The Dance of Yin + Yang
“The dance between darkness and light will always remain— the stars and the moon will always need the darkness to be seen, the darkness will just not be worth having without the moon and the stars.” – C. Joybell C.
Yin and Yang describe the two opposite elements of existence. They are two sides to the same coin. Just as we are, they are constantly in flux, constantly changing. Think of yin as dark, passive, soft, slow, and introverted. While yang can be thought of as bright, loud, active, fast, and extroverted. Even in full expression, one is never without the other. Light does not exist without an element of darkness, and vice versa. Rather, think of them as transforming into each other. As night time reaches it’s peak, the light comes in. When winter reaches it’s coldest point, the cold dies down and spring trickles in.
There is a space between yin and yang that we will simply call the middle. According to the principles of Chinese Medicine, this is where you want to be. When you are in the middle, your yin and yang are in balance. When you begin to shift too much to one side, illness ensues. And when you stay too far to the right or too far to the left for too long, that illness can become chronic.
In our society we tend to be pretty yang driven. We work long hours, we exercise hard, we stay out late and don’t get enough sleep. We are overstimulated in a million and one ways. We are so go-go-go all the time, which burns up our yang energy, leaving us exhausted and fatigued. I recently heard an interesting view on our culture’s imbalance of yin and yang. That being that the body is in a constant yin state while the mind is in a constant yang state. We’re sitting at a desk or sitting in traffic, both very passive in a physical sense. Both very yin. Meanwhile, our mind is racing, running through ten to-do lists at once, trying to mentally juggle the deadlines that are imposed by both our personal and professional lives.
A good way to come into balance is to learn how to listen to your body. It knows when it’s out of balance and will send you messages to let you know. The key is in listening to those messages. Many of us have become so detached that we’ve stopped listening and we only make the change when the gentle taps have become violent shoves. You’d be amazed at how much your body can do on it’s own when it’s restored to balance first. It’s like that head cold that turned into a bed-ridden flu, or that ache in your shoulder that eventually limited your range of motion. As the messages get louder, they become more serious, in hopes of also becoming more eye-opening.
Signs that you may be too yang and need some yin activities in your life: headaches, red eyes, red face, heat (especially in the upper body), irritability, anger, indigestion, acid reflux, constipation, hypertension, ringing in the ears.
Go for a mellow walk in a peaceful place, be out in nature without an agenda, take a nap, go to a restorative yoga class, meditate for 5 or 10 minutes a day, sit down and read a book.
Signs that you may be too yin and need some yang activities in your life: Lethargic, fatigued, cold extremities, loose stools, low libido, depressed, pale, lacking energy and vitality.
Take a walk, go for a run, ride your bike, get your heart rate up, do something creative, do something that makes you happy, get some sun, go to a challenging yoga class, go be social.
Nothing here is absolute. The dance of yin and yang within our lives is always changing. You may have an equal combination of these symptoms, or some one day and others another. Once you understand the basics of yin and yang, you can recognize where an imbalance may be happening.
The goal is to be as close to the “middle” as you can. No one is perfect, and you’ll naturally be drawn to one side more than other other, and that’s okay. Your balance may not be my balance, and mine may not be yours.
Just like our environment, we’re constantly in flux, constantly changing. Constantly trying to find the middle.