We are so grateful to Dr. Colette Widrin for sharing her expertise in the field of Chinese Medicine. This time, she is focusing on the first four cycles of jing. Jing is essentially your essence…it’s what makes you, you. In this article, Dr. Colette explains the first cycles of jing: growth.
All living beings experience two main phases in life: one of growth, and another one of decline. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, these phases are experienced as cycles of Jing, composed of either seven cycles of seven years each (for women) or eight cycles of eight years each (for men).
Most terms in Traditional Chinese Medicine cannot be easily translated into English. When a “word” is directly translated from Chinese to English, it often loses significant depth and meaning. For this reason, even when putting TCM philosophy into practice in an English-speaking context, the Chinese words remain.
Such is the case for two essential topics in TCM: qi and jing. Qi is interpreted as the “vital energy”, or “life force” that flows through us and connects and binds us to each other and the rest of the universe. When we are in a healthy state, our qi is balanced.
The jing is the essence and source of qi. The Jing cycles help to guide us in knowing how to care for ourselves in each stage of life to extend our vitality. We must conserve our jing to ensure vitality throughout life. The cycles of Jing begin at birth, and continue to the end of life.
The first four cycles of Jing are predominantly cycles of growth. For women, the first cycle is jing is complete at age 7. The second cycle of growth is completed at age 14, when menstruation sets in. These first two stages of jing are still characterized by immaturity. The third and fourth cycles of jing, from 21 to 35, are the peak of vitality for most women.
For men, the jing cycles are based on 8-year rather than 7-year cycles. The first cycle of jing in men completes at age 8, when the permanent teeth come in and the kidney meridian system energy is strong. The second cycle, starting at age 16, is similar to that of women in that they show signs of fertility (sperm production, in this case), but are still immature. In the fourth cycle of jing for men (age 32), the final stage of growth, men have strong muscles and are at the peak of their physical condition.
After these four cycles, we enter stages of decline.
It is important to know that the state of our vitality in the latter cycles of jing depends on how well we took care of ourselves during the stages of growth. We must conserve our jing in each stage, and not take our youthfulness for granted.
For men and women, the egg and sperm are a physical manifestation of our jing. Women must take care of themselves after their menstrual cycles and postpartum to recover balance in qi after each event.
Secondly, integrate diet, exercise, and medicinal herbs, when needed, into your lifestyle. They are key elements that aid in preserving jing.
Thirdly, we must control both acute and chronic stress levels, as these cause our jing to leak out quickly. This can be done by avoiding long-term overworking, developing a meditation practice and allocating a portion of your week to activities that nourish your soul.
Going through the cycles of jing is a normal part of life. All humans, regardless of their levels of vitality will experience cycles of growth, and then of decline. However, our vitality and balance in all cycles of jing will depend on how well we are able to care for ourselves through diet and herbs, exercise, controlling stress levels, and making decisions that promote optimal health.