Yin Yang theory & Taoism
This is the lens through which Oriental Medicine practitioners view their patients. So if you ready to try on a new way of seeing the world and your place within it then read on. So get comfortable with uncomfortable inner thoughts, habits, feelings as we take an inner journey so you may observe who you truly are warts and all.
Einstein is credited with the saying “You cannot solve a problem at the same level at which it was created”- so maybe your new experiences and expanded sense of the seeing the world will help you to navigate any current or future issues you may have with your health or wellbeing. Learning a new skill is always challenging at first, as we are forging new neural pathways in the brain and the mind loves certainty and patterns. Stepping outside of our habitual routines and observing ourselves (without too much negative judgement) is the perfect opportunity to break out of out-dated patterns that may be no longer supporting us. The language we will use will be different to the usual medical terminology as we will be exploring the BodyMind and spiritual aspects of being human from a holistic and relational perspective. Western Scientific models have been around for just over 300 years and have helped explain how and why the world worked, but they were often mechanistic and reductionist in their viewpoint, all the way down to the atom. The ancient Chinese sages or Daoists who were the healers and scientists of their time, viewed the natural world as existing due to the cycling forces of complementary opposites, such as night and day. They also recognized these forces operating within the internal world of the human being, such as rest and activity.
The Taoists who then developed the system of traditional Chinese Medicine, saw the universe as a unified field, constantly moving and changing while maintaining its Oneness. This Oneness is what quantum physics now refers to as the wave and particle theory, where waves can become particles and particles can become waves. It is also in every yogic or meditation tradition, to focus on the intelligent, energetic field field of Oneness which underlies our body, mind and personality. The constant state of change arising from the Oneness was explained through the theory of Yin and Yang, which appeared in written form around 700 B.C. in the I Ching (“Book of Changes”). Yang and yin were the names given for to complementary aspects that appear in everything and create our ever-changing physical existence. Yin cannot exist without yang and yang cannot exist without yin. Together they create the ebb and flow of daily life and the bioelectric force field of negative and positive charges within any living cell, more succinctly known as ‘Qi’. It is this which keeps our bodies upright and the stars shining overhead.
When wanting to understand the basis of Oriental Medicine, it is often simplest to look at nature. Day exists because of its sister, the night. The sun is seen as Yang in nature as it is hot and dynamic in comparison to the receptive, cool Yin aspect of the moon. We understand brightness as opposed to shade. We know heat because we know coolness. Something may be fast in comparison to that which is slow. In the examples above, yang is day, the sun, brightness, heat, and speed. Yin is night, the moon, shade, coolness, and slowness.
Yin and yang energies shift throughout the year. Autumn and winter are Yin seasons, whereas spring and summer are Yang seasons. Thinking about the weather makes this distinction rather clear. Autumn and winter days tend to be cooler, and the daylight hours are waning. These cool temperatures and dwindling sunshine are yin characteristics. Spring and summer days are warmer and the sun is bright and enduring. Warm temperatures and longer daylight are yang characteristics.
Nature expresses herself in an endless cycle of complementary opposites transforming into each other such as day into night, moisture into dryness, heat into cold, activity into rest. Balance of these Yin and Yang forces allows for a harmonious flow of bioelectrical vital energy or ‘Qi’ throughout the body. When Yin, Yang and Qi are out of balance, stagnation of blood and fluids, diminishment of vital energies and organ dysfunction can occur and with it pain, weakness and dis-ease. To understand ourselves and the world through the eyes of this ancient paradigm of Yin and Yang is to see the bigger picture. From this viewpoint we can recognize when conscious change is needed well before crisis occurs.
Yin and Yang in summary
· The theory of Yin Yang is represented by two half circles flowing into each other
· The presence of each energy within the other is denoted by the small dot of the opposite energy contained within the flowing symbol
· Black (Yin) and White (Yang) – who thought it was the other way around?
· Over 4,000 years of Oriental medicine is based on this principle
· Yang = movement/heat /dryness/expansion/light/shallow/surface
· Yin = rest/coolness/hydrated/contraction/heavy/deep/inner
· Yang and Yin are not mutually exclusive, there is always an aspect of Yin with Yang and Yang within Yin – there will be more of one relative to the other.
· Both are needed to create flow in life and move Qi within the body – Yin nourishes Yang and Yang creates movement within Yin. This also allows for quick healing, resilience when under periods of stress, recovery from sickness or immune issues
· If the Yin and Yang aspects of our life and body are not in harmony then dis-ease occurs with resulting loss of vitality. If we do not rest, restore and re-set and continue to ignore pain in our physical body, emotional stagnation or depression, highly-strung nerves or anxiety, sleep and digestion disturbances then organ dysfunction, and ultimately chronic or fatal disease conditions can set in.