The AllCreation Podcast

Nick Loffree, a young QiGong teacher based in Boise, ID, who's YouTube classes are attracting tens of thousands of views by sharing ancient, Taoist, "bio-energetic" practices for greater health and spirit, talks with AllCreation cofounder, Tom VandeStadt.

Show Notes

At age 17, Nick Loffree was diagnosed with schizophrenia and after years of searching for solutions he ended-up discovering QiGong ("Chi Gong"). Today Nick is a leading QiGong instructor and historian, helping people help themselves by reconnecting to their bodies and Nature around the world. In this conversation, Nick and Tom VandeStadt, co-founder of, discuss QiGong, the history of Asian energy practices, Nick’s journey from illness to mastery, and more.

About Nick
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References (links coming soon)

0:00 Intro & Welcome

4:00 What is Qigong? (Chi-Gong)
6:20 What is Chi? (Ki, Prana, Ruach, etc.)

7:20 How has Qigong helped your personal healing?

15:30 You say, “Most of Taoist practice, including Qigong, is a disciplined return to Nature.” What does that mean and why do we need a discipline to return to Nature?
21:00 Does getting back into our bodies help us experience ourselves as natural beings? 
23:00 What are the shamanic roots of Qigong? 
27:00 Can Qigong help us experience our animal selves? (Aren’t we animals, after all?)
30:20 Contrast the Taoist medicine understanding of the body with the Western medicine understanding.
33:20 How is Qigong an antidote to modern-day stress?
38:45 Can Taoism and Qigong serve as a spiritual practice that moves us to restore as much of this damaged connective tissue as possible, not just in our bodies but in the world around us?

42:50 Thank you, Nick, for inspiring this issue of AllCreation!

From the Taoist perspective, Nature has an energy to it and different natural environments have different energies. So, a lot of Taoist monasteries would be built at the top of mountains… If you needed more of a physical healing you might want to go somewhere more Yin, to the valley of the mountain where the waters collect and you can more nourish your body with that sort of energy.

I think most people who’ve spent a lot of time in a city and then go camping or something like that, you notice a difference in the way you feel in your body, just being in Nature. And, the Taoist perspective is that that’s because there are energy fields. The trees, the mountains, the Earth, and everything are emanating an energy field our bodies are evolved to attune to with.

At the psychological layer, there’s no real, pure return to a natural state, but theTaoists try to push in that direction. So Taoism is often seen not as a movement forward and upward towards heaven or enlightenment, but a movement backwards, towards sort of an innocent, child-like wonder, a return towards a simpler, more natural state.

If you really wanna look at the Taoist path authentically, it’s a disciplined return. You don’t just fall back into Nature, you have to train yourself to fall.

In Chi-Gong we mirror nature in our movements, and you can never quite draw distinctions between where one movement ends and another movement begins.

Our bodies have a lot of information they give us that I think we’ve kinda been culture out-of being able to listen to. The body’s full of intelligence.  I think the body has a lot of wisdom that we tend to try and think our way out of.

You’re actually trying to become the Tiger and look through its eyes as you’re practicing. And so researchers think that because this is the oldest known form of Qigong it probably came from Shamanism.

A lot of the postures are still named after Nature, things like “mountain” or “moving like a river” or “standing like a tree.” But it really is those older forms where you were really being the animal, and looking and moving like these animals.

Speaking of people creating the future who don’t want to be animals, if you look at Silicon Valley where I lived for seven years, it’s full of people who are just up in their heads. And they think they can turn their consciousness into binary code and just stick it in a robot and become immortal that way. . . I think a lot of them really are out of their body. They often have a very hard time with the dating world. They can have a hard time figuring our how to navigate women, because women are looking for an animal. They’re looking for an animal that can think and do smart things… they’re looking for a physical being. Qigong I think really puts you in touch with that animal side of yourself. I think one of the under talked-about benefits of Qigong is it actually really helps your sex life…

There’s a weak interface between body and mind for most people, especially well-educated, smart upper-class people. I think people who work in those kind-of mental fields need something like this.

Stress narrows our perception.

All the great spiritual teachers have tried to tell us to go past the nation, to go past the tribe, to go past the religion.

On tithing: "There’s a very weird relationship between the energy you’re putting out, generosity, and the universe.”

Thanks for listening.
This podcast is 1 of 4 keynotes from our Summer Solstice
2022 collection, "Restoring Connective Tissue." It was produced 
and edited by Chris Searles. 

What is The AllCreation Podcast? Faith • Spirit • Biodiversity • Connections

Hello, Thanks for checking this out.
The transcription below is computer-generated, so likely full of typos.
Please use this for now and check back as need be. We hope to have a typo-free version here soon.
This interview comes from our Summer 2022 Edition, "Restoring Connective Tissue."
Check out the whole issue here:

HOST: Tom VandeStadt 0:00
Hello, everybody, and welcome to this AllCreation Podcast. I'm Tom VandeStadt, one of the cofounders of The topic for this edition of all creation is restoring connective tissue. In this podcast, I'll be speaking to Qigong teacher, Nick Loffree.

I discovered Nick purely by chance on YouTube about a year and a half ago, I was suffering from severe shoulder and neck immobility in pain. And I knew through my meditation practice, that the underlying cause of my physical stiffness and pain was stress, anxiety and depression. I knew that the relationships between my mind my emotions, my spirit in my body, were way out of balance. But I didn't know what to do about it. My usual way of coping with stress and anxiety, riding my bike harder, lifting more weights, wasn't helping. In fact, it was part of the problem. So out of desperation, I decided to try Qigong.

I discovered Nick's Qigong routines on YouTube, and I've been practicing with them every day for the past year and a half. They've done wonders for my neck and shoulder, I have almost full mobility and no pain now. But more important, Nick is teaching me how to restore balance and healthy connections all throughout my body, as well as between my body, my mind, my emotions, and my spirit. He's very good at teaching me how to, in his words, transform stress into vitality. So I'm very grateful to Nick and happy to have this opportunity to chat with him a bit. But first, let me tell you more about him. Nick has been interested in health and fitness since he was 12 years old. In his later teens, he struggled for several years with some very serious mental and physical health issues. After becoming dissatisfied with his doctors and psychiatrists, he decided to forge his own way back to health. He explored different paths of yogic, Buddhist and Taoist practices, as well as just about every specialized dietary philosophy available and slowly uncovered the principles that helped him heal. One healing resource that Nick found especially useful was Qi Gong.

In 2014 he moved from Toronto, Canada, to California to spend three and a half years apprenticing with Qigong master in Chinese medicine practitioner, Lee Holden, after his internship with Li Nick stayed in California for four years. As a Qigong and Dallas yoga teacher. He made mindful movement and self healing, available to a wide variety of people throughout Silicon Valley. He was an onsite movement teacher at 1440 Multiversity, the mindfulness retreat center for companies like Google and Apple. He taught Qigong as a therapy for post traumatic stress disorder to police officers, firefighters and military personnel. He helped teenagers with drug addiction and mental health issues at outpatient mental hospitals. He taught in yoga studios and sports team training facilities at cancer patient retreats, kids, summer camps, nursing homes, and retirement communities.

Today, he applies everything he's learned to his online teaching, where he reaches out to people through YouTube, Tik Tok and ecourses and offers coaching and teacher certification. Nick now lives in the beautiful city of Boise, Idaho, where he loves to explore the nearby rivers, lakes, hot springs and mountains to seek solitude in nature, and to return to the source of it all. So Nick, it's great to have you with us. Good to be here. Great. Great. So let's start with a few basics. What is Qi Gong? I know Qi Gong has a very long and rich history. But how have you come to understand Qigong through your own encounter with it, your own Qigong practice, and through your study of Taoism and Chinese medicine.

GUEST: Nick Loffree 4:26
Qi Gong is basically just changing the energy states of your mind and body through movement, breath and posture. So it's very similar in principle to yoga. You could almost just say it's a form of yoga that originated in China didn't always used to be called Chi Gong. That's kind of a recent title for it that started being used in the 1940s. It used to be all these different various types of Qigong all had their own name. So in China, saying the word Qigong might have been a lot Like today in America saying the word exercise, right? Like what do you mean by exercise? Do you mean kettlebells? Do you mean running like it's such a big term. And so Qigong is very similar as a big umbrella. And it's got tons and tons of different practices under it. One that most people would be more familiar with is probably Tai Chi, which is actually a martial arts style of Qigong. So Qigong has all these different kind of purposes, it can be used for if there's medical Qigong for healing the internal organs, or joint and connective tissue issues. There's spiritual pathways of Qigong, which typically fall more under a category called Neigong, or Nadan, which means like internal alchemy, and then there's martial forms of Qigong, which are learning to align your body in ways that are provide maximum efficiency for fighting, as well as sort of strange techniques like bone hardening techniques, which you might know from things like karate, or Kung Fu, or people will hit their body against progressively harder objects, like rocks and pieces of wood and stuff until their bones and everything get really solid. So you don't break your bones when you hit people and whatnot. So it's a very broad term, but the basic definition is Chi means vital energy. And Gong means cultivation or work or skill. So it's the skill of cultivating vital energy.

Tom VandeStadt 6:22
Tell us a bit more about Qi.

