I’ve been writing recently all about Jing, which is the constitutional energy we are born with. In Shiatsu and Chinese Medicine, it’s responsible, in the main for the reproductive process in both women and men. Jing carries on working way past our childbearing years as we still need to reproduce at a cellular level. We need new skin cells, new blood platelets, our hair carries on growing and our noses never stop, I’m told, even after death.
In the Nei Jing, which is the earliest written document of Traditional Chinese Medicine, compiled over 2,200 years ago, it states
Female Jing Cycles of Seven
- A woman’s Kidney energy becomes prosperous at seven years of age (1×7).
- Her menstruation appears as the ren(sea of yin) channel flows and the chong (sea of blood) channel becomes prosperous at the age of 14 (2×7).
- Her Kidney qireaches a balanced state, and her teeth are completely developed at the age of 21 (3×7).
- Her vital energy and blood are substantial, her four limbs are strong and the body is at optimal condition at the age of 28 (4×7).
- Her peak condition declines gradually. The yang mingchannel is depleted, her face withers and her hair begins to fall out at the age of 35 (5×7).
- Her three yang channels, tai yang, yang mingand shao yang, begin to decline. Her face complexion wanes and her hair turn white at the age of 42 (6×7).
- The ren and chongchannels are both declining, her menstruation ends, her physique turns old and feeble, and she can no longer conceive at the age of 49 (7×7).
Male Jing Cycles of Eight
- A man’s Kidney energy is prosperous, his hair develops and his teeth emerge at the age of eight (1x 8).
- His Kidney energy grows and is filled with vital energy, and he is able to let his sperm out at the age of 16 (2×8).
- His Kidney energy is developed, his extremities are strong, and all of his teeth are developed by the age of 24 (3×8).
- His body has developed to its best condition, and his extremities and muscles are very strong at the age of 32 (4×8).
- His Kidney energy begins to decline, his hair falls out and his teeth begin to whither at the age of 40 (5×8).
- His Kidney energy declines more, the yang energy of the entire body declines, his complexion becomes withered and his hair turns white at the age of 48 (6×8).
- His Liver energy declines as a result of Kidney deficiency; the tendons become rigid and fail to be nimble at the age of 56 (7×8).
- His essence and vital energy is weak, as are his bones and tendons. His teeth fall out and his body becomes decrepit at the age of 64 (8×8).
Well, I’m 50 in August and I do not feel like turning old and feeble and I feel great relief that I can no longer conceive, a whole new lease of life. But I have been seeing the relevance of the text especially in relation to the western way of living – how we like to constantly consume and expand to feel worthy in the world. However, these symbols of security create stress and deplete the Jing which interferes with smooth, happy, transitions through life.
This has been my thinking recently and I use the age segmentation just as the Nei Jing uses large brush strokes to depict the phases of life. During our teenage years we explore who we are, where is our tribe and where do we belong. In our twenties, we begin to find our groove, get a job, perhaps a career and build a path to what we see as being a happy, productive and secure life. In our thirties we may create a family, buy a house, we amass things to give us stability, security and in a way power so that we are protected and secure. However, it is my experience that when people get to their fourties there will be an event or situation to shake the very foundations of a secured and stable life. Parents may pass away, perhaps we lose our job, relationships break down, children grow up and leave home. It could be waking up and wondering “Is this it? Is this is what it’s all about?” With all the working and acquiring it’s possible to lose touch with who we really are and what makes us happy? The things worked so hard for, now seem hollow and unfulfilling. Sometimes labeled the midlife crisis, we are forced to reassess who we are and what is important to us. If our Jing energy has been depleted by stress, trauma, overwork, too much sex (for men), heavy menstruation and too many children for women. The body finds the emotional change challenging and throws up all sorts of symptoms forcing us to slow down and take stock.
All this emotional upheaval of loss and transition is happening usually at the same time as our bodies begin to change. Estrogen and testosterone levels begin to fall. As we desperately cling to what we know and what feels normal to us, our stress levels can rocket and our heart can be put under pressure. We may experience insomnia, palpitations, chest tightness, night sweats, hot flashes and panic attacks. It might feel like we are having a heart attack, we cant breath and we are going to die. These all feel like there’s something wrong with the heart but it’s actually the kidneys and adrenals, which is where the Jing is stored, trying to manage the swinging hormones and the stressful changes around us.
Physically we can support the Jing stored in the Kidneys by eating mineral-rich food such as Sesame Seeds, Walnuts, Almonds, Seaweed, Wheatgrass, and Oysters. This will support the transition between phases in our life. We can combine these with foods that calm the heart such as Green Beans, Lettuce, Chicory, Endive, Basil, Sage, Valerian, Spinach, Parsley, and Watercress. Here is a simple recipe for a fantastic tea which helps with anxiety and insomnia. Lettuce because of its bitter flavour benefits the heart and Chinese medicine and brings us home to ourselves.
Take half a head of baby gem or 3 leaves of Romaine lettuce. Place in a saucepan with approximately 500ml of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 mins. Allow to cool, strain and drink as a warm calming tea. The taste is a little like chamomile. For more persistent insomnia – juice the head of a lettuce and drink a shot of it before bed or I used to keep a little in the fridge and drink it down in the middle of the night. Yuk but it works (or worked for me)
Physical symptoms usually have an emotional core as the body is a holistic system and emotionally it’s important not to attach to anything too much. Everything falls away, everything changes, and that is the only constant truth in the universe. So don’t hold on too tight to things or people, they do not define who you are. You have the choice as to who you are at every given moment. A healthy heart connects to things that bring us joy but it doesn’t rely on them. We may find love, passion and joy with a walk on the beach, listening to our children breathe while they sleep, a glass of wine with a plate of oysters with a man we love but our emotion is not dependent on them. The emotion is generated from the inside out. If our heart is fulfilled by our state of being we are able to appreciate the things we see, what we eat and what we have.
“There is no way to happiness, Happiness is the way” The Buddha
So breath deep and allow yourself to glide and be supported by the universe at tough times of transition. Stay connected to your own ground of being, feed your kidneys and know that the panic attack in the middle of Lidl Supermarket will pass, you will live and you will love again and again and again. Gathering likes on facebook, twitter or Instagram will not bring connection; Gathering numbers in a bank account will not bring security. Making your life bigger and better with clothes, jewellry, cars, and phones will not bring happiness. They can bring further panic through the possibility of loss. Plant your own garden and breath in your own beautiful aroma at whatever stage of the Nei Jing you are at. Connect and know what makes you happy, meet your own needs and love yourself more.
I will be talking about my own experience of panic attacks in the next video and showing you what potent acupressure points to relieve the stress of a situation and help you sleep so dont forget to add your email on the home page to receive my occasional musings on life and Chinese Medicine.
Also there are 2 places remaining on the Wise Woman Retreat – covering all elements of Female Health. So if you have PMT, heavy menstruation, fluctuating hormones, unexplained weight gain, anxiety or insomnia, this is the place for you. Read more about it here
If you cant get to the beautiful Brittas Bay in Ireland for the Wise Woman Retreat you can always take part in the Support your body through Menopause Online Course – read more about that here and even receive the first lesson free