By Dr. Bruce Eichelberger, OMD
of the time, and usually outside of our conscious awareness, we
are in the process of finding our balance. This happens both
internally on spiritual, mental/emotional, structural, and
biochemical levels and externally in relationship to other
people and our environment. This ongoing process of continually
returning to balance is called homeostasis. In fact, how well we
function, adapt and thrive in the world is largely related to
how well we can return to balance in all circumstances.
You’ve no doubt seen the image accompanying
this article – the one that looks sort of like two fishes
swimming around one another. This symbol is called the taijidu,
or Grand Ultimate symbol. It represents the constant interplay
between complementary opposites we experience at every level of
living and is a wonderful visual metaphor for balance in our
The two parts of this symbol represent the
Oriental concepts of Yin and Yang. When we in the West see two
such opposites we commonly think they represent things that are
conflicting with one another. In reality, the taijidu symbol
represents something quite different. Yin and Yang are not
opposed, but rather complementary to one another—one simply
cannot exist without the other.
Originally these two concepts referred to the
light and dark side of a mountain. If you observe a mountain
over the course of a day you will notice that the light and dark
sides are constantly changing and shifting. Ultimately, what is
light in the morning becomes dark in the evening and vice-versa.
This somewhat obvious fact reflects a profound
truth, namely that in nature all things go through cycles of
change: day turns into night and back into day; summer and
winter alternate; every inhale is followed by an exhale. In
fact, it is the interaction of complementary opposites in the
world that make life possible. The taijidu also gives us a
really interesting view of what balance actually means – it
isn’t a state of static equilibrium, but rather a fluctuation
over time between two poles of experience. The balance comes as
we move through the experiences.
Here are some basic facts about Yin and
Yang worth mentioning:
rather than opposes the other
carries the seed of the other within it (represented by the
small dot of the opposite color in each)
turns to Yang and vice-versa
Each aspect of
the two can be further divided into Yin and Yang – in other
words, if Yin is nighttime and Yang is daytime, then within
the Yang of daytime, the morning is more Yang and the
afternoon is more Yin.
Yin and Yin creates Yang
exist without the other – something that is purely Yin or
purely Yang cannot exist.
complementary concepts of Yin and Yang are reflected in every
aspect of our lives. Finding balance in the midst of change is
the ultimate goal of a healthy, self-actualizing person.
You might find it interesting to spend some
time observing how these complementary polarities function in
your world. For example, sometimes it’s totally appropriate to
move forward with great energy and directly confront an issue. I
have a friend who calls this “tunneling through the mountain to
get to the ocean.” On the other hand, there are definitely times
when a more indirect approach actually makes more sense, sort of
like getting on a raft and letting it carry you on it’s winding
way down the river to the ocean.
Both approaches have their place, and both are
useful when done appropriately in the process of finding and
keeping our balance in life. Wisdom and experience end up being
our best guides to know when each is best used.
Dr. Bruce Eichelberger, OMD is a Doctor of
Oriental Medicine whose practice is based on the concept of
balance in all areas of living. He practices acupuncture, herbal
medicine and Metabolic Typing in Reno, Nevada. You can reach him
at (775) 827-6901.
© 2004 Bruce Eichelberger, OMD