Nick Loffree 6:25
So Qi, the vital energy, you might notice Qi and more Japanese traditions like Reiki or Aikido. Prana, In the yogic tradition, Ruach, in the sort of Hebrew tradition, it's a strange thing, because at one point, you can sort of put it in a box and say, this is Chi, like maybe she is the electrical current through the body that powers the body, you might kind of be able to isolate it like that. But at the same time, it's really just a poetic metaphor for all the processes, physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, that animate what we call life. So it's simultaneously you can pin it down, and it's a totally ethereal term, that doesn't really mean anything. Okay.

Tom VandeStadt 7:17
All right. Tell us a bit then how Chi Gong has been a path of healing for you, if you are willing share part of your own personal story of healing and how Chi Gong helped in your healing path.

Nick Loffree 7:30
Yeah, so I was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2007, when I was 17, my last year of high school and got prescribed medications, they had tremendous side effects, the way they usually treat schizophrenia is to give you medications that drastically lower your dopamine output in your brain. So Dopamine is a chemical that makes you feel good. It helps you to have healthy sex hormones, helps you to be creative. And so they really just put just, they basically just numb your whole being in order to get rid of schizophrenia. So they get rid of schizophrenia, but they kind of get rid of everything else about life at the same time. So they're not super pleasant. And they cause a lot of health problems for me too. When you lower dopamine, prolactin goes up, which is the hormone that makes you lactate. So it's a hormone women produce when they've had a baby and need to make milk in their body wants to put on lots of fat to have stores to feed the baby. And so that basically happened to me, I got very fat, I started producing strange fluids out of my nipples, as is not an exaggeration. And I also got a bunch of long term health problems, those things kind of went away when I got off the pills. But what remained was I had eczema everywhere. I had huge cystic acne boils everywhere, I had liver problems, all of a sudden, there's all these foods that couldn't digest anymore, couldn't digest dairy, or wheat or all sorts of things. So I knew I had to do something for myself.

And so I at the time, I'd been kind of reading about Buddhism. And so I thought, oh, meditation, I've got a mental problem. So maybe I should do meditation to fix my mind kind of seems like it makes sense. I got really into meditation, didn't have a lot of success with it, I was really thinking of meditation, like, oh, the only time you get the benefit is when your mind becomes totally quiet. And so I was just pushing, pushing, pushing to get that effect. And when I finally did get that effect, I practically had an exorcism like, like all this horrible stuff in my subconscious trauma and things like that just kind of came out of me. And I have this kind of dark night of the soul, like facing all that, which is very therapeutic to get it all out. But I never found other than that one moment at the beginning of this kind of journey. I didn't find any benefit for meditation other than, you know, after like six months of pushing, pushing, pushing, getting that one day, or that cool thing happened after that nothing really happening again. And so when I finally found yoga, and it was something physical, and that kind of gave me results right away, like at the end of the yoga prayer, I just actually felt better, I felt like I could relax, I felt like I sweated out a bunch of toxins out of my brain or something. And so I got really sold on yoga right away. So I started pushing really hard on that. And basically, the ability to relax that I got out of yoga, like the ability to let go physically in my body, not just like mentally, like, you know, when you have schizophrenia, a lot of times there's like voices in your head or telling you to kill yourself and all this weird stuff. So it's very hard mentally not to get caught up and all that and kind of believe the delusions that my mind was creating, but my body didn't have delusions. And so when I did yoga, I could get into my body, and release all this tension in my body, that that tension seemed to be really related to, you know, when you're fearful, right, you clench your body, you round your back, you protect your internal organs. So it's kind of a posture, and a muscle pattern that goes with fear. And so when I'm having all these delusions, causing all this fear, yoga, helped me learn to Oh, my posture has a lot to do with this, my tension of holding my muscles has a lot to do with this. So even though I couldn't figure out how to argue with all these voices in my head, I could figure out how to release the fear through my body.

And then the voices would actually just kind of transform. And I'd actually have these kind of mystical visions instead of evil voices telling me horrible things, I'd start seeing mystical visions, often, they had like kind of Native American mystical themes and Hindu mystical themes. But I would actually feel like blissful in my body instead of fearful, in my mind.

And so that was very helpful, and basically got me to the point where I could get off of these medications safely, I worked with a psychiatrist to wean off of them and got off them slowly. But it just got to the point where when those psychotic episodes came, I could kind of relax into them, and they'd kind of pass on their own. So that addiction to yoga really got me so hooked that I think I pushed myself really hard thinking, oh, like the thing that's making yoga work is more flexible body allows all this crap to pass out of me. So I just got to push really, really hard to be more and more flexible. And I really just over pushed myself. So in about 2012, I just created all these kind of ligament injuries and everything for myself, just over pushing I tendinitis all throughout my body. And I knew I had to take a break from yoga. And fortunately, fortunately, or divine providence around that time, somebody, a martial arts teacher, actually, it introduced me to Chi Gong, sent me a video of Lee Holden, who later became my main teacher, and started doing Qigong, which appealed to me because, you know, you're getting the same benefit of we're using the body to change the mind and the emotions and the nervous system. We're doing that through our breath, and through movement and through posture. But there isn't this like 95% Focus on the stretching aspect, there's a little bit of stretching and Qigong, usually those stretches are very gentle, and we're kind of moving slowly in and out of them instead of really pushing into them and holding them for a long time. So I just found is gentler on my body, which my body needed at the time, and provide a lot of the same effects, which became interesting.

