For, thousands of years, living a healthy lifestyle has been an inseparable aspect of Chinese culture. It is a culture that finds it roots in the profound levels of understanding and experience in practicing Chinese medical ideals and philosophy that permeate the human body.
Chinese health is based on a systematic study of the relationship between nature and man, highlighting the various systems within the body and the balance needed to sustain the healthy functions of the body.
According to Chinese belief, discomfort or disease is recognized as an imbalance of life energy better known as Chi or Qi. Chi, in Chinese culture is made up of two kinds: Shie or negative Chi and Sheng or healthy Chi. Shie Chi can be associated with the causes of discomfort and illness existing without. Sheng Chi can be associated with a strong immune system and is something existing internally; these two factors necessitate the “stopping illness before its onset” and for the rise and importance of preventive medicine.
One key aspect in preserving health, in Chinese Culture is via the connectivity and balance of the body, spirit, and mind. When taken one step further, this concept helps us realize the affluent relationship we have with the universe.
For ages, the Chinese people have already started to observe the reactions and effects external influences have on the human body; this was the time when a holistic perspective to health began to emerge. The ancients of China during that time have embarked on the long path of collecting the secrets to healthy living in which the Culture of a Healthy Lifestyle are nourished and developed. A Chinese structural and holistic view of the relationship between the universe and human life had already started to take form.
Emperor “Huang Di,” better known as the Yellow Emperor of ancient China is considered the father of Chinese health culture and the man responsible for many inventions in his time. He was a studious and humble person who invented several helpful tools that which were quite advanced for his time. It was Huang Di invented who crafted a compass driven cart that played a huge role in the union of two local tribes that were to later become the forefathers of the Chinese people. With the help of many scholars and after many years of hard work, Huang Di finished his initial work that pertained to the health of Chinese culture.
His accomplishments were about the benefits of the relationship between the universe and humanity as a whole gleaned from the viewpoint of “Yin and Yang”, the all-inclusive Chinese concept of Wu Shing and universal balance, and the synergy between five elements of nature to bring about balance. In Chinese thought, Yin and Yang are the forces that make up the tools used in the attainment of good health. When charting the various organs of our bodies, and mapping up the pathways of Chi, Huang Di produced a system of health concepts that have been improved on and used for millennia.
To better comprehend the concepts behind the culture of Chinese health, we need to start first by knowing nature’s effects on our health. The concepts of Wu Shing and Yin Yang are the best places to start.
What is Yin Yang?
Yin Yang depicts the way the Ancient Chinese saw the world – something that has a harmonious balance between two opposing forces. They believed that the joining together of opposites was the rule of change in all things. Traditional Chinese health culture views Yin Yang as a fundamental factor of the movement of life energy – the body is healthy when Yin and Yang is in balance.
It is important noting the concept of balance in Chinese belief. In this context, balance ought not to be mistaken with the Western idea of balance. The balance that we speak of is attained occasionally not through harmony but through contradiction. In nature, this attainment of balance and even in human health is through contradictory forces that may be in a state of rest.
Because we are bombarded with environmental hazards and regularly practice poor habits in our modern world today, we are experiencing an epidemic of discomfort and illness in our health. The Healthy Lifestyle of Chinese health culture can bring us to a wealth of knowledge that can instruct us on how to preserve the health of our body, mind, and spirit.
The Concept of Yin and Yang
The oldest notion about Yin Yang is in a balance between the concrete and abstract. For instance, the sun and places receiving sunlight would be deemed as “Yang” places while places receiving no sunlight, or shady areas are deemed to be “Yin”. After a while, other factors were included such as; Winter versus summer, rest versus action, inside versus outside, left versus right, and down versus up.
When ancient sages pondered natural phenomenon, they would interpret it based on the idea of Yin and Yang. For them, features of nature exist within contradictory forces: death and life, negative and positive, etc.
The Attributes of Yin and Yang
In most cases, upward or outward movements, illumination and light, and heat and light all pertain to Yang, whereas downward or inward or action or motion or action, darkness, cold or chill all pertain to Yin.
When the body manifests the qualities of restraint, moisture, or restriction, it is deemed to belong to the category of Yin, when talking from the perspective of a healthy lifestyle; if the body manifests qualities of excitement, warmth, motion, or action, it is deemed to belong to the category of Yang.
We need to understand that the concepts of Yin and Yang can only be assigned to things with common qualities, these are things that have a common relationship, or it can be a single thing with two features. If you consider things that have no common relationship, they are a pair which means that the concepts of Yin Yang do not apply to them.
The Uses of Yin Yang
The human body and its physical functions
When talking about Yin and Yang, we are speaking about energy forces versus physical forces. The energy forces would be deemed as Yang while the physical would be deemed as Yin. These two are seen as opposite forces from the viewpoint of Yin and Yang.
The basis of physical matter is regular human activity, there would be no ensuing energy without physical activity and hence no ensuing physical material that fosters a constant metabolic process. If Yin Yang is unable to maintain unification or if there is a division of these two forces, it can lead to the end of life.
According to the Chinese text “Su Wen,” “When you achieve yin yang balance your mind can be peaceful and calm and the human body will be healthy and strong.” “However, the person will die if separation of Yin Yang occurs.”
Illness and the Body
Within the environment and the human body, energy and physical, energy and energy, and physical and physical, all must maintain balance of Yin Yang. This is the means to maintain healthy physical activity and is the basis of health.
Yin and Yang are interdependent to each other; they restrict and sustain and decrease and increase. As a result, illness exists when Yin and Yang is out of balance.
The existence of illness is associated with the concepts of negative Chi and healthy Chi. Negative Chi, or Shie Chi pertains to any factor that can cause illness. Healthy Chi relates to the entire functions and structure of the body, including the immune system, the main body’s defense against disease. The qualities of negative Chi and healthy Chi can also be classified by Yin Yang. Negative Chi is divided into Yang Shie and Yin Shie while Healthy Chi is divided into Yang Chi and Yin Chi.
The methodology of disease is the battle between Shie Chi and Sheng Chi, or negative Chi and healthy Chi. This leads to a Yin Yang imbalance whereby Yin or Yang is either deficient or in excess. Regardless of the complexity of the disease, this does not transcend the deficiency or excess of Yin and Yang. If you wish to maintain good health and avoid illness, you therefore must use all possible ways to preserve the balance of your Yin and Yang which leads you to the highest level of a Healthy Lifestyle.
Balancing Yin and Yang
All mysteries of nature are the result of Yin and Yang balance and unity. Besides maintaining a Yin Yang balance within your body, you must also adjust to the Yin Yang of your environment you are presently living in. Just like the human body, the physical environment is in constant flux. Your body keeps on adapting and adjusting to its environment. Within your body, the essential movements can sense both the restraining and supporting effects of its environment; seasonal changes, altitude, and weather, all these things can directly influence your bodily functions and organ movements. The ability of your body to properly adapt and make the corresponding adjustments to its environment will keep you in good health. But, if your body is too weak or feeble, or if the changes in your environment are beyond your body’s ability to adapt, you will experience a disharmony in your Yin and Yang that will result in dis-ease. To attain the important overall balance and unity that will result in overall health, you need to have a good understanding of the laws of nature.
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