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Written by Misook Lee, Summit Spine and Wellness Acupuncturist


When I was a young mother of two sons, I always struggled with some illness. One day, I read a book titled “What is Yin Yang?” which was written by Korean Traditional Medicine doctors. It was an eye-opening moment for me, and I think it was when my Traditional Medicine Studies first began.

The word Yin Yang consists of the two Chinese characters, Yin and Yang. The character Yin represents the shade of a hill which is a hidden, dark and cool condition. The other character Yang indicates the sunny side of a hill which is an open, bright, and warm space. However, the concept of the Yin and Yang is not about static and opposite contrast, but it is focused on the dynamics of the changing condition as time passes. In the morning, the sun rises in the East and the sunny side of the hill is the East side. However, in the evening, the East side of the hill becomes shady and the sun shines on the West side. As a result, the Yin and Yang side of the hill is constantly changing over time. The hill is always there but the phases of the hill are changeable. This is the basis of the traditional East Asian viewpoint of the world: everything is constantly changing.

According to the traditional East Asian perspective, Human beings are in between Heaven and Earth. The sun stays above in the heaven, and keeps moving and giving intangible Yang energy to all living things in the world. On the other hand, the flat earth always stays still and provides tangible Yin material sources to life. There is a saying “Every flow has its ebb.” When there is a full moon, it is the brightest condition of the moon, but it is also the beginning of the decline too. Every month the moon changes from a new moon to a full moon. In the same manner, we can say one day consists of dark night and bright day but the change in the brightness is like a smooth sine curve. We usually do not notice the dynamics. The image of Tai chi shows the relationship between Yin and Yang very well. Yin (black) and Yang (white) lean against each other and make a smooth S curve. Inside of the Yin (black) there is a Yang (white) component and vice versa. Therefore, Yin and Yang look like opposite sides, but they are interdependent, intertransformative, and also a mutually consuming relationship.

After learning Yin Yang theory, I want to see the world in a different manner. I try to see everything in the Yin Yang way. I think about the possibility of change when everything looks stagnant. I can happily persevere when bad things happen. I can be calm even when good news comes to me.

According to TCM theory, disease is a condition when our body is out of balance. Acupuncture is a great modality to help to regain our balance. When we treat patients, we treat them according to the Yin Yang method: we treat the front and back sides of the body. We treat using both Moxa and needles. We use tonification and sedation methods as needed. The effect of acupuncture appears right away or sometimes needs more treatments. However, when I see patients who suffer from physical pain or mental stress, I want to help them regain their balance. I want to support and solace them. I want to say to them. “You can make a change, and let us do so together!”

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