Later, when I met my teacher. So aside from First of all, this stuff just really helped me to be calm and relaxed helped. I could really feel it helping to heal my liver add a lot of pain in my liver, something was just congested in there after the medications. And that seemed to just be relieving. And a lot of the symptoms I had were going away with it. But later when I met my teacher, Lee Holden, he basically did like medical Qigong on me, which is where you have your chi light coming out of your hands, and you interact with another person's chi field, the energy field around their body, which I was kind of skeptical about. But when he did it, he really like, reorganized my energy. So I had this. And I'd had visions of this before, too, I had this kind of very open energy in my brain, like the energy up in my head was extremely open. And this openness, I think, was a lot of what led to my kind of delusional thinking hearing voices, stuff like that. There's like an extreme openness. And he literally just took that energy with his hands and he closed it. And he pulled it downwards and inwards into my body. So it turned from this sort of, like lamp shining light in all directions, to like this narrow laser beam of light going down through the center of my body and, and so a few experiences like that with him, him teaching me some kind of custom medical Qigong that was meant to sort of close my energy field and helped me to feel less oversensitive around other people.

I always felt like incredibly sensitive to others feelings and thoughts and opinions and everything. And he kind of taught me to close that up, which probably sounds sort of woowoo to a lot of people. But there is actually some science on this with the electromagnetic fields that the heart produces. They've done studies at the Heart Math Institute, where they can see that even through a concrete wall, if you have a change in your heart rate variability, it will actually influence through that electromagnetic field. Someone on the unholy other room has no idea what's going on. That field will touch their heart and change their heart rate variability. Ready, these kinds of energy fields, I think are a real thing. And I think I might have been a little oversensitive to them. But that was a big gift she gave me.

Tom VandeStadt 15:10
Wow, wow. That's fascinating. It seems like there is so much we don't. So much we're not sensitive to in our western paradigm, our western way of looking so much that we just tune out. And we're not really open to and if we tune into them and open to them, we can start to experience them really fascinating. I've practiced with a lot of your Qigong routines that you put on YouTube for free, I want to thank you for that, for doing that. At the end of one of your five element, chi gong routines, you say that most of Taoist practice, including Qigong, or a discipline, return to nature, discipline that takes us back to our natural state. And I'm really fascinated by that, because that really lends itself to our theme. So I'd like to have you explore what that means returning to nature returning toward natural state, what separating us from nature, what's separating us from our natural state, that we would need a discipline to return.

Nick Loffree 16:17
The Dallas perspective, nature has an energy to it, and different natural environments have different energy. So a lot of Taoist monasteries would be built at the top of mountains, because they saw the energy of the sky as being more young and nature closer to the sort of heavenly celestial realm. So if you practice higher up and closer to that energy, you can more get in touch with that sort of enlightening energy of the sky. If you needed more of a physical healing, you might want to go somewhere more Yin, to the valley of the mountain where the waters collect, and you can mark sort of nourish your body with that sort of energy. So I think most people who've, you know, spent a lot of time in a city and then went camping or something like that, you notice a difference in the way you feel in your body just being in nature. And the whole kind of Dallas perspective is that's because there's energy fields. So when we're in the city, we have, you know, all these EMF fields coming off our computers and our wires and our cell phone towers and everything like that. And they're they might be interfering with the natural flow of energy that should be in and around our bodies. And we can get ourselves out to nature, just really on a physical level, that trees and the mountains and the earth and everything is sort of emanating a different energy field that our bodies are evolved to sort of attune with harmoniously.

So there's that kind of physical layer, and then the psychological layer. It's very, it's a paradox to return to nature, because our nature as humans is to be nurtured into culture, right? You can't find a human group, no matter how natural that group is a hunter gatherers in the Amazon, they still have a culture. And if you look at the Amazonian hunter gatherers, versus even just a tribe down the river from them, they're gonna have two different cultures, two different outlooks, there's gonna be things that are similar, but there's going to be a lot of things that are different. So there's no real pure return to a natural state. But the Dow has sort of tried to push in that direction, almost saying like, we want to become more like an infant. And so sort of the head figure of Taoism is a old wise man named Lao Tzu who existed in 500 BC, or is said to have existed you might be made up, but his name Lao Tzu means the old boy or sort of the wise child. And so that wasn't as often seen, not as a movement forward and upward towards heaven or enlightenment, but a movement backwards towards sort of innocence, childlike wonder, an openness and receptiveness that the infant has a return towards a simpler, more natural state. But the way that you get there through Taoism, a lot of people misinterpret as the sort of hippie types and new agey types they we love Taoism, because we love that whole idea just we just let go in Taoism, we just let ourselves fall back into nature by you know, just having lots of casual sex and smoking weed and things like that. And some of those things aren't great sometimes. But if you really want to look at the Dallas path authentically, it's a disciplined return to nature, you don't just fall back to nature, we have to train yourself to fall.

