What does yin and yang mean to you? Is it good and bad? Or dark and light? does it insight feelings of mysticality, religion, science or superstition?
In western culture, yin yang theory is poorly understood and unfortunately a lot of the time summed up by two types of people:
The first types of people are the types who dismiss it immediately.
These people believe the words 'yin' and 'yang' to be foreign and dusted with olden-style simplicity and out-dated thinking. They associate the words with myths, superstition and pagan religion, they see the symbol as demonic or hocus-pocus. These people seek science, facts and figures. (However, interestingly enough, if 'yin' and 'yang' were replaced with Newtons words; 'for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction', these people may be incredibly INTERESTED!)
The second types of people are the type to openly believe, these people are equally flawed in their view.
This type of person often associates yin and yang with spirituality, peace, harmony, tradition and mysticality. They are often intrigued by 'alternative' lifestyles, they do not ask questions as they move feeling their way towards it. These people also do a disservice to yin yang theory as they belieive it undoubtedly correct as it is more 'holistic' and 'spiritual'. This perspective is a mistake as it turns a logical system into something of religion and spirituality.
Yin and Yang are not 'energies' or 'material objects’; they are not rebellious to logic, nor are they supernatural whims. They are names given to help understand the basic processes of life. The concept is logical.
Perhaps the two types of people above are a good example of yin yang theory itself and the theory of opposites.
However, Yin yang are not just about opposites, it is also about relationships and connections in nature. For example; our world would not be where it is today if it were not for the two types of people above BOTH contributing to our society.
Traditionally Yin refers to the shady side of a mountain while yang is the sunny side. Yin carries connotations related to quietness, stillness, dark, substance, cold, interior, downwards and inwards. Yang is brightness, upwards, movement, energy and heat.
The essence of Traditional Chinese Medicine involves this logical understanding applied in a way that restores BALANCE in our bodies. When there is imbalance disease will occur.
The understanding of yin and yang is not just at a small scale but diversified and applied at many levels. For example it can be seen in the microcosm of our body, for example sleep and awake. It can also be seen through the macrocosm or earth; for example day and night. The CONNECTION between the body AND our environment can be seen as when it is night (yin) we sleep which is a yin activity and vice versa. The often-attractive part of TCM its holistic view of the body; yin and yang theory states that one part can only be understood in relation to its whole.
Yin yang can also be seen down to the smallest level of the cell or organ system. For example negative feedback loops in the endocrine system. Once a hormone gets to a certain level the production will either cut off or trigger another response in order to restore balance. Or from another perspective the glomerulus and filtering system of the kidney. Astringing as a yang function will take place in the reabsorption of nutrients. On the other hand, discharging, a yin function will occur regarding wastes.
To understand our bodies and how to live our lives in accordance with the principles of nature, the seasons and cycles of life we must first learn the concept of yin and yang.
In the next blog I will delve further into the 5 pillars of yin yang theory.