Following “yes” signs, leading retreats, immune healing from nature, Qigong, energy exchange,


This week on The Less Stressed Life Podcast, I am joined by retreat leader Jessica Van Antwerp. In this episode we discuss following “yes” signs, leading retreats, immune healing from nature, Qigong, energy exchange, being a giver, and the 8 tenets of wellness.


• Benefits of retreats & immune healing from nature • 8 tenets of wellness

• What is Qigong


• Following "yes signs"

• How to protect your energy

• How to reset if you are not able go on a retreat

About Jessica Van Antwerp:

Jessica Van Antwerp is the owner and CEO of Integral Travel. Jessica provides wellness retreats and education to teach people how to unlock their bodies' natural healing capacity while connecting with others and the planet. Jessica uses these retreats to express the power of transformational travel and its regenerative potential. With the influence that our online world has on connecting others around the globe to better ourselves, Jessica is a leader in this as she is changing the lives of others who join her journey through physical, psychological and spiritual activities.  Jessica draws on over a decade of experience in the health and wellness industry. She aspires to help people find inner peace. Having dealt with anxiety, low self-esteem, weight and body-image issues, she knows just how difficult it can be to overcome these things and find self-love. She’s spent over a decade in the healing arts, doing massage and Shiatsu, teaching yoga and qigong and through the lens of Chinese Medicine, learning the ways that we can reconnect with Nature to rebalance our bodies, minds and spirits.

Where to find Jessica Van Antwerp :








Jessica: (00:00)
When people learn how to physically relax their muscles, it frees up that energy to be used for other things in their bodies.

Christa: (00:09)
Stress is the inflammation that robs us of life, energy, and happiness. Our typical solutions for gut health and hormone balance have let a lot of us down we're overmedicated and underserved at the Less Stressed Life. We are a community of health savvy women exploring solutions outside of our traditional Western medicine, toolbox and training to raise the bar and change our stories each week. Our hope is that you leave our sessions inspired to learn, grow, and share these stories to raise the bar in your life and home

Christa: (00:52)
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Christa: (01:38)
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Christa: (02:23)
She uses these retreats to express the power of transformational travel and its regenerative potential with the influence that our online world has on connecting others around the globe to better ourselves. She's a leader in this, as she has changed in lives of others who join her on journey and through physical, psychological, and spiritual activities, she draws from a decade of experience in health and wellness, aspires people to find inner peace and having dealt with anxiety low self-esteem weight and body image issue. She knows how difficult it can be to overcome these things and to find self love. She spent over a decade in the healing arts doing massage and shout suit teaching yoga. And Keong I think I said that, right? Keong we'll find out in a moment and through the lens of Chinese medicine learned the ways that we can reconnect with nature to rebalance our bodies' minds and spirits. Tell us all the things welcome, Jessica.

Jessica: (03:09)
Thanks Christa. Thanks for having me.

Christa: (03:11)
All right. So I was just chitchatting with Jessica, like Hmm. How do you become a retreat leader? Why would you become a retreat leader? Tell me about your life. Tell me, and then we can talk about what Qigong is it Qigong Qigong is that right?

Jessica: (03:22)
That good? That's one way to say it. Yeah, absolutely.

Christa: (03:25)

Jessica: (03:26)
Ke Kechi Japanese pronunciation, Chinese pronunciation. Ah,

Christa: (03:30)
Okay. Well, let's unwrap that in a moment here, but first tell me a little bit about how you got into this area, because maybe you fell into it. Maybe not, maybe it was what you needed, maybe it was solving a problem. Tell us about this experience.

Jessica: (03:45)
Well, I think all of the above are, would be accurate and kind of explaining my journey into owning integral travel. Just I guess my history with travel, I have just loved it since I was a child, mostly just traveling around the us, but my dad was an international businessman. And so he would go to Europe like every other month for his job. And I just became fascinated and developed this longing to go. And so one day I was 11, he got back from a trip to France and I asked him, I was like, dad, will you take me with you? And he said, I'll tell you what, save up $500 and I'll take you, you on a trip to France with me. So by the time I was 13, took me two years of babysitting and mowing lawns, um, to save up $500. And I took that money to my dad and I said, all right, let's go.