And so we'll hold standing meditation postures that are incredibly challenging, physically even kind of painful to get through and to push yourself through. But as you're holding this structure in your body, just as met as an example, in a metaphor, you're learning to relax into that structure. So you're building a structure you putting the work in, but then you're relaxing into that structure so gradually, it becomes easier and easier to fall into that structure. So a lot of what we do in Qigong is a hold our body and postures and use movements that mimic Nature. So when we hold postures, nothing's ever a right angle, we never have 90 degree angles in our body, everything's always round and curved. We have curved postures. And we have fluid motions. It's very opposite to the sort of Western idea of movement, which is extremely mechanistic. It's like move this weight from point A to point B, point B to point A, right? You're thinking about all these angles and your joints and you're extending, and you're flexing and extending and you're flexing and Qigong, we're thinking about flowing through things, we have a concept called stop, don't stop. When we're in constant motion, even if something looks like it ends in a posture. As soon as we're in that posture, we're already moving out of it. And stop, don't stop. And so we say that this mirrors nature more if you look at like water flowing, it might flow from the river into the lake. But as it meets that lake, it stops, but it doesn't stop. But water in that lake is always in some kind of perpetual motion as well, eventually evaporating. And you can never quite draw lines and distinctions between where one thing ends and another begins.

Tom VandeStadt 21:04
Would you say it's really a discipline, especially for us Westerners, to get us out of our heads to living almost exclusively in our heads sometimes in to bring us back into our body? And that by bringing us back into our body, we are re experiencing ourselves as natural beings.

Nick Loffree 21:26
I'd say that sounds like the idea.

Tom VandeStadt 21:29
Okay, all right.

Nick Loffree 21:29
Yeah, our bodies have a lot of information they give us that I think we've kind of been cultured out of being able to listen to. So like being able to listen to your body about what food is good for it. What it's kind of craving some women when they're pregnant, get really in touch with this right there. Their bodies will tell them exactly what kind of food has the exact right nutrient that that baby needs. And allows me something really weird. You have no idea why it's like pickles and stuff. But those pickles are usually high. And I think vitamin K too, which is very hard to get in the diet. So the body is full of intelligence. I actually used to have a when I was a apprenticing with my teacher would do these very long Qigong sessions, and they'd always be right before dinner. And so I'd be starving by the end. And we do a meditation at the end of the whole meditation, my brain would be producing visions of what kind of food my body wanted. And it'd be like it always be like blueberries, salmon, rice and seaweed for some reason. And this is very strange, because I had all these weird metaphysical experiences with bears were bears were trying to show me how to heal my digestive system, that sort of power animal kind of situation, I guess. And a lot of those were bare foods, all the Sampson salmon and berries kept popping up in my head during meditation. So I think the body has a lot of wisdom that we tend to try to think our way out of, it's like, oh, let's think about which diet is the best we look for someone else to kind of tell us what food is supposed to be good for the human body, as though every human body needs the same food all the time.

Nick Loffree 22:59
That's interesting. Talk a bit about the shamanic roots of Qigong and that identification with animal spirits.

Nick Loffree 23:10
So the oldest known form of Qigong is called Five animal Qigong. Usually, anytime anything has five a number five in it in the world of Qigong, and Taoism, it relates to the five elements, which in sort of a Taoist world are metal, earth, water, wood, and fire. So a little different from the western model, if you're familiar with that. But usually, each animal kind of relates to an element each of these elements and animals relates to different aspects of our personality and psyche, as well as different kinds of physical internal organs and things like that. So they would identify animals that seem to relate to these things. So let's say you are a person who easily gets walked all over by other people, you have a hard time setting boundaries, and saying no, and being just honest, even though it kind of hurts people's feelings and things like that. There's kind of a people pleaser, then you might want to do some tiger Qigong, because tigers, what are they? They're a solitary creature. They don't care what anybody thinks of them. And they're extremely territorial, right? They've spent all day walking miles and miles and miles, patrolling this territory. So let's say oh, the Tigers are good for people who need to set boundaries.

