List your Practice List a School List an Event Contact Us
Account Login View Cart Cart ($0.00)

Acufinder.com is the leading resource for everything to do with Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs and Asian Medicine. It is the premier Web destination for those seeking health and wellness for themselves and their loved ones through the principles of Oriental Medicine. We are the voice of authority for up-to-date health and wellness information from an Eastern Medicine perspective.

Search for Acupuncturists Search for Acupuncture Schools Search for Acupuncture Events
Explore Acufinder

Learning & Resource Center Articles

Print Page Print Page
Send to a Friend
Bookmark and Share
The Definition of "Shen" - Root of the Spirit
By: Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOM
Chinese Medicine considers Shen to be one of the "three treasures" that constitute life: Jing, the essence; Qi, the life force; and Shen, the spirit. TCM views the spirit as an integral part of our health and our well being and cultivation of the spirit is considered essential for health maintenance.

"Heaven abides so that we have virtue. Earth abides so that we have Qi. When virtue flows and Qi is blended there is life." – Huangdi Neijing Lingshu

Shen is usually translated as "spirit" and refers to that aspect of our being that is spiritual. It embodies consciousness, emotions, and thought. According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Shen is said to preside over activities that take place in the mental, spiritual, and creative planes.
 
Chinese Medicine considers Shen to be one of the "three treasures" that constitute life: Jing, the essence; Qi, the life force; and Shen, the spirit. TCM views the spirit as an integral part of our health and our well being and cultivation of the spirit is considered essential for health maintenance.

Chinese masters say it is through Shen that we radiate ourselves into the world. This "spiritual radiance" manifests as our wisdom, emotional well being, and ability to see all sides of an issue. Shen refers to that aspect of our being that looks to the universe around us, and is not focused on emotions. Shen draws our attention to the divine. It contributes to wisdom, virtue, and calmness, and maintains our whole being in order.

The spirit can be harmed by external factors if we fail to maintain vitality through good habits, physical strength, and adequate nourishment. The spirit can also be harmed by internal factors, especially excessive emotions.

Disharmony of Shen often manifests itself as anxiety, insomnia, lackluster eyes, muddled thinking, forgetfulness, chronic restlessness and, in severe cases, mental illness, including depression and mania.  It is said that Shen can be strengthened through meditation, physical exercises such as Tai Qi and Qi Gong, and by acupuncture and herbal remedies.