The Chinese mind Shen, Xin, and Yi

Shen – Spirit. The consciousness within which the mind and thought function.

Xin – Heart. In Chinese it often means “mind”. If refers to an intention, idea or thought which has not been expressed. The heart or mind, is the center of human thought and feeling.

Yi – Mind. It is commonly expressed as Xin-Yi. Xin is an idea and Yi is the expression of that idea. Therefore “Yi” by it self can be translated as “Mind.” Yi-zhi is will and intention.


  • Yi Shou Dan Tien – To keep the wisdom mind at the Dan Tian in order to store the Qi. 
  • Yi Yi Yin Qi – Use the mind to lead the qi
  • Qi should be filled and stimulated (Gu Dang),
    Shen spirit should be retained internally.

Retaining the Spirit of Vitality internally means to be calm, patient and restrained in your actions. The mind will be concentrated and controlled. (Jwing-Ming, Dr. Yang, and Ymaa Publication Center. Tai Chi Secrets of the Ancient Masters.)

The Mind in Qigong
Stillness, relaxation, and a sort of naturalness are common points for most types of qigong. Stillness means thinking nothing, except the essentials of practicing qigong. Relaxation means keeping the mind and muscles relaxed. “To be natural” means one should follow the natural law and not be nervous.

Higher-level qigong common point: Entering the state of nihility. You feel your body are likely to disappear. Entering the nihility is very helpful for health and longevity. In all the common points mentioned above, mastering the mind is the most important. The regulation of breathing is of secondary importance. Therefore, the key to qigong is not the breathing exercise.

Peisheng, W., and C. Guanhua. Relax and Calming Qigong. p.23 “Qigong: mastering the mind”

Ziran – Naturalness
One of Taoism’s core values, ziran refers to naturalness and spontaneity of action, and a state of mind characterized by a kind of mirror-like clarity, which reflects things as they are, unaffected by moral or philosophical overlays. Compare with wuwei, to which it is strongly related. (Ziran

The chi should be stimulated and the spirit of vitality should be retained internally.

The principle: Water into steam. When the spirit of vitality is concentrated and retained internally, the heart (mind) will be tranquil and the entire body relaxed so that one may become alert and sensitive.

Tai Chi Chuan for Health and Self-Defense: Philosophy and Practice (maj 1988) T. T Liang p. 18.

Shen Concentrated
Having the above four [red Five Character Secret], then you can return to concentrated spirit: if the spirit is concentrated, then it is (continuous and) uninterrupted, and the practice of chi (breath) returns to the shen (spirit). The manifestation of chi moves with agility. (When) the spirit is concentrated, opening and closing occur appropriately, and the differentiation of substantial and inubsubstantial is clear. If the left is insubstantial, the right is substantial, and vice-versa. Insubstantial does not mean completely without strength. The manifestation of the chi must be agile. Substantial does not mean completely limited. The spirit must be completely concentrated. It is important to be completely in the mind (heart) and waist, and not outside.

Not being outside or separated, force is borrowed from the opponent, and the chi is relased from the spine. How is the chi released from the spine? It sinks downward from the two shoulders, gathers to the spine, and pours to the waist. This is chi’i from the up to down is called “closed”. From the waist the chi mobilizes to the spine, spreads to the two arms and flows to the fingers. This is chi from down to up and is called “opened”. Closed is gathering, and opened is discharging. When you opening and closing, then you know yin and yang. Reaching this level your skill will progress with the days and can do as you wish.

Red.: from Li Yi Yu’s Five Character Secret (Calm, Agility, Breath – to gather the chi, The internal force – the complete chin, Spirit – Shen concentrated).

Reference: T’Ai Chi Ch’Uan Ta Wen, Questions and Answers on T’Ai Chi Boxing Chen Wei-Ming ( Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo & Robert W. Smith ) North Atlantic Books 1985
ISBN: 0938190776

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