And then this relates to the sort of metal type elements within Qigong metal being sharp, cutting, drawing lines making boundaries. So they would use the spirit of the tiger, kind of moving like a tiger shaping your hands like Tiger claws, doing Tiger like movements, bringing energy through the metal channels through the body, which moves through the arms and the lungs. But it also mean putting yourself in the shoes of the Tiger trying to look through the Tiger's eyes as you're practicing this. So instead of trying to mimic a tiger outwardly with your body, you're actually trying to become the tiger and look through its eyes as you're practicing. And so this is all to kind of strengthen this side of your personality. And so what researchers think archaeologists think is that because this is the oldest known form of Qigong, that it probably means Chi Gong came from shamanism were originally you know, tribal societies. The shaman would be someone who's incredibly, psychically open and was able to channel different spirits, oftentimes, especially in the northern hemisphere, those spirits being animal spirits, they usually move through the shaman, the shaman to sort of become the animal. And this will usually involve a dance. So the animal instead of really the sometimes I think it would be the shaman does a dance in order to bring in the animal but a lot of the times the animal moves through the shaman, it tells the shamans body how to move. And so the shaman sort of channeling the tiger spirit are a very, very common one was the bear spirit was super common among tribes in the northern hemisphere.

But this bear Spirit would come through and give healing powers. And people think that this sort of more impulsive, intuitive channeling of these sorts of spirits or even archetypes, you might say, evolved into as China became more civilized and orderly, they might have lost touch with those roots of being able to be intuitive and that close to nature, and maybe they lost touch with that, then you needed sort of mystics to be able to channel that and turn it into some sort of formula that ordinary people could follow. So the shaman or the mystic or the Taoist hermit or whatever, would channel that tiger spirit of that bear spirit, like crane or whatever. And let's say, Okay, here's how my body was moving while I was in this sort of shamanic trance. Let me take those and turn them into specific exercises that you can prescribe people seems to be the route of Qigong. And after that over, you know, centuries, a lot of it stayed with us kind of natural routes. A lot of the postures and everything are still named after nature, things like mountains and moving like a river or standing like a tree, often still animals. But it really is those older forms that were really the case where you were being the animal and really looking and moving like these animals.

Tom VandeStadt 27:04
Yeah, that's fascinating. There's a scientist named Melanie challenger, she's written a book called How to Be animal. And she writes, the the first opening sentences in this book are, the world is now dominated by an animal that doesn't think it's an animal. And the future is being imagined by an animal that doesn't want to be an animal. So I'm wondering if if Qigong can help us get back into kind of that animals side of ourselves, you know, a real appreciation that we ourselves actually are animals, instead of denying it experiencing that? Can Qigong help us do that?

Nick Loffree 27:45
Think so it's definitely helped me with that a lot. Yeah, speaking of people creating the future don't want to be animals. I mean, if you look at Silicon Valley, where I live for the last seven years, and you know, it's just full of people are all in their head, all these tech engineers and everything and, and they're creating the future. And a lot of them are transhumanist, you know, they want to create robots that they can apply, they think they can turn their consciousness into binary code and just stick it in a robot and, and become immortal that way. And I don't know if a lot of these people are the spiritual leaders, you would want moving the world forward. I think a lot of them really are out of baseball, just a lot of people I met there, I think a lot of them are really out of their body, they often have a very hard time with the dating world, a lot of these kind of dorky guys who live in their head, and they don't spend a lot of time in their body. And they can have a hard time kind of figuring out how to navigate women because women are looking for an animal, or looking for an animal that can think and do smart things. But at the end of the day, they're looking for an animal, they're looking for a physical being.

And Qigong, I think really puts you in touch with that animal side of yourself. I think, I think one of the under talked about benefits of Qigong is it actually really helps your sex life, like your ability to just feel into your body, feel what your body's instincts are driving it to do, and intuitively feel even into your partner's body and to build a feel like, what is their body asking for and this also works not just like sexually, but in even the healing arts if you do massage or things like that, being able to be in your body, but also almost be in someone else's body. It's like use your pair Perry personal nervous system to kind of feel your way through another person's body and what their body might be needing or wanting. And not really just at a physical level where you can kind of feel where the knots and stuff in the tissues are, but feel really energetically where things are blocked up and where you can sort of move energy through. Yeah, there's just there's a weak interface between body and mind for most people, I would say actually, especially well educated, smart, upper middle class, upper class people. I think the higher you go on the kind of socio economic ladder, actually, the less in touch with your body or you can see that just with how jobs pay, the more physical a job is typically, the less it pays. The more mental a job is, typically the more it pays...

So I think especially people who work in those kinds of mental fields need something like this.

Tom VandeStadt 30:19
Yeah, yeah. All right. If you would contrast the Dow with Chinese medicine, understanding of the human body with the Western understanding, I know you've had a lot of personal experience with this. And this has really motivated your, your spiritual path, the two different ways that these two different cultures have looked at the body.

