To understand Chinese medicine is to understand your health, and ultimately your world, from another paradigm. It is a way of thinking in which we are part of the natural world, and as such manifest patterns in our bodies that repeat over and over in nature.
Through this doorway:
Good health is a balance that is never still. It swings like a pendulum between fatigue and energy, hunger and satiety, illness and health.
Ill health, while felt on a physical level, is like bad weather in a farmer’s field. You can experience heat, cold, wind, dampness, and even something called summer heat.
Yin and Yang are very real ways of explaining not only elements in your body, but those of the entire universe. Yang describes the warm, active, and transformative elements of your body, while Yin describes the cool, still, rejuvenating, and substantive elements. In this paradigm, your stomach would be described as Yin, while the process of digestion would be described as Yang. This is also true in nature, in which a fruit or a vegetable is Yin because it is substantive and rejuvenatory (nutritious), but the growing process of that fruit or vegetable is a Yang activity.
The seasons are reflected in our bodies, and paying attention to the seasonal activities is a way to better health. For example, summer is a time of warmth and activity. We are supposed to be outdoors engaging in activities as a way to engage in the season. The fall is historically related to harvest time, and is a time of collecting, saving, sifting and sorting. The fall is also associated with digestion in Chinese medicine, as the harvest is the source of food, which is the source of energy in our bodies. Winter is a cold and dark time of the year, intended for rest, inactivity, reflection, and rejuvenation. Spring is a time of new beginnings, of change, flexibility, and the beginning of new movement.
Energy, or Qi, flows throughout our bodies in pathways slowly and smoothly, much like sap in a tree. It is only when that flow is obstructed that we begin to feel ill health.
Whether on the scale of an atom, a cell, a solar system, or a galaxy, we humans manifest the same patterns of movement and transformation.