Jessica: (04:33)
And he was like, what are you talking about? because he didn't remember that he had, uh, made me that promise, but true to his word. He did take me to France with him. And it was just for, you know, a 13 year old kid to experience just such a beautiful culture and just such a different, a different language and different food and different customs and traditions and architecture and so much history there and just opened my mind and made me thirsty for more travel that same summer. We also took a trip to Argentina cause my dad had had a, an Argentine for an exchange student when he was a senior in high school. And they had kept in touch for all of those years as they got married and had children and families of their own. And so that summer pretty much set me up for, uh, a lifetime of thirsting for travel fast forward, you know, 13 years I'm in massage school and stepping into this career of self-employment, I'm a self-employed massage therapist, as opposed to, you know, working in a spa or a medical setting.

Jessica: (05:31)
So being self-employed, I don't get paid vacation. I don't get vacation time, you know, so I'm really sort of tethered to my clients and my practice immediately after massage school, I started teaching Chik and was back in the classroom, teaching massage and got certified to teach yoga. And this was, you know, a little more than 10 years ago. And I was like, okay, so this is my opportunity. This is how I can like incorporate travel into my career. Right. I can travel and teach at the same time. So I don't have the expense of taking the vacation and then also missing the income at the same time. So it took a while. That was, that was the vision. That was the grand vision. And I've, I've held that vision strong since then. And then in 20. So that was, I graduated massage bowl in 2009.

Jessica: (06:20)
And then over the years, it's just working as an entrepreneur, building various massage training programs, teaching really developing my skills in the classroom as a teacher and really UN, unearthing my own natural passion for it and talent for it. And in maybe 2015, a colleague who had started integral travel in 2002 as a time massage training program, she became pregnant and got married. And so was just kind of shifting directions in her life. And she wanted to sell the business. And I had a yoga teacher friend at the time who the two of us were interested in buying it. And so we went and we had some meetings with this woman and for some reason it never really panned out. And I don't really remember why, but then I, I ended up leaving Boulder. There were some like big floods in 2013. I ended up leaving Boulder and going and living in Chicago for six months.

Jessica: (07:14)
And what drew me back was another business opportunity. And then, you know, these are all like the, the meanderings of, of, you know, people's lives as they follow the signs and follow my yeses. That's how I was following my yeses. And so I came back to Colorado and a couple years went by and anyway, that woman, she never sold integral travel, the buyer backed out. And so I had another bit like interaction with her for a massage training program. We needed an evaluation of our curriculum from her as a professional in the industry. And she was like, oh, by the way, I'm like still trying to sell the business. Are you still interested? And everything in my body went, yes. So that is the long and winding story of how I came into ownership of integral travel. I ended up switching the business model from being a, a massage training international retreat business to just more wellness retreats, because I saw the opportunity to help more people instead of teaching people a very specific skill.

Jessica: (08:12)
I just see the need in our culture, in our society for all of us to know how to take better care of ourselves outside of, you know, Western medicine and pharmaceutical, which not to de decry that I do use Western medicine when necessary. But my first line of defense usually is, uh, I, I preventative care and then be like herbs, nutrition. What can I do for myself? And how can I just keep my body healthy and, and strong. So I really wanna help people gain the knowledge to take care of themselves and to heal themselves from the inside out before, you know, potentially a last resort kind of reached towards Western medicine.

Christa: (08:52)
Yeah. And even though I think sometimes the hard parts of our journey kind of inspire this. Um, for me, the goal is always like empowerment and I'm sure that's what yours is as well. That's what you just described. Absolutely. Very clearly you defined, you gave a definition of empowerment knowing how to kind of take care of yourself. I was really reflecting briefly this morning on like, you know, the state of the world is always like up and down. It's very, ah, it's very manic depressive, the old state of the internet in the world. Oh yeah. And I was just reflecting. Like I always like to try to think of like, even for things that can't really be summarized, I'm like we really struggle to like the world in general, the culture really struggles with personal responsibility. Absolutely. We're always like looking for a diagnosis or something to blame something on or people to blame something on. And it's like, well, what's

Jessica: (09:37)
My and a pill to fix it.

