The Art of Nurturing Life — Yang Shen
According to Classical Chinese medical practice
At the heart of Chinese medicine are the teachings that people should seek to create a Way of life that lives in harmony with nature and with one’s environment to achieve greater health.
Life cultivation, “the Art of Nurturing Life” is a Chinese Medicine practice that is quite simple: it is taking care of the body in a preventative way through proper diet and exercise, mindfulness, proper rest and sexual habits, and living in accordance with the seasons and seasonal forces to prevent disease from occurring and to maintain good health.
Two guiding insights in the practice of Life Cultivation are to treat disease before it arise, and secondly that the microcosm contained within the human form is reflected in the macrocosm of the natural world around us. Recognizing these insights can encourage you to live in harmony and rhythm with the world around you. The result is greater health.
There are five activities that tax the body according to classical medicine: too much sitting taxes the flesh, too much laying down taxes the qi (energy or function of the body), too much standing taxes the bones, too much walking taxes the sinews, and too much vision (staring or looking at things, like TVs or cellphones) taxes the blood.
There are six poor lifestyle habits that damage the body: irregular and improper food intake damages the stomach, anxiety damages the lungs, alcohol damages the liver, too much sex damages the kidneys, under-eating damages the spleen, and overworking damages the yin—our nutrients, minerals, and blood. Bear in mind, of course, that in classical Chinese medical theory, the lungs and spleen, for example, constitute a paradigmatic function not generally conceptualized in Western physiology.
Balance between enough movement and rest or medication is essential. We are designed to function both under the influences of movement and in contrast with rest and moderation. Feel your body be still; feel it move.
Eat at regular times, not too eat late at night, or to skip meals, and always to avoid overeating. Slowing down to chew and enjoy one’s food is encouraged and avoid being distracted whilst eating.
Try to eat pure, fresh high quality foods. Avoid greasy, fried foods and too much alcohol. In modern times, of course, impure foods are a far greater concern. Eat foods that are easy to digest, like soups, stews, and steamed veggies and avoiding too many cold-natured foods, such as ice cream, chilled or frozen foods, cold drinks, raw foods. Cold liquids with meals were prohibited as they decrease digestive efficiency. Simply put, hold the ice when pouring your water!
In summary, to avoid disease people need Yang Shen, to live in balance and moderation in all aspects of their day. This is the most effective way of preventing disease and maintaining a healthy body and mind.
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