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In episode 17 of the Mind Body Free Podcast, Nick Loffree shares his journey of Bioenergetic Health and how he used meditation, diet, and Qigong to overcome schizophrenia and become the healer he is today.
This episode is for anyone struggling with mental health, looking for ways to heal their body or strengthen their own practice with the powerful yet gentle healing practice of Qigong. Nick has a ton of helpful Qigong videos on his Youtube channel, so go check them out!
Do you love the show? If so, I’d love it if you left me a review on iTunes. This helps others find the show and get integrative healing support. Simply click here and select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review”. Thank you so much ❤︎
Abby (00:00:00) Hello and welcome to the Mind Body Free podcast. I’m your host, Abigail Moss, and today I’m getting to speak with Nick Lafley. Nick helps people attain their ideal mental and physical well-being through a bioenergetic toolkit. His work began with himself when he underwent a spiritual initiation of schizophrenia and subsequent health issues created by medication. He now helps thousands of people through his online courses, videos, and instructor certificates to achieve the same level of seemingly impossible healing. I found Nick through YouTube and one of his qigong videos, which was fantastic, and he’s got a ton of videos on there, so I highly recommend checking out all the notes. The links are going to be in the show notes after the show. So Nick, welcome. Thank you for being here. Thanks for having me. Yeah. How are you?
Nick (00:00:52) Pretty good. It’s always funny. I never just copy-paste my bio. I like, always rewrite it every time somebody asks me for my bio, so I didn’t have to like surprises every time I had to read back to me. I’m like, Oh, what? I wrote about this site.
Abby (00:01:06) I like that. You’re honest about that. I did the same thing. I feel like it’s like this continuous evolution and how you feel that day and where you’re going and the direction you’re moving.
Nick (00:01:14) I was just assuming whatever ones I wrote in the past just were awful. So.
Abby (00:01:18) Exactly. So just delete all of those. I’ve never existed. So can you tell me a little bit about the work that you do? You mentioned you kind of help people through the bioenergetic toolkit. So what does bioenergetic mean?
Nick (00:01:34) You know, mostly just the way of making cheese sound palatable to Western Western minds, I guess. But it’s also partly a lot of my exploration recently over the last couple of years as being into. How there is a materialist science behind the energy of the body and its very sort of like super well known. So I dug for it for a long time before I found somebody who put forth a complete theory of bioenergy that had practical applications and seemed to be valid.
Nick (00:02:11) A lot of people, you know, people try to Westernize Xi and Chinese medicine and stuff like that a little, you know, they’ll be like, Oh, you know, quantum physics and, you know, quantum physics as these. Really, it’s almost esoteric. It’s so difficult to understand what people are trying and what scientists are trying to say with quantum physics that you can practically take anything they say and extrapolate it to be proof of whatever spiritual thing you’re talking about.
Nick (00:02:35) So I was dissatisfied with most of the westernized versions of theories of XI or things like that until I was just because I’ve been in the world of nutrition a long time and am kind of trying to figure out how to fix myself. I had a lot of physical health problems after my mental health problems because of the medications I took.
Nick (00:02:55) And so I went there, you know, every like dietary philosophy, as you know, did the keto. I did the raw vegan, I did the paleo, I did all of it, you know, every detox you can imagine. And eventually, I stumbled into this weird, weird world of a guy named Raymond Peat. And he’s a biologist. He’s like 85 years old now, so he’s been teaching about this stuff for a long time. But he, instead of coming into medicine from the, you know, a medical school or like a nutrition school, he came to it straight out of like just pure science, right? And so he’d been saying biophysics and biochemistry and everything.
Nick (00:03:32) And he was just very getting dissatisfied with the status quo that he was seeing in science and then was noticing medicine was doing a lot of weird stuff based on that. And so he built on the work of a few old scientists who are dead now, like Otto Warburg and on Sell You, Dr. Britta Barnes, who’d been, you know, all inadvertently working in their worlds, coming up with these theories of how energy and energy flow is what runs the body. And so Ray took these ideas and built them into something more practical, like, how would you eat if you wanted to follow this?
Nick (00:04:07) What supplements would you take if you believe this about the human body? And so instead of like what’s usually the way the human body is looked at is very like structural, mechanistic, mechanistic. And that’s typically the criticism that we have when we’re coming from the Chinese medicine land and we look at the Western medicine lens and it’s like, you guys just see everything is like a car.
Nick (00:04:26) You know, these little moving parts and particles and everything. And in, you know, in physics, they would say, like, you know, there’s we can look at the same particle like a photon and it can be a particle or a wave, depending on how you look at it, right? But most of medicine and biology are still on the kind of particle part of biology, I guess, and how we view the body. And so these guys are sort of getting more into the wave of how to view the body.
Nick (00:04:52) So instead of just structure its energy and structure and how these two inform each other, the energy maintains the structure. The structure produces the energy. And as I started learning from this guy’s method, I just kept realizing more and more like he’s just describing Chinese medicine, having never come across Chinese medicine as well. Maybe kind of give him a chance. Like he was saying a lot of weird things that I was like, the ZOE. This is true. Like, he thought serotonin was a stress chemical. It wasn’t a happiness chemical.
Nick (00:05:21) He thought it was like a bit of a conspiracy on the part of the pharmaceutical companies. They just needed a new thing to blame for depression so they could patent another drug for 20 years, you know? So they came in and around the same time, people, it was in the 60s. People were using LSD and psilocybin and stuff, and those block the serotonin receptors. And so he thinks that it was a kind of collaboration. The government wanted to make serotonin look good because LSD made serotonin look kind of bad enough. So. So they got the heir to the drug companies.
Nick (00:05:55) The antidepressants they were using at the time are a bit of a tangent, but the presence there isn’t at the time. We’re MAOI inhibitors, the same thing that you take when you take ayahuasca, the DMT drug. Mm-hmm. You have to take an MAOI and MAO inhibitor to have the DMT stay in your system. And that was the original antidepressants up until the 1960s, where they were taking that half of EOSIO basically as a pill to cure depression.