Christa: (09:39)
Just so many things, you know? Yeah. There was an Instagram comment I replied to this morning and they're like, I know I have low cortisol, but they won't blah, blah, blah. I was like, you're the leader of your own health team here. So if you feel something like there's plenty of things you can do to get started. Yeah. Um, and there's always gonna be someone to help you that you just haven't met or found yet personally in your journey. Yeah. I like, I just wanna take like the glass path full. I had a conversation or interview yesterday where the gentleman talked about, and this is true. Like the way he described it was different, but our body is wired to look at negativity and to seek that first. It is yeah. From primitive, you know, it's like, I wanna run from a tiger. And so mm-hmm, when we lean into that all the time we get really, we can really spin out control. I don't care who you are. I mean, I went on a trip with kids last week and it was like a, it's not like it was a low stress trip, but it was just a reset from some habits that were not a supportive and helpful. And that's what I think of like with a retreat it's kind of a reset overall.

Jessica: (10:29)
So absolutely.

Christa: (10:30)
And I think there's like a huge nature component to what you're doing. And there is so much around like energy medicine and what we get from nature and from the earth that like, we cannot encapsulate in a bottle. Like there are like these insane things that happen to nutrients, not just vitamin D but also with the activation of vitamin a, from sunshine. It's like, there's not a replacement here. The biochemistry is interesting and complicated, but like the action is simple. Go outside, get some every day, you know? Yeah. And so what I love there was this interview. I did once with Florence Williams on all the scientific benefit in nature. I think what came out of that is like, if you could do 15 minutes in nature could give you, I think, like a couple hours of stress resilience. And that's what we all need is like a lot of, lot of trust, stress resilience.

Christa: (11:09)
So what goes into, when you said wellness retreat, there's actually a lot that can go into that. I'd love to hear what does go into it. Cause I think we're gonna talk about Keong or chigong however you wanna say. Yeah. And, um, I'd like to hear more about that too, but like what goes into a wellness retreat in your eyes? Cuz it can look different to everybody. Like if you were gonna say like, how do I encapsulate if I want to support? Because it's actually, in some ways, if you have a very specific audience, it's easier to create a thing for them than if you were like, oh, who is the right person for, what do I want to do for them? I'd actually like to hear like what goes into deciding what you put into a wellness retreat?

Jessica: (11:42)
Well, it's been a, an evolution, you know, the, like, like you said, the very specific audience, I would say most of the people that are out there doing retreats are yoga retreats and that's what they are. You know, they, they focus on yoga as their method of health health, and then kind of like branch out from there. They'll incorporate other aspects. And I, and I do love yoga and I have practiced yoga though. It's not like my jam mostly because of like the scene that's around it. And particularly in Boulder, Colorado of like, well you have to wear like the right clothes. It has to be like Lulu lemon or proma. And if you're wearing like a t-shirt in shorts, then people look at you weird. And you know, so I've been, sort of put off, but, but I also fell in love with Chiang.

Jessica: (12:20)
And so that is for me, something that I incorporate into all of our retreats. So it's been an evolution in terms of distilling down the elements of our retreats and we've essentially kind of narrowed it down to eight tenets of wellness, right? So you were just talking about nature and the power of nature. And another great benefit of spending time in nature is the increase in immune function that you get just from being in nature. So there's this statistic that says, if you were to take a two day vacation in an urban area versus a two day vacation in a nature setting, then you get a boost to your T cells and immune function that lasts for two months later, it's still 50% higher than it was before you went on vacation. So not only like those specific vitamins and minerals, but just your body's ability to heal itself, which is, you know, one of our missions.

Jessica: (13:10)
So we always incorporate nature into our retreats as well as movement of the body. You know, there's a lot of emphasis in the health and wellness culture on diet and exercise, but exercise doesn't have to be like high intensity interval training. It doesn't have to look like this, you know, super hard thing where you sweat really hard. Really the key is just moving your body, pumping your fluids from through moving your body, right? Mm-hmm so even just walking, but you know, some of the movement that we do is yoga based accessible to people, whether they have had any experience in yoga or not. A lot of our retreat participants are in their fifties or older, but really our demographic is like 40 and above. So we have nature. We have movements, we do focus on diet as well. We always eat really amazing clean food, wherever we go, organic, seasonal as much as possible local employing local chefs in the places where we go.

