Excerpt from the book: EnneaMediCina
For Chinese culture, the universe is governed by laws that apply to every aspect of creation. The most relevant, also for the purposes of this work, are those of the Yin/Yang, the Five Movements and the Six Energies.
1.Yin /Yang: etymology of signs.
Examination of the Chinese characters for Yin/Yang shows that they are both formed by a radical meaning hill, high ground. In the ideogram symbolising Yin there is a character meaning cloud, while in the ideogram meaning Yang there is a character depicting the sun above the horizon, with its rays pointing downwards. The Yin character thus indicates the shady side of a hill, while the Yang character indicates the sunny side.
Life originates from the union of an active aspect (the Yang, the Sky) with a passive aspect (the Yin, the Earth).
From the union of an ovum with a spermatozoon comes Man, the Three, the neutralising aspect.
The number Three thus tells of the establishment of cosmic order between what is above, Heaven (electrical energy), and what is below, Earth (magnetic energy). The central space is the place where man lives, the child of these energies and transducer of electromagnetism; only a balanced movement of electricity (Heaven) and magnetism (Earth) within it will keep him in balance and health.
Man is constituted by the correlation between the manifest Yin (body) and the incorporeal Yang (mind, spirit, emotions).
He responds to all cosmic laws, by which everything is Breath and all parts connect, in a perfect alternation of Yin/Yang.
It is considered Yin everything that :
- is cold;
- is quiet;
- is at rest;
- is inactive;
- it is dark;
- is internal;
- is reduced;
- is low, etc.
Everything is classified as Yang:
- is warm;
- is bright;
- is active;
- and movable, etc.
The concept of Yin/Yang can be used to understand and explain the nature of all creation: the solidified state of matter is Yin, while the subtle, expanded state is Yang. Thus a solid has a strong Yin characteristic because it is static, heavy, solid, hard and cold, while a vapour is Yang because it is light, tends to rise and can easily transform.
The same concept of Yin/Yang makes it possible to interpret the cyclical evolution of phenomena in the Universe. At dawn, Yang starts to increase and reaches its peak at midday, to start decreasing in the afternoon. In the evening, Yin is strong and reaches its peak at midnight. The same goes for the seasons: winter is cold, everything is still and frozen and nature rests. Then, with the arrival of spring, plants flourish again and life resumes its course. It is during the summer heatwave that thunderstorms break out, heralding the new change of season. The temperature gets cooler in autumn and nature prepares for the long cold of winter. Each peak contains the root of change; the Yin peak heralds the beginning of a new Yang cycle and vice versa.
All this is graphically depicted by the symbol of the ‘TaiJitu’ Taijitu’the Ultimate Supreme’.
Enclosed within each polarity is the seed of the opposite polarity. In the Yang, the black point tells of the embryo’s transformation into the Yin, and vice versa. We also find the same principles within the microcosm Man. It is at the pinnacle of happiness that a tremor of sadness shakes the soul, just as in times of despondency, life impels one to struggle.
Yin/Yang, therefore, balance each other; when Yang is at its highest, Yin is at its lowest and vice versa. The seasons, day and night, activity and rest, are examples of the continuous alternation of Yin/Yang. In healthy living organisms there is a continuous dynamic balance of Yin/Yang, while there is an imbalance towards one of the two polarities in the case of disease (more…)
Myths and cultures
The new holistic view of man in the Western world, which is now gradually replacing the mechanistic version of Cartesian memory, has the important value of reconnecting what had been divided in recent centuries: mind and body, spirit and matter, psyche and soma, soul and heart. A contrast in reality only apparent, just as the irreconcilability of Yin/Yang in the Tao is apparent.
At this point it can be stated that:
- all cultural models are empirical, as they are based on the careful and refined observation of man and nature with millennia of experience;
- every philosophy is born in a specific cultural context and uses its language and conventions to be able to communicate what is observed without uncertainty. Only the model used changes as it is specific to the cultural reality in which it was formed;
- the two models find a more complete fit only when united in a unified and global vision (more…)
The nervous system
On day 18, when the human embryo is about a millimetre and a half long, the embryonic leaflet ectoderm thickens on the dorsal region and forms an invagination, the ‘neural shower’, from which the entire nervous system will form.
The nervous system can be divided into interconnected and co-operating structures called the Central and Peripheral Nervous System.
The central nervous system (CNS) consists of the spinal cord and the encephalon.
The encephalon is organised into several structures, such as the medulla oblongata or bulb, the pons, the midbrain, the diencephalon, the telencephalon and the cerebellum. Also linked to the brain are higher cognitive functions such as intelligence, memory, learning and emotions. The encephalon is anatomically made up of the brain, the brainstem and the cerebellum.
The function of the central nervous system is to complement and coordinate sensory perceptions originating both outside and inside the body and to create motor responses that initiate or regulate the functions of specific structures, such as muscles or glands.
The peripheral nervous system is divided into two main parts called the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system.
The somatic nervous system consists of peripheral nerve fibres that transmit perceptual information to the central nervous system, and of
motor nerve fibres to skeletal muscles.
Finally, the autonomic nervous system is divided into three parts: the sympathetic (or orthosympathetic), the parasympathetic and the enteric. This nervous system governs the smooth muscles of the viscera (internal organs) and glands, performing functions that are generally not voluntary, through the medulla oblongata and hypothalamus.
The sympathetic nervous system, the Yang of Chinese Medicine (TCM), works on the internal organs by stimulating their activity: the heart speeds up its beats, the lungs expand….
In the body, the presence of sympathetic nerve fibres is considerable. The abdominal cavity innervates a number of viscera such as the liver, spleen, stomach, pancreas and kidney, the lower portion of the intestine and the bladder.
The reproductive organs and adrenal glands are also innervated by this nervous system.
In the neck, through the cervical ganglia, the sympathetic nervous system branches out to the eyes, salivary glands, the skin of the face and head, and the heart. The parasympathetic nervous system on the other hand, the Yin of TCM, inhibits organ activity.
The vagus nerve, which innervates the thoracic region and a large portion of the abdominal region, is the most important parasympathetic nerve. A number of nerve fibres branch off from this nerve, leading to the voluntary skeletal muscles of the pharynx and larynx, the colon and rectum, as well as to the urinary bladder and the lower portion of the ureters.
Also innervated by this nervous system, via the vagus nerve, are the heart and lungs (the bronchi), the oesophagus, the stomach, the small intestine and the proximal half of the large intestine, the liver and pancreas, as well as the external genital apparatus (more…)