Nick Loffree 30:40
Yeah. I think I was realizing this the other day that a big part of what created Western medicine as it is, which is this very, like scientific, materialist, isolationist kind of way of looking at things. I think a lot of that actually came from the interaction of medicine and Christianity, where so much of the early Christian cause was to eliminate all the other sort of esoteric traditions. But unfortunately, so much of ancient medicine did not separate spirituality from physical health. And so this sort of mind body connection, you might say, or the spirit body connection, was like, most of the medicine at the time. So trying to get rid of the pagans often met getting rid of the pagan medicine as well. And so a lot of medicine just got stripped down. And a lot of science was like this, as well. And I think this was, in a way, this was a blessing in disguise, because in order to pursue truth, and to discover reality, objective reality, you had to make everything you did as non superstitious, as non spiritual, as non esoteric as possible.

And so I think this is what made the West. Really, this is like throwing rocket fuel on the fire of the physical sciences in the West, because you have to completely divorce physical science, from spirituality and religion, or the church would have a problem with you, right? And so we got all into the objective and kind of let go of the subjective. And so that's what kind of gave us all of our science and medicine today that we can fly airplanes, we can fly rocket ships, we can do crazy surgeries and MRI machines. But in terms of understanding how the mind is affecting the body, or spiritual life is affecting the body. I think Western medicine is like really behind. So I'd say that is the big difference between Chinese medicine and Western medicine is Chinese medicine, like almost all traditional medicines, sees spirit and body as one continuous continuous thing and is always kind of treating both at the same time or using one to treat the other. And in western medicine, we just call that placebos and hypochondriacs and things like that. So we don't even have a great way of explaining it. Especially really funny because we have so much research on placebos, like you invented drug, and it doesn't work, but the placebo healed 30% of people who took it, and it's like, well, I guess this drug doesn't work. It's like, Wait, how did we just heal 30% of people with a sugar pill? Why don't we figure out how to replicate that, you know?

Tom VandeStadt 33:18
Yeah. Talk a bit about Chi Gong and stress and resilience. It seems like we live on a very, very stressed out planet right now. And wondering how much of the harm that people are doing to themselves to other people to the planet is attributable to the stress that humans feel in their bodies and in their emotions and in their minds. And how is Chi Gong an antidote to stress?

Nick Loffree 33:55
I think stress narrows our perception. There's actually a really interesting study on grasshoppers so grasshoppers, if you put them in an environment where there's too many grasshoppers, they're all too close together. Then they're evolved and mechanism that turns them into locust. And so basically, their body gets stressed out because they're like, oh, there's not enough food. There's too much there's too many grasshoppers and not enough grass. So let's change and evolve to this more sort of aggressive herd mentality, locusts, that it actually physically changes, it gets bigger, it grows spikes all over its body, it can be cannibalistic. And, and they just get a swarm things and eat whole fields at the same time. And I think humans are kind of similar when we're in this enriched our stress state. It makes us more selfish. We start behaving just for us and our team we often think of working for our team is a very selfless thing like oh our family or our political party or our religion, like that's like meaningful and selfless but really like all the great spiritual teachers have tried to tell us to go past those groups to go past the nation to go past, the tribe to go past the religion and all this stuff.

So I think our stress puts us in this more selfish place, it makes us think of ourselves as in a constant lack. And so we're always sort of looking for things to fill the lack when we're stressed, or is when we release a lot of our stress, we feel more of a sense of abundance, we feel generosity, because we have a contentment, we don't have the story going that like, Oh, poor me, I don't have enough of this or that, or whatever. And we start having more generosity to give.

My wife is a very devout Christian. And she's convinced me recently to start tithing, which is where you give away 10% of your income. And I was very skeptical at first, I was like, I mean, I barely put away 10% to pay my taxes, I gotta put away 10% every month just to give away. But as soon as I did it, within a week, all kinds of economic opportunities have started throwing themselves at me. So there's a very weird relationship between the energy you're putting out generosity and the energy the universe is giving you. But it is funny, I barely noticed that money leave, I wouldn't have known that it was gone. Had I not sent it out myself. So it's kind of funny how we tell ourselves these stories of I don't have enough, I don't have enough, our stresses telling us that. But we can release that stress, or just do the opposite of whatever that stress was telling us. And an often has the opposite effect. But a chi gong really helps us stress just really at a physical level, the way basically the Dallas, look at the patterns that we hold our body, the way we breathe, the way we move, when we have various stressful emotions. So for instance, when we're angry, we tend to clench our fists and our shoulders and our jaw. When we're scared, we tend to clench our abdomen and cover our internal organs or vital organs with our ribcage. So they just say to, to move in opposite patterns to those stressful body reactions, to breathe in the way that we breathe when we're relaxed. So we basically just fake it till we make it and she has a lot of why we move slowly, too, because the fight flight or freeze response, either means you're frozen perfectly still, it means you're running as fast as you can, or you're fighting as fast and as hard as you can. So the one movement pattern that isn't doing any of those is moving slowly and gracefully, right?