Jessica: (14:07)
But we're also not here to like prescribe a certain diet. So we don't make everyone eat vegetarian. We don't make everyone eat like vegan or raw that we might have a raw meal. Like for example, we're coming, we're going to Hawaii this fall and we will have like a raw meal just so people can get an idea of what a raw meal looks like and how they feel more importantly, it's the, how you feel after you eat something like that. So nature movement, diet hydration is a big one. Just keeping your cells full of good water. And so we do encourage lots of hydration on our retreats. Relaxation, I think is a big one that is not talked enough about in the health and wellness world, but I'm a massage therapist by trade by. That's my, my background. And I mean, I can't even tell you how many people come and lay on my table and I try to like pick up their arm and move their arm.

Jessica: (15:03)
And they're just giving me the stiff arm. And they don't even know that they're holding their own arm, that there's muscular tension and activation that is cosing throughout their entire body. When people learn how to physically relax their muscles, it frees up that energy to be used for other things in their bodies. So healing, it also helps the nervous system down shift from that sympathetic activation into the parasympathetic activation, which totally changes the internal functioning of the body, right? Your body starts to focus on healing on healing, the cut that you, you know, sustained, maybe making dinner last night or healing this long term, maybe kidney imbalance that you have, it focuses on digesting your food and actually extracting the vitamins and minerals from the food that you eat. Whereas when you exist in that parasympathetic fight or flight state of, you know, false life threatening situations, I mean most in our modern world, it's false sense of life or death, but we live in this state.

Jessica: (16:04)
And so our bodies aren't healing themselves. I don't care how many supplements you take. If you're in sympathetic nervous system activation, then your body is not healing itself. It's not extracting those minerals from those supplements that you're taking from the food that you're eating. So it just affects everything. So I really teach people how to relax their bodies from the inside out. And that's a component of every one of our retreats as well. We always incorporate using Chiang as, as a practice, actually, a chigong is a very relaxing practice. It's sort of, sort of halfway between meditation and like yoga. So, and, and a lot of ways, I think it's a lot harder than yoga because it's not something that you can just like go into the room and bang out and do, and like check off the list. It requires really slowing down, slowing your mind down in addition to slowing your body down and coming into a state of being and then really tuning into the energy that is all around us.

Jessica: (17:02)
Like the force basically which star wars last night. So that comes up and every time, uh, I hear about the force, I'm like, that's cheap. That's what I teach people. Like we're swimming in this field of energy that is cosing through and around us all and within us all. And so Chi going is a practice that allows you to learn how to feel it and then learn how to exchange any like stagnant, cheat in your body and invite in the fresh healing chief from the universe. I mean, this is the power that moves the planets in their orbits, right? And if that power can create all of this beauty on this planet that we have, it can like create mountains and create, you know, even destructive things like tsunamis and hurricanes, like that is a powerful force. And if you can learn how to harness that in your body, like, Ooh, imagine what that can do.

Christa: (17:50)
Right. But since you just brought up Chiang, so Chi is energy and what does gong stand for?

Jessica: (17:56)
Gong is the Chinese word for cultivation or exchange. Um, and so you're

Christa: (18:02)
Yep. I did not. I actually really like, this is like a term I'm into this month energy exchange. It's like, mm, yeah. You know, this is unbalanced. I didn't realize if I just used the word Chiang it's like means the exact same thing.

Jessica: (18:14)
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. It's a beautiful practice. And it helps me recover from a nervous breakdown that I had in 2012. Um,

Christa: (18:22)
I might have you like walk us through what it looks like so we can make it a little more tangible. I know it's like not easy on audio, but I'm like thinking in my brain as you described it, like it's harder because you can't just like bang it out. Like, oh, I'm gonna run, do some yoga real quick. Right. And I think this is like really unattractive to people who are like powering through life doers. And we were just talk, man, that's a big word for me this week. Doers. Yes. You were just talking about relaxation and you were talking about the tension and the muscles. And I'm really like, I think what is who I cannot help and who you maybe cannot help. But I think the retreats can help like the immersion experience, but who I feel like I cannot help in practice is someone who doesn't realize that they have stress in an area. Right. Mm-hmm or that is they're unwilling to address it in an area and tense muscles are unrealized stress often for people,

