The basic TCM model

a cyclic view of human body in the universe. Yin, yang, time and space, and TCM anatomical posture

How to view your body in time and space?

This is the basic anatomical posture in TCM: is based on northern hemisphere standing and facing south. Yin, yang, time and space in relation to the left and right, head and feet of your body: 

  • Left: east, Qi, yin, spring, morning,
  • Right: west. Blood, yang, autumn, afternoon,
  • Head: south, heat, yang, summer, noon
  • Feet: north, cold, yin, winter, night

More complex models are built on the basis of this one.

TCM Advanced Models

Five Phases in Human Body

Five Phases in human body

Five Phases, a basic term in TCM, with many applications: the earth ecosyste,  zang-fu (5 organ) systems are typically categorized into 5 phases:

  • Earth is the middle section, the most important hub to connect and support the four peripheral phases. Any disharmony in the middle jiao must be dealt with priority. For example, certain insomnia can be helped with treating ST and LV disharmony.
  • Wood has a tendency of moving upward, warming up, and moistening.
  • Fire has a tendency of brightening up and blazing. 
  • Metal has a tendency to descending, cooling down, and drying up.
  • Water stores yin and yang, it is equivalent to winter and hibernation.

Five Phases are not based on a materialistic view of nature, but on dynamic movements of the 4 seasons. It is invisible cyclic movement, likes human organs are hidden inside, presenting signs and symptoms outside.

Fundamental Substances (FS)

Fundamental substances in human body

Wu Xing (五行) Five Phases are not to be view in isolation and it is also not an abstract concept. When we talk about Five Phases, it is normally about zang-fu (脏腑) organ systems.

zang-fu in TCM is in relation to the essence or Fundamental Substances (FS):

  • fu organs are involved in processing food and drinks.
  • zang organs are the container for storing the essences.

In terms of FS, there are Qi (气), Xue (血) Blood, yin, yang, Jing (精) essence. The picture on the above tells how important Earth phase is to FS:

  • ST, LI, SI, GB are fu organs involved, ST is the head of the family.
  • SP is performing transformation and transportation of the absorbed essence. 
  • The essence of food and drinks are called postnatal Jing and is the only way to refill the lost prenatal Jing. Prenatal Jing is the inherited genetic substance will be reduced through aging.

Eight Extraordinary Vessels & FS

extraordinary vessles in human body

The model is an extension of the basic model of yin-yang. It illustrates in human body how fundamental substances are stored and can be related to the eight extraordinary vessels:

  • The eight extraordinary vessels are compared to lakes and seas to store essences.
  • The left side of the body has more to do with Qi and Yang; Qi intends to rise up to the head, and yang Qi from all channels are meeting at the head to support the brain. Qi is related to Spleen in TCM terms. You can have clarity and brain power to think and react to the outside world if your Qi is healthy.
  • zang organs are also storage for essence, but that's normally during the daytime when they are fully functioning.
  • At night time, essence returns back to the eight vessels, with only a small portion left to support minimum function of zang-fu organs.

12 Ordinary Channels & FS

ordinary channels in human body

  • SP Qi Deficiency is a TCM condition quite often can be identified in most of the fatigue syndromes, but there are other elements can be involved as a human body is a complex system and should not be viewed in isolation of just one aspect.
  • LV Wood is rising on your left side of the body, it is supposed to be flowing smoothly, but at times other factors of Cold, Heat, Deficiency, Repletion, trauma, fatigue, food stagnation... LV Qi can be stagnant. Acupuncture is very effective to deal with it.
  • LU Metal is cooling off more on your right side of the body. This is the reason honey + lemon or lime is good for your lungs!!!

Mind, Body in TCM View

eight trigrams and mind and body in TCM view

Put postnatal ba gua on top and prenatal ba gua at the bottom, we come to the symbol of Qi, Jing, and shen (substances, mind & spirit) of TCM. Each symbol is a picture of spiritual meaning:

  • LV + Yang Qiao - it is a prediction for a good start of harvest in the year-end, will be resulted from healthy LV Qi flowing smoothly, and agile motility of body and mind.
  • HT + DU - Plenty of blessings of life to those have a good heart and healthy Du (spinal structure) vessel.
  • LU + Yin Qiao - At the most difficult time of the year, take the positiveness of stepping back and taking stock, LU Metal is good at organizing self and make it ready for future growth. Yin Qiao can be related to cold yoga!!!

Big Picture is what we need to perceive our 'self' in the universe

TCM is all about pattern recognition. This is the full model of TCM that how we can or may perceive our 'self' in the universe. 
A. It is also about our body and mind, high self and low self, consciousness, and subconsciousness. 
B. It is about macrocosm and microcosm. We are under constant macrocosmic influences of Governing Heaven Qi (GH Qi), Governing Earth Yun (GE) in the sun and earth system showing on the Chinese calendar. 
C. Human health in TCM is based on below submodels (from inside out): 
1. Fundamental Substances (FS) - Qi, Blood, yin, yang, and Jing
2. 12 ordinary channels and 8 extraordinary vessels
3. Zang-fu and Five Phases
4. Six divisions and 3 zi-wu circuits
5. 12 channel body clock
6. 6 GH Qi and 5 GE yun

In TCM, time is not a linear line, space and time are not two separate entities. Space, time and human health are under the influence of a synchronized cyclical movement of the above subsystems. Following the way of the universe, balancing your body and mind with the patterns of nature. Staying positive and be healthy!Big Picture is what we need to perceive our 'self' in the universe