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Shallow breaths and cheese curls

Shallow breaths and cheese curls

Imagine a tall glass of pure, clean water.  Now imagine adding a tiny drop of food coloring to the glass.  Watch as the drop begins to suffuse into the water, tendrils of color stretching in multiple directions.  Eventually, the whole glass will take on the shade you’ve added.  This is my mental picture for a substance in Chinese medicine known as jing.  That clear glass of water represents all the qi  that you are able to build up through the air you breathe and the food you eat.  The food coloring – that’s your ancestral qi – the qi passed down to you from your parents.  It’s very special and in limited supply.  It lives in your kidneys and bones, the essence of who you are.

If we’re keeping that glass full by taking good care of ourselves, then we just need a tiny drop of jing to add its particular flavor to all the qi we manufacture.  This helps ensure that what we are spending our qi on is in alignment with our true selves.  And sometimes, we need a little extra jing when we’re doing something big, like running a marathon or finishing a creative project.  It’s okay (actually healthy) to dip into the savings every once and awhile if it’s something that’s really important to us.  And I mean really important – not just because it’s what every one else does (e.g. “Of course I run myself ragged during the holidays, that’s just the way it is!”  is a worldview that might be worth reconsidering).

Unfortunately, many of us use this potent qi just to get through the day.  If our glass isn’t full, we start adding in extra jing just to bring up the volume.  We don’t get enough sleep, so we need a little more jing.  We don’t eat food that nourishes us – a little more jing .  We don’t exercise – a little more jing.  Eventually we’re feeling fatigued and rundown most of the time.  This is a sign that we are using our essential energy in a reckless way and it’s time to take more responsibility for generating our own.  It can power us for awhile, but when it’s gone, it’s gone.  Then those shallow breaths and cheese curls aren’t going to cut it.  And an extra coffee in the morning is not the answer – that’s “like putting a wooden block under the brake pedal.”

This is a great time to contemplate jing, as the trees lose their leaves and we begin to see only their skeletons.  There’s not a lot cluttering the landscape, so you can see more clearly what’s important, what’s worthy of spending your precious energy on.  Are you dipping too heavily into your reserves?  Take some time to fill up your glass with fresh water this season.  Winter-friendly tips on how to do that coming up next week.

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The Nuin Center
5655 Bryant St
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
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Wed 10-7
Thu 10-7
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