The Muscle and Tendon
Transformation and Tensegrity Process.
The Yi Jin Jing 易筋經 practice is, in my understanding, much older than writing.
This is because this system of training and restoring your body begins by imitating an instinctual animal reflex. This reflex is called Pandiculation, which is an animalistic form of stretching, toning, and regulating all of your connective tissues, while improving your reflexes, balance, and longevity. Most animals do this 50 times a day.
It is like yawning strenuously with your muscles and membranes.
One of the first Chinese terms used to describe a conscious embodiment practice is Dao Yin 導引. There are a few ways to translate that term, but within the characters is an implied experience of interacting with sensation, thought, and emotion, while incrementally moving your limbs, joints, and spine (Dao 導). There is also the implication of feeling the bow-like elasticity of your tissues while also feeling into and releasing any bowstring-like lines of tension (Yin 引).
It is believed, by most scholars, that the modern Yi Jin Jing approach to embodied awareness and refinement began in earnest about 1500 years ago at the Shaolin Monastery. Since then, the many generations of practitioners have evolved one of the most profound forms of physical, emotional, and spiritual transformation, through the restoration (tensegrity) of all of your muscles, membranes, and meridians.
I will come back to the muscle and tendon aspects shortly.
I have found that a short chat about a world-famous ancient text often adds a few dimensions to the larger meaning of the process and purpose of the Muscle/Tendon Transformation practice.
As always, the Chinese Characters tell the whole story.
The Meaning of Yi Jin Jing – 易筋經
Let’s look at the characters for the classic book on change, life, the universe, and patterns of reality that suggest divination may be possible – the Yi Jing 易經.
The character for Yì 易 describes the always changing and also predictable positions of the Sun in the Sky, along with the permanent cut that is left by a knife (and the dripping blood). There is a subtle implication about living with what is erratic, what is predictable, and knowing what to avoid. It is often translated as change, transformation, transmutation, easy, and amiable (negotiate more to avoid conflict).
The character for Jīng 經 can mean a classic book, scripture, or scholarly work. Jing can also mean the strands in a cloth or blanket, that make up the warp and weft. This aspect is implied more strongly with the term Jing Luo 經絡, which is used to describe or indicate the tissue component of Acupuncture Meridians.
Jing can be used to describe the network of creeks within a given landscape. In a similar way, the term Jing Mai 經脈 describes the network of arteries and veins that keep getting smaller and smaller until they reach all of your cells.
Jing also implies the underlying structural framework of reality, especially gravitational and magnetic fields, your Heart Torus, and also the structure and nature of the ‘fabric’ of Space-Time.
This may be why Jing is used in the title of the Book of Change and Universal Transformation (Yi Jing). If you can discern the patterns in the fabric, or the geometry, of the Universe, you are both connected with Dao (creation), and potentially able to choose your future wisely. Chinese is subtle, and the early Daoists loved using layered meaning, and ‘double entendre’ terms about the nature of reality.
One other way to conceive of Jing as meridians, or channels, is to see them as aspects of your conscious interface with the world. In this sense, channels do not mean good irrigation, they mean something akin to TV channels. Balance and health are created and maintained as long as you have enough openness, access, information, and experience through each channel.
For example, the sports channel, news channel, nature channel, instinct channel, the belonging channel, the self-evaluation channel, or the spiritual awareness channel. As long as your meridian ‘antennas’ are working, and you get enough time and experience with each channel, your growth as a person will continue in a balanced way.
This brings us back to your connective tissue. The more toned and pliable (transformed and restored – Yi 易) the ‘fabric’ of your body is, and each meridian/channel is, perhaps the more authentically and completely you can experience your existence. As well, if the warp and weft of your meridians are optimized, your Qi flow and Qi capacity (volume) will also improve and increase.
The character for Jīn 筋 describes the function, nature, and ‘bamboo-like’ makeup of all of your contractile tissues, connective tissues, muscles, tendons, ligaments, your fascia, myofascial layers, as well as your interstitial filaments. Your fascia alone makes up 20% of your body weight. Your Jin is understood to be an expression of your Jing 精 (Essence) through your Liver. This Liver Jing, from a scientific perspective, would be mostly made of your ability to create collagen and the stem cells in your interstitium.
This ancient and holistic longevity practice is usually described as a transformation of your muscles and tendons. This is because the Yi Jin Jing process will make you very strong, and very fast, without building massive muscles. In the West, most people who seek out this skill are martial artists who want to become as strong, fast, and as dangerous as the monks from the famous Shaolin Monastery.
That is how I initially learned this system 35 years ago. At first, it was all about strength, speed, and power!
It was only years later when I was shown a much more subtle and complete approach to this practice, that I came to understand the potential for longevity, coherence, and a conscious and Universal connection.
If you want to get stronger and almost certainly live longer, the Yi Jin Jing asks you to commit some time and resources to Yi 易 (guiding the transformation process), returning your Jin 筋 (connective tissues) to their natural capacity and form, as an expression of the pure fabric of your body Jing 經, and potentially the fabric of Reality.
As a longevity practice, this approach to Qi Gong practice is very effective, simply because the number one indicator of a long life is retaining lean muscle mass.
As a spiritual practice, cultivating refined and open channels, or ‘meridian antennas,’ is a very potent doorway into a more Universal and innately present experience of consciousness.
(This is an excerpt from Volume Thirteen – Shaolin Strength and Longevity Qi Gong)
Read Part Two – Cultivating Strength and Longevity – the Yi Jin Jing Process
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My name is Michael Smith. I am a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, as well as a Martial Arts, and Qi Gong teacher. I am also an Author, Speaker, Podcaster, and Professor; focusing on the combination of Ancient and Modern Healing methods to support patients with Autoimmune conditions, Complex Trauma, and Addiction.
I first encountered Qi Gong over 40 years ago and began studying with lineage-holding masters 37 years ago.
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