Xing Shen Yi Xue
Physical and spirit balance each other, unity of form and Spirit. The whole person separates into these two fundamental aspects, which must combine together for health and long life. If they do not combine appropriately, a person will become sick. This principle has roots reaching back 16,000 years, there are indications that knowledge of this principal goes back even before this.
Xing (physical) Shen (spirit) medicine embraces the understanding that psychosomatic and psychological illness is not a separate stream of theory from mainstream TCM therapy. Ancient China’s understanding of the relationship between body and spirit is very clear, offering practical explanations for the way diseases occur and further, how vital it is to understand fully the way psychological state affects the physical body, and how the physical body affects the psychological state.
Concept of Xing-Shen Medicine
Xing represents the physical - physique, or body. Shen, the subtle body, consisting of all the mental activity of the mind, all emotional feelings, and feelings related to life’s purpose, here for simplicity termed spirit. Regarding the inter-connectedness of body and spirit, references can be found within the earliest medical and philosophical works. For example, the Huang-Di-Nei-Jing expounds this relationship.
It states that; "the body is the home of the spirit. The spirit is the master of the physical”. The spirit attaches itself to the body and the biological and physiological phenomena are the signs of the “Shen” (spirit,) manifesting itself. 1997 Paraphrase -Lanzhou International Conference of TCM, Xing Shen Medicine.
Physiological Basis Of Xing-Shen Medicine
In TCM, great attention is always given to the close relationship between mental and emotional activities and physical health. The theory espouses that unity of Xing and Shen (spirit and body) together make up holistic health. To strengthen the body, one must strengthen the spirit. Further, great emphasis is placed on the essential guiding role played by appropriate regulation of spirit in daily life.
Huang-Di-Nei-Jing further states, in the quest for health and longevity, one can be healthy and free from disease only when a person cultivates physical essence, (the foundation of the bone marrow, each organ is also said to have essence) and uses Qi, vital energy, wisely, and takes care to nurture the mental/emotional state of spirit. Thus can people be full of vigour with every physical organ and associated system remaining vibrant, henceforth, able to function properly over a long natural life span.
On the other hand, an imbalance within a person’s spirit may result in a variety of diseases. As again stated in the Huang-Di-Nei-Jing, it is known that all diseases arise from a disorder of Qi (reckless movement, stagnation or blockage of the internal energy dynamic). Anger/stress forces the Qi to rise, excessive sadness or excitation brings the Qi down, terror/fear confuses the flow of Qi, grief depletes the Qi, and anxiety causes the Qi to stagnate.
Anger/stress harms the liver, excessive excitation or sadness harms the heart, anxiety harms the spleen, grief harms the lung, and fear/fright harms the kidney. In brief, loss of harmony-balance within Shen (subtle body) causes deleterious movement of the Qi (vital energy) greatly affecting ones Xing (physical) health.
On the other hand, if the physical body is weak due to under development, then the earthly base/root of spirit, being the physical body, cannot provide a strong foundation for the life pursuits of a wholesome spirit. It is often the case that problems occur because the physical body is too weak, or too easily exhausted via misuse or poor diligence. Many people in our society have this as their main problem.
Applying Principals Of Xing-Shen Medicine For Prevention Of Diseases
TCM suggests that the prevention of disease is more important than the treatment of disease. According to Xing/Shen medicine, the following principals are vital for the prevention of disease.
(1) Adjusting mental emotional activities to nourish the heart and promote tranquillity.
(2) Living life with a sense of regularity, setting a proper balance between work and rest.
(3) Participating in physical activities, taking part in appropriate physical cultivation according to age and temperament.
(4) Adopting self-massage techniques, breathing exercises and Qi building exercises for health care.
(5) Careful attention regarding diet.
Tian Ren He Di, Unity of Heaven, Life, People and Earth
Tian is heaven, Ren is centre, life (or in-between heaven and earth), Di is earth and He means unity. Here we will see why the ancients separated nature into three distinct categories.
Tian divides heavenly influences into nine categories.
The six basic natures pervading heaven are: Feng – wind, Han – cold, Shi – damp, Zao – dry, Shu – summer heat, Huo – fire. All of these natural phenomena cause disturbance or changes to physical entities i.e. to Yi, earth and Ren, life. They combine together, i.e., wind cold, dry heat, etc., or give effect individually. Tian influences can manifest three basic conditions within Ren, a person: Re, heat, Xu, weakness/vacuity, and Shi, excess/replete. Tian influences assert changes to Ren, life, thereby demanding ongoing adaptation from Xing, form, and Shen, spirit, in order to maintain natural health.
Ren refers to life – all living entities between heaven and earth.
In order to maximise potential for good health and long life, we need to understand how Xing, form, and Shen, spirit, combine to defend against the evil attack (pathological penetration) of Feng – wind, Han – cold, Shi – damp, Zao – dry, Shu – summer heat, or Huo – fire, or they will disturb a person. This study is fully contained within TCM theory.
Diis earth; earth is the ground/centre, for the interplay arena of Wu Xing, the five elements.