Jing is an especially relevant concept for us modern humans to understand. Why? Well, Jing is the Yin manifestation of Qi in the body (we all know Qi (or Chi) as energy) and it is the fundamental potential for life and growth in the body. Sounds important, hey? Well, we know how vital Jing essence is for a vibrant, healthy and long life, so Mason created the very unique SuperFeast JING blend, containing a formula of Jing herbs. Check it out here.
(If you want a crash course in Qi, then head over to our podcast and tune in to hear Mason and Tahnee chat about this transformational force).
Jing is where all of our energy comes from; it is the precursor to Qi and the key to a healthy, happy life lived aligned with our heart’s purpose (that’s where Shen comes in; we’ll delve deeper into Shen and Qi in other posts).
This is precisely what Taoist Master Xiangchuan was referring to when he said:
'Jing can generate Qi, and Qi can generate Shen; there is nothing greater than a healthy body brimming with ying [Jing] and wei [Qi]! A practitioner seeking to nourish life must first of all treasure his Jing. If the Jing is plentiful, there will be abundant Qi; if Qi is abundant, there will be abundant Shen; and if Shen is abundant, the body will be strong. Finally, if the body is strong, there will be no disease.'
I often use the example of Sir Keith Richards as someone who has a lot of Jing and is living his purpose with seemingly boundless energy despite his age and excess. Unfortunately, not all of us were blessed with such a deep spring of Jing! ;) Tune in to our dedicated podcast on Jing here.
For most of us, a lifestyle involving long days working or studying, high levels of stress, poor sleep habits, less than optimal nutrition and too much time indoors and out of our natural rhythms will leave us depleted and feeling ‘tapped out,’ exhausted, and frankly, old. You know the feeling, right?
The reason for this is that we’re starting to draw on our deeper reservoirs of Jing, and this is less than ideal if we want to live a long and buoyant life. Stay with me while I dive into the theory of Jing, and afterwards we’ll talk about what you can do on a practical level to support your Jing.
Before we start getting too deep into the practicalities of Jing in its manifest form, let me first say that Jing is your ancestral, primordial memory, and it is mostly unconscious, like how the human body REMEMBERS how to make another human, despite our consciousness not having a clue. To feel into our Jing with our consciousness allows us to tap into our deepest ancestral memories, beyond this human form. It is the way in which the acorn remembers the oak and the oak remembers the acorn, and the Earth remember the stars, and so on across time and space. Cool, huh? What this means is that the memory or consciousness of our whole species, planet, universe and galaxy is carried in your body. Now that I’ve dropped that one on you, let’s try and understand Jing manifest, in this human experience.
To simplify our understanding of Jing, we can say we have three types of Jing, in their manifest form.
This is the Jing you are gifted by your parents (thanks Ma and Pa!) and is passed down via your DNA and your mother’s Kidney Essence. This is your deep reservoir of Jing that you really need to keep untapped as you age. This means, future parents, that it’s really important to take care of your Jing, not just for yourself, but for your children. I love the analogy of your prenatal Jing being like your first car…some of us inherit a solid, reliable new Volvo, others a beaten up old lemon. Now, you can certainly still ‘do up’ your lemon (we’ll talk about how later), and you’ll definitely need to take care of that Volvo, but you can see how the kid who inherited the lemon will have to do a bit more work to keep that beast on the road. Please note that some of us inherit Ferraris, and have a bit of a live fast, die young attitude. These people usually have a lot of Jing, but burn through it fast. Making sense? The Taoists believe that this Jing is stored in the right kidney. The amount of Jing we have at birth is infinite, however the states of consciousness of our parents, and in life, of ourselves (see postnatal Jing below), will influence the amount of Jing we have available to use.
This is the Jing that is created via the combination of spleen Qi (aka food) and lung Qi (aka air). When our lifestyle provides an abundance of this Jing, it gives us a baseline for long-term energy and we don’t have to draw on our prenatal reservoirs. Obviously great nutrition and good quality air and mindful breathing enhances this Jing, and cultivating this Jing assists in the preservation of the Prenatal Jing mentioned above. This is all about lifestyle; mindful living and mindful practice. Keeping our postnatal Jing topped up means that its interactions with prenatal Jing will allow for the creation of lots of abundant Qi to circulate through the body. If we don’t take care of ourselves, eat well, breathe and rest, we will start to use Jing instead of Qi, and this is where we get, in a sense, ‘overdrawn’ or begin ‘leak’ Jing. That’s the tapped out feeling some of you may know well, and we really want to avoid it. As Master Herbalist Ron Teeguarden says, and I paraphrase, “it’s one thing to be tired, but don’t ever let yourself get exhausted.”
