Original Jing or telomeres
It is very easy to ignore ancient wisdom when it is dressed in the language of a different paradigm. Then we have to hold judgement and dig deep.
I was re-reading a book about Chi Kung and noticed an interesting detail. The writer was referring to what is usually called Original Jing, (sometimes Water Chi), and is the source of life & growth, and ultimately limits our life expectancy. This Original Jing is continuously converted into Chi which in turn nourishes Shen.
Now, this Original Jing we get from our parents. If you’ll excuse the metaphor while I try to make this idea intelligible, It is like the capital in a savings account or a trust fund. We only have so much of it. We could spend it fast and run out early or spend it slowly. But, if we take care of it we can encourage it to produce interest. While we might be hard pushed to get it to grow faster than we use it, we can certainly make it last much longer.
Now if that seems to you just so much Eastern mystical mumbo jumbo, let me mention telomeres. Telomeres are the noncoding DNA sections at the end of the chains. I’ve heard them described as being like the plastic sheath at the ends of shoe laces; their job is to stop the lace fraying at the ends. It seems that they are of limited length and they gradually get shorter with each cell devision. When they are gone the cells ability to reproduce functionally is inhibited. This is part of the ageing process. So this reducing process is like a slow burning fuse towards cell disfunction and death. Now while we inherit from our parents a genetic potential for the telomere length, we can live in such a way that speeds up the shortening or we can live in a way that protects and prolongs them.
Now it may be that all the metaphors for Jing and telomeres are over simplistic, essentially wrong in the description of the processes involved and will one day be replaced by better. But. Here’s the thing. If you follow the advice for how to preserve and slow the rate that you use Original Jing or if you follow the advice on how to preserve and slow the rate that you reduce your telomeres length, you will live a longer and healthier life. Guess what, the advice is very, very similar. Eat lots of various vegetables: leaves, fruits, berries, roots, nuts, seeds, minimal (or none, Taoist teaching recommends vegan) animal products (not processed meats and preferably organic). Live without stress. Have a positive attitude. Let the past go. Meditate daily. Do Chi Kung. Exercise moderately, (long walks, gentle flowing movement, occasional short bursts of high energy sprints or resistance). Get plenty of sleep. Develop nourishing, loving relationships.
Now from a health perspective, does it matter if you visualise a store of Jing energy or lengths of noncoding DNA? Be careful of disregarding good advice just because the visualisation of the effective process doesn’t fit your cultural paradigm.