In a previous article we gave an introduction to the three treasures, jing, qi and shen. Now we turn to each treasure in turn and discuss it in more depth. The first up is Jing.
Remember that jing is defined as essence, refined, perfected, extract, spirit, demon, sperm, seed.
It is the foundation of your body, your health, and thus everything else. Without jing you have nothing.
Table of Contents
Your Original Life Force and Constitution
Jing is intimately tied to birth and death. Your original jing comes from your parents and their parents up through your hereditary line. In this sense it has much to do with your genetics. In the west, we would say someone has good genes for healthy and long life. In the east, this comes from jing.
Jing can get used up in daily life. Qi energy is supposed to be what is used for our daily needs, but tapping into your jing occurs regularly. It gets used up faster in times of stress, exhaustion and overwork. Thus to spare your jing, to live healthier and longer, you must seek to avoid these.
Being born to parents with strong jing is the most important step. The impact of this can be seen in the fact that some people who abuse their health all throughout their lives can live longer than some who do their best to take care of their health. That original jing will make a difference.
But since this is not under our control we’ll move onto the steps we can do. Some people debate whether jing can actually be restored or if you can only slow its loss. In either case you can do something about it.
An analogy to this, which is very much in line with the genetic component of jing, are telomeres. Telomeres are the ends of DNA strands. As DNA duplicates itself it loses a base off the end each time this happens. Eventually, the telomeres become too short. This is looked at as one of the principle areas of research in longevity, and even the possibility of immortality. Some cells in our body, notably the reproductive ones, have an enzyme called telomerase, which re-grows the telomeres. Scientists are looking at certain components that can activate telomerase in all areas of our body. With recent scientific breakthroughs, it appears that telomeres may be able to be restored, that is actually rebuilt. Something that is much easier to do though is to slow their loss. So in that sense it is like jing.
Jing and the Kidneys
According to Chinese medicine, jing is stored in the kidneys. Remember that the “kidneys” in the Chinese sense is not just the organ, but the organ and meridian system.
Of course, this energy can and will go everywhere in your body. This occurs primarily through the extraordinary vessels or radiant circuits.
As the kidneys have to do with the knees and back, pain in these areas can sometimes point to jing deficiency. Another common symptom is dark circles under the eyes as this signals depletion. The state of the immune system can be another clue. A person that is constantly sick, or gets sick and remains that way for a long time, is likely depleted in jing.
How to Deplete Jing
Remember that qi is the energy that should be used mostly for our everyday needs. Qi comes from herbs but also all foods and even breathing. You tend to use up your jing only with extremes. Anything chronic or excessive will tap into your jing reserves.
- Excessive Exercise
- Excessive Sex (especially for men)
- Poor Food
- Anything that damages DNA
- Excessive Fasting
- Excessive Drug Use
You can’t avoid using up your jing completely. Living life and aging will use it. But you can certainly do a number of things that will slow its loss.
How to Cultivate Jing
Besides avoiding the above, there are a number of things you can do to help your jing.
Deep Sleep – Sleep is the great restorer. If you do not get sufficient sleep than you’re causing your body to age at a faster rate than normal. The classic eight hours of sleep per night works for many people, but everyone is different and you have to find what works for you.
Deep Relaxation – Beyond sleep you need to spend time in relaxation. This practice can take many forms including but not limited to meditation, yoga, hypnosis, various breathing practices and more. The length of time spent in this state as well as the deepness of it are both important.
Internal Practice – Certain forms of qi gong specifically focus on the jing or bone marrow. This internal alchemy is said to refine qi into jing.
Certain Foods – Just as poor nutrition can deplete your jing, good nutrition can help keep it from leaking. While regular goods may not restore jing they can certainly help support it. Our next article is going to detail this in depth, and include recipes.
Jing Herbs – Certain superior herbs are said to contain jing. These include but are not limited to he shou wu, rehmannia, goji berries, eucommia, chaga, deer antler, tongkat ali, dendrobium, schizandra, and many more. Jing herbs are commonly divided into two categories, yin and yang.
Yin and Yang Jing
Yin herbs are all about nourishing and replenishing. These are going to help you restore your jing at a deep level. These herbs are what you’ll want to take to help restore your youth.
Yang herbs are empowering. I think of them as helping your driving force. They are helpful with sexual, creative and athletic prowess. It can be helpful to think of these as all using and requiring the same type of energy. That is why if you expend too much energy in the gym your sex life can suffer and vice versa.
In Chinese medicine, it is never recommended just to take Yang herbs, especially for anyone deficient in yin jing energy (and most people are in modern day living). Just taking yang herbs could lead you to further overworking yourself. When I first started getting involved in herbalism I figured the yang herbs were most important to help me in my workouts. And they are. But you’ll gain even more support by working with yin herbs. Here’s a simple way to think about it.
Yin = Recovery
Yang = Power
Thus for the best aid to training you’ll want both. For instance Phoenix formula contains both but is weighted more towards the Yin side.
Without a strong foundation of jing it is difficult to have good qi or shen. Thus jing herbs are a great place to start any tonic herbal program.