Reishi Mushroom is well known for providing a myriad of health benefits, and many people are even aware of reishi’s ability to help aid in spiritual practices like meditation. Indeed, another name for reishi, Lingzhi, literally translates to “spirit herb” or “god herb.” Clearly there is some relationship between reishi and spirituality, but what is it about this mushroom that has earned it such a widespread reputation as “The Mushroom of Spiritual Potency” (among many other titles)? In this article, I’m going to examine some of the qualities that make reishi such a great herb for deepening one’s sense of spirituality.
Strengthening the Shen, becoming more grounded
Reishi is the quintessential and supreme Shen tonic. In traditional Chinese medicine, Shen is a rather complex term, but can be understood as the heart-mind-self connection. Nourishing the Shen is also, in a sense, related to reishi’s reputation for physiologically nourishing the heart. In most eastern perspectives the heart was actually seen as the seat of consciousness / sense of self, while in the west we tend to still perceive our consciousness or “self” as residing vaguely behind the eyes or in the mind.
By building the Shen, reishi is a spiritual herb in a very real sense, in that it can help us drop this purely cerebral level of consciousness, and sink deeper into our bodies, becoming more aware of our heart and blood, and other internal processes. By nourishing the Shen, and simultaneously calming the mind and helping us sink deeper into our bodies, Reishi can help us become more grounded and more in tune with parts of ourselves that we may have otherwise been ignoring.
Slowing things down, widening your perspective
If you talk to anyone who has used reishi for a long period of time, they will likely tell you that it has an incredible ability to slow things down… slowing down everything from time, to one’s breath, to one’s thoughts. This aspect of reishi is no doubt connected to it’s anti-anxiety and anti-stress reputation. By slowing down and becoming more aware of ourselves and our environment, we can get a wider perspective on people or circumstances that may be troubling us, and choices or paths of approach may be revealed that we otherwise would not have noticed before.
Something about reishi allows us to slow down and take a step back, making us more flexible and adaptive to the challenges of everyday life.
The great protector
Some ancient Chinese texts describe reishi as “the great protector.” This is true in several senses. Physiologically, reishi strengthens the immune system, protecting us from germs and pathogens. As a potent adaptogen, it also allows us to tolerate stress, helping the body and mind deal with challenges in a more efficient way. But many users of reishi testify that this protection goes even further… protecting us from negative influences on a spiritual level.
Riccardo B. Serrano writes in his book Meditation and Qigong Mastery:
“Reishi is a substance that builds health on all levels. It is the rarest of jewels in Nature. Life itself is based on the ability to adapt to the stress, the attacks, the challenges that come our way every day. Reishi seems to provide an incredible resource of the full range of energies we need to meet these challenges. Reishi is indeed “the great protector,” protecting us on every level -- physically, immunologically, mentally, spiritually.”
(Serrano, Meditation and Qigong Mastery, pg 90)
Reishi nourishes the heart and Shen, and can help create a healthier and more grounded sense of self. By slowing down our hectic lives it can help reveal things to us that may otherwise have gone unnoticed. It is also a protective agent, not just for our immune system, but for the entire body and spirit.
If you’d like to learn more about reishi, I have excerpts from a 7 hour audio course available here.
I also have useful history and benefits listed in the product description.
Be sure to grab some Reishi Mushroom extract here: here.