By Ronnie Landis
The concept of life force energy has been discussed all throughout history. As a student of the Chinese herbal approach, I have grown to understand the different views on healing based on the philosophy of the great masters. In the Chinese understanding of the life force principles, they drew heavily on a concept known as the Three Treasures. According to the Taoist teachings these treasures consisted of compassion, frugality, and humility. The traditional Chinese medical teachings consist of Jing, Qi, and Shen, all of which philosophically parallel each other. These treasures govern our overall vital life force, determining how we experience life in direct proportion to the thoughts we think, the food we eat, and the activities we participate in.
The western methods of identifying illness is packaged as scientifically advanced, yet in comparison, it is very much in the embryonic stage of maturity. The ways in which an allopathic doctor might approximate a diagnoses is through standard blood testing. According to many masters of Chinese herbology, this method is extremely limited since blood testing has no way of determining the root of their condition being an energetic imbalance. The physical ailment is a symptom of a deeper problem. For example, the western approach to healing and nutrition may focus entirely on one organ such as the liver, and the immediate response is to focus solely on the liver. In Chinese medicine, the focus is directing the energy through not only that specific area of the body, but allowing the related organ systems to work in unison for the whole. This is not to imply one is better than the other, it is to show the difference in approaches so that we can create a broader view in our understanding of what we consider to be the fundamental life force principles.
Qi: The energetics most closely related to the concept of Qi are the warming energies of the body. Qi is the animated force in our body that allows us to move in any which way we choose. Our ability to produce instant energy is based heavily on our ability to produce daily Qi, and this is why this life force principle in particular is most identified with the element of fire.
In the western world there appears to be a surplus of Qi. Western civilization is very well equipped with a core “fire power”. This can become depleted if we do not contribute in the lifestyle factors that supply our body with long term Qi energy, which also show the western world is paradoxically lacking by the consumption of caffeinated beverages. By excessively consuming artificial substances, we begin tapping into our longevity store house known as our Jing.
The physiological attributes that are associated with Qi directly relate to our lungs, our blood flow, and our spleen(digestive system). In exploring these three factors, diet is the primary influence in how we produce Qi. By consuming nutrient-dense foods that are easily recognizable to our digestive system, we are able to absorb these nutrients more readily, which converts into energy packets for the production of our blood. If we consume pasteurized juices or processed candy containing refined sugar, for example, we become unable to create the appropriate streams of energy in which Qi exists. This activity alone will begin to draw out energy reserves from our long-term life force. The reason people become addicted to energy drinks and substances of this nature is because they provide an instant stimulation which mimics our natural Qi. This momentary stimulation is desired only in the depletion of our core energy. We will lose all desire for artificial stimulation when we fulfill our nutritional needs and participate in positive activities that promote our three treasures.
The act of deep breathing throughout the day increases our potential for cultivating Qi. The stomach should expand a bit when we breath naturally through the diaphragm, allowing oxygen to build. At the top of the breath, we let the air from our lungs slowly out. This also allows oxygen to flood our cells and helps create healthy blood flow. I was educated on the importance, for women in particular, to develop healthy blood due to their menstrual cycle where blood is lost every month. Nutrition for women must be identified individually in terms of building back blood after the cycle has completed. If a women is constantly passing over her nutritional demands month after month and year after year, she will very shortly tap into her central energy reserves. This idea alone is very important for vegans/vegetarians to investigate as restrictive dietary protocols are in many cases not adequate or are improperly done for the production of healthy hormones and blood.
Jing: The primordial life force that exists at the center of our very existence is called jing. When we are born we inherit the life-force energies of our mother and father. We also transmit the energies of the heavens and the earth. Our Jing essence is our stored energy that we are born with and either cultivate through our lives or deplete, depending on the lifestyle choices we make. In the raw food understanding, a similar concept would be that of metabolic enzymes which each one of us is gifted at birth, and must use intelligently throughout our lives. Unintelligible use of our enzyme reserves will cripple our longevity.
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In western culture, the concept of life force energy is only vaguely understood at best. When phrases such as “I’m fried”, “I’m burnt out”, or “I’m wiped out” repeat themselves, this is the result of chronic adrenal fatigue brought on by excessive behavior. Jing energy is stored largely in our kidney/adrenal glands, and when these vital organs begin to fail, every aspect of our lives will fail as well. It is said in the Chinese understanding that anything that has to do with stress has to do with loss of Jing.
The psychosomatic states we experience daily are a reflection of the care in which our Jing is being utilized. If we constantly entertain negative thought patterns, as well as emotional disturbances, we will break down the protective layers of our core essence, at which point our precious Jing energy slowly seeps out of our body- much like the air in our bicycle tire once it’s punctured. Dr. George Lamoureux , Master Tonic Herbalist, states that women must be very attentive in their mental and emotional states, especially during the months of pregnancy. The mother’s own core Jing literally translates into her babies “genetic potential” for everything it will be upon the moment of conception and there on after. According to George Lamoureux, Jing is pure potential in a human being; it is everything they will ever do, ever think, and ever become. Jing blossoms into who that person becomes in the world. If you follow out this logic, then it becomes obvious that all of our collective life force will shape what the world becomes.
Shen: The Shen is a subtle energy that circulates throughout the body, relieving us of our unnecessary doubts, worries, and emotional baggages. Through the combination of the Qi and Jing forces, Shen becomes awakened in our overall being. Shen is what allows us to envision a bigger and broader picture of our lives, and it is what alleviates the stress in order for us to become inspired by our innermost desires. This may appear on the surface to be more esoteric in nature but this life force principle is related to the idea of positive thoughts breading positive results. When someone has a positive outlook on life they radiate from the pores of their skin, they may even give off a glow. When you see someone who has clear white eyes, attentive focus, and clear communication that means they have an abundance of Shen energy.
The depletion of Shen in our lives can be correlated with the amount of negativity we allow in our space. Shen is extremely powerful in the sense that if we use up excessive Qi and even Jing energy, but have a positive attitude, it can help make up for these other factors for a certain duration. The other two treasures are there to be utilized as investments into the cultivation of our Shen energy. When we have strong Qi force, we can go out into the world with will power and make things happen. When our Jing is strong, we have great reserves in which to draw on when needed. These two factors combined create the building blocks for our Shen essence, translating into our purpose on this planet.
About Ronnie Landis
Ronnie Landis is an integrative nutritionist, peak performance coach, and human potential specialist. His work focuses on enhancing the human experience through natural nutrition, lifestyle design, and consciousness engineering. With well over a decade and a half of devoted study & application to the fields of optimizing the body, mastering the mind, and integrating the intelligence of spirit Ronnie believes that in order to truly manifest our dreams we must first embody them in a healthy, hormonally & neurologically balanced, and disease free body. After all it is excruciatingly difficult to maintain an attitude of gratitude in a pain stricken body. Ronnie seeks to share his knowledge and teachings with hundreds of thousands of people around the world through his books, podcasts, online courses, events, seminars, and retreats. Ronnie’s ultimate purpose is not only to help people eliminate pain from their lives but to help them forget they were ever in pain the first place.