psyche. The Shen resides in the heart.  The Heart holds the office of Lord and Sovereign. The radiance of the spirits stems from it.

When the ancient emperor Huang Di queries the sage, Qi Bo he asks him how we can lose harmony with the spirit of nature so that disease can arise. He understands that before healing can happen, we must be “rooted in spirit.” And Qi Bo goes off on a discourse regarding the power of heaven.

Spirit, heaven, consciousness – the vibrant energy through which all is enlivened and known. Spirit brings all into existence, and to spirit essence returns. When we can enliven this power within, we enter a state of healing, which does not require the intermediary of a physician, a state of profound healing is at hand.; closer even than your thoughts. The Tao te Ching tells us – Use it as you will; it never runs dry.

Chinese medicine is essentially about one thing – healing the spirit. Before true change can occur, we must raise our consciousness to a level above where the disease has been manifesting. It is an inside job. A true “healer” does nothing beyond taking you into the power of your own shen. And they watch in amazement at the transformation that heaven brings about through your inner essence.

When individuals come to retreat, many are confused about the concept of true healing and what fertility has to do with the heart. Many have had less than profound experiences with acupuncture. On the first day, I tell them that my intention is to bring them to a place where a shift in consciousness occurs, and that which obstructed their energy loses hold. The essence of all life, yours and your child’s, will come from that which envelops the spirit – the heart. It flows into your womb and invites life.

A  true “healer” does not hold the attitude of “I know what to do and how to do it, and I will heal you.” A true “healer” is in a sate of awe, rooted in their spirit, so it can be enlivened in you. Anything else is quackery.

Separation from Life

The first time I met my son was through the clear enclosure of his incubator, where he spent the first two weeks of his life, with tubes and IVs. Born via emergency C-section the night before, he was whisked off to neonatal intensive care while I underwent further surgery. The pain I felt in not being able to touch him, hold him, or care for him mimicked the pain of being unable to conceive him. He was in a bubble, and I couldn’t reach him. I am reminded of the pain of being separate from life every time I hold a retreat. The intense longing to touch the most precious expression of unconditional love is one of the most powerful forces I know. It is to meet life head on, scary in the intensity of its fragility.  A hopeful mother longs to bring forth life. Her attempts have failed her. Little by little, through the maze of infertility, she comes not closer to, but further away from this intimate expression, once felt to be so close at hand.

Visits to the doctor take her from hope to despair. Too old; too few eggs, too scarred, hormones too high, too low… now labs and medical procedures separate her from her hearts greatest desire. After a few IVF failures, she searches the internet. “Stay away from these foods,” sites say.  “Don’t exercise,” other well-meaning hopefuls say. Avoid alcohol, coffee, air travel, eat pure, local and organic. She now feels like these rules separate her from her child. With every suggestion, she feels like there is another barrier between her and her child.

These suggestions don’t necessarily make you more fertile; they may, however, make your life more balanced. They are not recipes to make babies. Why is it that life seems to come more easily to those who don’t try so hard? Perhaps the thickest barrier between you and your child happens to be all of the rules you are trying to adhere to in order to bring forth life. Life doesn’t adhere to rules; it defies them. Life comes to those who appear undeserving; those who eat poorly, who don’t care for themselves, who can’t afford children, who neglect and abuse them, and those who find another pregnancy a tragedy.

What I’m saying is this: Don’t separate yourself from life. Don’t try to be perfect. Don’t try to eat a perfect diet, think perfect thoughts, feel perfect feelings, go to perfect doctors who will give you a perfectly logical diagnosis with perfectly simple treatment options. Don’t try to be perfect; in fact, stop trying at all. Trying is the separating factor. Live your life. Let your future children come to you, as you are, not how you are trying to be to control their arrival. Be who you are, how you are. Don’t separate yourself from yourself. When you accept yourself and all of life totally, as it is, the internal conflict of trying disappears.