Jessica: (19:10)
Right? They're like, oh yeah, absolutely

Christa: (19:12)
Pulling and creating headaches. And they're like fueling like demolition of your nutrients, which are important for every other function. And like you said, if you're in a fight or flight state, which is very manufactured by all of us, I don't care who you are. Like, it can happen to any of us, just light has to spin outta control long enough and us, we don't have to have any awareness around it. That's all that has to happen. If we're in a sympathetic state, you're not healing. I see it. Like, that's the only handful of people. Like if your stress is outta control, you will not heal. You will not

Jessica: (19:42)
Get better. Right. You won't get better. Nope. Will not.

Christa: (19:44)
Nope. You'll not. So we've covered nature, increasing immune function. And that's, I'm just gonna go through the current tens so you can finish it. Sure. You describe nature. And we talked about increasing immune function, some type of movement, some type of diet and assessing how you feel from it. That's like a really nice way to think about it's like, how is my fueling right now, changing how I feel in this time, in this space with all my inputs, hydration. So very like basic tenants that get very easily neglected and then relaxation, like helping relax from the inside out to relax those tense muscles. What's next on the eight tens of wellness

Jessica: (20:15)
Touch we in modern America do not get enough healthy healing, touch and touch is being increasingly studied to same thing that we talked about with nature, increase your immune function. Simply like a hand on the back. When I experienced this, actually, when I was, I think I was in massage school and we were, I was like really into hosting big community gatherings back in the day. And so we were having this big party at our house and it was all this work to put it on. And at one point I just found myself sort of like in the back of the room, just kind of like watching everybody. And my friend came up, put his hand, I think, on my lower back and just sort of like rubbed it a little bit. And my whole body just like, Ugh, just sort of like side like that.

Jessica: (20:58)
It was amazing to let all of that tension go. And meanwhile, I'm in massage pool, like learning how to touch people in a healing and gentle and caring and nurturing way. And I mean, I don't know if you know, I'm sure some of your listeners out there have heard those studies about different cultures, like observing people in different cultures, interacting and like a lot of like Brazilian culture, Portuguese, like a lot of Hispanic cultures, they do a lot of touching just in casual conversation with their friends. They touch each other up to like 200 times in an hour long conversation versus observing like English people from the UK and Americans who touched each other maybe once or twice during the two hour conversation, like a hug, hello and a hug goodbye. And then other than that, we don't touch. So there's a lot to be said for hormones that are produced in the brain, when you receive this kind of touch.

Jessica: (21:49)
I mean, dopamine serotonin, all the like oxytocin bonding, hormones, it down regulates the heart rate. It slows down respiratory rate increases T cell count. I mean, touch is just so healing. So we incorporate some massage into every single one of our retreats. Also that healthy healing touch next step would be silence, which also isn't talked about a lot in health and wellness. And I'm not just talking about like being in a quiet room. I'm talking about quieting your quieting, your mind though. Mm-hmm, learning how to, instead of letting your monkey mind, just like run rampant and run outta control all the time is like, how can you actually have a moment of peace within all of the thoughts that are running through your mind all day and your to-do list and have like a break from that. And chigong is one way meditation can often get people there as well.

Jessica: (22:44)
Although I think a lot of, like we said, you know, the doers have a hard time with meditation. And so chigong gives you something to focus on. Like you're quieting the mind, but you're focusing on movement and the mechanics of, you know, how your wrist is moving or how your fingers are moving and how your body is coordinated. And so you, you know, teach your mind to focus and then, and then you feel it still also, and in those moments of stillness and quiet in your mind are like flashes of inspiration. These are the moments where like, you know, Einstein came up with a theory of relativity, I think while he was getting on a bus, you know, he wasn't sitting down working, trying to bang it out and like trying mm-hmm he was letting himself take a break mm-hmm . So silence of the mind is a big one.