Nick (00:06:24) But in the 1960s, the patent ran out, and so they wouldn’t be making any money off it anymore because all the generic brands would take it over. So they needed a whole new theory of what causes depression so that they could sell a new drug, and they came out with this deficient serotonin theory anyway. So this guy, this guy thinks this is much better so serotonin can cause a lot of mental health problems. And I thought that was crazy and the only reason I gave any.
Nick (00:06:48) A chance is because his underlying theory was just Western Chinese medicine. And so his other theory was this just like what my teacher says and qigong when your stress lowers energy production. Like we tend to think in the West, like, Oh, stress is good for me. It makes me productive, right? I’d be so useless if I didn’t have my stress pushing me all the time. But eases your stress as a backup system.
Nick (00:07:11) You don’t want your stress being your main motivational sort of drive. That’s like your backup system. That’s why we wind up getting cancer and things like that. It’s not natural for the body to be having stress as a source of energy all the time. And so he thinks when the stress is low, you have higher energy and better quality energy. And when the energy’s high, you have lower stress. And he explains this all in terms of hormones and everything. But he’s essentially saying the same thing I’ve heard for years and years of qigong in Chinese medicine and everything.
Nick (00:07:40) So I gave him a chance with the serotonin thing and did a bunch of stuff, he said to lower my serotonin. And I got to say, like, it has a huge benefit on my mental health. I can track like, Oh, I stopped doing those Serotonin lowering things and now start to get a little depressed or to get a little more anxious than I usually am. And it’s just amazing how the mainstream can just be flipped on its head, and it can be the opposite for something we’ve been doing for 50 years.
Nick (00:08:04) And it can work. Wow. Did you have a question? I remember what your question was. Oh yeah. Why do I call myself bioenergetic? It’s because that’s the name for like, this school of thought is like the bioenergetic theory of health. And so I thought I would apply that to qigong and stuff.
Abby (00:08:20) It was a loaded question. That’s so interesting. And as someone who has done ayahuasca and still uses psilocybin, I find it helps my mental health quite a bit with ayahuasca. Definitely. I don’t know the chemical. I don’t have an experience of chemical serotonin exploration and lowering not to create happiness, but I want to. It’s kind of interesting how you mentioned, you know, we use more energy when we are stressed. I wonder if the serotonin release is a response to that stress and what you’re doing by lowering it is also affecting the cause of why your body feels the need to release it. I don’t know. I’m just exploring, but I think it’s fascinating.
Nick (00:09:02) Yeah. Here’s a really weird fact: you know where locusts come from. You know, the swarm is like a swarm of locusts, right, like in the Bible and stuff.
Abby (00:09:13) Yeah, yeah. Oh yeah.
Nick (00:09:14) His locusts are just grasshoppers. And it’s just when grasshoppers get super stressed because they don’t have food in their environment or things like that, then they transform into locusts instead of being serious instead of being peaceful, solitary grasshoppers. They swarm together. They form a mob and they go, go, and riot, and they physically transform. They get the gross spikes. They look more aggressive. They act more aggressively. They become cannon.
Abby (00:09:39) It’s like something that’s in an animal movie, but it’s real.
Nick (00:09:42) And the chemical that drives their transformation from grasshopper to locust is Serotonin.
Abby (00:09:47) That’s so interesting. I love that one species will transform like that. I get the term for it. But I know, like Candida, it’s a yeast that’s like, you know, harmless yeast and a balance. But then with stress and, you know, toxins and the wrong environment, it transforms itself into a fungus and then spreads throughout the body. So it’s so interesting that stress is always the factor, the contributing factor.
Abby (00:10:11) So, yeah, that’s so interesting, huh? Well, it makes sense that, you know, a plague of quote-unquote a plague of locusts if there are not great things happening in that time. Of all, these grasshoppers are getting stressed and starting a swarm every yeah
Nick (00:10:25) And eating at each other and stuff.
Abby (00:10:27) Yeah. Oh, God. Yeah, that sounds very fitting in the Bible story. Yeah. All right. So you went on quite this journey and you went on a big mental health journey. So it sounds like you integrate a lot of these lessons into yourself. Oh yeah. And seeing experientially what worked and what didn’t work? Yep.
Nick (00:10:46) It felt like an unknown. And what is that uncharted and trail or whatever? You know, as I was like, I’m like, I’m like seven, like seventeen. And I have psychosis and the doctors are just like, Oh, just take these pills. And I’m like, Is there anything else I should do? And they’re like, No, no, just the pill. Yeah. Like, I’m like, Have you heard of meditation? I just heard about the meditation things that I do out of there, like, worry about it, just take the pills.
Abby (00:11:11) And it’s sad. It’s such a loss for the ability to help people with this kind of thing. It’s interesting. Like in the shamanic perspective, mental illness and schizophrenia especially would be seen as a healer trying to be born where you’re accessing kind of these different dimensions and perceptions and states of being that are in like a really low frequency and you have this innate gift to perceive this stuff. But there’s a lot of healing that needs to happen to clear away that darkness and make it feel like a gift and not a burden.
Nick (00:11:43) Yeah, I was really lucky. I had read a book on shamanism like right before or right as if I was going into psychosis or something. So I kind of had that mental frame, like already kind of made for me, and I have a word for that. I think it would be a lot harder to get through because you think about it just as something you’re fighting instead of something you’re integrating or surrendering into like that. Yeah, yeah.
Abby (00:12:05) You’re not broken and you’re just going through an initiation. As you said, when you’re yeah,
Nick (00:12:09) I think that’s part of it. Yeah, when I was able to relax and because a big part of it was just constant paranoia. So it was like the hallucination part and delusion part. But then it’s just like it’s paranoid and full of fear all the time. And when I was able to let go of the paranoia and fear part, the hallucination delusion part would sort of instead of being like all this crazy stuff, my mind was trying to convince me that it became like holy visions as I would.
