How to Live to 256 like Li Ching-Yuen
With pharmaceutical drugs and state-of-the-art medicines practically infused in our DNA, people still consider it a pretty lofty achievement to hit a triple digit birthday. Even if you do make it that far, you’ll probably notice the grim reaper reflected in the eyes of all your well-wishers as they think, “Well, this has to be the last one of these.” Some metaphysicians believe that everlasting life is actually achievable through simple and pure belief. The man who actually practiced what he preached was Li Ching-Yuen who was rumored to have lived to the ripe old age of 256. While this age has been disputed, the opposing account claims he was actually 197-years-old when he died (or would that be 197-years-young?) so, yeah, everyone can agree he was old enough to warrant some investigation.
Anyone hoping to discover that magic monkeys’ paws or Fountains of Youth (that haven’t been bottled up by Nestle) are real will be sorely disappointed to know he probably achieved his longevity through…you guessed it…staying fit, eating healthy, and taking it slow. But everyone knows at least one health nut so where are all these 200-year-old people? Probably not exploring remote parts of Asia with an eye for herbs like Li Ching-Yuen. He was an herbalist and in addition to selling his harvest, he also lived off a diet focused on goji berry, he shou wu, gotu kola, linghzi, and wild ginseng. When he wanted to cut loose a bit, he’d pour himself some rice wine.
In addition to his skills as an herbalist, Li Ching-Yuen was also renowned as a tactical advisor skilled in martial arts. It turns out the movies and comic books were right: anyone who lives longer than 150 years has no trouble kicking your mortal ass. While the martial arts and diet would keep Li Ching-Yuen in a peak physical state, there was a little more to it than that. As a disciple claims (because of course the 200-year-old guy would get a few disciples), Li Ching-Yuen met a mysterious hermit in the mountains who was supposedly 500-years-old. In addition to martial arts, the hermit taught Li Ching-Yuen the spiritual practice of Qigong with very specific breathing practices, offered some diet tips, and taught him a special type of motion training involving particular sounds. So basically Dune was happening up in those mountains. Li Ching-Yuen was already 130-years-old at that point but smart enough to take the 500-year-old’s advice and he practiced these teachings daily or as he put it “regularly, correctly and with sincerity.” That’s about as straightforward as he got. His other famous response to questions on his health secrets, as published in Time magazine, were, “Tranquil mind, sit like a tortoise, walk sprightly like a pigeon, sleep like a dog.”
A healthy sex life probably added some years on as well…or possibly took a few off by the way he was going at it. Rumor has it that Li Ching-Yuen had over 200 kids and 23 wives. Maybe it’s a bit messed up to hold a 256-year-old to mortal ideas of monogamy or so Doctor Who would have us believe.
So all of the people telling you to exercise regularly and raving about goji berry miracles are probably right. Li Ching-Yuen lived anywhere between 197 to 256-years-old and when he finally went out, he supposedly signed off like it was his choice, saying “I have done all I have to do in this world. I will now go home.” And I will now go home to eat a bunch of goji berry, exotic Chinese herbs and guzzle some rice wine.
Here’s some Qigong exersizes to get you started: