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Submitted By: vegapunk

Good day

Recently I've been trying to research the nature of shen.

I've bought 'The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Medicine' recommended by this site and haven't been able to find a thorough explanation of the subject. Furthermore I've tried the web but I have a hard time trusting the expertise of most sites(I do find yinyanghouse reliable though).

So I'm hoping the practitioners here might be able to help me. If there's an established classic I could be refered to that would be perfect as well.
Please correct me and elaborate if possible on some of my points and questions.

From what I could gather so far, shen has its origins in the heart. What I'm unable to discern is from what is shen 'manufactured'?

Then after it's produced does it hang around in the heart meridian or does it move up to the Shang Dantian/elsewhere?

What I find most puzzling is determining what Shen is supposed to do? On the web I've heard it equated with the sub-conscious mind. Would shen then be analogous to psychic energy(in the freudian not supersensory sense)?

To go about working, does the shen leave where ever it resides and enters the meridian in question or does shen get assigned to an organ and then permanently stay there?

Let's say for example I'm about to hold my breath, does my shen enter my lung meridian and halts breathing, or is control over breathing from shen that is permanently established in the lung meridians? In anxiety provoking situations where breathing patterns are altered subconsciously would that still be because of shen's influence?

Does something control shen or is it the highest authority in the body system? Where does Yi stand in regards to this?

Thank you


Those are good questions and I would have to sit down for some time to explore them enough to give you appropriately detailed answers. Generally, however, the shen is more the expressive energy of the person - their vibrancy so to speak. When you see mentally ill people you can look into their eyes and see either a dullness or a wildness that once seen you can see to varying degrees in the general population. The shen, then, is an expression of the level and coordination of energy within the body - not just within a particular meridian or organ system. Getting startled for example will scatter your qi generally but is not going to effect your overall expression of yourself. Consistent fear over longer periods of times or significant acute traumas, however, are another story and a person can "split".

To get a little deeper information from the classics I would spend sometime looking into the significance of the Hun and the Po and then re-think the concept of shen with those in mind. I would also consider reading the text Nourishing Destiny from Lonny Jarrett. Written from a five element perspective I believe this text will help you better explore these concepts.


"[...]spend sometime looking into the significance of the Hun and the Po and then re-think the concept of shen with those in mind."

Thanks Chad! It has helped me tremendously. I&#39ve read the section several times but the &#395 spirits&#39 idea never got through to me for some reason until you pointed it out.

In the yellow emperor&#39s classic, on page 19, shen is called the spirit of the heart meridian specifically but it seems(to me at least) that &#39shen&#39 is also used quite broadly for all five spirits throughout the book. If we&#39re using the same book, a good example would be the first paragraph on page 54.

Would it be fair to say, in light of this, that the spirit of the heart meridian is kind of like a summative spirit or convergence of all the spirits? Or is it rather that the term &#39shen&#39 is just used generally?

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