Nick (00:12:35) I knew nothing. I knew nothing about Hinduism, but for whatever reason, I was having visions of, like Hindu gods all the time. If I could relax like my chocolate open and these gods would come to visit me, they wouldn’t say anything. It’s just ignored. There’s like this visual art. Almost that was like reshaping my energy body or something like that. Amazing. I kind of miss it now because I know, I know that a little too much with the medication. Oh, and now I’m like, Oh, I wish I could just relax at night and hang out with gods and stuff.
Abby: Oh well, I can help you with that. We can talk about that, OK? I had a friend or not a friend. She’s a friend now, but I had a student I worked with for a year and she had schizophrenia, and she grew up as early as she can remember seeing demons all around her. And just like Tara, terrifying. And so we did a lot of healing on the trauma and like the layers of trauma as there is, there’s a lot to release and as we release it layer by layer, she started seeing angels and she started seeing the demons as these misguided energies and learning how to work with them and healing energies. Incredibly powerful healer.
Abby (00:13:39) It’s been amazing to watch her grow into herself and realize this, but I feel like I also have an uncle with schizophrenia, and it didn’t go that direction because he didn’t have anyone to support him in that journey. You have this intuition and this will move into this stuff, which is beautiful. I feel like if more people have the right support, we have a lot more healers in the world than like, you know, people who are still being tormented by this stuff.
Nick (00:14:04) Yeah, I agree. Yeah, this is funny. I think it’s a funny thing in the West. Swear. You know, our history in Europe is like the church and the scientists were like they hated each other, right? Because the church was like, we not only do we own spiritual truth, we are objective truth, right?
Abby (00:14:22) They want to do whatever.
Nick: They like to overstep their bounds with their like field of expertise. And so the people who are trying to discover objective truth in the physical world were totally at odds with them. And so we’ve developed a culture, you know, hundreds of years later, we’re still in this culture where, you know, if you’re a scientist, if you’re a psychiatrist or psychologist or whatever like, you’re expected to think a certain way, like demons aren’t real. Angels aren’t real. Psychic abilities aren’t real.
Nick (00:14:48) Like anybody who thinks these things have to be delusional, like, I’m sure some people are just like hallucinating, but probably a lot of people are hallucinating. But I think there’s a lot of this like in my experience with what I went through. I don’t know how much you know about my story, but I had real experiences of supernatural phenomena. And you tell the psychiatrist about that, and I wasn’t integrating it well. I was super paranoid.
Nick (00:15:09) So they go to a psychiatrist and there’s like, oh, supernatural phenomena, schizophrenic. Like, you’re just crazy. And it’s like, Yeah, I’m like trying to do experiments with them and everything like, let’s see if this is real. And they have no patience for that at all.
Abby (00:15:22) Yeah, because it’s not aligned with the belief system, right? It’s like it’s been against the popular ideology. And I’m popular. It was illegal to explore that stuff.
Nick (00:15:32) Is that what it was?
Abby (00:15:34) Well, I mean, back in like the pagan Christian colonialism, I mean, it was illegal to practice other forms of spirituality and kind of commune with spirits. Yeah. And then eventually became just going to be demonized in the media. And oh, it’s not real. It’s all false. And then there’s like you mentioned, that materialist perspective of this is what’s real, only what we can measure.
Nick (00:15:56) Yeah, they’re like the new church itself. It’s so funny. Yeah. So this always happens like a group that’s persecuted. And then finally they win the day and now they’re the most powerful group. And then there’s persecution, you know, it was just so ridiculous like that
Abby (00:16:10) We’ll find balance someday, I think. Yeah, perspective is good, and I like what you’re doing. your kind of bridging these two worlds of science and energy in Chinese medicine, which China is and I think can seem like it can appear as a kind of woo and like, what? What are you talking about? Like, I know when we were taught, they told us that, you know, Western medicine sees the body like a machine, which can be useful sometimes. Like, if I break my arm great, I will happily go see Western Doctor.
Abby (00:16:36) Chinese medicine sees the body like a garden. So we have to pluck the weeds. We have to balance the elements and the nutrients and plant good seeds. And it’s such a different, totally different paradigm, a way of seeing things and working through things
Nick (00:16:49) Uses a lot of metaphors and the west. I think the Western mind is so literal when you hear the metaphor like, oh, dampness or, you know, damp heat or things like that. And we’re talking about blood in Chinese medicine, we don’t always mean blood, you know, it’s like this kind of blood, you know, like spiritual blood. Go to that man. So in the western mind is that they think they’re like, really hearing like, oh, there’s dampness. Like, there’s like a build-up of fluid somewhere.
Nick (00:17:12) Well, sometimes we mean that, but sometimes it’s like, this thing is like, it’s like, it’s like the Chinese are separate, like metaphor and literal like literal reality and a lot of the ways they talk really. Chinese medicine Typekit. So it was very confusing to the Western mind. So we just classify it as we were, you know?
Abby (00:17:30) Yeah. I think it’s more like that soft kind of flowing abstract concept, a way of seeing things which I love personally. But I can see it also being infuriating if you’re used to being able to, like, clearly define things. So if you were struggling with these mental health issues when you were 17, which is early on, I mean, not uncommon as a teenager, but that’s tough. What was it like moving through that?
Nick (00:17:58) Is Just kind of terrifying all the time. For the most part. And then and then really amazing at some points like, as I mentioned, it’s kind of spiritual, energetic experiences. But for the most part, yeah, just mostly just sucked all the time. And then and then the medication sucked almost as bad as it did suck as bad. So it was worth taking. I guess it felt worth taking at the time, but it’s just like the opposite problem with you. I went from, like, in a psychotic state. It was like I was like, everything was so open energetically. It was like, as all boundaries.
