Meet Yin Yang and the Zang Fu
Perhaps the most foundational and universally dabbled in concepts in Tradition Chinese Medicine, also referred to as TCM, are: Yin Yang harmony versus disharmony and the Five Elements. These concepts are infinitely intertwined, much like the Yin Yang symbol which has another symbol held within the smaller circle infinite times. A relatable basis for existence, i.e.: I know what hot feels like, because I know what cold feels like… But that sentence alone demonstrates a linear perspective which is what is available in my scope of communication. Sure, hot and cold could exist completely independent from each other but in nature, life depends on the balance of the two. We need things to not be to purely hot or cold. Fire, the sun, activity, the day are Yang properties. Its opposite Yin relates to water, blood, darkness, night ,cold and structure.
The ancient philosophy of Yin and Yang, has been called a theory, inaccurately so considering it is an unavoidable experience and observation. You may hear people say “Y-Ang” like angel, but the proper pronunciation is Y-AWng, like awwww.
Yin Yang is the vehicle in which the Zang Fu organs are understood. The main cast are the Lungs, Large Intestine, Stomach, Spleen, Heart, Small Intestine, Bladder, Kidney, Gall Bladder and Liver. Other organs are also classically recorded such as the brain and the diaphragm to name a couple. The uterus is called the Zi Gong which means the “baby palace.” It is considered the “second heart.” In western medicine the calf muscle muscle, specifically the soleus, are considered related to the heart, responsible for deoxygenated blood’s journey back home.
The Zang organs are considered full, the Lung, Liver, Heart, Kidneys and Spleen. Full organs build and store. The Spleen has been also translated with its likeness to the pancreas.
Fu organs are Large Intestine, Small Intestine, Stomach, Urinary Bladder and kind of the GallBladder they are the filters, they are empty. The Gall bladder stores bile, so it is kind of both. It’s the I before E except after the Gall Bladder. Remember this is circular thinking not linear, anything can happen. Zang is Yin and Fu is Yang.
Each organ is paired with a season, a position within a government, a time of day or night, an element, a meridian, an emotion to name a few. Today is June 18th, and the Earth transitions into the most Yang time of year, the Summer, the season of the Heart organ. The heart stays active 24 hours a day with an electric pulse. The perfect example of qi at work in the form of electricity. It’s no surprise the emotion related to heart is Joy. The heart is home to the Shen – which all psychological pathogens apply – has been translated as the “mind” or the “spirit.” In the English language mind and spirit are not the same thing. A gateway into another perspective on mind or spirit, not separate but Shen. When we fall asleep the Shen comes down to rest in the heart from its usual head space. The Heart is the Emperor of the body, when it is restless the whole body follows. Common pathologies associated with the heart are anxiety, mania, depression, palpitations, hot flashes, insomnia and most severely cardiac arrest.
Healthy Heart Habits
Adequate rest and regular exercise are critical to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It can be fun to burn the midnight oil from time to time, but the vast majority of our nights as humans should be powering down around 10pm and lights out at 11pm. For some even earlier, a lot of us like late- but its not the healthy ideal.
Many people find rigorous exercise a necessity to maintain a healthy mood and mental state. Good for them! Some people take it to far and it becomes another outlet of obsessive compulsive behavior. Those types are the perfect candidates for Acupuncture therapy, their qi is not to stagnant from sitting around, their muscles and sinews are strong and most of all they get their money’s worth just by someone forcing them to sit still for 30 minutes.
Regular exercise is unfortunately becoming more challenging with sedentary professions where people spend anywhere from 20 to 80 hours per week hunched over a screen. Even children sitting all day in school, rush home to video game consoles and computers our culture has addicted their brains to. Adults are addicted as well, news, propaganda and social media. Anyone can speculate what spending days with your mind and spirit submerged in an overstimulated false reality has consequences even our advanced scientific community has yet to fully understand.
Try yoga instead. Some people have a negative experience with yoga, thats is ok. Read an educational book, do pilates, tai qi, dance, martial arts or something you made up yourself. Just be sure you keep moving body and centering your mind/spirit. The Emperor will thank you.