So we move with grace, slowness, ease relaxation, we breathe slow, deep breaths as we do that. And this basically tells our body, that we're not stressed and our body believes it, and then starts to tell our mind that we're not stressed.

Tom VandeStadt 37:34
Seems like, we need a lot less stress in this world. We need a lot more Qigong practitioners, you know, a lot of people are looking to adapt to some very harsh conditions in the future, given climate change, and biosphere destruction and all of that. And it really seems to me that reducing the amount of stress within the human race is absolutely necessary.

Nick Loffree 38:02
Totally. Yeah. The irony with Qigong though is, when you're in that stress state, you don't want to do Chi Gong. Yeah, your body resists that at every step. Because if it was so easy, it's like, oh, just do this movement this way and breathe this way in your stress will be gone. Everybody would have done it by now, you know. So you really have to kind of convince your mind like, No, we're going to feel better at the end of this. It's going to feel a little worse at the beginning. You know, if you're feeling very angry and impatient, and you're trying to move slowly, and breathe slowly, your mind just going to rev up that impatience temporarily. Like why are we doing this? This is so stupid. So you do kind of have to push past those barriers.

Tom VandeStadt 38:41
Yeah, yeah. Well, I was glad that it was physical pain that drove me into it. So. Okay. I have one last question for you, sir. Nick, you are really the inspiration for this theme restoring connective tissue. In your videos, you describe how Qigong restores connective tissue by making it strong and supple, smooth and resilient. Now the connective tissue in our body is physical tissue. But we can use connective tissue as a metaphor to describe any element relationship or process that forms a connection. Be it the biological connections and biospheres, the social connections in societies, the emotional connections and relationships, the cultural connections and culture. And it seems like so many of all of these connections are being pulled apart today. So much of the world in which we live seems to be coming apart at the seams. So I'm wondering Can Tao ism in Qigong serve as a spiritual practice that moves us to take a vow to restore as much of this damaged connective tissue was possible? Not just in our body, but in the world around us?

Nick Loffree 39:56
Yeah, I think one thing you learn from Qigong is to know was how things affect you get a little more sensitive to those things. So you might notice that when you're walking outside, and there's fresh air that you feel a shift in your energy that makes you feel better, you might notice how you feel before and after watching a particular TV show or movie, and how that makes you feel, which you might not have noticed before, because you might not have known what peace was, what relaxation was, what calm was, until you had it, then you start to notice when it's disturbed better. So I think noticing things that are unhealthy, culturally, unhealthy environmentally, you can actually really feel those in your energy better, if you've connected to the kind of energy you actually want, which a lot of people never do this kind of run from one pleasure to another, trying to kind of avoid discomfort and get pleasure from external sources, but they never felt themselves inside create this energy field that you actually want to live in. So I think that on one hand, and this specifically environmentally, I think one thing that might help the environment more is to make it feel more immediate and selfish to people. Because most of you will probably have a hard time thinking several generations in the future about people they'll never know, or thinking about some abstract forest a long way away that they don't know why they're supposed to care about when they're just thinking about paying rent or something. So I think helping people have direct experiences of how healing nature can be, will make people want to preserve nature more. For instance, the National Parks system in the United States, was created because certain presidents and whatnot, I believe, just fell in love with certain areas. So I think getting people to fall in love with nature, is a good way to convince people to want to preserve it. And you can see this really bridges the political divide, we often kind of think about, like, oh, left wing people are the kind of good guys who are preserving nature and right wing people are the evil guys who just want to burn more oil. But right wing people have their own reasons. They want to protect nature, they love to camp, they love to hunt. And I've kind of learned this here in Idaho. It can be really good stewards of nature, when it comes to protecting wildlife and stuff like that. And it's because there's a selfish reason there's they want to hit those elk every year, they want healthy elk numbers, and there's certain things that gotta happen to prevent forest fires and all this stuff to keep those elk herds healthy. So I think the more we can make it feel immediate for people helps. And I think Qigong can play a part in that for a lot of people. I don't think you'll ever get the majority of human beings on earth doing Qigong. But that could be one tool that brings a lot of people closer in a closer relationship to nature, seeing how the health of nature impacts the health of themselves and their family, and just is beautiful, it makes them feel good and gives them a sense of spiritual connection.

Tom VandeStadt 43:04
Wow. Okay. Well, thank you so much, Nick. I'm so glad that we had this chance to talk. And I want to thank you for taking this time in so we've been talking to Nick Loffree Qigong teacher, thank you, Nick.

Nick Loffree: Thanks!