10 keys to preserving your vitality this winterJan 13, 2022
Winter health tips are based around the strategy to conserve, protect and restore our energy throughout the cold months. Experts advise us to make sure we stay warm, eat foods that boost our immunity, get more rest and to add in gentle exercise to keep cold from setting in. The winter season is both the peak of flu and colds and typically are known as a time of vulnerability. Chronic issues such as low back pain, knee issues, urinary tract infections or kidney infections as well as hearing disruptions can all show up or exacerbate in the winter season. To seek solutions for winter health challenges we can look to classical Chinese medicine to understand our bodies and lifestyle needs to keep us healthy by following the natural rhythms of the seasons and our own inner symbiotic nature.
One of the keys to understanding winter health is knowing what systems and substances of the body are highlighted in that season. The winter is ruled by the water element, which connects us into our deep core reserve energies furthermore ruled by the kidney and bladder. Winter time highlights fluid balance, the nervous system, and psychologically gets us in touch with our inner truth and philosopher. Water element energy conservation and cultivation is also known as one of the keys to mastering long term health and draws us towards a deeper understanding of the vital essence or “Jing” that is responsible for building the foundation of our body and keeping us stable throughout our lives.
Jing or essence is closely related to the water element and is inherited from our parents. Jing carries the genetic blueprint of our body and ancestral inherited energies. At the time of conception, the quality and health of our parents determines the quality and health of our jing coupled with the alignment of the planets, moons, stars and seasons. The potential for our being as well as patterns of our existence are held within the Jing and reflected in the manifestations we bring into the world though our lives.
Jing is defined as: Vital life fluid & foundational substance. Jing carries and contains the blueprint of our entire existence and animates the underlying frequency that builds our character and maturation of our personality over time. Jing rises and ripens through our growth and development in life and is the energy we tap into to manifest potential and creative willpower. Essentially, Jing is like a vibrational frequency that carries the information of our existence; this substance is then transformed into tangible life accomplishments, developments and fertile potentials. Jing is like the battery of energy waiting to be plugged into the phases of growth and pleasure that we endure in life.
This vital essence is stored within the kidneys and known to be the foundation of longevity and source energy that we tap into grow, heal and preserve our body. Jing energy is naturally depleted by living through the cycles that we move through and drawn from to assure healthy development and repair. Jing is said to be finite so it is advisable to conserve and support the energy of the jing throughout life so it can help us evolve physically and psychologically into ourselves.
Over time the jing can rapidly decrease and become depleted in cases of stress, overstimulation, overwork, and any type of excessive activities. The Jing is sensitive to extreme sensation and experiences and sensory overload and is often depleted through excessive behavior and lifestyle. Many schools of thought argue that the essence is a finite substance. It is believed that this substance is gifted to us from the essence of our parents at the moment of our conception, and when it runs out that our lifeforce energy of the kidneys stop working, and we take our last breath. From this school of thought, it is very important to preserve this essence and use it sparingly for the purpose of growth and maturation in life. This is where the origin of alchemical practices such as Qigong meditation, tai qi, and lifestyle approaches to balanced living were developed to help preserve and enhance the usage of this energy throughout our life.
There is a strong connection between the Jing vital essence and the reproductive system and the hormonal system. Metaphorically the reproductive system is designed to give us the capacity to create life that will live outside of our bodies. On another level, that fertile energy also provides us the framework to bring our creative potential into the world through artistry, business, service, or whatever expression of the self seeks to be manifested into creation. It is somewhat like an engine that runs the function of our body to replicate and bring ideas into existence in the physical form.
There are two different types of jing energy. The prenatal Jing, is gifted to us from our parents at the moment of conception, as well as the post natal Jing which we derive from eating, breathing and drinking.
The prenatal Jing is the energy that supports us as a fetus during our gestation and is directly inherited from our mother's kidney essence. This energy determines our basic makeup for vitality, as well as the endurance and stamina we will have in life. The health, vitality and energy of our parents at the time of conception has a direct impact on the quality and amount of jing they can transfer to us. Throughout antiquity, this substance has been seen as one of the foundational treasures of precious energy, which should be preserved and not wasted because of its relationship to the genetic code and our ability to create life.
In early childhood, the aging and health of it is seen as an expression of health in the hair, teeth, bones and brain. If the kidney essence or jing is weakened early life, you may see things like weak or broken bones, issues with tooth development or stunted and restricted growth, even mental or physical retardation. In puberty, it is this kidney energy and jing that supports the development of fertility and reproductive health, and is it the underpinning of the energy it takes to grow into the transition from childhood to adulthood. Jing also plays an important role in conception and pregnancy. The capacity to have sustained fertility in a healthy pregnancy is reflected in the health of the Jing. Weakness in the essence can contribute to infertility or problems with pregnancy such as miscarriage.
