I’ve been thinking about sharing some of my thoughts on this ancient Chinese wisdom about simple things we can all do to promote our health and wellbeing.
The two characters Yang (nourish or nurture) and Sheng (life or vitality) kind of tell you what it’s all about. Often described as the art of nourishing life, Yangsheng practices date back thousands of years. The aim of Yangsheng is to enable us to live not just longer but also much healthier lives, with less illness, fewer aches and pains and more happiness (aka mental/emotional equilibrium).
One of the things I want to say is that whilst it is ancient wisdom, it’s not ancient ‘secrets’. The broad sweep of Yangsheng is stuff we all kind of know anyway, whether from science based public health advice or what our grandma told us or just from plain common sense. But one thing Yangsheng tells us is that knowing what to do, how to live, is not the same as doing it.
So what it’s all about ...
In this series of commentaries I want to cover various aspects of Yangsheng advice in more detail, but for now just a whistle stop tour.
It goes beyond just maintaining physical health and views our wellbeing in terms of a harmonious and seamless integration of mind and body making for physical and mental balance. It takes a long view, considering not only the immediate here and now but also how what we do now will influence our health and longevity as we move into old age.
One strand is to avoid the things, mostly excesses, that do us harm – for example inappropriate eating and drinking. Another is positive activities that promote wellbeing – such as exercising well and getting enough sleep. And a final strand is activity that very directly works to nourish life – things like meditation and qigong.
In future articles I will try to expand on each topic and explore not only the underlying principles of Chinese Medicine that underpin Yangsheng but also the scientific evidence that increasingly confirms the validity of these ancient practices.
Written by Dominic Rushmore
Dominic Rushmore & Jose D'Lacey are well versed in the principles both of Chinese medicine and Tai Chi/Qigong.