Jessica: (23:27)
And then the last tenet of wellness is sleep. And I know a lot of people have trouble with sleep, including myself. I've been in the last couple of years, you know, kind of in and out of good sleep and not good sleep, but, and we're starting to hear more about sleep hygiene, right? Like how do we get good sleep and how important it is to our bodies to be able to heal and to sort of reset from the day and integrate all of our experiences of conscious waking life. So sleep is an inherent component of any retreat because you have to sleep at night, but we, you know, all of the other activities throughout the day are sort of lending themselves to better sleep like hydration, movement, relaxation, relaxing your mind in silence and these kinda things. So

Christa: (24:13)
I want to touch a little bit on silence on the inside. I am just thinking a little bit about, I've taught many groups of people and like with children and parents, it's very interesting when you ask people to sit and quiet, how uncomfortable, I mean, I'm not saying like I'm unique, it's just interesting to observe.

Jessica: (24:33)

Christa: (24:34)
People are very uncomfortable sitting still. Am I uncomfortable sitting still do I, am I uncomfortable with quiet? Am I uncomfortable with silence? And I think that's one of those unrealized things that it's good for us to be aware of. Right. Because if we don't have good awareness around something, we can't adjust it and change it. Right. Right. So unless we try to sit in that uncomfortable space and see what that looks like. I mean something where we can all understand to relate to this is in the shower. If no one's banging on the door, when you're in the shower, what kind of thoughts are you having in your brain at that time? Right? Like, isn't that when all the good ideas come in, um,

Jessica: (25:08)
Right. They're like, I need to write that down.

Christa: (25:10)
Right. I, I actually, I had a meeting with an essentially an energy worker this week and she was like, well, you have a lot of doer energy and it's kind of crowding out your creative thoughts. And so if you, me, homework is gonna be to go carve out four hours for creativity. Cause it's gonna fuel all of your other things that need to be done. I was like, okay, going to do my homework now, but she was so right about everything. So when you brought up the doer, it's cool. It's like, there are things, I think the word stress is not always resonate with people. Right. But it's like, oh, you're a doer. You like to do things you like, you can have tense muscles. Oh, you can't sit in yourself in your silence. Now it's like, oh, all of those things make sense to me. Yeah. Like I can relate to those things. Right. I can see where, even though that sounds basic, I needed to kind of understand it in my own brain and, and almost use it as an awareness or an assessment tool for can I do those things. Right.

Jessica: (26:04)
Right, right. So there's more and more articles books coming out about the art of doing nothing and the value in just sitting there, you know, I'm a child of the eighties, I'm like early, I guess, millennial generation or whatever, but we didn't have the internet when I was a kid mm-hmm and there was such a thing as boredom, you know? And I don't think, especially kids these days, like they don't get bored. They just are constantly distracting themselves or doing something on the phone. And like, I don't think that's

Christa: (26:31)
Restricted to kids. I think that's adults

Jessica: (26:32)
As well. Right. Right. Exactly. And so, and even myself, like, you know, sitting in the waiting room at a doctor's office, like how many people are just sitting there, like maybe we used to in the eighties or the seventies, or, you know, earlier back before there was internet and a computer in everyone's hand or pocket, but everyone's on their phone, you know? And I do the same thing. I like reach for my phone in a moment of, you know, in a moment of those are

Christa: (26:54)
Neural pathways,

Jessica: (26:54)

Christa: (26:55)
Yeah. Comparison to observe, you know, like how often do you pick that up? There's things that'll tell you, like how often you pick it up. It's like, what in the world? Why do

Jessica: (27:03)
I pick? You picked up your phone a thousand times today? Like what a thousand? Like, how is that even possible?

Christa: (27:10)
exactly. I honestly, this is where I think if we don't have some kind of intentional reset, so like I just gave the example last week I was on let's call it a quote unquote vacation where I was supervising five children. I wouldn't call it like vacation, but it was a reset I got away from, I did not have time to touch my technology.

