Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Three Treasures - Jing

The Three Treasures of Chinese medicine are 精 Jing, 氣 Qi and 神 Shen. These three exist as both physical material and energetic activity within and without the body. Besides the individual attributes of each, there is a dynamic physical and energetic interaction between these substances. Today we will cover Jing.

Jing can be translated as Essence. Essence is responsible for providing the physical structure or blueprint of the body, and in a larger sense, of life in general. Essence is stored in the Kidneys and is influenced by many different factors, including the Jing of one's parents as well as environmental factors during the pregnancy such as pollution and the position of the stars and other heavenly bodies. The Kidneys control the bones, teeth, and "marrow", an ancient Chinese term which includes cerebrospinal fluid as well as the gray matter of the brain. By way of example, someone who is born with severe physical or mental defects is said to have deficient Kidney Essence.

The word 精 Jing also translates as semen. Semen and eggs are seen as the direct physical manifestations of Jing in the body. This is why ancient Daoist texts placed great emphasis on proper sexual technique and relations. According to some texts, every ejaculation takes a year off a man's life. Given how many times a man may ejaculate over the course of a lifetime, this means that with proper safeguarding against excess, you can live over 100 years without any derangement or debility in old age. Women lose very little Jing with each orgasm, but they lose incredible amounts of Jing with every pregnancy and birth.

People are born with a certain amount of Jing which gradually depletes as they age. As you get older, your sexual desire declines, your teeth loosen, and you may actually lose bone and muscle mass. Daoist medicine, which Chinese medicine is based on, takes great interest in slowing or even reversing these aging processes. There are many specific suggestions which should be tailored to each individual, but in general you should avoid activities that accelerate the loss of Jing, and engage in activities that preserve the Jing.

Sounds simple, right? So, what accelerates the loss of Jing? Overeating of any kind. Overdrinking, specifically of alcohol. Cigarette smoking. Drug abuse. Sexual intemperance, by which is meant having too much sex or having sex in the wrong way (while drunk, after midnight, with people you don't love or respect, etc). The Daoists and blues musicians agree: hard living takes years off your life.

What preserves Jing? Moderate physical exercise. Going to bed early, getting up early. Eating well, but avoiding too much rich food, specifically deep fried food and excessive animal fats. In general, a relaxed and happy lifestyle preserves your Jing. There are also specific Daoist practices you can do which can preserve your Jing, all of which fall under the general term 氣功 Qi Gong. There are also specific foods and herbs you can eat which are known to "tonify the Kidneys" or 補腎 bu shen and therefore aid in preserving your Essence and lengthening your life.

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