The Three Treasures

When I encounter multi-layered concepts in Taijiquan and Qigong I seek to find the most simple ways of understanding them. Nature and daily life are great resources for metaphors and examples to help me understand these concepts and principles. After all, all of our practices, nature and daily life are all entwined, all are simply various manifestations of these core principles: Wuij, Yin & Yang, and 10,000 things.  The Chinese really had it figured out long ago!

This past week we focused on The Three Treasures and the Center Line. For this blog, I will talk about the The Three Treasures: Jing, Qi and Shen.

The Three Treasures is a big study in Chinese medicine but they can each, separately and together, be comprehended simply if we look  to nature. Take a flowering bulb, for example. We understand if we have a good bulb and plant it correctly in the right soil, it will grow into a lovely flower, delightful for the eye to see. Metaphorically speaking, our physical bodies are that bulb, full of potential. Our body bulb gets created at conception, formed for nine months or so in mama, and then pushed in the world. Our body bulb, like a flowering bulb, is filled with innate potential with genetic coding. For that genetic coding to manifest, it must be activated upon by correct nutrition. The bulb, from the soil and the atmosphere, our bodies from food and air. As we know, everything alive needs food, oxygen and water to grow. With the right nutrition, innate potential manifests, both flower and body become bright. It is enchanting to be in the presence of such beauty and grace. 

The concept of “Jing” in Chinese medicine (of which our practices are a part), can be seen as our body bulb. We have genetic & historic coding we are born with, our essence, our innate potential. “Qi” can be looked at as both what we are born with and what what we need to activate our potential. We know there is the energy of life in our body bulb, but for our life to sustain and develop, we also need the energy of food and air. The better, the better! “Shen,” then, is the flowering of our spirit, our consciousness, our innate intelligence that will manifest through the combination of the genetic material we are borne with and the nutrition we seek and are exposed to. When we practice our Qigong & Taijiquan we are intentionally enhancing this natural alchemy of life. We exercise our body, which needs to move for health, we breathe more deeply, increasing oxygenation, digestion and blood flow. All of this make more efficient the processes of our body that distribute nutrition through our system and separates the useful from the spent. We who practice know that through these intentional practices we become brighter, happier and more able to interact in the world in delightful and beautiful ways. Jing, Qi & Shen, The Three Treasures!  

These Three Treasures and their layered concepts are a rich study. Here are some accessible books on this topic and on the larger scope of Chinese Medicine.

The Root of Chinese Qigong by Yang Zwing Ming 

The Spark in the Machine by Dr. Daniel Keown 

Between Heaven and Earth by Harriet Beinfield & Efrem Korngold

I found a couple of short online posts that are pretty good:

Additional Thoughts:

We are fully in fall now! In fact, Chinese thought and medicine split this time of the year into 2 parts, early & late fall. Here in the PNW, it is easy to feel this distinction. Though we feel the shift out of summer, late August – September even into early October it is still warm and light. We are still quite active and outward in our presence. Now, its late October. It is darker, wetter and even snow is coming. We are tucking in the garden, getting our polar fleece out, checking our fireplaces to make sure they are ready for the cold days ahead. Winter is not quite here, but it is definitely coming! We can complete our Three Treasures metaphoric exploration by adding one more piece. All that energy of the bulb manifesting? This is the season where those flowers die back and their energy returns to the bulb.  The garden may look scraggly but this is a very important time to allow those saggy leaves and stems to send their energy back to the source to replenish the bulb for next spring. The coming winter is not an outwardly active time, but there is a lot going on under the soil and inside the bulb. Storage, rest and renewal! Just like us, we want to rest more, stay inside more and be cozy. Eat root veggies and stews. It’s all part of how we restore our body bulb. Enjoy the darker more inward days ahead. We and the Dahlias will return in full flower soon enough! 

Here are some words of wisdom for this very important time of the year from Eric Hartmann, L.Ac., M. Ac.

By Eric Hartmann, L.Ac., M.Ac. 

 We are in the depths of Fall. This season is associated with and informs the energy of the Metal Element. The organs associated with the Metal element are the Lung and the Large Intestine. The Lungs are a direct connection to the ‘outside’ of our body and thus, susceptible to ‘attacks’ or as we say in Chinese medicine, ‘invasions’.  In Western culture, we refer to these invasions as a cold. So, protect and nourish your Lungs! 

-Keep the back of the neck covered with a scarf
-Support your immune system
-Drink plenty of water
-Go to bed ½ an hour earlier
- Practice rhythmic breathing like meditation or Tai Chi/Qigong
-Go for a walk and get fresh Chi energy to your Lungs

The Large intestine is the organ that lets go of waste products, the things we don’t need or can’t utilize. There are things you can do to help your Large intestine stay healthy:

-Drink plenty of water
-Eat leafy vegetables, good quality, fiber containing foods
-Go for a walk and breath in on a count of 4 and exhale on a count of 6
-Clean out a closet or give away those books you’ve been meaning to take to Goodwill



I'm one month in to my new routine. And I am just now starting to get used to working one day less a week and not running myself ragged maintaining $72000/year rent and utilities and the pressure of running the Market Street Shop. Sharing space at Shift is working out really well. Still, it is a shift for me, that's for sure, a really big one. My nervous system needs some time to get off the bullet train. I have noticed that my practice and my teaching is transforming. Because I am more rested and my stress level is much less, this seems to be positively affecting my overall practice and life. I knew I had to change because my health was at risk, which seemed very counterproductive to someone who has made a career out of teaching people to be healthy! My transformation is a very interesting process. I was so scared to let go, but pressed on. Now I'm fascinated. (And have enough energy to be so!)