Many times, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sees things that Western medicine doesn’t, and vice versa. For example, the idea of cooling the hot and warming the cold isn’t as prominent in the West.
However, if there is one thing TCM can contribute to the world, it’s the idea that you are in charge of your health. You decide whether you live a healthy life or not, and oftentimes, you decide whether you live long in this world or not.
Let’s get into that.
The concepts of Yin and Yang: a brief review.
First, it’s important to be familiar with the Chinese philosophical concept of Yin and Yang and how it plays out in TCM.
Yin and Yang is about opposites: cold and hot, night and day, rest and action, black and white, female and male, and the list goes on and on. Notice their complementarity, however. Yin isn’t necessarily bad and Yang isn’t necessarily good. Yin and Yang cannot exist without the other.
TCM also uses the Yin and Yang concept — within our bodies is a balance of Yin and Yang, and diseases result if that balance is out of place.
From a TCM perspective, diseases also have natures: hot (associated with Yang) or cold (associated with Yin). So, to cure a disease of hot nature, a formula of cold nature is given to balance the Yin and Yang in the body. To cure a disease of cold nature, a formula of hot nature is given. All of that restores balance in the body.
The concepts put into practice.
What’s written above sounds great … but heavily theoretical. How is it relevant to ordinary people? An example seems apt.
Consider a young, passionate college student leader. Besides org work, he takes this extremely tough course, which demands a lot of his time. Because he has so much on his hands, he gets only four to five hours of sleep a night and skips meals. He also doesn’t have personal recreation time. He doesn’t take naps.
This may seem mundane, considering he’s young and strong. However, TCM views that lifestyle as very unhealthy.
Why? Simply put: the young student leader expects so much of himself, but does he have the fuel for it? He expects that he will stay alert in class, but did he get enough sleep the night before? The young student leader expects to be energetic to everyone he meets, but does he enjoy recreation time?
Ambition isn’t bad. In fact, ambition can drive us to really do great things for the world, like be a young student leader. However, in life, there can be no Yang (action, energy, activity, striving for more, passion, etc.) without Yin (rest, food, quality sleep, recreation, etc.)
Our lives should have a balance of both Yin and Yang. Yet, how many of us go against that? Such an imbalance, from a TCM perspective, leads to diseases and worse conditions: stress and burnout, for example. It’s harsh, but it’s reality. The world really needs to slow down and rediscover simplicity and eating well.
However, if we have the capacity to create an imbalance within our own bodies, we also have the capacity to uncreate the imbalance, to restore balance in our lives. Let’s not wait for the time when we’ll have to see the doctor. Let’s claim our health as our responsibility!
If you’re interested in taking charge of your health, you can read more about TCM here.
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The author of this article:
Aaron covers topics that range from business and ethics to culture and philosophy. He is currently a CHiNOY TV producer, a Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent, a Philippine Association for Chinese Studies lifetime member, and an Ateneo de Manila University Chinese Studies Program constituent. An occasional TikToker, he also loves Pokémon! Follow him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aaron.joseph.s.medina/