It’s easy to over do it and start to run low on “life juice”. We’ve all been there, between work, home, and family life we are burning the candle at both ends and burning out. It happens to everyone.
So, what is this “life juice” that we are burning out of anyway? More importantly, how do we get more of it and how do we get it back once it's gone?
Traditional Chinese Medicine has one concept which describes this life juice: “Jing”, (pronounced “ching”).
it's a beautiful way of thinking about your own energy and vitality. Let me share it with you...
Jing is the word used to describe ones essence, constitution, or vitality. Ted Kaptchuk, Doctor of Oriental Medicine writes,
“... [Jing] is the texture that is specific to organic life. It is the stuff that makes living beings unique and distinct from inorganic things… It is the basis of reproduction, growth, ripening and withering.”
As Traditional Chinese Medicine understands it, your Jing is irreplaceable. It determines your vitality, resistance to disease, and your longevity, and once it is used up, life ceases (Pitchford, 360). It's much like the amount sand in your hourglass, when it is gone, your time is up. As such, the “burn rate” of our Jing and how much we have left are both variables that matter.
While it is not understood as a substance (like your bones or your blood), Traditional Chinese Medicine considers Jing to be dark, moist, and warm in quality – much like the womb. It comes from two sources:
Ponder it and you may recognize the concept. It's the age-old nature vs. nurture debate in Eastern medicine vocabulary. While you may not have any control over the hand you are dealt, how you play the game makes all the difference. To the researcher, it's a robust theory and consistent with the new research coming to light in the field of epigenetics, which studies how factors in our environment turn particular genes on and off. To the practical physician, it is a useful concept when trying to help over-stressed and highly driven type-A personalities understand how their habits may be running them into an early grave.
So what does deficiency look like? Classic signs include dizziness, loss of teeth, hair loss/thinning, muscular weakness, fatigue, thinning skin & wrinkles, etc. Sexual dysfunction, infertility, premature aging, and the inability to be self-reflective are also all considered to be related to disharmonies of your Jing. In short, failure to thrive, aging, and dying. (Not to be dramatic or anything!)
Of course, you can never have enough Jing. While we cannot get more Jing, we can learn to burn it more efficiently.
You didn't read to the end of the article for nothing! The comments section is truly where the juiciest conversations happen, so here's your ice-breaker questions to get you going:
T. Kaptchuk, “The Web That Has No Weaver,” McGraw-Hill: New York, 2000.
P. Pitchford, “Healing With Whole Foods,” North Atlantic Books: California, 2002.
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