As I come across interesting theories and paradigms, I’ll be writing about them here.
One very helpful paradigm for comparing items on this site comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and it’s view of the body’s energy system. In TCM, there are three concepts called ‘Jing Chi and Shen‘. There aren’t very good english equivalents for these terms, but loosely translated, ‘Jing’ means the core energy you were naturally alloted at birth. One can think of this as the size of your energy battery you are given. There are alot of really esoteric ideas concerning how this ‘Jing’ size is determined but it largely is inherited from the parents and the circumstances around conception. Interestingly enough, this concept is not unique to TCM, but is found in many Spanish cultures as well. The bottom line is, according to this theory, when your Jing starts to fall short, you grow old and eventually die. We’ll be looking at strategies to make the most of our Jing on this site.
Next is ‘Chi‘. I’m sure everyone has heard of ‘Chi’ and it’s alternate spelling, ‘Qi‘. Chi can be thought of as your energy level and ability to accomplish things in the world. People who get a lot done and rarely get sick are said to have alot of ‘chi’. Chi is also thought of as the ingredient of the flow of ‘energy’ in the body (primarily via fascia) and many TCM doctors aim to get this flow properly balanced in the body through herbs, acupuncture, etc. The amount of Chi we have can be augmented by diet, certain practices (which we’ll be exploring too) and through sleep. However, the amount of basic Jing is an important driver for how much Chi someone has (according to this paradigm).
Just to be clear, I’m not crazy about vague terms like Jing Chi Shen, but just bear with me. I think this is a good model to have in our arsenal for the quest.
The last concept, ‘Shen’ is loosely translated as ‘Spirit’. This is often seen in the eyes and people call it ‘charisma’ or ‘aura’. How much chi you have drives your spirit and charisma.
In TCM, many herbs are said to operate on one or all of these levels.
A very common analogy is a candle. The wick is compared to Jing. The wax is compared to Chi and the flame is compared to Shen.
I read this book many years ago and found it to have a good explanation of these concepts and pretty decent overview of many herbs and tonics medicines from China.