Yin Deficiency and Aging
You may have noticed that a lot of this sounds like getting old. It
is. Most of the typical problems of aging are due to the fact that
eventually, our yin reserves are depleted by living. So to some extent,
it is inevitable. But we do accelerate the process unnecessarily, or
at least in ways which can be minimized or prevented and with some effort even reversed. The physical
deterioration that has become so common at such surprisingly young ages,
is not inevitable.
The ancient Chinese in observing and recognizing the dependence of
yang on yin and yin on yang, developed methods to supplement and build the body's
reserves. Exercises and movement such as Tai Chi and Chi Gong gather
and move the chi or vital energy in the body, invigorating the
yang aspect. The primary methods for restoring or preserving the yin
reserves are conservation, proper diet and nutrition, and Chinese Herbal
Therapy, particularly tonic herbal therapy. Since the nature of yin is
substantial, it requires actual physical supplementation.
Yin and Yang operate at every level of the body. The root of all yin
and yang is called Jing, or Essence. The essence of the body is the
most powerful source of life energy. This includes the endocrine system
and all of the hormones, bone marrow, spinal cord and brain. The
depletion of Jing which is the deepest yin of the body, results in
aging. Jing is one of the Three Treasures: Shen (spirit), Qi or chi
(energy) and Jing (Essence). Guarding the Three Treasures and
replenishing them whenever possible is the way to build the yin and keep
the yang strong. The Chinese search for longevity is based on this.
Yin/Yang and Macrobiotics
Unfortunately, various practitioners who have not been trained in
Chinese Medicine are using the terminology created by the practitioners
of Macrobiotics, a group which originated in Japan in the early 1900's.
Their usage of yin and yang is exclusive to them and in my learned
opinion it is a serious distortion of those terms.
It is hard to clarify the difference in usage without a fairly
technical discussion of its usage in both Chinese Medicine and in Taoist
philosophy and classic texts such as the Tao Te Ching and the I Ching. The Macrobiotic definitions are internally contradictory.
Opposite qualities are being defined as one entity. For example, Yang is called both fire and solid. Yang is never solid, it is heaven. Yin is earth. Yet in Macrobiotics, Yin is defined as hollow and expanding. Suffice it to say
that the Macrobiotic definitions are not the same at all and cannot be
reconciled with the true meaning of these terms.
Supplements, herbal therapy and foods all work on the various aspects
of yin, yang, blood and chi. But the yin aspect and the Jing are
always where the reserves are stored and collected. Draining our
reserves is always creating a kind of yin deficiency. The yang
substances are the more activating supplements and foods. Over
consumption of those can deplete the yin.
In Macrobiotics, the definition given to yin is entirely negative and weak,
and the definition given to yang is entirely positive and strong. But this is not
the nature of the Tao. A wholeness has been split into a duality in the Macrobiotic system. Every aspect of reality has
its strengths and its weaknesses, its positive and its negative. Yin and yang arise
together and create each other. The goal is always balance.