At the time of conception, there is a finite amount of this ancestral qi that gets passed down from one generation to the next… the seed of life. It is rich, super-concentrated, and powerful, but it is also precious, and should be expended mindfully… for once its used, with the exception of certain forms of “cultivation” (i.e. years of qigong practice), it cannot be reclaimed.
On a day-to-day basis, our reservoir of Qi is being tapped into and then replenished via sleep, the food we eat and the air we breathe (referred to as our Acquired Qi). But when we need to go beyond our everyday limits, it is this storehouse of ancestral reserve that needs to be invoked. And while it can be summoned on a physical level, more often than not, there tends to be more of a mental or spiritual need. Think of it like an energetic bank account – where our principal is the allotment of Essence, and the interest is the acquired qi that gets recalculated and adjusted on a daily basis… well, we want to be living off the interest as much as possible and letting the principal just be.
Above I mention our adrenals… the main contributor to adrenal fatigue is stress and/or pushing ourselves to unhealthy levels. We can see this sort of excess behavior in many, many aspects of our lives – too much eating, thinking, partying, sex (particularly in men…sorry guys), drama, work, exercise… yes, exercise! In true times of stress our sympathetic nervous system triggers what’s called “fight or flight” mode and redirects all power (from digestion, sex organs, etc.) to our extremities, giving us the ability to do what’s necessary to save ourselves if we were being chased by a lion. Even though we are not being chased by lions all that frequently, our current culture all too often has a mindset that creates a reality that thinks it needs to be on red alert WAY more often than our bodies are designed to handle.The end-result is fatigue, illness, premature aging, and bunch of other things we’d all like to stave off for as long as possible.
So how can we conserve our Essence (and our adrenals)?? The core teaching that came from the Buddha 2,500 years ago was that of the “Middle Way”. The main treatment principle in Chinese Medicine for close to 5,000 years is to attain (and sustain) balance and harmony with one’s own environment. Our western society has fallen into a place of extreme lifestyles… some too sedentary, others too overworked and overstimulated. Finding a cozy place in the middle can really open up our hearts, minds, and bodies to a life that is satisfying and vibrant. So am I saying not to party, have sex, work, or exercise?!?!? Of course not. But I believe there is a lot to learn from the wisdom of those that not only came before us, but who really benefited from these disciplines in deep and profound ways.