Nick (00:18:31) I dissolved, and that just was terrifying. And then the pills are like the opposite. I got numb and I got fat and I got just full of mucus and skin inflammation and pimples. And just like the total opposite problem. Instead of being super anxious and fearful all the time, it’s like, I’m depressed and brain fog all the time. So, yeah, mostly it was just super lame, but gradually over the years, like learning different things, getting into meditation and yoga and nutrition and qigong. And I wouldn’t have put so much effort into those things and gotten as much out of them if I hadn’t been in so much pain.
Nick (00:19:09) So the first tool I tried to implement was meditation. A friend of mine had gotten me a book on Buddhist meditation while I was in the mental hospital. So I read that in the hospital and then when I got out, I practiced every day and it was kind of like it wasn’t an instructional book. It is a fictional story, I believe the Buddha said of his actual story of attaining enlightenment. I think it was like a fictional version that was meant to read like a novel. But in this version, he gains enlightenment by sitting next to a river and just listening to the sound of the river.
Nick (00:19:40) And that was like the thing he focused on was just that sound. And that was like a meditation technique. And so I was like, Well, that’s the only way to meditate. So I’ll do that. So I went to this river near my parent’s house like every day for literally three or four hours every day. And like me now, never do that way too uncomfortable. I’ll do that for like a week. I’ll do that for a retreat. But I do this for like six months straight and I’ll sit on these like uncomfortable rocks in a very uncomfortable body. I hadn’t done yoga or anything yet, so my body doesn’t like sitting like that and stuff.
Nick (00:20:12) And I’ll just force my mind like over and over and onto the sound of the river. And I got nothing out of it, nothing out of it. For six months, I didn’t feel more relaxed. And if it were peaceful or spiritual, nothing until like finally, what like on the six months or whatever, I’m sitting there and I put my mind on the river and it finally actually stays. It doesn’t wander off. It doesn’t go and listen to whatever voices are in my head. If you think meditating is tiring with just your voice in your head, you just try it with a whole bunch of voices in your head. But I finally got my mind to stay on this river, and I don’t even think it was that long. It was like 30 seconds, maybe a minute top where my mind was just dead silent, just hearing the river.
Nick (00:20:51) And I think about it is, I guess, my conscious mind because my conscious mind was so empty of thought at that moment. My unconscious was able to come out. And so all like the inner conflict I had, I was sort of driving the psychosis, the fearful part of the psychosis, basically just everything I hated about myself. I have low self-esteem, social anxiety, and stuff growing up. So it’s just like everything in me that I hated came out as one archetype like a mask of a demon, just like displaying and like vivid, horrifying detail like this is everything you hate about yourself.
Nick (00:21:26) But instead of seeing it as a mask of someone else, it was just like, This is you. And believing it for a split second and that fear like, oh no. And then the mask comes off and I’m looking at it as what it was. It was just a mask. And underneath that, seeing who I am, someone a kid worthy of love and worthy blah blah blah. And then I just basically cried for like 20 minutes of just snot pouring out of me into this river. And I’d like to say, Oh, after that moment, like I was healed of the psychosis was God.
Nick (00:22:00) Not at all. It was just like, it was like, you know, one percent of the burden is lifted and just a little glimpse into like, Oh, I because I had a feeling when I was going through it that a lot of this psychosis was driven by my insecurity. At times, I got bullied by things like that. And then I had this like unconscious trauma in me, and that the psychosis wasn’t just random because all my friends were doing all the same drugs and all the crap I was doing and they were psychotic.
Nick (00:22:25) So I figure there’s probably something in me that needs to come out in that kind of verify form for me want to had that experience, but I suppose my point to your question was I would probably not have pushed myself that hard for that long to get that if I wasn’t in such an immense amount of pain with no other options. So for that and that way, I’m grateful for it.
Abby (00:22:45) 100%. I mean, that’s what I think of so many people’s stories that start with pain and that’s a motivator, because why else would we bother to do the work? It’s work. You want it. I’m impressed that you did that for six months, not feel like you were getting anywhere but kept going back. That takes a lot of faith. Yeah, I don’t know why I do.
Nick (00:23:02) I think I just really trust the Buddhists because before, before I went psychotic, I’d been using psychedelic drugs and having amazing experiences on them and experiencing, you know, like the non-self and all the things that the Buddhists preach about enlightenment and then going without having read their text.
Nick (00:23:22) I experienced that first and then went and kind of got into Buddhism when I was reading their stuff and I’m like, Oh, well, this is exactly like what I experienced, so these guys must be on to something. And so I think because of that sort of thing, I had a lot of trust in what they had to say about how the mind works and stuff.
Abby (00:23:36) So a good friend, give me that book. Maybe he’s down. You get what you need when you need it when you’re ready for it, I guess. Yeah. Wow. OK. And so after that, how did you start getting into this by your energetic healing and qigong in Chinese medicine? Yeah.
Nick (00:23:52) So again, very similar. So I had been doing these psychedelic drugs, and I was experiencing like the chakras or the energy centers or the Dentons, basically exactly as they were laid out in those eastern classics I was experiencing on psychedelics before I was psychotic. And then while I was psychotic when I was just kind of permanently, it was like a lot of psychedelics. And when I relax, I would have these chakras and things open.
Nick (00:24:20) And so I was experiencing those oftentimes before I’d read anything about them and they went all the way up to like 22. Was like five years later, I was still having these experiences. I would come out of meditation or things like that, and then I’d go read a book and be like, Oh my gosh, this is exactly what they said. What happened? So it was sort of happening to me, and that’s what got me interested in the chakras. And then I was reading about yoga, and then my mom was getting into yoga and she’s like, You just come to a yoga class.
Nick (00:24:44) I thought I would get it. And I went to a yoga class and fell in love with it because that was the first physical thing. I’d been introduced to it before. That hadn’t occurred to me whatsoever that anything physical would affect my mind. Not diet, not movement, not sweating, not anything. I just thought, Oh, the mind fixes the mind, so I’m going to meditate like that. The mind thing and I have a mental problem. But when I did my first yoga class, I was like, Oh my gosh, this is the first time I’ve been relaxed and like, two years, where do I get more or less?
