Chinese Proverb of Yang Sheng

Nurturing Life and Cultivating Mind

by Tina Zhang

养生以养心为主 心不病则神不病 神不病则人不病.    (清·梁文科《集验良方》

An old Chinese proverb say: To nurture one’s life and health, is mainly accomplished by cultivating one’s mind. If the mind is calm and clear, the spirit is in a pure and healthy world, if the spirit is in a healthy world, how can the illness enter you?  
— A Collection of effective prescriptions by Liang Wen Ke – Qing Dynasty 

We are luckily to be living in this world now, and enjoy all life is offering, and definitely will hope to enjoy longer.  We all acknowledge that we are not only living in a world where people simply work for gaining the basic conditions of food and shelter, but a world in which human health and longevity is an integral part of our personal identity and evolutionary journey, that leads to a healthy, natural retuning to the original birth.  It is our strong belief set us as practitioners of ancient Chinese ideology of life nurturing, or Yang Sheng, 养生,– a practical method with many aspects of taking care of our daily life in a natural way that focus on mind, body, and spiritual health.

Undoubtedly, a healthy person exercises their body, no matter whether taking eastern or western ways.  To further understanding life nurturing, or Yang Sheng, 养生, is to understand the Chinese health philosophy that heavily involves in mental and spiritual health as an important components of holistic health.  Being healthy, can be explained with Chinese Yang Sheng, is to positively deal with life and health conditions, and adjusted them according the change of life to keep a greater balance.

Nurturing life is cultivating one’s mind.  This concept is not only to the point that, without a healthy mind/spirit, one can’t have a complete healthy life, and an unbalanced physiological doesn’t do life any good favor, but also regards human being’s achievement and enjoyment is far beyond satisfaction of current surroundings and technologies. It is its unlimited potential that continuously expressed by more powerful creativity that serve a better livings of the world – these all comes from our creativity of the mind – the power house.  So, to nurturer the mind, to keep the psychological balance is the foundation to have a happy, healthy, and creative life.

We all know the mind and the emotion are heavily affected to the health.  Practically, some truths are always very clearly exhibited the deep connection between the mind, spiritual and the physical body.  For instance, when someone who is sad, on the emotional level, will experiences fatigue, a loss of energy and/or decreased appetite on the physical level; if the heart/mind is unbalanced, one cannot overcomes the worry or the nervous, or living with the past; on spiritual level, they feel out of touch with their true self and disconnected from the universe.  when spiritually someone feel lost and unbalanced, may cause them to be moody and discontented with life, perhaps grow emotionally distant from their loved ones and on the physical level they may experience anger and stress  We don’t define a healthy person is the one always in bad mood or negative thinking, do we?

On the other hand, the power and high spiritual level of the mind will be an extremely helpful asset for anyone living with a chronic health condition. You may not be able to cure your illness, but a stronger mind and a healthier spirit can help you feel better, cope with pain, symptoms, limits and daily challenges, to continue to find meaning and purpose in life and live your life as just full as a physically healthy person.  And, when life gets really rough, it’s the mind gives us the strength to carry on.

How do we nurture and cultivate our mind/spirit into a heather, and more powerful stage? The power of the mind comes from calmness and awareness.  The grounding of the mind should be solid and stable, which also is the base for focus and creativity. Gentle Qi gong, Tai Ji Quan form exercise, and meditation, in general, are highly involved in mind training exercises, which make major differences from only muscle and strengthening gaining exercise, not to mention their coordinated physical motion is the key, which builds a new relationship between the body and the mind – slow but focused.  Through many repetition of these Qi flow throughout the meridian channels exercises calms one’s mind; this calmness of the mind develops a great focus which able us to look ourselves from inside, and find our central stillness and clearness that lead to a positive way of thinking, realizing, acceptance, and control of life’s balance. Physically, if the mind is calm, it can clearly feel and very aware about what’s going on, in order to prevent from getting sick, or catch any illness in a very early stage to be taken care of with more and better choices for the treatments. 

There are three practical cultivating mind exercises you can begin with:

  1. Purposely take more breaks to let the brain/mind rest from anything you do in your every busy day; this will make you realize how busy your mind is, even on your weekend or vacations!  Too busy creates a kind of tension over time, and the tensed mind needs to rest to maintain the energy flow.
  2. Take some quiet times to clear and empty the thoughts.  You can be in any physical position, such as standing, sitting, lying down –they all have to feel comfortable without any tension or strength, and it is better if you can keep your spine straight but relaxed. Then, try not to think or focus on anything.  At the very beginning, this quiet time may actually bring up a lot of thoughts or emotions.  Try to fade them out little by little, and ignore any disturbance from your surroundings, no matter what they are.  For many people, it is not so easy to be calm inside of their mind, but just like other things in life – if you work constantly, you’ll harvest from the seeds you originally plant.
  3. Let’s also nurture the mind with healthy food and water to give nutrition to support the activity of our brain/mind that wishes, dreams, and creates!

Wishing everyone great health and happy holidays!             

– Tina Zhang

[Tina C. Zhang is a 5th generation lineage Northern Wu Style Taijiquan Master, who has traditionally studied Kong family’s Chinese Traditional Medicine, as well as TCM in Beijing University. Tina professionally teaches Qigong, Taijiquan, Baguazhang, and runs a clinic in New York City.  She is an accomplished author of Chinese Internal Martial Arts books. Please visit her web site at for more information. ]
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