Menstrual Phases (Part 5) - The Luteal Phase

Between 6:00 and 9:00 position of our yin-yang symbol, we enter another dynamic transition of the menstrual cycle. I consider this the most magical, and yet most invisible aspect of the fertility cycle. Yin has transformed into yang through the process of ovulation. Under the influence of LH, the follicle has transformed itself into the corpus luteum or yellow body, which secretes progesterone for a pre-programmed 14 days, or half a moon phase. This “yellow body” bears the color of earth, to which the spleen belongs, which governs the endocrine function of progesterone’s holding effect. The spleen meridian runs through the ovary. The egg has been released, the fimbria (or fingers) of the fallopian tube has picked it up, and if sperm have made it through the vaginal canal, cervical opening, up the uterus and into the tube, fertilization is possible. If fertilization takes place, one cell becomes two, and the zygote, which means “union,” splits. Here the central tai ji pole, or original chong meridian, opens to heaven, where, the Taoists describe a poetic vision as the big dipper pours the essence of the stars into the new individual to provide it the spiritual essence for its upcoming life.

The liver meridian runs through the fallopian tube.  When its qi is unobstructed, fertilization is more likely. Liver qi stagnation can cause the fallopian tube to “clench”, and even may end up showing a false positive in an hysterosalpingogram.

In our reverse cycle energetic, required to create an individual through the pre-heavenly essence or prenatal creation, the liver directs its energy to the kidney, as blood feeds the essence. The kidney grasps the qi. The penetrating (chong) meridian arises from the uterus; and is the envelope through which consciousness chooses expression. According to the Ling Shu, (Spiritual Pivot, 1st Century BCE), every day of the menstrual cycle, the qi descends via the Governing meridian, one vertebral process per day, until day 21, when it enters the chong meridian, which allows the mingling of heart fire and kidney water. If the parents essence have ignited the cosmic qi (or if the cosmic qi has allowed the parents essence to ignite…) the entrance of a new soul will enter into manifestation. This is the time of implantation. The palace of the child must communicate with the embryo, which is also emitting chemicals calling for a home. The endometrium expresses proteins that let the embryo know, “you have a home here.”

Held anger blocks the liver-kidney conversion. Excessive worry and anxiety can inhibit the spleen qi’s holding ability. What can you do to help this process most? Stay out of it. Nature did not intend for your involvement at this time.

If this magical union takes place, the lung (whose highest function is “releasing”,) directs prenatal creation as it calls the corpus luteum into increased production of progesterone to uphold the embryo during the first ten weeks, at which time the placenta will take over its function.

If the cosmic qi is not ignited, the lung directs a new cycle to begin; the uterus discharges its blood and a cycle of hope is renewed.

Menstrual Phases (Part 4) – The Ovulatory Transition

Yin has reached its zenith. Accordingly, estrogen rises to its peak, performing yin functions of maximum follicular growth, maximum endometrial proliferation, production of clear, thin, fertile cervical fluid, and the cervix becomes more yin: soft, open and moving upward to the center (yin) of the body. If all of the previous functions have been met during the Yin phase (adequate and unobstructed blood, qi, and essence,) a cascade of events occur throughout the body in response to these yin cues. The hypothalamus tells the pituitary gland to release luteinizing hormone, which will cause the mature follicle to discharge its egg and turn into a corpus luteum. This process is governed by unobstructed liver qi, directed by the lungs. If the process is unobstructed, as these internal energies rise, there is a concomitant rise in libido, as she feels a magnetic draw to her partner. Believe it or not, your most fertile time is when you feel sexiest. Pay attention to this, rather than an ovulation predictor kit. It is far more reliable. This is the summer of the seasonal solar cycle; the full moon of the liunar cycle. The spleen has produced the blood, its qi has lifted it to the heart and pericardium, where it is endowed with the life giving powers of heavenly essence (tian gui), and it is now directed to the liver and then to the uterus via the kidneys. This process can be inhibited by having a “heavy” heart, laden with depressed, repressed, oppressed, suppressed emotions and resistance to life circumstances. This inhibits the true expression of who we are and how we interact in life, and thus inhibits internal movement. The heart receives and interprets sensory input via the hypothalamus, which could be seen as occupying the spleen’s ascending power to the heart and pericardium. This process advises the entire HPO axis whether or not life is ready to be received within.

Guilt, anger and frustration stagnate the feedback that rises to the hypothalamus via the governing meridian. The “wei” qi or protective energy increases and moves inward toward the center, to keep out pathogens during fertilization. A woman may feel sick during this time if her wei qi is low. If the liver qi is obstructed, she may feel breast tenderness, irritability, and anything but the usual rise in libido. Ovulation may not be not smooth, and the cycle may be out of sync during this time.

Your energies are maximum during this time. If there is stagnation, you likely do not feel well during ovulation. If you don’t have signs of obstruction, your moods are likely enhanced, and you may have higher energy levels. Feel free to increase exercise during this time. Run, bike, dance kick-box – whatever you love. Drink milk thistle or peppermint tea if you have liver qi stagnation. If you have a lot of repressed emotions, practice getting them out physically. Stomp, scream and slap the blockages out of your system. Hit a tree with a branch. Hit a punching bag.  And those of you have been on retreat with me, perform the boulder exercise.

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Resetting The Cycle of Hope vs. Despair

No matter what your TCM diagnosis is – kidney yin deficiency, dampness, blood stasis… when the pattern of imbalance is addressed, we also need to address the mental pattern of effort and frustration as an inherent aspect of the fertility journey. I have had three children. Each began with a dream, as a gift from beyond; but not one of them came through my efforts to bring this dream into actuality. They came of their own accord. The only thing that got in my way, causing my state of “in-fertility” were my efforts to control or to think that I could bring about their coming. This trying blocked off the light of spirit and depleted my yin, as I wound myself deeper and deeper into frustration and despair.

Remember when you first visited the possibility of having a child? Most often, hope was high, and effort was low. There might have been a great amount of excitement as you looked toward the possibility of having a child. Yet, when desire itself did not bring forth the results you expected and time went on, hope dwindled and you tried harder.

This is the typical cycle of hope becoming despair, and effort resulting in frustration. There comes a crisis point at which your body/mind goes into a state of panic. It seems that no matter what you do, nothing happens. Frustration mounts. When trying results in frustration and hope results in despair, the human condition cannot continue for long without building up an immense reserve of stress hormones. This cycle itself interferes with conception. The cells become less receptive to hormonal cues. Adrenal hormones rise as the reproductive hormones take a back seat. We are in crisis.

Regardless of where you are on your fertility journey, you simply cannot go back in time to try to recreate a false sense of hope. You cannot fight what is - your inner truth and wisdom won’t allow it. Yet, when you find yourself in a state of despair, don’t fight it. Feel the feelings that are associated with despair and frustration. Usually this state is bound up with fear, worry, anger, and grief. When you can feel these feelings, then you can move beyond them. Be where you are, as you are, how you are. Then the system can be reset. Frustration unwinds and hope can shine through again. Hope is already there, moment to moment. It is not something that we can create in the future. We lose sight of present hope when we are trying to figure out how to have hope again.

Menstrual Phases (Part 3): The Yin Phase

Our yin-yang representation of energies rising and falling, transforming from one to another provides a model of the yin phase of the menstrual cycle, from 3:00 to 6:00. Here, the yin energies (deep, dark, inner movement) increase. This is the phase from the end of menstruation (the blood emptying phase) to maximum growth (ovulation.) Here we can visit the dynamic intersection of rising hormones and the deep, inner menstrual response. The endocrine energetic is a forward, post-heaven (or earthly)

response to life as it is. We are building the foundation through which life can come.  The kidney energies, emptied from the previous cycle’s menstruation, are now ready to give rise to new possibility. The kidney essence will feed the liver blood, which will rise until it reaches its apogee and begin the conversion of yin into yang. The endocrine response will raise estrogen as the follicle grows. In response to the rising estrogen (a yin hormone), the inner menstrual reverse cycle is occurring.

At the gynecological level, the reverse of the endocrine response is underway as the blood, created by the spleen, rises to the heart, is cooled by the pericardium, and directed to the liver to build which recruits kidney essence in the form of the uterine lining.  One energetic system moves up and out as the other moves in and down.

This cycle can be interrupted by anything that over extends the inner reserves out in the world.  Overabundant desires can deplete the blood and stagnate the qi. Overextending your energy in worldly affairs can deplete the spleen qi and kidney yang; leaving very little to invigorate reproductive essence. Any frenetic activity in life – physical or mental, can disrupt the heart kidney axis, shortening the follicular phase. The resulting TCM diagnoses can include:

Qi or kidney yang deficiency – usually will delay ovulation. Signs of fatigue and coldness. May include blood deficiency, as spleen qi makes blood, and ascends to the heart.

