From a Chinese perspective, Yin and Yang essentially means that we live in an ever-changing world. By applying the fundamentals of these two opposite energies, we can describe and understand the qualities of change that go on around us and within us. These qualities underlie all traditional Chinese practices which are used in: Chinese Feng Shui, Chinese martial arts, Chinese astrology, Chinese herbal therapy, acupressure, and acupuncture.
Since ancient times, Chinese philosophers have known that humans are influenced by the two major forces of Earth and Heaven. Earth was considered as the origin of Chi under the ground that vertically rose up and returned to the Universe. This Chi of the Earth signifies the food we eat, our environment, and our landscape. It was also referred to as Mother, its feminine connotation. Heaven was deemed to be the space above the earth and includes the chi from the Universe and the stars. It was referred to as Father, which represents Yang. Its primary force is that of a tendency descending towards the earth.
Lao Tse was the first philosopher to refer to Yin and Yang in his classic, the Tao Te Ching. In his work, which was written around 500 BC, he says that all human affairs are ruled by the changing world in which we live that can be divided between the forces of Yin and Yang.
Lao Tse provides several basic examples of this working dynamic. One such example is that if you don’t have any idea what Yin or cold is, it is impossible to understand what yang or heat is. How can you describe daytime (yang) if there is no such thing as night (yin)?
The Symbol of Yin and Yang
The people who follow the teachings of Lao Tse are called Taoists and they are believed to be the ones who created the Yin/Yang symbol. The symbol itself is a perfect expression of the universe with two major forces – Yin and Yang and their never ending dynamic motion.
The circle of the symbol represents the entirety of the whole universe. It can also mean a cycle, with the cycle starting at the bottom. From the Chinese viewpoint, the start of the cycle symbolizes winter or night, and when the Yin forces are at their peak. Yin is also represented by the color black – winter and night while the white color represents Yang – summer and daytime.
As you move clockwise from the bottom around the cycle, after the Yin has peaked, the beginning or tail of Yang begins to form and goes up towards the top of the cycle. This symbolizes the mid-summer and noon. The yang or white sector cycle is at its peak at this point. And the beginning – the tail of the yang which is at the top of the cycle, starts to form and as it goes down towards the bottom, at the right side of the cycle, the Yin then starts to become stronger.
An eye with the opposite color appears in each half of the symbol. This symbolizes another aspect of Taoism which is nothing is completely Yin or Yang. This means the within a Yang element there is also a tiny amount of Yin, and within a Yin element there is always a tiny amount of Yang.
One example of this philosophy would be extreme cold (Yin) that eventually freezes and becomes sharp or solid (Yang).
These Yin and Yang concepts are used as the foundation of I Ching Astrology, which is the oldest system of astrology still being used today.
Yin and Yang in Your Home and Surroundings
There are yin and yang qualities found in the location of your office and home and their surrounding landscape that can influence us. The layout, interior designs, and colors we use in our homes can embody and create Yin and Yang qualities – quietness or activity.
Creating Balance with Yin and Yang
In 600 A.D, the relationship of yin and yang to feng shui was mentioned for the very first time in the Landscape of Form School Feng Shui. Yin and Yang were basically embodied by the location of a dwelling on the yang or sunny side of the hill or the yin or shady side of the hill.
The Qualities of Yin and Yang
One should understand that all Yin and Yang qualities are tendencies and would have been drawn from the experience of the philosophers of the natural world in which they lived. These qualities or tendencies are categorized as follows.
• Blue, black
• Red, white, green
The two dynamics of Yin and Yang
There are two important dynamics of Yin and Yang that are well worth remembering and noting:
1. Yang turns into Yin and vice versa at their extremes. For instance, if you subject a piece of metal or rock to extreme heat it will eventually turn into yin – flexible and fluid. Conversely, of you apply extreme cold or yin to water, it will freeze and turn into ice which is solid and thus yang. You will feel lethargic and very relaxed (Yin) if vacation in a very hot yang climate. Conversely, if you’re living in a very cold mountainous part of the world, you will become very resilient, focused, and active (Yang).
2. If one yin or yang quality present in your environment or life is dominant, it eventually will make you affect you in a certain way. For instance, if you reside in a dark damp cold basement (Yin), its energy will affect you and can turn you into an unenthusiastic, passive ,and cold person.
Feng Shui and Yin & Yang
In general, compared to the workplace, our home tends to be a more Yin environment. Our home is where we regain our energy and strength, and the place where we relax. And to attain this, we put a lot of Yin features and qualities into our homes like artwork, plants, music, soft carpets, mellow colors, softer lighting, and soft furnishings that relaxing or comforting. Conversely, in our workplace when we need our chi to be more Yang, we put in practical and clear furnishings, and brighter lighting, less music, harder floors, fewer plants, white or yang colors and imagery that is practical and focused, e.g. calendars and wall charts.
Within our home, we may have more Yin or more Yang themes or rooms. You need an uplifting or yang environment if you plan to bring up boisterous young healthy children. You can accomplish this by bringing in stimulating imagery, brighter colors, and brighter lighting. On the other hand, if you have a home occupied by elderly people, a more Yin environment wherein the overall ambience is mellow, imagery is peaceful and where lighting is darker and softer is much more preferable.
In the inclusion of Yin and Yang into your environment, you need to always include a little of the ‘opposite’. For instance, at home in a darker Yin room, use a bright light or brighter colors, and if you work in a bright Yang office, bring in something that is Yin, like an image that is either mellow or romantic or a flower or a plant.
Steven Goldfarb is a licensed acupuncture doctor and the medical director of Goldfarb Chiropractic and Acupuncture Center in West Orange, NJ.