According to Daoist tradition there are three treasures in the human body. These are known as jing, qi (pronounced “chee”) and shen. Of these three, only qi has received some recognition in the West so far. Qi is but one of the Three Treasures–the other two are equally won-drous.

There are no exact translations for the terms jing, qi and shen into English. They are generally translated, though, as essence, vitality and spirit. The ultimate goal of all of the traditional eastern healing and health-promoting arts is to cultivate, balance and expand the Three Treasures.

Daoist master Sung Jin Park, described the Three Treasures by com-paring them to a burning candle. Jing is like the wax and wick, which are the substantial parts of the candle. They are made of material, which is essentially condensed energy. The flame of the lit candle is likened to qi, for this is the energetic activity of the candle, which even-tually results in the burning out of the candle. The radiance given off by the flaming candle is shen. The larger the candle and the better the quality of the wax and wick, the steadier will be its flame and the long-er the candle will last. The steadier the flame, the steadier the light given off; and the greater the flame, the greater the light.

Jing has been called the “superior ultimate” treasure, even though even in a healthy, glowing body, the quantity is small. Jing existed be-fore the body existed, and this jing enters the body tissues and be-comes the root of our body. When we keep jing within our body, our body can be vigorous. Without jing energy, we cannot live.

Qi is the invisible life force which enables the body to think and per-form voluntary movement. The power of qi can be seen in the power that enables a person to move and live. It can be seen in the move-ment of energy in the cosmos and in all other movements and chang-es. Coming from heaven into the body through the breath, it circulates through the 12 meridians to nourish and preserve the inner organs.

Shen energy is similar to the English meaning of the words “mind” and “spirit.” It is developed by the combination of jing and qi energy. When these two treasures are in balance, the mind is strong, the spirit is great, the emotions are under control and the body is strong and healthy. But it is very difficult to expect a sound mind to be cultivated without sound jing and qi. An old proverb says that “a sound mind lives in a sound body.” When cultivated, shen will bring peace of mind.

In your practice, take some time to think about these energies, culti-vate your breath and movements. You may find yourself stronger and more balanced in your mind and everyday activities.