Written by: Lilianne Orlet
The explanation of the theory of Chinese Medicine sounds like an origin story of sorts- the classic texts explain to us how the entire theory of Chinese medicine can be broken down into Yin & Yang. The yin and yang aspects of the qi that make up everything in the universe are the same yin and yang aspects of the qi that created the heavens, the earth, and the humans. The yang qi that makes up the heavens has obvious “yang” characteristics like expansiveness, upward movement and clarity. On the other hand, the earth is described as the more turbid and “yin” aspects that have condensed and formed our solid ground. Humans are where the yang & yin have converged, taking features from both. Through this very basic depiction of the yin and yang in the universe we can begin to understand the basic concept of Traditional Chinese Medicine. After we understand the rudimentary characteristics of yin and yang we start to distinguish everything around and within us into these two separate yet whole categories. Everything can be described as either yin or yang, and from that, we can further break things down to begin relating them to each other and how the characteristics can change when we begin to view everything as a whole, as opposed to separate and apart from everything else. In our bodies we understand the certain roles each of our organs play. Some are yin- liver, heart, spleen, lungs and kidneys-holding and storing our bodies necessary fluids or nourishment, while others are yang- gall bladder, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and bladder which digest and transmit the nourishing qi we receive from our food & the outside world.
In nature we see it as the yang sunshine that gives life to the plants and in turn humans and governs our day to day life. We see the yin characteristics of water and how it nurtures life and encourages growth. In our bodies we see our yang outer layer, our skin and orifices that allow us to take in our environment and eventually transfer this qi to our yin organs that further separate the yin and yang, dispersing and ascending the clear, and furthering the yin down through our physical form. We then can begin to think about nature as a whole, and how its cycles are so important with the health of the earth and planet, and how it is all tied together. We view it in the five flavors that correspond with the seasons and even the organs, and we feel it as we eat and smell the food we take in. We begin to see how something so simple as a change in the weather, like a frost in late spring, can injure the budding plants, and lead to injury or even death in nature- we then look inside ourselves, viewing our bodies as a reflection of the world at large and we can see the similarities, we can draw connections with our inner physical selves and see how like a frost, a coldness can enter our bodies when we are not prepared for it, and damage our health just like we see with the dying vegetation. This is the basis & most basic part of Chinese Medicine. When we view the microcosm that is our body in relation to the macrocosm that we live within, we can take cues from nature and learn from these cycles so that we can eventually begin to harmonize our own internal cycles to bring our bodies and the bodies of others back into alignment with nature, creating and maintaining health.