Shen is the last vital substance that is of great importance in TCM. Shen has a broad meaning. It translates to spirit and mind. It is responsible for the thoughts we have and the ability to choose wisely. The Chinese believe that the Shen is the complex of mental faculties that is responsible for our sound decisions and judgment. It also has another meaning. Shen is also responsible for the spirit, or the entire picture of the emotional and mental aspects of ones soul. It is considered the spiritual phenomena of ones being.
The Shen flows through the Jing Luo and resides in the Heart Zang. The Heart Zang is considered in the classic texts as the, “House of the mind and seat of the spirit.” It is classified as a Yang substance. Together with the Qi and Xue, it is called the, “Three Treasures.” Healthy Shen depends on the strength of the Essence (stored in Kidneys) and Qi (produced by Spleen and Stomach). Thus, Shen is dependent on the Prenatal Jing and the Postnatal Jing. If Essence and Qi are healthy, the Shen will be nourished. As mentioned above, the Shen lives in the Blood Vessels, part of the Heart system in TCM. Blood is closely related to Qi in TCM, and is formed from the Postnatal Jing derived from food and fluids, hence Blood formation is simultaneous with that of the formation of Qi.
When a person’s Shen is strong and in harmony, it is said to reflect in the eyes and in the mind. Fulfilled Shen will also lead to a great desire and passion for life. When the Shen is disturbed, it usually involves Heart impairment. Often seen in those with long-term emotional problems or after serious shock (even a shock that occurred a long time ago.)Some symptoms of Shen disturbance include: