Guidelines for a Long and Healthy Life
In the section discussing why some don’t live to a ripe old age, the Divine Pivot [灵枢经] proposes the following guidelines for a long and healthy life:
- Maintain and strengthen the five viscera - the heart, liver, spleen, lungs, and kidneys - as this is the best guarantee of good health.
- Regulate the meridians and collaterals, because your blood and Qi depend on it. Only with normal flow and equal distribution of blood and Qi to all parts of the body can one attain optimal health levels.
- Tone the muscles. Each muscle is made up of thousands of fibers. When elasticity is enhanced, each fiber is able to expand and contract on cue and in sync with mind-body coordination. This in turn strengthens the skeletal framework and makes joints and tendons more flexible. When all the above conditions are met, normal blood and Qi flow is achieved.
- Maintain the fineness of the pores. The skin absorbs and expels at the same time. This dual function prevents external elements such as wind, cold, heat, moisture, dryness and fire – not to mention all types of pathogens – from breaching bodily systems.
- Maintain harmony of the nutrient Qi and defensive Qi (referring to the endogenous and exogenous meridians/collaterals). When you’re very active and go to bed late every day, your Qi remains exogenous, leading to a nutrient Qi – defensive Qi imbalance.
- Breathe normally. There is a direct correlation between respiratory rate and circulation of the inner Qi. Breathing too quickly causes circulation to exceed 50 cycles, which exhausts the Qi. Breathing too slowly causes circulation to drop under 50 cycles, leading to stagnation of the Qi.
- The primary function of the six bowels – the stomach, gall bladder, small intestine, large intestine, bladder and the upper, middle and lower Jiao [焦] – is to digest food and drink, separate the nutrients from unwanted substances, deliver the nutrients to all parts of the body and flush out the remaining waste.