Understanding Your Own Health; Foundations: Part 2.
In Part 1 of this blog we talked about the overall concept of Yin and Yang. Today we will explore the 5 principles that define yin and yang.
1) ALL THINGS HAVE TWO ASPECTS; THE YIN AND THE YANG
Temperature is categorised into hot and cold, weight into heavy and light, height into tall and short, gender into female and male, age into young and old. At a large scale our planet is divided into areas of solid ground and areas of water, in our bodies there is soft tissue and there is bone. The outer aspect (skin) is yang, while the inner aspect (organs) is yin. Depression is yin, mania is yang. Time is defined by day and night, season can be categorised into growth (spring and summer) and decline (autumn and winter).
Illness can also be defined; illness caused by deficiency manifests as slow, interior and cold, this is yin. An illness with a fever, agitation and strength is yang. This is an excess.
One will never know what hot feels like if they have never felt cold. In this way yin and yang define each other.
2) YIN AND YANG CAN ALWAYS BE FURTHER DIVIDED
Temperature can be divided into hot (yang) and cold (yin). 'Hot' divides further into warm (yin) and boiling hot (yang). Day is yang while night is yin. The day can be divided into morning and afternoon. Night into evening which is yang and the pitch black stillness of night which is yin.
In the body the front is yin while the back is yang. This can be divided into the legs and arms. Legs are yin as they are lower, in relation to this, the arms become more yang as they are higher.
In an illness, such as manic-depression. There may be aspects of yang (hyperactivity and restlessness) but also yin (depression and withdrawing into oneself). If one has a fever (yang disease), there may also exist weight loss and fatigue that are yin qualities. In this way yin ang yang can exist within one another and divide infinitely.
3) YIN AND YANG CREATE AND DEFINE EACH OTHER
Yes, they can be distinct from each other but they cannot be entirely isolated from each other. Without yin, the yang cannot exist. For example, we cannot talk about weight unless there was both heavy and light.
Think of the relationship between earth and water (or perhaps a couples relationship). On a beach, in order for the waves to be aggressive and erosive, the sand MUST be passive and still.
A mountain would not be a mountain if there were no low ground surrounding it to define it and give it shape.
Look at circulation in the body. There is qi 'energy' (or the heart beat) and blood. Without the energy and qi of the heart (yang) the blood (yin) will not be circulated. Vice versa, if blood and yin is depleted the yang and heart will not be nourished and filled with nutrition for it to function. In this way yin and yang rely on each other.
4) YIN AND YANG CONTROL EACH OTHER
If yin is weak, yang will be strong and vice versa. If both are equal there will be a balance. For example, if you are the right temperature; not too hot and not too cold, yin and yang are balanced. This means yin and yang control each other. For example the amount of water you place on a fire will influence how strong the fire is and if it survives. In relationships partners must give and take to maintain balance.
In our bodies, acupuncture and herbal medicine aims to harmonize this concept of yin and yang. If there is too much heat, we cool it. Too much cold, we warm it. For example, varicose veins is an obvious example of too much stillness and stagnation (yin), in this case TCM promotes movement and circulation which is of a yang nature.
5) YIN ANG YANG TRANSFORM INTO EACH OTHER
Organic processes are defined by the constant rhythm of nature. Transformation is the blueprint of life. We are born, we grow older and then we decline. The seasons change from winter to summer; this is highlighted in spring and autumn. Sunrise gives way to day while sunset signifies night is near.
Changes can occur in harmony or can occur suddenly and create disharmony. For example if the ocean loses its in and out flow, a tsunami may occur. If give and take fails in a relationship chaos results. Everything is always moving, even in a balanced relationship yin and yang are constantly readjusting to maintain itself.
In the body this constant transformation can clearly be seen in the sleep, respiratory and female menstrual patterns. After a session of activity at the gym, the body then needs rest. If imbalance occurs for long periods of time, disease may result.
Deficiency of one aspect means excess of another.
In extreme cases when deficiency can no longer support the excess; a transformation into its opposite can occur. Think of a fire; composed of wood and flames. The right amount of wood is needed to balance the flame. However, if extreme disharmony results and there is no wood, the fire (yang) will completely disappear as it has no fuel. Another example is in human relationships. If a controlling (yang) parent restricts (yin) their child and severe imbalance occurs, it is a common story to hear of reversals of the childs behaviour for example to drugs, alcohol and parties. This highlights the change into opposites from the quiet supressed child of yin nature to the rebellious youth of yang nature.
The aim of TCM is to restore balance before chaos, disease and disharmony results.
By understanding the nature of yin and yang and living our lives in accordance with its rules relationships can be revitalised and our health maintained and restored.