Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine are based on an ancient Chinese philosophy, Taoism, sometimes written as Daoism. The concepts of qi, yin and yang and the Five Elements are all part of Taoism, which has had an enormous influence on Chinese life for more than 3000 years. The father of Taoism is said to be the philosopher Lao-tsu who wrote the Tao Te Ching around 600 BCE. Lao-tsu stated that the universe is based on the concept of the Tao, the Great Void, that which needs no name, and is the path or way of life, ”the source of the 10,000 things”. To be a Taoist means to be in alignment with the Tao; being the microcosm in the macrocosm of the universe. Taoists live a life of simplicity and follow the natural order of all things according to the seasons of nature, making changes with ease and spontaneity. ”Going with the flow” is a common modern expression having its origins in Taoism. Balance of yin and yang and the cyclic flow of qi are the goal, and moderation is the key to a fruitful, long and healthy life. Acupuncture, herbal medicine and qigong were considered ways of achieving longevity and even immortality.
Taoists believe that all humans have three treasures which must be cultivated and preserved in order to live a long life. These treasures are:
Jing ( essence)
This is stored in the kidneys, bone marrow, brain, ovaries and semen. Jing is our prenatal energy that controls growth, development and reproduction. We are born with a finite amount which is depleted by a life of excess, physically mentally and emotionally.
Qi ( life-force energy)
A healthy person has an abundant amount of yin and yang qi constantly circulating in the body. It can be strengthened and its balance maintained through intake of food and air and through exercise.
Shen is the psyche or soul. It rules all mental and spiritual activity and also influences qi flow. Weak shen may manifest as anxiety, depression or physical illness and can be strengthened through meditation, exercise, nutrition and herbal remedies.
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