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I-Ching and the Body 102

Eastern Medicine, which includes Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine, has been used for over 3,000 years.  It is one of the most comprehensively recorded traditional medicines.  Based off the observation of nature, Eastern Medicine uses an array of tools and arrangements to promote healing. One of the main tools used is the I-Ching or Book of Changes. The I-Ching includes symbols that are composed of various positions of yin and yang, that describe everything in the universe. Adept practitioners understand that by studying the I-Ching, one is also studying the body and how to treat it. 


Yin and Yang

The moment anything begins to be analyzed, it is yin and yang. Take something whole and contemplate it and you are now looking at it's parts. However, within the inherent separation of yin and yang, there is still always a recognition that these together, came from something that was whole. According to Eastern Medicine, everything is yin and yang. Things that are yin are feminine in nature. Yin includes the qualities of receptivity, dark, cold and slow. On the other hand, yang is masculine in nature and includes the qualities of activity, light, hot and fast. Most things are not only one or the other, but are part of a family, that share similar yin or yang proportions in different combinations.

Take for example, the yin and yang configurations in natural phenomena. A lake would not have the same yin placement as the ocean, even though both consist of water. A mountain has a different relationship with yang than a pebble, although both are made of earth. In this, we also find that the composition of yin and yang is relative. As one dives deeper into dividing yin and yang, the rise of the 4 seasons, 5 elements and 12 zodiac signs give birth.

As these yin and yang positions continue to unfold in nature, they too are mirrored in the human body. It is from this application of nature to body, that meridians and acupuncture points came to be understood. Meridians are one way, yin and yang move in the body. In a healthy body, they move like how a gentle stream may flow. Similarly, as nature creates raging rivers and strong storms, the body is likewise capable of creating such patterns. These types of disruptive patterns manifest as disease in the body.



The I-Ching analyzes the yin and yang potentials in nature, such as streams and storms, in order to understand the complex ways in which energy moves. It then relates these yin and yang combinations in nature, to patterns and manifestations within the body.

The I-Ching (pronounced "yee-ching") is a theory and an ancient text of symbols that have been interpreted by many great scholars over time. The symbols of the I-Ching were thought to be first seen on the back of a turtle. The I-Ching consists of 64 different hexagram symbols, which as a whole, tell a story of universal creation and possibility.  Each hexagram consists of 6 broken or solid lines, representing either yin or yang respectively.  A broken line is yin and a solid line is yang. With a total of 64 possible combinations, the various placements of yin and yang are a representation of everything in the universe.  

Making the concept of duality more complex, the yin and yang in the I-Ching is not only a matter of only 2 possibilities, yin or yang, but minimally a combination of 6 placements of yin and yang. The 64 hexagrams or possibilities of yin and yang configurations, are a reflection of nature and subsequently live inside of the body.


The Body's Application

The 64 hexagrams have natural homes in different parts of the body. One hexagram likes to live in the pineal gland, one likes to live in the womb and another on the right shoulder, etc. This is because the yin and yang requirements are different in each component or function of the body. The brain needs a different yang balance than the liver, for example. If a disease manifests in the body, it is a result of an improper yin and yang balance, which will be shown by a hexagram not being in its natural home. Even just one yin or yang line off in a position, changes the entire manifestation.

One main way to diagnose the root cause a disease is to analyze the yin and yang composition. For example, a stomachache will have different yin and yang composition than a headache, when looking at where the pain lands in the body. A liver disease will have a different yin and yang proportion than that of a gallbladder disease, when understanding whether the organ is hollow or solid. Someone who is constantly hot versus cold, also displays different proportions of yin and yang, when assessing the speed of energy in their body.

By analyzing these combinations and locations of yin and yang in the body, one can begin to make connections with the I-Ching in order to treat the disorder. In having knowledge on natural hexagram placements, one can see that by changing the first line of the hexagram from a yin to a yang line, for example, the entire pattern can be changed back to balance. Exactly what this means by changing the first line versus the second line of hexagram, needs much further exploration of the I-Ching than what is covered here now, but herein lie the key for solutions. Still yet, one can think about the root cause of a particular disease though the yin and yang premise and formulate ways to approach it.



Think about a disease and determine if it is a result of being weak at the center, not rooted or top heavy. (Using these 3 centers of the body is an easy way to start thinking about something - top, middle and bottom.) Then draw how that would look in a person through 6 broken or solid lines stacked on top of each other. Research what hexagram you created by browsing through the 64 hexagram possibilities in one of the reputable interpretations of the I-Ching. Read the interpretation of your hexagram, in order to potentially understand the root of the disease better and how to treat it. Your intuition will tell you if the interpretation is spot on or if you need to make an adjustment.


Today, practitioners of Eastern Medicine continue to observe nature and the evolving climate in order to enhance and adapt their diagnostic and treatment strategies.  As the earth changes, so do the patterns within people.  Modern disease is a reflection of the current environment's complexities, while still at the core, an imbalance of yin and yang.

"Man follows Earth. Earth follows Heaven. Heaven follows Tao. Tao follows that which is natural." Tao Te Ching Chapter 25


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