The Yin & Yang symbol has an estimated origin of 14,000 B.C. As I study biology and human physiology, I find more and more wisdom in this symbol. It is composed of two equal and opposite forces that roll into one another. Yin, the black portion, is seen as night and inward. Yang or the white aspect is seen as daylight and outward. The two are opposite but not in conflict, rather they complete the whole.
Some comparisons could be made with “Western” physiological science. The autonomic nervous system has two divisions – parasympathetic and sympathetic. The parasympathetic nervous system carries out “rest and digest” activities (Yin).
The sympathetic nervous system carries out “fight or flight” responses (Yang) by secreting adrenaline to handle the conflict either perceived or real.
Metabolism also has two complementary divisions. “Catabolic” refers to breaking apart and releasing energy, the energy needed to fight the tiger (Yang). “Anabolic” refers to building or joining together, essential activities for repair, regeneration, and renewal (Yin). Anabolism requires energy to carry out its many functions…energy that comes from catabolic reactions.
Disease comes when these systems are imbalanced, too much time or energy in Yin or Yang. Most of us spend far too much time and energy in Yang focusing on the anxiety and stress that are abundant in today’s “modern lifestyle.”
We need to find more Yin in our lives. Rest and digest are paramount to our health. We can take many lessons from this symbol. Both systems are not in competition but rather rely on and complement each other. Within balance is health.