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Cycles of Life in Chinese Medicine
One of the first things I learned as a student of Chinese Medicine was that everything has a cycle. The world of nature moves in rhythm and shifts according to what is needed, what is timely, and what is necessary. The theory of Yin and Yang is essentially a distillation of this wisdom into tangible and applicable practices that inform the health of not only the body, but the mind and the ethereal. This idea of practicing or living in accordance with the rhythm of the necessary, the timely, and the needed is also true for us as human beings.
There is this idea in Chinese Medicine that Women and Men move through life in cycles of seven and eight, respectively. These cycles are an attempt to describe the evolutionary process of aging observed in Women and Men and how it affects and impacts health at different stages of life. These evolutionary stages are also a timetable to describe a very important concept in Chinese Medicine called Jing.
What is Essence, and how does it relate to Life Cycles?
Jing is usually translated as Essence, one of the three treasures of Chinese Medicine. Essence is essentially your battery for life. It’s what your parents pass down to you upon conception. The mother’s nutrition and regimen of self care during the pregnancy, the environment at the time of the pregnancy, and the birthing process are all aspects that affect how much Essence you have for life.
Essence manifests itself in the cycles of seven and eight, remarking the vitality and the health of the individual. Essence in Chinese Medicine is a finite resource. It is not something you can make more of. However, you can conserve it or deplete depending on various factors such as lifestyle choices. There are events in life such as childbirth, unimaginable loss, traumas, or accidents that deplete our Essence due to the amount of energy consumed and exerted in order to protect life. During such events, we lose a bit of Essence in the process.
I like this concept of Essence, especially for helping our patients at Cherry Blossom Healing Arts who seem to be at crossroads in life. At times we find ourselves asking where have I been? Where am I going? Is this what I want my life to be about? What do I want? Am I lost? How do I find my way back again? These questions might seem overwhelming and difficult to answer when also dealing with everyday life stressors. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help!
How Acupuncture can help with Life Cycles Changes
In the simplest form, acupuncture facilitates awareness. Awareness of ourselves and the time and space we occupy but also, awareness of the overarching grandeur within and beyond us. A simple example is noticing changes in mood after receiving acupuncture. The awareness to see and feel a difference in mood or other physiological changes is vital to understand the progress happening and also, to inform us, practitioners, what to work on next as part of the whole picture. Acupuncture allows us to be in community and awareness with each other.
During important life cycles or transitions, acupuncture can help calm anxiety and worry, facilitate a deeper understanding of the circumstances, and allows for recognition on how to handle the transition. By nature, major life cycles need an exertion of energy in order to occur. This is where Essence really comes into play.
If we are already depleted from working too hard, having repeated stressors and traumas to our nervous system, and having too many responsibilities to keep up with, our battery for life will surely be running low. Through the art of acupuncture, we can help minimize the extent of these everyday stressors on your Essence so as to help you conserve that energy for as long as possible.
We don’t want everyday stressors to always be pulling from Essence as a way to keep moving forward. It is much easier to replenish Qi through activities such as acupuncture, a healthy diet, rest, physical exercise, and so on and so forth.
How Herbal Medicine can Help with Life Cycle Changes
Herbs can also be really helpful during these times. If we’re able to use an herbal formula at the time of a life cycle change, it can make a big difference as well. One particular life cycle that comes to mind is menopause. night sweats, changes in basal temperature, mood swings, existential crises…These can really have an impact on the general well being.
There are a couple of herbal formulas that we especially use to help women at this time balance their Yin and Yang. As women age, they become more Yang in nature because they’re able to conserve blood—which is a form of Essence—due to cessation of menstruation.
Men on the other hand, become more Yin in nature as their sperm—which is also a form of Essence—loses the vitality of youth which is more Yang-like. It’s not uncommon to see role reversals in couples who have been together for a long time.
Herbs can also help reduce the mental anxiety that comes with major life cycles. As there might be a lot of unknowns in a life cycle transition, most of us tend to worry to the uptenth degree and have cyclical anxious thought patterns that do little to offer real solutions. As such, herbal medicine can be helpful in quieting the mind and allowing us to think more clearly.
Here at Cherry Blossom Healing Arts, we determine what herbal prescription is best for you based on your story, the pulse, the tongue and other signs we notice in treatment.
Life Cycles are Normal
Life Cycles do not have to be overwhelming, scary, or frustrating. Rather they can be a point of redirection, something to be curious about and at times fun. It has to do with the perception, the approach and what is important. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can help you in your transition to figure out these questions. Let us help you at Cherry Blossom Healing Arts find your way through the art of Chinese Medicine.
To get started, head to our booking page and schedule your first appointment. If you’d like us to check your insurance benefits, we’d be happy to take care of that for you. We are in-network with CareFirst/BlueCross, Aetna, and the VA Community Choice Network.