Yin and Yang and Work/Life Balance

In health, balance is everything.  Even in day-to-day life we talk about balance, particularly work/life balance.  If we are out of balance, then we can feel exhausted and unwell.   And if someone does something crazy or out of character, we say they are unbalanced. 


In Western medicine it’s called homeostasis, which is a fine balance of all the bodies systems – skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, lymphatic, respiratory, digestive, urinary, and the reproductive systems.

Organ systems do not exist in isolation of course, they are dependent on one another.  For example, after a large meal is eaten, the digestive system needs more blood to perform its function, so it calls up the cardiovascular and nervous systems for some help.  Blood vessels of the digestive system widen to transport more blood.  Nerve impulses are sent to the brain, telling it of the increased work.  The digestive system even asks the heart to pump more blood.  While all this is going on, upstairs the brain signals that you are no longer hungry, you are full and not interested in vigorous activity.

Communication between organs and organ systems is vital.  Communication allows the body to adjust the function of each organ according to the needs of the whole body.  The heart must know when the body is resting so that it can slow down and when organs need more blood so that it can speed up.  The kidneys must know when the body has too much fluid so that they can produce more dilute urine and when the body is dehydrated so they can conserve water.

This is homeostasis, or balance, and in this way organs neither underwork nor overwork, and each organ facilitates the functions of every other organ. 

Yin and Yang

In Chinese Medicine we understand health in exactly the same way, although we see it as a balance between Yin and Yang.  Blood pressures and temperatures can be too high (Yang) or low (Yin), blood too acid or alkali, muscles too tight (Yang) or too loose (Yin).  Chinese Medicine takes this a step further by describing the organs themselves in terms of Yin and Yang.  The Yin organs represent the feminine, earthly, solid, watery, dark aspect of the duality.  These organs are also vital, we cannot live without them: Kidney, Pancreas, Spleen, Liver, Lung and Heart.  The Yang organs are masculine, heavenly, ephemeral, fiery and light, and we can live without them.  These are: Stomach, Intestines, Gallbladder and Bladder, and are responsible for moving and extracting substances.

And like homeostasis in Western medicine, Yin and Yang depend on each other for balance.  A simple way to understand this relationship is the balance between fire (Yang) and water (Yin).  Too much water and the fire is put out; too much fire and the water dries out.

Steve Coster Acupuncturist Southend Westcliff

Pain is the result of imbalance.  This could be a musculoskeletal imbalance for instance, or perhaps an imbalance between the organs.  In Acupuncture, we aim to correct energetic imbalances by placing acu-needles along the affected channels, or into points that move energy in specific ways. 

How can you be more balanced?

Acupuncture can also help stress.  Stress is simply a reaction to the environment.  Whether the way we react to the situation is appropriate depends on the state of our energy.  If our energy (or Qi) is out of balance, then our reactions may be out of balance.  That’s why two people may react in totally different ways to the same stress; everyone’s energy is different.

Because I am my own boss, I’m always trying to maintain the balance in my life.  I work in the clinic five days a week, but I also teach kung fu and qi gong, and I have other interests too such as music and carpentry.  So, finding the time to do everything and maintain a ‘work/life’ balance can be quite a challenge.  And I don’t get it right all the time.  But finding the time to have regular acupuncture helps, as does daily Qi Gong.  I also try to have at least two days off a week to do the things that bring me joy.  And most importantly of all, I get plenty of sleep.

If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

Westcliff cancer acupuncture pain

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