On Yin & Yang

We are sun and moon, dear friend; we are sea and land. It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is: each the other’s opposite and complement.
— Hermann Hesse
Life is a series of pulls back and forth... a tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. Most of us live somewhere in the middle. A wrestling match.... Which side wins? Love wins. Love always wins.
— Mitch Albom

The primary conceptual foundation of East Asian medicine is the theory of Yin & Yang, which describes the dualistic nature of everything in the universe. Yin-Yang theory is at the root of what makes East Asian medicine such a powerful tool for healing. It’s what gives our medicine its diagnostic power and ability to discern the root cause of disease, and is at the core of what ties together concepts about our physical health with our destiny and spirit.

So what are Yin & Yang? Here’s a short video that covers the basics of Yin-Yang theory:

As John Bellaimey summarizes in this video, well-being is achieved when there is a healthy juxtaposition between Yin & Yang. Practically speaking, Yin & Yang could be thought of as Being & Doing. When we are sleeping, playing, relaxing, resting, or eating we are in a relatively receptive state (being). When we are exercising, working, studying, or networking we are relatively active (doing).

Differentiating Yin from Yang moment by moment is key to finding greater physical & mental health. “Yin-Yang differentiation” is a phrase to describe this practice coined by my Taiji master, Harrison Moretz, founder of the Taoist Studies Institute in Seattle, WA. In fact, the primary reason for practicing Taiji is to practice Yin-Yang differentiation by gaining a deeper understanding of when our body is moving and when it is at rest. Over time, this process slowly reveals how receptivity and activity mutually engender one another.

With the practice of differentiating Yin & Yang comes a gradual unwinding of old patterns of disharmony and disease. Patterns of “chronic being” (an excess of Yin—such as not exercising for long periods of time) and patterns of “chronic doing” (an excess of Yang) begin slowly to unwind as healthy differentiation of Yin & Yang evolves.

Finding a more nuanced balance between Yin & Yang is a practice that brings greater health, well-being, and inner-connectedness. The intersection between physical and psychospiritual health is at the core of East Asian medicine. Acupuncture and herbal medicine may play an important role in helping to correct long term imbalances in your health. I am always available to offer what I can and to help coordinate your care if you’re in need of tools outside my scope of practice.