Who can you thank for YOUR Jing Essence?
By Noah Goldstein It is challenging to capture in words the gratitude I have for the decades of love and care my father has provided. My appreciation for the way he worked so hard to provide spiritual, emotional, physical and financial resources for me to mature into who I am today is bigger than a holiday card or gift could ever express. Only now, after my own first year as a father, can I begin to understand the immensity of the process of being the ideal father I hope to be.
I’m so grateful to have such a great role model.
In addition to my father, I have two wonderful grandfathers who are exactly that -- grand! These are three strong men who have modeled examples of fatherhood with words of wisdom and profound lessons. I’ve been taught the importance of humor and enjoying life from the constant joking of my grandfathers, as well as the importance of living with integrity and compassion through their generosity. It has granted me the option and opportunity of discovering what it means for me to be my authentic self as a man and as a dad. I appreciate and value of all the gifts I’ve received from my parents and grandparents. My father and grandfathers taught me through words and actions both the importance of hard work and dedication to family, and the importance of enjoying life (especially food).
In Chinese Medicine our inherited qualities is reflected in what we call “Jing”, generally translated as “Essence.” Our Jing in certain ways is conceptually similar to DNA and is basically the sum total of what we are given in life to work with - it includes our inborn strengths and weaknesses and our innate talents, qualities, and quirks. Practically this can mean a few different things. For example, one person may have a proclivity for long-distance running (slow twitch muscles), while another may be a much better sprinter (fast twitch muscles) and that’s “their DNA/Jing.”Jing determines one’s vitality, resistance to disease, and longevity. It is concentrated in the brain, ova, semen, and bone marrow.
Equally important, Jing also impacts how we live our lives. Our Jing is a reservoir of "life-juice." We are born with a certain amount of Jing, and as we age, it declines. We continuously draw from it throughout our lives. How intensely we live our lives and how well we nourish and support ourselves (food, sleep, exercise, sex) influences the overall quality of our life and how long our Jing will last. In men, excessive sexual activity also consumes Jing. From a Chinese medical perspective, sperm (essence) contains a substantial imprint of our Jing (or vitality). “Burning the candle at both ends” draws more heavily on our Jing than maintaining a healthy work-life balance. A steady decline of Jing is normal as we age. Signs of declining Jing include loss of head hair, brittle bones, ringing in the ears, weak or painful knees and lower back, loose teeth, and dizziness. It is much easier to preserve Jing than it is to restore it. We can all handle a few weeks or even months of elevated stress or reduced quality in our diet, but when we chronically exceed our inherent healthy balance we may notice signs of premature aging or poorer quality of life.
What are some things we can do to conserve our Jing and ensure health and longevity? For starters, understanding there is a limited amount of Jing encourages us to nourish ourselves emotionally, physically, and spiritually and to set limits. It is okay to say, “enough”, or “thank you, but no.” In addition to eating lots of vegetables, eating a diet full of beneficial fats will help conserve your Jing by providing you a constant source of nourishment. Specifically, ghee (also known as clarified butter), bone broth soup, organ meats, goji berries, and black sesame seeds are considered a foods that nourishes Jing-Essence (“Healing with Whole Foods", Paul Pitchford). Laughing is also really good for you! I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my jokester grandfather is still travelling the world at the ripe old age of 94. If you continually add healthy nutrition, you preserve your Jing and do not need to pull from your limited resource. There are also exercises in “Qi Gong” that involve physical movements aligned with visualizations and meditations which help calm the mind, relax the heart, and balance our bodies. Some Qi Gong exercises focus specifically on circulating and conserving Jing-Essence. If you’re interested in learning an exercise or two let me know at your next acupuncture treatment and I’ll be sure to show you!
Our Jing is inherited from our parents and ancestors and will be passed on to our children, grandchildren, and beyond.
Father’s Day is a time to acknowledge the impact these important people have on our lives.
Perhaps the greatest gift we can give the men in our lives is unconditional love and permission to be themselves. In doing so we may allow for a fuller expression of the gifts within their deepest essence.
Check out this outstanding Jing-A-Licious Pancake Recipe!