The second phase of the mystical chi-cycle is ‘breakfast’. You’re probably wondering how I’m going to write a whole article about breakfast, but I could run a three-day seminar on breakfast; I could write a really big book, and I mean War and Peace size, about breakfast. I’m not sure how many copies I’d sell, given our poor relationship with this meal but, mystically, it’s the most important meal of the day and, as such, it deserves some serious attention. Metaphysically, the orbs, the divine consciousness of your organs, are now ready to take the abstract idea of the cosmic self – gained during your prior breathing and chi practice – to your heart, the seat of knowledge, so that you will know your cosmic self. It will no longer be a concept, you will feel it, you will be it, you will have ‘arrived’. This is the mystical purpose of breakfast.
The Daoists believe that your ‘destiny hangs by a thread’ several times a day, and breakfast is definitely one of these times. The breathing and chi practice activated intestine energies, set a mystical internal process in train and allowed access to the first destiny gateway of the day. The next gateway now lies before you. If you eat the right foods, the right way with the right attitude, the inner organ processes can continue smoothly. The chi you have generated in your practice can merge with the chi from your food and be taken to your heart. You will be further guided towards destiny and happiness. You could describe breakfast as a cosmic dance of chi. Behind the scenes, this dance is happening via your acupuncture points and meridians; the conduits by which chi (energy, consciousness and information) flows between the divine consciousness in your organs and the cosmic chi matrix.
The perfect breakfast would be one in which you acknowledge this metaphysical aspect of the meal. It would begin with you sitting contemplatively in front of a bowl of delicious steaming porridge (that you have pre-soaked overnight) prior to eating. A certain amount of the chi of food is in the steam, and taking a moment here prior to eating, allows the chi to enter your meridians via an acupuncture point in the nose, Colon 20 (CO 20). This point is the end of your large intestine channel and you could say it is where the mystical baton is handed over to the orb of the next organ, your stomach. Colon 20 is Ying Xian, or ‘welcome fragrance’, and its metaphysical role is to welcome your food. The plan is for the ‘chi scouts’ in the steam to go in ahead and do the preparation for this, so that when food reaches your stomach the ‘gates are open’ and nutrients can be fully absorbed.
This might sound all lyrical and poetic yet Chinese medicine is highly practical. Letting your awareness expand to acknowledge this invisible, magical process, and consciously make ‘welcoming’ your attitude to breakfast, works wonders for your digestion and health. I’ve treated plenty of people who have good healthy diets, yet they always feel tired, lethargic and listless because they are nutrient and chi deficient. This is because eating is not just a mechanistic action; how, when and even why, you eat is equally important. If you are preoccupied by simultaneously being on the phone, emailing or reading the paper, it prevents you from sinking in or welcoming, nutrient absorption is impeded, your food is not fully utilized and can end up stored as fat. So distracted eating can also be one of contributors to weight gain. If you are doing the chaotic breakfast dance – where you are munching on a piece of toast while rushing around putting your shoes on, making calls, feeding the cat, watching bad news on TV, texting and brushing your teeth all at the same time – the outcome can be more serious. Because what you are doing externally, this scattered multi-tasking, will be reflected in your internal chi processes.
At breakfast the orbs in your organs are waiting for you to sit and relax so they can ascend the good chi to your heart (a yin action), and smoothly descend the waste products down away from your heart (a yang action). But the chaotic dance interrupts this natural flow. It makes yang rise, so that good nourishing chi can’t be taken to your heart, and waste can’t be taken away. There’s a clash, food and chi becomes stagnant, and you get bloating. Those ‘lite and easy’ sugary breakfast foods are a boom industry now, because the sugar hit creates a false sense of movement and gives you the impression that you can eat while multi-tasking. But the sugar is just masking what is happening internally, plus it prevents nutrient absorption and it intensifies chi stagnation. The worst outcome of the chaotic breakfast scenario is, over time, such internal disruption occurs that you get a reversal where the energy of ‘waste product’ is taken up to your heart and the energy of ‘good chi’ is taken down and away from your heart and eliminated. Your heart is the emperor, the seat of knowledge, all your organs make offerings to it, if it has been fed waste product, the scene is set for pathologies including IBS and heart disease, but also depression, loss of hope and despair. This is not our destiny.
What you eat is as important as how you eat. In Chinese Medicine a warm, nurturing cooked breakfast is always preferred, as cooking is an opportunity for alchemy. You can work with the elements, with ‘fire’, and chi can enter the equation to create meals that support the mystical inner processes. If you love fruit in the morning, I suggest having it warmed rather than eating it cold, and maybe put on pancakes made from non-wheat flours. Avoiding toast for breakfast is a good idea too. To see the next mystical destiny gateway we need to ‘sink in’ at breakfast time and a slice of Mighty White is not going to take us there. Even if it’s not Mighty White, toast has the energetic value of fast or convenient food. It’s so easy to grab a piece of toast and do other things at the same time. But slow, warm and welcoming are the qualities we want to be cultivating now, which is why porridge or warm congees are ideal. You can’t rush out the door with a handful of hot porridge.