Jessica: (27:30)

Christa: (27:31)
So therefore if you spend a week not doing that, now you've actually formed new neural pathways. Like you've like kind of broken some other ones and created some new ones. And so when you go into an intentional state, it's happened to me last year too. And I was on like an Yellowstone national park with, without phone service. Like just reset it, you know, for a good while until yep. Things start to slip back in. And that's kind of how I feel like the power of a retreat is it just allows us to intentionally reset. Yeah. The things that we know are important, cuz are we doing it? I think a one, I always think awareness is like number one, most important thing. We can cultivate in anything. And if you feel like you're not aware of some of this stuff going on in your body, but you feel like things are kind of outta control. There's probably a real gap in awareness. And then what you can do about it before you can feel like, you know, what's going on

Jessica: (28:15)

Christa: (28:15)
So I wanna talk a little bit more about Keong because you brought it up from a perspective of, it allows you to relax muscles it's movement. It helps with silence. It's kind of hard to drop into mm-hmm mm-hmm and I know it's well, I think I've heard from your notes that it has changed your life. So maybe you have a story about Keong and then can you try to make it more tangible for us to understand what in the world Keong is or looks like I'm just adding a little challenge on an audio today. Look, what

Jessica: (28:48)
Does that look

Christa: (28:49)
Like a little bit?

Jessica: (28:51)
Yeah. Well it looks like Tai Chi. I mean, most people know what Tai Chi looks like, right? Like the slow, you see people in the park, like moving really slowly. And uh, and like sometimes groups of people doing the same movements, like, like moving like a bird or a crane or, you know, there's different. So Tai Chi is a type of chigong and the same way that yoga has different types of yoga, you know, Vinyasa and HAA, et cetera. But there are hundreds of different styles of Chico. And so really it's just moving really slowly with focus on the relationship between yourself and the space around you. So imagine like when you move around in a pool or a body of water, you can feel the, the water, like moving against your skin. Right. So in Chi going there's a similar thing happening, except you're feeling for how the space around you is interacting with your skin.

Jessica: (29:43)
And so like what kind of sensation do you experience in the Palm of your hand or the skin of your forearms? Or can you notice, you know, your clothes moving against your legs or your belly and it's just so it's just expanding your awareness to take more in. And so it's, it's moving out of just being centered in the mind to being centered in the body, but then also including the space around you and just the same way that, um, again, I'm gonna use that moving in water analogy, just the same way that when we move in water, we create ripples that kind of go out into that medium until they sort of, you know, meet enough resistance that they fade. It's the same thing in space. It's just the air around us is a less dense, medium. And so it's not as readily apparent those kinds of ripples that we're creating, but this is like the butterfly effect, right?

Jessica: (30:33)
Like chaos theory, like a butterfly flops and swings and Costa Rica. And it causes a typhoon in Japan or something like that. Like every movement that we take in our lives, whether you're doing Qigong in air quotes or not has this ripple effect into the space around us, which is why the way we treat other people in our daily interactions is so important. It's why even our mindset is so important because that is emanating out from us everywhere we go. So ostensibly, I mean, everything is Qigong, right? You're always exchanging energy with the people that you're interacting with throughout your life. You're always exchanging energy with the environments that you go into. One way I like to make it really accessible for people is that you've experienced Chi before I guarantee it, like you've walked into a room and you can tell when two people have just been fighting and they stopped fighting because you just walked in, you know, you can feel when two people are attracted to each other, like that's Chi you feel butterflies in your stomach.

Jessica: (31:31)
That's Chi you feel, you know, you have sweaty palms because you're nervous about something or, you know, whatever your nervous reaction is. That's Chi also. And that's how it expresses itself in your body. So it's just not put in these terms to us. I mean, just, I mean, it is a foreign language, you know, it's a Chinese word, so many people aren't exposed to it, but you have experienced cheat. Everyone has experienced cheat. And so the practice of Chi going is just doing that in a conscious way and really unearthing those uncomfortable feelings that you have in your body. Maybe that intense muscle that you can't relax, you can't let go. You start to like move it in a different way. And like unwind the cheat that's being stuck there, the energy that's being stuck there. And then all of a sudden you get a flash of memory that pops up and, and you realize like that muscular activation was related to the specific event in your life. And now that you're kind of moving it and working with it, you can let it go and let it out of your body in order to make room for, for something else, something fresh and pure.

Christa: (32:33)
Yeah. You hear about this, um, from people doing body work and massages a type of body work, right. Mm-hmm, where people will have a something massaged or something, and then they'll be in tears afterwards. How often does that happen to you as the, as the, as the masseuse?

