Winter Bone Broth–Extract Jing and Replenish What’s Been Lost
Bone broth, or what we call bone marrow soup in Chinese Medicine is just the rage right now, and for good reason.
Extracting the mineral essence of solid things, like bones and root vegetables, into liquid soup, whether vegan or animal bone broth, is the fastest way to nourish our own deepest essence, called Jing in Chinese medicine.
Bone Broth Nourishes the Deepest Level of the Tissues–Jing
Ayurveda describes Winter bone broth as nourishing the deepest level of the tissues, or dhatus. Chinese medicine calls that deep level, Jing. It is associated with our own bone marrow, with breast milk, blood, and sperm…We can loose too much Jing with blood loss, with excessive menstration, birthing, and breast feeding, with overwork, and in men, with excessive ejaculation. All of this is relative to your constitution; some of us are born with tremendous levels of warrior Jing, others with the Jing of fairies and elves…
Like builds like in Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, so that the minerals and building blocks locked into the deepest recesses of an animal, its bones, and a plant, its roots, are said to nourish our deepest roots. And this is why soups made from bone and root vegetables are classics in traditional Chinese medicine during the late Autumn and early Winter season, the time of year centered around the Winter Solstice.
Jing, Qi, and Shen
In Classical Chinese Medicine a human life has three constituents–Jing/Essence, Qi/Energy, and Shen/Consciousness. Consciousness is formed out of the conversion of Jing by Qi. Our crude physical body is full of stored Jing, but without being animated by Qi, or life force if you will, there is zero consciousness. The body is as conscious as refrigerated flesh in the grocery store
Jing is Essence, the Building Block
The difference between our body at birth, a healthy body, is its full of Jing, abundent in Jing. Her skin is soft, his eyes full of light. But a baby’s Qi is not yet mature, it cannot eat normal food, and has to sleep far more than at adulthood. A baby is born full of essence/Jing. Its like your savings account.
The Goal of Life- To Convert Jing into Shen
Over time, as we experience life with all its ups and downs, joys and sorrows, challenges and opportunities, this Jing is converted by Qi into consciousness, or Shen. The goal of life is the transformation of Jing by Qi into Shen, and here we imply Wisdom, Compassion, Understanding.
Minerals are Stored Jing in Dense Form
A rock has very little consciousness and almost no Qi. We know that because a rock can not move, cannot express itself very actively. But rocks and minerals are full of essence or Jing. Gold, diamonds, mercury, arsenic, calcium, magnesium, phospherous, copper, etc etc are full of metallic essence.
A mollusk or earthworm, not too much consciousness, but more Qi than a rock, and still plenty of essence. But even those two, as living beings, have more Qi, or life force than a rock.
The Conversion of Jing into Qi is By Physical and Mental Activity
Animals, whether birds making nests, cats grooming each other, or humans riding a bike while reciting a poem, are constantly converting our Jing into consciousness. The will to do something, from scratching your nose to painting a masterpiece, is associated with Jing, the doing of that something utilizes Qi.
Disease and hard work, keeping the body warm in cold weather, hard exercise, anything that creates real fatigue, consumes Qi all the more so, that is why, if circumstances are sufficiently difficult, like at the top of Mt. Everest in a storm, you can easily die. All your Jing is suddenly consumed, and there is no more supply for your Qi to convert into Shen.
Everything a human being does requires Jing converted to Qi, that is the very difference between being a living being and being a corpse, the presence of warm Qi. That is why we grow cold at death. And death is defined in Chinese Medicine as the final depletion of your Jing. Hopefully, along the way, at that point, your minimum Jing has been associated with maximum wisdom, then life has even greater meaning.
Over the course of our life what keeps us replete with Qi is the extraction of Qi from the air into oxygen by our Lungs, the extraction of Qi from foods and liquids into carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and water, and the restoration of our mind/body’s by good sleep. We can also add that the less we disturb our consciousness/Shen by fear, anger, worry, grief, desire, attraction and aversion, the calmer and more level our mind remains, the more we preserve our Jing and Qi.
When we speak of extracting the essence of foods and liquids (this word essence, or Jing, is the very same word when referring to the deepest state of our human being, as well as the deepest essence of a foodstuff) by our digestive tracts we speak of its transformation into blood, which carries this essence to our internal organs for storage.
The closest we can come to replicating the Jing we received from our parents as embryos, is to eat a healthy, easily digested diet, with respect for the seasons, time of day, and our own body type, while keeping a calm satisfied mind.
This is why, in both Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, such strong emphasis is placed on creating beautiful food that is easily digested, and eating our food in a calm relaxing friendly unhurried environment. It may be frustrating as a visitor to India to have to wait an hour while a bureaucrat calmly eats her midday meal, as you wait in the heat for your visa extension, but in a major way they have their priority right. ( Indians themselves know not to show up at lunch time.)
Human being deserve the right to eat the main meal of the day in an unhurried, relaxed fashion, because its the Relaxation Response that promotes healthy digestion, and the Stress, or Fight or Flight Response that destroys digestion by restricting the flow of Qi and Blood to the gut, while at the same time elevating all the detrimental stress hormones.
Americans can get very obsessed with “eating the right” foods, even to the point of developing orthorexia, while at the same time ignoring the lifestyle of relaxation that promotes health. It says in Chinese Medicine–“good sleep, good digestion, good elimination, good prognosis.” It doesn’t matter how healthy the food you eat is if you gobble it down in a rush. To be continued in Bone Marrow Soup, Part 2, next.