Yin and Yang is a tricky concept in oriental medicine. I read and hear various interpretations which sound interesting. For example, you can look at the meaning of the Kanji and for Yang, it’s like the sunny side of the hill, Yin is the darker side/ Yang male, Yin female etc. These interpretations serve well to a point but are not so useful in actual living and breathing environment of clinical practice. As a practitioner I tend to stay clear from explaining to someone that they are either Yin and/ or Yang deficient, rather I will explain it in context to the actual symptoms, personal life history, and state of being that someone is at that moment in time. It needs to be relevant for the individual, as opposed to a nice sounding concept- which often doesn’t have much substance in the real world. Anyway….
Choosing the right tool
Diagnosis of Yin or Yang deficiency AND the actual treatment approach is paramount to a practitioner’s skill and efficacy. Treating someone who is Yang deficiency with a very strong manipulative massage/ needle technique will make symptoms worse. Too little on someone who is Yin deficiency will not yield the desired result. Of course, there is no right or wrong way to approach a treatment method. We are all different. However, the results are the beacon to aim for, rather than the actual method. I won’t go into detail here but a good analogy is the one about cracking a nut with a large hammer.
Yin and Yang are interchangeable. For example, you can have Yin within Yang, Yang within Yin. Yang not radiating…Yin blocked etc. We have various Syndrom patterns and have names for them such as Tai Yin Meridian Ki Stuck 太陰経気滞 ( Lung and Spleen meridian- spicy and sweet flavors ). This is primarily a Yang deficient syndrome as there will be lack of radiation or movement of energy. Lung Deficiency Liver excess 肺虚肝実which generally has more acute and stronger symptoms and stems from a Yin deficiency of some kind and could have stronger symptoms. We could also use Kidney Deficiency Yin Deficiency Syndrome 腎虚陰虚 as this can form a basis of any syndrome pattern. We could say it’s one of the syndromes that is in the background most of the time.
Another thing, within a syndrome pattern described above, you can have a number diseases that can be emotional / non-physical lack of energy or the actual physical such as poor digestion, high blood pressure, asthma, bronchitis. migraines, period pain, lower back pain etc.
This is a tricky part. Yin deficiency is generally quite common, we can explain it in fluid- liquid terms where there is a lot of heat because of the lack of active fluid ( Yin ). Or, we can explain it from the energetic deficiency of the Yin contracting nature which causes a predominance of fluids ( edema/ swelling/ ) and heat ( High blood pressure/ Diabetes/ inflammation etc ).
Yin I have concluded is a kind of backdrop in life. The blockchain code behind the cryptocurrency bitcoin (which doesn’t really “exist” )- creates a bitcoin stored in virtual reality on a computer ( still non existent – apart from the computer’s hard drive ), and then is materialised into something more tangible when exchanged for a product/ service/ cash etc ( this is kind of killing the process, or depleting yin if you like..hold onto this idea for a moment, it will become clearer shortly ) Yin is basically the ether holds the universe in place. The space between us- the part of a silence that offers a lot of answers.
Reading the air 空気読める
In Japan, they have an idea of reading the air. This way of being is in the backdrop of Japanese culture and society. I learned intuitively to operate within this way of being, as a “yang expressive “ human being, moving against the backdrop of this cultural nuance and idiosyncrasy, so normal in Japan yet alien to a bumbling foreigner like myself. I quickly learned to adapt. The more attuned I became to this, the more I learned. It was especially true in my teachers’ clinic in Tokyo. To learn, you need to make yourself deficient to absorb the abundance that this space has to offer. It’s a kind of surrender or acknowledgment of a weakness. I guess in English we would say “ to swallow one’s pride “.
Coming from nowhere
Yin is very subtle. In fact, its so subtle that over a period of time, you can lose Yin, but not actually notice immediately. The process of putting on weight is gradual and won’t happen quickly. Diabetes is like this too. It’s usually the result of a bad habit of some kind ( overwork/ diet ) or just the normal aging process. The good news is, it’s reversible. The subtlety of Yin itself is definitely something you can get in touch with.
My first experience of this subtle nature of Yin was during my first encounter with Grandmaster Sifu Sam Tam in Tokyo back in 2003. I was attending his first seminar in Japan. At this time I was very analytical and somewhat disillusioned by the martial arts ( as well as Oriental Medicine ) and wanted to encounter a master who could demonstrate his “ power”. I’d read many a book about such people but had not personally encountered any. I’d attending various Tai Chi and Qi Gong classes but what I tended to encounter were teachers in the process of study. They had an exceptional amount of knowledge at the expense of actually having the Ki energy. It was OK and I fully respected them, but it didn’t really pack the punch I was looking for. After my encounter with Tam Sifu, I certainly DID get that punch. But not in a way I expected. During a push hand encounter his touch was so soft and indiscernible that I didn’t feel anything when he “ pushed me “. I was left lying on the floor wondering how it happened.
I understood immediately that I was in the presence of a great man with true abilities and Ki ( he was 69 years of age at the time ) I wanted to learn from him. Of course, this would require dedication and years of continual practice. Although I haven’t actually seen him since I left Japan some 8 years ago, I am still inspired from my encounters with him and deeply thankful for having met him and learned from him as indeed I am to my teacher Edward Sensei who introduced me to him.
Anyway, I hope you will take away a little something from this. The answer to my initial question is ..Nothing!..however, I will conclude that a little bit of a good thing goes a long way.
Please enjoy your day