Throughout life, the Jing essence naturally begins to decline as the body ages showing up as loss of hair or greying of hair, weakness in the teeth and bones as well as a decline in cognitive function and memory.
Post Natal Jing is derived from eating, breathing and drinking. This substance depends on the roles that the lungs, spleen and stomach play in gathering energy from the food and drinks that we consume and the air we breathe. These organ systems process the energy to mix, distill and refine into a general functioning substance within the body system. It is important that we are building prenatal Jing on a regular basis cultivating proper nourishment and supporting this distillation process so that we don't overtax the prenatal Jing energy which is said to be finite and precious. The preservation of jing energy requires healthy nourishment, a balanced diet, proper oxygen intake, rest and restoration space.
The preservation and cultivation of pre and postnatal Jing energy is vital to our pillars of health throughout life and assuring that our phases of change, growth and decline are integrated into our depth and experiences in life.
Supporting our bodies to have the energy they need to get through the day without tapping into our reserve tank of energy is a simple yet powerful overall health strategy for longevity and vitality. How well we are working this equation from a lifestyle perspective can be assessed in our winter health and how we hold up through the colder months of the year. Winter time brings us inside and more internal and calls for reprieve. When we burn the candle at both ends during the colder months the wear and tear on our inner reserves shows up at this time. From low back pain, knee problems, ringing in the ears, urinary tract issues or infections to general fatigue and burn out, these symptoms in the winter months are a sign we have been depleting the jing
Physically the essence is most related to the fluids of our body, the nervous system and the reproductive system. The Jing is known as the deepest yin and energy that is contained within our fluids and in its most concentrated essence is the semen and egg which can have the genetic potential to bear New Life. The tears, blood, sweat and all secretions of the body are also a manifestation of the fluid of the body. And on a physical level, these fluids nourish the deep parts of our tissue and keep our hormonal system in balance and adaptable.
Jing energy likes a balanced lifestyle that doesn't endure excessive states of stress or chronic overstimulation. This energy is maintained by engaging in regular moderate exercise that is not over taxing or injuring to the body system. Jing thrives on restorative practices like meditation and qi gong as well as clear inner listening to the body's physical and psychological needs. When we are in connection with the core value of our inner essence we tend to behave and preserve this vitality in a way that is cherished and modest. This is the underpinning of learning how to not overdo it or burn ourselves out by pushing ourselves too far, especially when the body is craving restoration.
Modern stress and lifestyle have disconnected us from our center. We have adopted rigorous lifestyles that expend energy through work, child rearing, athleticism, overstimulation and the normalization of burnout in the winter season.
We can think of the Jing as the estate or savings account that supports us and our long term energy throughout life. We don't want to tap into that or use it for day to day energy expenses. Otherwise, in the long term, we might be taxed when we need it, in cases of illness, growth or maturation, when it is important to have access to that vital reserve energy. The Jing is like a reserved account we only tap into when necessary in times of maturation, creativity, fertile expression or deep seated healing.
The jing health is the hallmark of our maturation phases that happen in seven to eight year cycles. It is during these times in our life that our body pulls from vital reserve energy to help support major changes in development. At age seven or eight, the child starts looking out themselves away from the family structure and develops playmates and creative interaction which later in life develops into sensual or sexual exchange. And at age 14 to 15. Puberty happens and physical sexual maturation evolves at age 21 to 22 Until later adolescence and growing up, youth begin to venture out and seek independence growing into sustaining themselves in the world. And further into age 28 or 29. The emerging adult begins to find their way in life understanding how they will carry their expression out into the world professionally, through serious relationships and child rearing. You can continue to do the math of these seven to eight year cycles and observe the natural psychological and physical maturation that occurs in life. Eventually shifting into finding the system in its natural decline.
10 keys to preserving your "JING" this winter
Seasonal eating and consumption of a balanced diet that includes all flavors pungent, sweet, sour, bitter and salty.
Exercise and work in a balanced fashion that doesn’t overdo or burn the body out.
Introduction of supportive herbs, foods to bolster lost fluids and energy like bone broths, teas and “Jing Tonics”
For sexually active men, work towards retaining semen through withholding ejaculation to preserve the vital fluids.
For women assuring healthy nourishment and stable blood and building a balanced hormonal system.
Making sure you have a balance of yin and yang in your activity ie: work and rest balance. Too much of either can create imbalance, finding the perfect medium for your needs.
Following the rhythms of the season, naturally slowing down in the winter preserving more energy by doing less activity, staying in, slow cooking and rest.
Avoiding excessive alcohol and drug consumption.
Integrating meditation, Qi Gong, Tai Chi & Yin restoration practices daily
Regain quiet & stillness to set up conditions for inner listening, awareness and meditation.
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