I must admit that sometimes, Chinese medicine CAN get really complicated! I suppose it would since this style of health care has thousands of years of history that includes many emperors, numerous practitioners, different procedures, various opinions, countless herbs, ancient books, hordes of exercises, ancient and modern techniques and countless students that all believe that what they are doing is THE way to study or practice! It makes you want to throw every single book in the air, turn off the videos and ask very loudly while pulling your hair, "Where do I start?"
Simplicity is very necessary during those frustrating times!
When you get rid of the dogma and strip the concepts down to the very barest of bones, Chinese Medicine is not rocket science. It's the embodiment of nature and natural medicine at its best! If you understand how you fit into the universe and follow the cycles of nature, you will be healthy. Simple!
So how do we as humans fit into this universe? There is a lot of debate about where the universe starts, but for simplicity, let's start with two basic concepts: yin and yang. Yin is earth, yang is heaven (or, sky, cosmos, whatever you are looking upwards to) and we humans are in the middle. So humans (yes I am aware that humans are animals and animals are included too!) are the interaction between heaven and earth.
The universe, a macrocosm or big picture, is reflected in all beings on earth as well. We are considered a microcosm or small picture of the universe. So if the big picture has earth, heaven and interaction, then the small picture (we humans), has the same!
Inside the body, the terms used in Chinese are a little different than earth, human and heaven. Actually the terms really depend on who was ruling a certain area at a particular time and what pair of religious glasses they were wearing when the author decided to use certain labels. It also depends on how poetic the author wanted to be, so sometimes you get different names. We are wearing Taoist glasses for this blog post, so the terms used are jing, qi (chi) and shen.
Jing is what is considered vital substances. These are REAL substances and not just something to imagine. Jing is the substances used to create YOU: DNA, RNA, and any other genetic material you received from your parents. Jing also is matter that is used to create semen, menstrual blood and marrow. These are substances you need in order to create a new human being!
Qi is very hard to translate, and is usually left in the original language because there is no one way describe it. In my humble attempt to describe Qi, the best I can do is called it nourishment. This includes much more than food! Qi can be thoughts, emotions and interaction with the outside world which can nourish your body or devitalize it! Jing (the substances mentioned above) can be used in your body to create Qi.
There are two translations of Shen that I find the most beneficial! One I learned in Qigong class: Vitality! The other I learned from Avi Madigoff, a practitioner that routinely studies the original characters to find clues to original meaning. He says shen actually translates to "animation". Both of these make a lot of sense to me. If a (human) being is animated, there is a certain degree of vitality that you notice: there is brightness in the eyes, they are ready to tackle the challenges of the day with an abundance of energy and a quickness with their actions, all while remaining calm and centered or focused. They may even have a few wise observations or lessons to share that they gained during a particular experience! These are the beings that have learned to use their jing to create qi and qi to create shen!
When you learn to do this, you are the master of your vibrant health and the creator of a vibrant life! Pursuing this level of mastery, in my opinion, is worth the amount of time, patience, perseverance and commitment it takes to achieve. Learning to use the three treasures in your life is not something that you have to do alone!
On Wednesday 3/21/2018, we will be presenting a "Three Treasures" demonstration with Focused Alignment at Yoga Warrior Studio at Advanced Theraputics. Demo begins at 7pm and is $15. We are considering recording this demo (we don't really like to do lectures!) and making it available to those of you outside of Charlotte NC. And don't forget every Friday at 6:30pm and Sunday 1pm we have Qigong class where we learn various exercises to cultivate the three treasures every week! Qigong DVDs are in our shop as well!
We look forward to helping you create your most vibrant life!