A lot of people tell me they can’t ‘stomach’ warm cooked food in the morning, but we are all by nature warm breakfast-eaters (and morning people). So if the very idea of a cooked breakfast makes you think ‘yuk’, it is just an indication that you have temporarily lost cosmic alignment. Realign with the cosmic forces and you will be welcoming warm breakfasts before you know it. As an aside, and getting back to the toast issue, another benefit of attuning to chi and the chi-cycle, is that (remembering that chi is simultaneously energy, consciousness and information), you can develop the ability to ‘test’ the chi of foods (and everything else) by passing your hands over it. There is an acupuncture point in the palm of your hand, Pericardium 8 (P8) which is a fire point for your heart, the seat of knowledge. This point is Lao Gong, and its role is to comfort and protect the emperor, the heart. You could think of it as your permanent high-speed connection to the cosmic chi-matrix, by which you can instantly access information on whether or not something is of benefit to your heart and your cosmic self. If I test toast, I get a big ‘NO’. Not because toast is bad, but because it doesn’t promote the action of finding the cosmic self (which means finding Dao). It is ordinary nourishment for your ordinary self, and we are being willed by Dao to be extraordinary. I say toast at breakfast is the enemy of Dao! However, the beauty of the chi-cycle lifestyle is that you don’t have to give anything up, you just reschedule it. If you want toast, cold foods or cornflakes, you can always have them at other times when it won’t interrupt your destiny.
In the hierarchy of breakfast sins though, eating toast is definitely a lesser sin than skipping breakfast entirely. Skipping breakfast is perfectly acceptable in the mechanistic Western worldview, in which we think we (our minds) are in charge of everything, but it’s a shocking thing to do to your heart and soul. The whole point of the mystical chi-cycle is to take us from ordinary to limitless beings, and missing breakfast means you’re undermining your physical health and the opportunity to discover your cosmic self. This, in turn, means you’ll be more likely to believe that a limited life is all there is, and this creates unhappiness. Skipping breakfast is especially common for the ‘yang-type’ personalities, as their energy levels are naturally so high that they can get up, get straight into work, and sometimes go all day without eating. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Your mind is yang, and if you wake up and give it the reins, it won’t want to stop. It will be telling you that you don’t have time for your chi-practice in the morning, that you have important work to do, that you have to be in control, that you don’t have time for breakfast, that you can grab a snack later, and so on.
When the Daoists say ‘the mind is the enemy of Dao’, this is exactly the type of situation they are referring to. Because the eventual outcome is conditions including high blood pressure (a yang overload in the heart), stress disorders and stomach ulcers. Yang out of control also means you can’t switch off, can’t sleep, and have a constant low-level of irritation from what you see as ‘obstacles’ that are ‘in your way’. All of this too creates the environment for heart disease. In our mystical model this is to do with interrupting the inner processes, the natural flow of yin and yang, and from yang rising to your heart. Take love and chi to your heart instead. Even finding 15 minutes to sit down and calmly eat a nice warm breakfast will contribute to this.
If you are one of the 10 million or so Australians who skip breakfast, and just can’t face food in the morning, slowly realign yourself. Don’t sit down tomorrow in front of a massive pot of steaming porridge, trying to remember the connection between your intestine and nose. Prioritize Chinese herbs and nutritional supplements. In the context of the mystical chi cycle, Chinese medicine is here to support our journey to find our cosmic self, and the herbs (especially longevity formulas) work in conjunction with the chi practice and chi-cycle to do this. Take high-quality nutritional supplements as well, as these are concentrated foods. You still have to eat though, supplements and herbs don’t work without food, but start with lighter foods.
Keep in mind that when, where and why you eat is also important. As regards to ‘when’ – ideally allow two hours between getting up and eating so that you can make a connection to the mystical first. For that reason I wouldn’t recommend breakfast in bed or going out for work or social breakfasts. Not because I am a wowser, I used to shoot-up speed for breakfast after all, but because working or partying at breakfast affects your ability to sink in. It can bring forward your ‘acquired’ or ordinary self, where you feel obliged to conform to other people’s notions about what you should be saying and doing. This is your mind ‘interpreting’. The reason I used to do drugs for breakfast was that I wanted to perceive the world through a filter of cosmic awareness not through socially accepted limitations. This is exactly the right idea, just not the right method because doing it via drugs is unsustainable and eventually takes you further from Dao. But keeping your cosmic self as the ‘perceiving’ agent at breakfast rather than your mind, by following the chi-cycle, is sustainable. And it means that everything that happens in the day ahead can remain in a cosmic context so you won’t get sucked in to in other people’s emotional dramas. You’ll be able to ‘escape reality’ (and, yes, we are all supposed to do this) and automatically be much happier.
Now it may sound as if I’ve been bagging the mind in this article, but only because at breakfast we don’t want to break that thread connecting us to destiny, we want to access the next gateway, and our mind can’t do this. But it’s not supposed to. It has a different task and it’s about to get its time on stage, in the third phase of mystical chi-cycle (chi practice, breakfast, work hard, lunch, work less hard, play, wind down and sleep), which I’ve called ‘work hard’. If you approach breakfast as ‘metaphysical munchies’ as described above, you have prepared the ground for your mind to be harnessed to your mystical goals, so it can now contribute to keeping you on the path to destiny and happiness. Finding your cosmic self is an exhilarating, mind-blowing, rewarding experience, and the perfect activity for this season of celebration. So welcome breakfast and celebrate your soul, your destiny and your cosmic self.