Nick (00:25:10) So I got, like, instantly addicted to yoga, like real physicals, like power, yoga, like, you know, use your muscles to move, your body goes up and you know, you can feel how doing the practice opens up the body’s energy. And so I just kept that curiosity going. And it gosh, it was like four years of this, four years of like meditation and yoga before I realized, Oh, I wonder what I’m eating has any effect on my brain or anything like that? I don’t put it together at all. I was eating fast food three meals a day for four years while being a practicing Buddhist meditator and like a serious yoga practice.
Abby (00:25:46) Kudos to you. Feel that a lot of focus on the mind of being through that.
Nick (00:25:52) Utterly Mcdonald and KFC and everything every day. And I think it was like, literally, I like reconnecting with an old friend and he’s like, Have you heard of this acid-alkaline thing? And I was like, What does that mean? And I started reading, I was like, Oh my gosh. Like, I never even connected the dots at all that like my skin problems like eczema, like mental health problems. All this stuff can have anything to do with what I was eating. Looking back, it’s like, I have no idea how that was not even on my radar at all. Isn’t that weird to not connect that at all?
Abby (00:26:22) Maybe you’re just like one at a time, you know, just like really chose the path of like, I’m going to figure this out one at a time.
Nick (00:26:29) I just didn’t even occur to. Meaning that it can be possible, and I still get surprised to this day. I like I’ll post on TikTok. Something about our diet can affect depression or this or that. I constantly get somebody in my comments who is so mad at me that I would suggest such a thing. They think I’m like, just some kind of quack, like trying to lead people off their medications, or I never tell people to quit their medicine.
Nick (00:26:52) I think I just give suggestions for other stuff they could do alongside it. People are constantly like, you’re going to trick people into thinking, if they kill, they’re going to be able to go off their meds. And then my words here is that
Abby (00:27:04) There are a lot of triggers in the world, like if someone’s in pain and it can be easy to want to point fingers. There’s a really good audiobook I listen to. You have to remember the name of it, but a psychiatrist and a chef, and she’s it’s all about the gut-brain connection. Is it
Nick (00:27:19) Kelly Brogan?
Abby (00:27:20) Kelly Brophy? Indians are probably not, but I mean, that’s good. There are many books on this topic because they should be so huge. Yeah. You know, she talks to you about how you can’t. If you have had a mental condition for a long time, likely, there’s also something going on in the gut, and you can’t treat one without treating the other like you need to look at them holistically. And I’ve noticed that on my health journey, like if I eat the wrong thing, my body is very responsive. It gives me a lot of feedback. Within minutes, I know with my mood, if I if it was right or not, I have the same
Nick (00:27:52) Blessing and a curs
Abby (00:27:53) Sensitive. Yeah, yeah, exactly. It’s like you just you. There’s not a lot of wiggle room to keep messing up, if you know better to keep listening to that motivating force, right? With the psychedelics being a part of your journey, it’s found that like personally, when I did ayahuasca, it was incredible and transformative. And then coming back and trying to integrate that was just a shit storm, and it was a matter of like, OK, what are all the tools? What did everyone do before? Like the yoga qigong, the meditation? It’s kind of like standing back on your power, learning how to get back to the place you met, which plants showed you by being able to do it on your own?
Nick (00:28:33) I think a lot of people get lost where they just keep going back to the plants back, back, back, back and they never, they built, get some discipline in their life to kind of integrate and implement the stuff they learned and all get a lot of lost souls.
Abby (00:28:46) It’s true. Yeah, you know, it can be really powerful with the right additional support and the will and knowing that we’re not powerless to start doing this stuff. You can feel like you’re at a loss when you just look at what Western medicine says. And you know, a food diet has nothing to do with mental health like it can feel disheartening. Like, like, there’s no hope for you until you start trying things and believing that it’s possible to heal, which you seem to have no problem doing. So how did you get into doing that qigong?
Nick (00:29:20) She gave us a funny story. I was cleaning toilets at a gym for a job, and there there’s an inspiring moment. You know the chop-chop wood carries water, I guess. But I was like, I was halfway through my yoga teacher training. It was like a split up over a year, and I’m just trying to make money while I’m going through it. And there’s an acupuncturist slash bongos on the teacher, so like a Chinese martial artist who was at the gym operating out of there. And he’s like, Oh, if you love yoga, like, I bet you’re going to love qigong. And he sent me a YouTube video of this guy named Li. Hold on to him from the qigong world.
Abby (00:29:58) I don’t know, I’m OK.
Nick (00:29:59) I was going to say he’s the most famous name in Chicago, but maybe not. Yeah, he got famous because this DVD has gone on to PBS television for it. So it’s not anymore because it’s exercise stuff isn’t a thing anymore, but it was on PBS and all over the country for a while. But anyway, it seems like a little seven-minute qigong routine of just like, really gentle, like flowing slow-motion exercises that you link with your breath also very slow.
Nick (00:30:26) And I tried it, and I just couldn’t believe like how like just seven minutes of that made me feel so, so relaxed, like I’ve been doing a long time of yoga and meditation and things like that, and I’m like, Wow, that is the quickest path I have ever taken to being super relaxed and no anxiety. And I went to bed after that and my whole body just felt like it was made of cotton. And, at the time, I had this giant walk on the bottom of my foot. It was enormous, super deep. And I had it for like four years, and I went to the doctors over and over again to cut it off, like frozen off.
Nick (00:30:59) They burned it off, medicated it, and just kept coming back. And as I’m lying there in bed, I’m like, I wonder if I can make this work. Go away with this cottony energy I’m feeling. I just kept sending my breath and my attention. And eventually, this energy starts going to my foot or those waters, and my foot just starts kind of buzzing with that energy. And I kind of fall asleep while I’m doing this. But when I wake up, this word is not only gone, it’s so gone. It looked like it was never there, like the skin on the bottom, I flipped over. I like completely regrown and I never came back and
Abby (00:31:30) That’s miraculous.
