Nature - A question of balance
by Sunita Pant Bansal
are all familiar with the Taoist yin/yang symbol: a black and white circle
with a design that resembles two fish swimming head to tail. It is the
basis of understanding dynamic balance, and balance is the key to health.
All things in this world can be viewed either as yin or yang (Cold or Hot, according to ayurveda ), two opposites that cannot exist without each other. The shape of the symbol signifies both unity and motion. Nothing is static. Cold is moving towards becoming Hot, and Hot is moving towards becoming Cold.
Let us take an example from nature, starting from the middle of winter. It is cold and dark, the days are short and the nights are long. As the months pass, soon it is spring. At the time of the spring equinox, the day and the night are equal. The temperatures are mild. Then comes the summer. The days become hotter and longer. The balance starts to shift again as autumn follows summer with another moment of equilibrium until Cold begins to predominate again. And so it goes, over and over again.
Let us see how this natural balance affects us. Eating balanced meals would be a good start. A balanced meal consists of foods from the different food groups: cereals, dals (Indian pulses), fruits and vegetables, milk, fats and oils and so forth. But this simplified formula does not take into consideration other important factors like the type of work one does or the climate in which one lives.
Some of us have jobs that require physical labor that depletes energy (heat) and hence require more Hot food to keep the balance. Mental work depletes Cold energy and needs more Cold food for balance. But how does one classify foods into Cold and Hot categories?
Simply, salty food is Hot, sweet food is Cold. Generally speaking, proteins (such as dals and meat) are strongly Hot, and fats are moderately Hot. Carbohydrates (such as cereals) are moderately Cold, vitamins and minerals are Cold and sweets are strongly Cold. Water helps balance the food we eat. Have you noticed that when you eat very salty or very sweet food you feel very thirsty. This is because your body is asking for balance.
YIN & YANG BODY ORGANS
All our organs are either Cold or Hot. The Cold organs are generally compact and the Hot organs are hollow. Every organ pairs with an opposite. Each season of the year is associated with a pair of organs. This means that if you have a predisposition for a weakness in an organ, the problem will most likely occur during its own season. Organs work harder in their own season. More people suffer from heart attacks in the summer than at any other time of the year. Respiratory problems (such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia or emphysema) are more prevalent in the autumn. Kidney ailments, sciatica or lumbago flare up in winter.
All stiffness in the body is Cold. For example, colds and cough, muscle and joint stiffness and even depression are signs of too much Cold in your body.
If you are very active, perspire a lot, feel excessive thirst, often feel hot, sit with your arms and legs apart, are quick to react, and tend to be emotional and nervous, then your body has excess heat and you will be more prone to Hot ailments.
Any chronic excess of either Cold or Hot will damage your system. Food controls the balance, which is precisely why it is so important.
Each pair of organs is also associated with an emotion. Sadness affects the lungs. Lungs are paired with the large intestines. Sadness can cause a blockage of energy in them, a sluggishness that leads to constipation. Anger affects the liver and gall bladder. Excessive indulgence can weaken the heart and the small intestine. Nervousness and worry affect the spleen and stomach while fear affects the kidney and urinary bladder.
Emotions can lead to serious mental and physical problems if they are extreme and continuous and are allowed to build up over time. Moderation in your emotions is good for you. If your lifestyle is imbalanced, you will find yourself in extreme situations that will eventually manifest in your physical body and destroy your health. Spend more time in doing what you like to do and what makes you happy. If your job doesn't make you happy, make time for a hobby that you enjoy. Spend time with people you like and who share your interests. Being healthy includes enjoying good company and pleasant times.
HOW THERAPIES WORK
Sunlight contains all the colors of the rainbow. A rainbow appears because water vapor in the air breaks up light into the seven colors, which combine to make up white light. To be healthy is also to be whole, to be complete, to have all your systems working optimally together.
We see different colors when each one is vibrating at a different frequency. Parts of us vibrate at different frequencies too. To achieve good health our whole body must vibrate in harmony. Subtle forms of healing like aromatherapy, flower essences, sound and color therapy bring our bodies into optimum balance at the ethereal level and once that is achieved, physical balance follows.
Acupuncture works somewhere between our physical and ethereal bodies. It regulates the flow of energy in the body to increase vitality. Using fine needles to stimulate particular points along energy highways, acupuncture strengthens and balances the life force which in turn allows the body's own natural healing power to operate. That is why acupuncture has no negative side effects. The body heals itself.
Everybody has seven major chakras. Each is a center of energy relating to different aspects of physical, emotional, and mental well being. Each one is also associated with a color and a particular organ. Within the rainbow, there are two main divisions of colors: the warm colors of the red spectrum, and the cool colors of the blue spectrum. All colors are represented in the chakras of the human body; the warm colors are lower down and the cool colors are up above; green, the color of nature, is right in the middle.
CRYSTALS AND MAGNETS
One of the user-friendliest stones is the quartz crystal. Quartz is related to the diamond in that they are both colorless (they have, in essence, all the colors) and carry the full vibrations of light. Place a diamond or a quartz crystal in the sun and you can see all the colors of the rainbow. Quartz crystals are either clear or cloudy. The clear ones carry Hot energy and the cloudy ones carry Cold energy. You can use pieces of quartz to help yourself regain balance.