Jessica: (32:47)
Not, I mean, some people have,

Christa: (32:49)
Or some kind of emotional

Jessica: (32:50)
Have emotional. Yeah. Some people have emotional releases on the table. I would say it's less, not as common for me particularly, but who knows what happened after the fact, you know? Yeah, for sure. Um, so, and I think sometimes those like big cathartic, energetic releases while good are also tiring, I tend to prefer like a more slow, like bite size pieces, kind of a kind of approach. Because a lot of times when you open too much, too fast in the body, it's not used to being in that state. Mm-hmm, like one thing I think it's important to keep in mind is that everything that's going on in our bodies is happening for a reason. Mm-hmm . And a lot of times it's some protective mechanism. Mm-hmm to keep us from experiencing a hurt or whether it's physical or emotional or mental that we have experienced in the past.

Jessica: (33:35)
And so if you just sort of like go in and gestalt, like your way through some bodily armor that we have, then all of a sudden you're left feeling really raw and vulnerable, and that is not a comfortable state to be in. And so then if the whole system, your whole like spirit emotional, physical complex, actually retracts back into that state of folding, it settles in even more deeply, right. Because it's like, oh, that was really uncomfortable. I'm not gonna do that again. Versus just like slowly de armoring to use the phrase, you know, so that you can get kind of get used to it every step of the way it's like this isn't too much of a drastic change that it feels uncomfortable. It actually feels good. Mm-hmm , you know, and then you can really integrate it and hold onto it. And then that's when you make progress, you

Christa: (34:20)
Know, I have so many feelings about energy exchange in general and like what that conceal like, right? Like feeling exasperated and empty at the end of the day, doing an activity that justs up all your energy. And you're like, what was that? And I think something I've just been more aware of is like, I'll just give an example, you know, if someone get like takes more than they give it can make you feel really empty. Right. You know, so there's like this balance and kind of this like invisible force around us all the time. And I think that sometimes if we just think about it like that, it can make us feel less. It can make it less personal and say, oh, that was just an unbalanced energy exchange. I'm actually just gonna try to remove myself from that situation. So I'm not the one getting, you know, being empty cuz you know, that expression of filling your cup is so valuable. Right,

Jessica: (35:08)
Right, right. Exactly. Especially as like givers, you know, if, if you're a giver, you provide that for people a lot. It's really important to fill your own cup so that you have mm-hmm something from which to give

Christa: (35:19)
Mm-hmm yeah, no kidding. We could keep talking about this forever, but I think we've covered a lot of good things I wrote down following the yes. Signs, just kind of basics about how you got into retreats, talking about immune healing from nature, ke Kong, the attendance of wellness, being a giver, all the things Jessica, where can people find you online

Jessica: (35:38)
Integral I N T E G R a That's sort of a hub of everything that we're doing and just wanna let your listeners know too. Everything that we incorporate into retreats is for the most part available on a standalone sort of education as well. So they can take courses about diet, nutrition, cleansing. They can take an intro to Chiko online course. They can download some meditations to practice learning how to relax their bodies all from the website. We're also on Facebook and Instagram as So great ways. And, and the website will have a popup. If you wanna sign it for our newsletter to get all of our info pushed right into your inbox.

Christa: (36:20)
So if someone isn't gonna go on a retreat tomorrow, but they would like to feel the benefits of the eight tenants of wellness or something, right. Or they like need something to make their life better today. What would your partying words or thoughts be for that person? It's a message for

Jessica: (36:35)
Today. You're more powerful than, you know, so, you know, wherever you're intrigued or inspired to start, that's the right answer for you. And it's not gonna be the same as, you know, what your neighbor did or what your best friend did. It's like you follow your yes. Follow your yes. Yeah. What makes you light up from the inside and that be healing, whether it's, you know, meditation or Chi going or yoga or whether it's poetry or art or dance or you know, something.

Christa: (37:00)
Yeah, that's cool. Uh, that, that was like the first and the last thing that you brought to this conversation. So I

Jessica: (37:06)
Didn't plan that, but beautiful book end. Yes,

Christa: (37:09)
Exactly. Well, thanks so much, Jessica for coming on today.

Jessica: (37:12)
Thanks for having me Christa

Christa: (37:14)
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