Nick (00:31:32) But I later learned from Dr. Andrew Weil, who’s that, you know, have these kinds of famous for? He’s a real M.D., but he kind of makes his fame off of talking about, you know, holistic stuff and Mind-Body Medicine. He said that the number one illness that tends to respond best to mind medicine, like healing something with your awareness or a placebo or attention or visualization is warts. I have no idea why, but it says that’s like the most responsive illness that now
Abby (00:32:00) So physical. I know. Yeah, that’s great evidence. Aside from feeling fantastic, here’s some materialist evidence you change something on your body overnight.
Nick (00:32:11) So I was hooked just because it felt so good. And also, I’ve always been like a big, nature guy. So I love that, you know, all the movements are like a bear swims in the ocean and like the creams spreads its feathers, stuff like that. So I thought it was cool. So I got into it and I was just finishing up my yoga teacher training. So when I went back, I had to teach an exam, like teaching a little class to the classes, like part of graduating. And so I brought in some of those qigong moves into it and everybody loved it.
Nick (00:32:40) And so I was like, Oh, this is cool. And then when I got back from the yoga teacher training, I’d overstretched a whole bunch of my connective tissues. So like while I was going through the second half of this training, like every forward fold I did felt like someone was just sighing off my hamstrings and
Abby (00:32:57) I’ve been there. Yeah. So it’s hard at the training center.
Nick (00:33:00) It’s a lot of yoga to do all at once. It’s like you’re doing four hours of intense yoga.
Abby (00:33:05) That’s too much for the body.
Nick (00:33:07) It’s too much to kind of pack it all in like that, I think. But also, you know, I a good teacher and he’s like, like the main thing he was trying to teach this whole time was like, you know, listen to your body, listen to the instructions, listen to your body, like, take a break if you need to get to listen to all because I’m like twenty-two and I’m like the only guy in a room full of like twenty-five beautiful women. And I’m like, I don’t want to be the guy sitting out like I was. I’m trying to show off.
Nick (00:33:32) I just kept pushing through it, even though I felt like I was just getting ligaments sawed off. And by the time I finished the training, I’m like, Man, it hurts every time I do yoga. So I go to physical therapy and the physical therapist is like, Move me around. Like, Does this hurt? Am I hurt? I’m like, No, he’s like, You don’t have any pain. I’m like, Well, I just have pain when I do yoga. So can you fix that? And he’s like, Oh, how about you just don’t do yoga for a while? And I was like, I just could. I just literally dropped out of college and spent the tuition money, my last tuition money for college on a yoga teacher training.
Nick (00:34:01) Like, I invested everything in this thing and now I couldn’t even do yoga, let alone teach it. And I had some classes lined up to teach. And so instead of bailing on them, I was like, Well, for whatever reason, I can’t do yoga, but I can do qigong. Even the stretching parts of qigong I could do without the pain because it’s just like this different style of stretching that involves fluid movement while you’re stretching and stuff for a reason that didn’t aggravate things. So I just started teaching. I called a Chinese yoga class, and that way I could sort out those classes if people aren’t too disciplined.
Abby (00:34:32) Yeah, it’s amazing how much can happen with such a gentle approach. Something I love about qigong is that it is so gentle like all ages, all abilities. You can do it sitting down. You can do it lying down. Do it in your mind. Yeah, it all helps make me think of a situation where, you know, even though yoga is good for you, you do push it to a point and create stress. It starts becoming bad for you. But I’ve never found that with qigong, where it’s gotten to a point where it creates stress as I’m moving through a block and then I feel amazing a few minutes later.
Nick (00:35:04) But yeah, the only bad side effect. I’ve got another qigong or a couple sometimes that can aggravate the knees. A few misaligned things. It’s actually like 10 tennis elbow or a golfer’s elbow. You get qigong and tai chi me. That’s usually from just kind of standing the wrong way and stuff. And the other one is more energetic. We’re like. Comes from using too much mental effort while you’re doing qigong, so a lot of people get obsessed with it, visualizing part of it.
Nick (00:35:32) It’s like there are all these cool generalizations. Imagine this like going here that like going there and oh, you’re in a mountain and now there are birds. And so they get hooked on this idea that like, I’m going to control the tree with my mind, you know? Mm hmMm-hmm, what they don’t realize is, what they often do is like, let’s say you’re trying to move the chair to your lower abdomen. Well, if all the effort is coming from your head, from your mind, trying to direct the cheek that she’s going to go to your head to give energy to that mental effort.
Nick (00:36:02) And so I would add this period for like a year. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I’d be doing qigong. I thought it was doing everything right. But at the end of practice, I’d have all this pressure in my head and give me brain fog, and I’d wind up getting really angry and easily irritable, and I couldn’t sleep. And I was like, What’s going on? What happened to qigong practice? Eventually, I learned that trying to force things too much mentally?
Abby (00:36:25) Do you find it because you teach qigong? Do you find that happens a lot with your students? Is that a common thing as Western people make thinkers?
Nick (00:36:33) It happens a lot in the qigong world, but not really with my students because I discourage it.
Abby (00:36:39) That’s good. So how did you go from that to what you’re doing now? Like, how did you feel called to start sharing this with people?
Nick (00:36:48) I just kind of know it all. I think I learn new things. I just want to tell everybody so I can either tell all my friends and family and annoy them and knock it. I’m not getting paid and they’re just being annoyed all the time because they want to listen to me. Or I could find people who want to hear what I have to say, and they want to give me money. And that’s everybody’s happy. So.
Abby (00:37:07) So fulfilling. Hey, I’ve been there also,
Nick (00:37:10) You know, desire to help the world, blah blah blah. I have to.
Abby (00:37:14) Yeah, it all kind of goes together, right? Whatever motivation. And did you ever find that like, I mean, for you? It doesn’t. I mean, for me, anyway, I found, as I’ve been on this kind of shamanic healing path and with qigong, there’s like this little part of the back of my mind that’s like, you can’t remember, like for you. You did. But like for me, if I had a word on my toe, my mom would be like, You need to go get some sort of hard chemicals to put on that thing because energy is not going to move that look. Look how dense and physical that matter is. Do you find that that’s something that you ever had to overcome? Or do you find that in your students of moving through that sense of doubt, they can come up?