For example, if you are feeling low (Cold), wear a clear quartz crystal or meditate while holding one. You can also put a clear quartz crystal in a glass of water, leave it overnight and in the morning, remove the stone and drink the water. The presence of the clear quartz crystal heats the water and you will feel revitalized if you drink crystallized water over a period of two to three weeks.
Let us look at the lodestone, more commonly known as a magnet. The north pole pushes out and the south pole pulls in. Within their structure, they have both positive and negatively charged particles (Cold and Hot). In each individual magnet, the charge flows in one direction from one end to the other.
In a healthy body, there is a dynamic balance of positive and negative particles. Through our everyday activities we use an uneven amount of them. Every cell in the body needs to replace the particles that have been used up to regain its balance and do its job. That is where the magnets come in. Using magnets as a therapeutic tool supports the busy cells in regaining their balance.
The stones work to balance the mental and emotional energy, allowing the body to heal itself. A magnet's energy penetrates and stimulates the body directly, supporting the tissues, fluids, and organs on the cellular level and speeding the healing process. Once the body feels better, the mind and emotions become balanced as well.
Magnets are now being widely used to diagnose and treat diseases. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has made it possible to see inside the human body in a way that was not possible in the past. Magnets are also used in some delicate surgeries. Experienced magneto-therapists successfully treat acute and chronic diseases such as asthma, paralysis, and even cancer, in its early stages.
There are many magnetic products in the market. A magnetic mattress can help with insomnia. Therapeutic magnets placed next to injuries help them to heal. Magnets are particularly effective in treating rheumatism, which is the result of an accumulation of Cold in the joints and muscles. There is a lack of circulation and a blockage in the free flow of energy, which causes pain and sometimes swelling. Magnets, correctly applied to the joint, work to unblock the stagnant energy and promote circulation, allowing fresh blood to carry the accumulated toxins away.
FREE FLOW OF THE LIFE FORCE
Prana or chi is the life force that flows through our bodies like a river, all the time, from birth till death. Acupuncture works with the flow of chi in the body. Imagine a river flowing freely to the sea. Picture a dam in it. The water cannot flow down to the valley as before and the plants in the valley start to wither and die. The chi flow in your body works the same way. If your chi is blocked, then the life force is prevented from flowing freely through your body and after some time, physical symptoms will begin to appear. That is why acupuncture works so well as a preventive treatment. It relieves the blockages in your energy flow and opens the circulation of your life force before physical symptoms appear.
The body is like the earth and has a protective layer around it called an 'aura' or 'etheric body'. Just as pollutants produced on the earth can create a hole in its atmosphere, a weakness in your system (caused by internal factors like stress, emotional upsets, improper diet, or external influences such as exposure to strong electromagnetic vibrations) can cause a weakness in your protective shield. What comes in through the hole and not the hole itself, does the damage. In the case of the earth, it is ultraviolet rays. In the case of your body, it is viruses and bacteria.
Without realizing it, we always try to create a balance between the Cold and Hot. Nature also seeks dynamic equilibrium. An excellent example is water. As ice, it is in its extreme form of Cold. In its liquid form, it is at equilibrium-its natural state. As steam, it is at its most Hot form.
EARTH TO EARTH
Consider a seed. Cold, quiet, self-contained. Add energy in the form of water, other nutrients from the earth and heat from the sun, and it begins its journey toward Hot. It grows to maturity as a plant or tree, bearing fruit, the Hottest moment of its lifecycle. Then it begins the process of returning to the earth, losing its form as a plant, its parts broken up and recycled back into the earth. A full circle back to the Cold.
The same goes for us. As children, we are growing with Hot energy. We are active and moving all the time. We need more fuel to help our bodies energize and grow. As we reach maturity, we are at the peak of mental and physical activity. As we age, we become more Cold in nature: calmer, contemplative, and wiser, having learned from past experiences. When thinking about which foods are best for you to eat, take your age into consideration.
Once you are familiar with which foods are Cold and which are Hot, start to think about what happens when you cook them. In winter, to make a meal more Hot, you can use pickles or hot spicy chutneys. To balance a meal towards the Cold side, fresh vegetables/fruit salad may be added. If you understand the logic, it is easy to remember what to eat.
If spicy food is Hot, then why is it that in places with a hot climate, traditionally, lots of spices are used? Mexican food uses chili. Indian cuisine incorporates many hot spices. Don't the spices plus the hot climate tip the balance too much towards the Hot side? A closer look will show that hot climates are also very humid. Humidity creates dampness in the body, a Cold condition. The Hot energy of the spices counteracts the dampness and effectively kills the microorganisms that breed in hot and humid conditions. In these countries, it is also a tradition to have a siesta after meals. A little nap provides the necessary balance (Cold).
As we start to find our balance and make friends with our bodies, a world of understanding and happiness begins to unfold. Your body is your greatest teacher and healer. If you learn to let go of all the advertising hype, and listen to the wisdom of your body, it is easy to be healthy.
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