When you are well and healthy, your body systems function harmoniously. If one of your organs is not functioning properly, however, the other organs may not be able to function correctly either, and you may become ill. Thus, disease may be regarded as the disruption of physical and mental harmonny.
The Yin-Yang Symbol
This symbol represents the harmonious balance of forces in nature and in people. The white and dark dots show that there is always some yin in a person' s yang component and vice versa. The goal in life and nature, according to the traditional Asian view, is to maintain a harmonious balance between yin and yang forces.
Many Asian philosophies embody an idea of mind-body harmony. This idea is based on a universal energy called chi (qi), which must be distributed harmoniously throughout the mind-body to attain and maintain health. Harmony is expressed as a balance of forces called yin and yang. yin and yang represent the opposing and complementary aspects of the universal chi that is present in everything, including our bodies. Yang forces are characterized as light, positive, creative, full of movement, and having the nature of heaven. Yin forces are characterized as dark, negative, quiet, receptive, and having the nature of earth.
In Asian philosophies and medicine, body and mind are regarded as inseparable. Yin and yang apply to both mental and physical processes. When yin and yang forces are in balance in an individual, a state of harmony exists and the person experiences health and wellness. However, if either yin or yang forces come to predominate in a person, a state of disharmony is produced and disease may result.
Treatment of disease is designed to reestablish harmony of the mind and body. The balance of yin and yang forces must be restored so that health returns.
T'ai chi ch'uan and qigong (pronounced je-kung) are two Chinese mind-body methods that are being practiced by more and more North Americans to help maintain health and harmony. These exercises are especially useful for older persons whose bodies can no longer manage vigorous exercise. People who practice qigong experience lower blood pressure, improved circulation, and enhanced immune system functions.