Nick (00:37:54). Students, I think I’ve got a weird personality trait where when somebody, when somebody says something is impossible, it makes me like, just want to do it more.
Abby (00:38:05) So that’s a good trait.
Nick (00:38:08) So I feel like that’s helped me a lot. But I do. I ran into it not a ton with students. I have all kinds of students so actually there’s always something they believe to an extent, you know, and then it’s like, Oh, well, you can’t do anything about that with nutrition, you know, it’s like. Oh, now that I have cancer, I’m going to stop coming to chew gum in class because I need to go to chemo all the time and it’s like, Well, why don’t you do both? I say, Well, cancer’s too serious for qigong, so there’s not that kind of stuff that happens with COVID.
Nick (00:38:42) It happened a lot, you know, just people just don’t want to hear. And even people who have been doing qigong for ages, really want to hear like that. It’s like qigong could be helpful or there are dietary things that could be helpful because they’re in my class for maybe an hour or a couple of times a week. But then they’re watching the news like, you know, six hours a week. And so it’s just you’re kind of competing, you’re competing with a lot. You know, everything I teach, I always try to be like, you know, like, I don’t want to take full responsibility for you dying of cancer or something.
Nick (00:39:12) I’m not going to tell you to stop doing chemo or something like I’m going to pretend I know everything about, like how chemo works or how effective it is. But I know that like, other stuff also helps. And so when it comes to mental health, especially like I always try to be like, like, I’m not going to be the one to tell you to stop taking your meds, work with your doctor. If you feel like, you know, doing qigong or fixing your diet or something has given you a little more foundation where you feel a little more stable and you want to think of talk about weaning off your meds, like go to your doctor and talk to them about weaning off the meds.
Nick (00:39:44) Tell them you feel more stable. You don’t have to tell them why, because you tell them it’s qigong. They’re going to think it’s a bunch of B.S. and they all do whatever you’re selling them, you’re so much more stable. You want to experiment, you want to work with them more than they’re usually like, happy to help you out with that. But I never want to be the guy to tell people, don’t do this or don’t do that. But people, people do have a lot of limitations where they like, Oh, like, what does food have to do with your brain?
Nick (00:40:07) Your brain’s obviously in a capsule, outside your body, on another planet, somewhere in everything you eat. It’s not like it goes into your bloodstream and affects your brain and builds your brain and builds all the chemicals in your brain.
Abby (00:40:20) Not at all like that? No.
Nick (00:40:21) So I was always kind of funny running into people’s closed minds about that.
Abby (00:40:25) So I think it’s I mean, it sounds like you’ve got a grounded approach where you understand a lot of the scientists who have this sort of a blend of sounds like western and eastern medicine. So you can kind of speak to it. What’s actually from that material’s perspective, but also speak to that deeper, energetic layer, what needs to happen? I feel like if you can say, OK, here’s what’s happening to your brain right now and explain it in a way that is very relatable to what we’re used to hearing from scientists and doctors but also can add the other dimension.
Abby (00:40:56) I feel like that can open up worlds for people. For me, I’m very much like, I’m too abstract like I feel and experience that way. I’m not an encyclopedia of facts, so if people want that, I’m just like, You got to go see somebody else help you with that. But it’s really helpful for kind of opening up minds to the possibility of this being something that does things.
Nick (00:41:18) Yeah. Have you heard of them? There’s a French woman, a shaman named Karrine, something like a Mongolian. She trained in Mongolian shamanism.
Abby (00:41:28) I need to look into more people, and I’ve not heard of most people. But tell me about her.
Nick (00:41:34) Oh, this is well known. But yeah, she was a Frenchwoman. I think she was. I had heard what she was studying. She was an anthropologist or something, and she went to do her Ph.D. by living with the shamans in Mongolia and studying them. And as soon as she got there, as soon as she went to her first ceremony and as soon as the shaman started hitting the drum, she fell onto the floor, having seizures, and went into a shamanic trance. So the shamans were like, You’re not here to study here to become a shaman, just say no.
Nick (00:42:03) And so they trained her for like eight years or something. And when she came back, she had all this scientific training. And so she wanted to kind of bridge the gap. And she wound up taking a bunch of shamans from Mongolia and a bunch of schizophrenics from France and putting them in MRI machines to scan their brains while they’re in a shamanic trance or having a psychotic break. And when she showed these scans to neuroscientists, they couldn’t tell the difference between the brain of a schizophrenic patient and the brain of a shaman in a trance.
Abby (00:42:35) I think that’s amazing, but it also doesn’t surprise me.
Nick (00:42:38) It doesn’t surprise me at all.
Abby: That’s so fascinating. What’s this woman’s name?
Nick (00:42:41) So I know her first name is Corrine C.O.R., and if you take like Corrine, Mongolian French shaman,
Abby (00:42:49) Or yeah, I’ll see if I can find her. That’s so fascinating. And any kind of lines up to it like that shamanic view of mental illness, being a healer, trying to be born like if your mind open and you have this ability to sense what’s going on around you, it’s like, OK, let’s just clear the lens through which you’re seeing it. Is it through pain, trauma and darkness, and attachments to that or fear? Or is it through the light that you are and the light around you and you know, the experiences of those past stories?
Nick (00:43:21) I think Joseph Campbell,
Abby (00:43:23) Have you heard of just, Oh yeah, yeah, that is one of her. We’ve followed this account.
Nick (00:43:29) You probably know what it is, the schizophrenic or maybe the psychotic? I remember what he says, but the psychotic or schizophrenic drowns in the same water that the shaman or the mystic?
Abby (00:43:40) I have. I have read that that’s a beautiful quote and encapsulates what we’ve been talking about. So well, I think. So if there are people out there who are struggling with their mental health, what would you want them to know?