Too much heat – a short follicular phase, early ovulation. Liver fire and heart fire are often exacerbated by forcing movement instead of resting. This scatters the qi, and can be associated by concurrent qi deficiency.

Inadequate yin – lack of cervical fluid, Might be associated with blood deficiency or heat. Often accompanied by a deep inability to accept what is.

Deficient liver blood – might delay ovulation; usually accompanied by scant menses. Often accompanied by lack of hope, and despondency, which stifles the liver qi.

Qi stagnation – will often delay ovulation, which will be symptomatic.

Blood stasis – lack of inner life movement.

Dampness – may have abundant cervical fluid, but cycle is still sluggish.

As you’ve been reading this, your attention may be focused on your particular TCM diagnosis, while ignoring the cause. If you go to an acupuncturist to treat the pattern of imbalance without addressing its cause, it won’t take root. It might clear up symptoms, but rarely will a doctor be able to restore your fertility without your help in curbing the energies that are causing the imbalance. Addressing the diagnosis is relatively superficial; addressing the cause requires some depth and courage. If your longing outside and the frustration over the lack of fulfillment of your desires are too strong, the spirit of the heart literally cannot reach the kidneys.

You must always care for yourself first. Then what’s showing up as imbalances. Then on the goal of a child. It simply doesn’t work the other way.

Menstrual Phases (Part 2): Menstrual (Blood)

According to the yin/yang model, the blood phase governs the 12:00 to 3:00 position.


The beginning of the menstrual cycle is heralded, as all new beginnings are, with a release. A viable pregnancy was not supported. The corpus luteum involutes, progesterone levels and temperatures drop, and as one cycle turns over, the next one begins with letting go. This is a crucially important time. Energetically, the lung initiates the movement of release. Like a finger on top of a straw, when its holding capacity is withdrawn, the liver directs the release of menstrual blood, as the heart-kidney axis pours its heavenly essence through the vaginal canal. The bao mai or envelope of potential, causes the uterus to liquefy and shed its lining.


The energy of this internal channel, directed inward and downward, must be unobstructed. There must be an outlet through which the life force, in the form of blood, can flow. Energies are directed within and down, not up nor without. We release and let go. With any process of letting go and moving on, there is sadness and loss.  We may feel depressed. That’s because the energies are depressed. This is natural and normal, and nothing to be resisted. Grief experienced and expressed, allows a new cycle to begin. If we inhibit this movement, we can halt the resetting of a new cycle, upsetting the delicate balance. For example, if we do not experience the internal sadness and instead cover up with a false positive attitude, we are going against the flow of nature. If we overindulge in despair, we can cause too much of this downward movement, holding the energies of renewal down, inhibiting a new cycle of creation.


This can result in blood stasis, where the blood remains congealed in the channels, blocking the upcoming cycle. During the blood phase, we are to be at rest. TCM tells us not to expose ourselves to severe temperatures, too much exercise, immersion in water, or intercourse. Because the cervix is open, it can take in during this time if we are not calm and releasing from within.


Any disruption of the natural flow can result in blockage of the heart kidney axis, counterflow qi, blood stasis, and inability to turn over to initiate a new hormonal cycle.


Days 1 – 3 of the menstrual cycle indicate the menstrual expulsion, and the hormonal resetting. If this cycle is complete, estrogen, progesterone, and FSH should be at a low on day 3. Complete release then initiates a rise in yin. Hormones will start to rise; the uterine lining will start to fill.


Scanty blood flow – blood deficiency; the uterine vessels have not received adequate nourishment.

Early menses, spotting – can be due to blood stasis, heat, or qi deficiency

Continued bleeding – same as above, interrupting the “reset” of  a new cycle.

Failure of temperatures to drop – heat, inflammation, incomplete release

Pain during menstruation – cold, blood stasis, qi stagnation; interrupted outflow

Emotional stagnation – unwillingness to go within and experience the full release

All of the above issues can be obstructed by blockage in the heart-kidney communication. The vibrant energies of the life force, love itself is not adequately directed to or not capable of being received by the deep kidney energies.