This specific form of Jing is created by the dance between the pre- and post-natal Jing and is stored in, you guessed it, the kidneys. This is the functional Jing that is used to create Qi, the energy that drives us. The health of the kidneys directly relates to the availability and quality of the Jing in the body, and the body’s ability to use Jing to create our physical structure and as a foundation for our energy and mental and emotional health. Deplete the Jing and you will deplete the kidneys, no doubt about it. The more Yin tissues of the body are related to the overall quality and abundance of Jing, for example, the teeth, connective tissue, bones, cartilage (e.g. the ears), hair, seminal and vaginal fluids (including menstrual blood) etc. Health issues manifesting in these areas are usually assisted by working on preserving, and eventually restoring, Jing.
Which brings us to an interesting point in this conversation…how do we take care of our Jing and what do we do to keep it in abundant supply? That is, if we inherited a lemon or ran our Volvo into the ground, what do we do now?? ;)
Some say that the prenatal Jing is fixed, and once depleted, is unable to be restored, and that ageing is inevitable (think about all of the signs of ageing - brittle bones, hair loss, skin sagging, fatigue, menopause… all manifestations of weakening Jing). Many would disagree, however, and there are certainly practices that you can undertake to explore your own potential in this space - we’d recommend seeking a great Qi Gong teacher or Taoist Master, to ensure you receive proper guidance. We at SuperFeast believe that with discipline, and time, you can develop and establish a deeper, more vital reservoir of Jing, tapping into that immortal universal memory and potential. But that’s just us :)
We can help you out with some ideas as to how to keep your postnatal Jing and Kidney Essence in good health though, which will help preserve your reservoir of prenatal Jing (possibly while you explore the notion of nfinite Jing!) Your best bet is a healthy, sustainable lifestyle that does not to tap into prenatal Jing, ensuring that we are bringing in healthy Qi to the body daily so that we don’t need to drain out the ‘battery pack’ of our kidneys.
Kidneys represent the water element in the body, and as we now know, Jing lives in kidneys. When the body and cells dry out, there is literally no substance for the Jing to circulate throughout the body and be nourished by. Likewise, our reproductive organs and Kidney-Urinary Bladder meridian, when dehydrated, cannot produce the sexual fluids and sex hormones that give us the base for our healthy physical expression (we can actually reabsorb these fluids, especially saliva, menstrual fluid and seminal fluid, to bolster our energy…again, look into Taoist practices for more info).
Jing and your kidneys love saturated fats, dark foods and seasonally and metabolically appropriate foods (keep an adaptive and open-minded diet). Your diet can provide enough Qi, mineralisation and deep nutrition so that postnatal Jing is constantly replenished and there is no need to draw on your reservoir.
Burning the candle at both ends, overwork, stress, and self-sacrificing (whether at work or at home, in relationship or with children) all cause us to leak Jing. This kind of lifestyle is not sustainable, nor is it sustainable to sit all day, in artificial lighting, living in the mind, as this will lead to a drawing on and depletion of the deeper reservoirs of Jing and premature ageing. It is important to connect to your will and your heart’s intent to create a lifestyle where you do not play out this self-sacrifical story so common in our culture and where you sustainably use your energy while contributing to society with your work in a manner that gives you joy. A healthy lifestyle is in tune with the elements, and this includes quality sleep AND rest (they are different), getting sunlight, time in nature breathing deep of the fresh air, great nutrition and hydration, time for a quiet mind (meditation), a physical practice that is not depleting (we’re not talking marathons, people) and all the things you know contribute to your overall health and happiness. Make sure you laugh and take a moment to appreciate life daily.
You saw that coming! ;) We love Jing herbs (the ones that replenish this awesome Kidney energy directly) and have created our own special blend - JING blend - to take daily. Some of our fave individual Jing herbs are Eucommia Bark, Deer Antler and Cordyceps.
Find a great practitioner to help clear blockages, plug any energetic leaks, and balance emotional or physical issues that may be affecting your Jing.
There are many Qi Gong practices designed to cultivate Jing. A good teacher should be able to help you. You can also explore Taoist practices like the Inner Smile and Microcosmic Orbit, as well as sexual restraint and, for women, Ovarian Breathing and breast massage. Check out Master Mantak Chia’s work for more information.
We hope this article gets you as excited about Jing as we are... got any questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do our best to answer them. He Shou Wu is one of the main players in our JING blend, check out this vision here and you can see Mason harvesting He Shou Wu :)
Master Mantak Chia training at Tao Garden and several of his books - they’re all good!
The Fundamentals of Acupuncture by Nigel Ching
Power of the Five Elements by Charles Moss
Tao of Sex, Health and Longevity by Daniel Reid
Ron Teeguarden: http://www.qigongmastery.ca/three_treasures.html
The Ancient Wisdom of Chinese Tonic Herbs by Ron Teeguarden
The Tao of Nutrition by Maoshing Ni and Cathy McNease
ITM online http://www.itmonline.org/5organs/heart.htm