Nick (00:43:53) It’s going to be hard. It’s going to take a long time. It’s going to take you people listening less time than it took me, excuse me. It was like 10 years before I really felt like I’m going to have, like pretty much overcome the stuff I can live a normal life quotation marks. But it’s going to take you guys less time because you found people like us here. It’s kind of like going through a lot of this and helping a lot of people. I spent a long time there. I was just reading books, lots of DVDs.
Nick (00:44:22) I never really talked to anybody who knew what they’re talking about for the first, probably like six years of going through this, I was just doing it all on my own. The people I like. You were like psychiatrists, so make use of it if you can get like. If you can talk one on one with somebody, you should really because it can, it’s just really going to take you a lot further, a lot quicker than trying to do it on your own, especially when you’re suffering from mental health problems. What’s wrong is that your mind isn’t working optimally, so trying to figure everything out on your own can take even longer because, you know, it’s a little harder to use your intuition and use your own guidance.
Nick (00:45:04) And it’s just nice to just have a team of support and people that can help you out on maybe on both sides of the East-West divide. And yes, that’s going to level up quickly. It’s not something that I can tell you to do. The action was like, Oh, eat this diet or do this, you’re going to find what works for you like. So just one thing I’ll say is that a big thing that’s in like the Daoist like Chinese medicine world, like a perspective on healing, like one lens that they’ll sometimes look through is if there’s something wrong with your mind, focus on healing your body and if something wrong with your body, focus on healing your mind and spirit. And it doesn’t always have to look like that, but sometimes that’s just a little easier.
Nick (00:45:51) Way to go about it is, you know, your mind’s having all this trouble. So really leaning on your mind’s abilities for your healing can sometimes be not as reliable, right? Going to your body, doing yoga and eating better and taking herbs and things like that can sometimes be a little. You can get a lot more of a foothold there. And then once you have that little more foundation of your body supporting your mind, bring in more mental stuff, spiritual stuff, things like that can be very useful and beautiful.
Abby (00:46:19) I like that perspective, too, like, OK, my mind’s not working great, but I’ve still got this body. How can I use that to help this part? That’s not running? Often we’ll jump in. All right, I’m going to jump into the painful part and navigate stuff within that spine. And especially to try and do it by yourself. Yeah, that is hard. Yeah, I’m a huge believer in having a team of support. It’s helped me so much in my life and I will probably work with other healers, guides and coaches for the rest of my life as well as you, the Chinese medicine, doctors of the body and, the Western medicine doctors for, you know, a handful of things. But yeah, yeah,
Nick (00:46:55) Having a lot of spiritual healing just comes from the feeling of being supported by family, even despite the advice they gave you. Yeah. For me, getting like my qigong teacher became like my number one mentor throughout. Still, to this point in my life is like my number one mentor, and I was like that filled in a huge, like healing gap in me. I had a very cold, distant father who, you know, I didn’t ever experience like, like warm, loving, supportive energy from a man. And when I got that from my qigong teacher, it filled a hole in my heart. And that was I felt like a big part of my healing process besides him just teaching me cool stuff.
Abby (00:47:32) Yeah, that’s beautiful. So much of that is just getting that nourishment that we need, you know, coming into the world with love, acceptance, belonging, community. Yeah. Yeah. It doesn’t have to come from your parents or political climate.
Nick (00:47:48) Yeah. Yeah, there are studies on that. A lot of people will talk about how, you know, having homes without fathers present can be bad, especially for young boys growing up. But if you were kind of looking into the data, it’s actual communities without fathers. So it doesn’t matter that much if your home specifically has a father. But if the community does not like nurturing, supportive, protective, caring men who will just play the father role regardless of their biological status with you or whatever, that has the same positive effects.
Abby (00:48:19) That’s so interesting and so good to know. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, amazing. Such social creatures. Are. Yeah. So for people wanting to work with you, how would they go about doing that? What kind of stuff do you do with people?
Nick (00:48:34) Yeah. So the easiest way to jump in with me is just to go to YouTube. I got tons of qigong routines, and a lot of them are like themes towards something you might be going through. So like, you know, checking for anxiety, to account for depression, to for neck pain, low back pain, all kinds of stuff like that. So that’s the easiest way to jump in and see if you know my kind of style of movement and breath and everything. Therapy is helpful for you. And then if you want to work with me one on one, if you go to my website, there’s a coaching tab or something like that there. So you can go one on one there.
Nick (00:49:09) And then, yeah, that yeah, I post lots of advice and stuff on TikTok and Instagram and things like that. Just follow me there and see what kind of stuff I like. Oh, I forgot. That’s the relevant thing and everything. We just. I just took an E-course called the seven-day reset. And it’s kind of putting together a lot of the tools. I just talked about some nutrition stuff and qigong, and it’s just kind of all it’s meant to be done is like a seven-day thing. You just try it for a week and just see if you feel better.
Nick (00:49:37) Does this particular diet philosophy that I’m advocating in this particular movement and breath philosophy I’m advocating work for your particular system. I’m sure it doesn’t work for everybody, but you just give it a try for seven days. Most people are not going to kill you. And so if you feel better, then you might want to keep exploring that sort of philosophy. If not, you move on, but it’s only like 20 bucks. So that’s amazing. I think I gave it to you for the show. Note the link should be there.
Abby (00:50:01) Yeah, yeah. I’ll include all the links in the show notes. I’m so glad that you’re offering that because as someone who comes from very much like the deep spiritual abstract world, that’s my zone of genius. And I saw that you’re doing all this stuff like this is perfect, so I won’t go and do stuff that is going to help you tremendously and will help you with all kinds of other work.
Nick (00:50:18) To make an e-course in the future together, maybe one to two wings on that bird?
Abby (00:50:23) Yeah. That’ll be great as well. Thank you Nick to do what you’re doing and we’ll talk soon
Nick (00:50:31) Awesome. Thanks for having me. Yeah.