“It can be said that whatever energies you experience, you will sooner or later also experience their opposites.” – Bruce Frantzis, The Great Stillness
My background in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) started with the introduction of yin and yang. I have to admit when I first studied it I thought I was wasting my time. I am now 18 plus years into the field of TCM and mind/body health and I realize I am just starting to scratch the surface of how important yin and yang are to my fundamental understanding of myself and wellness.
Fast forward a few years and I have kids and I still wanted to keep busy and be very active. I pushed my body to do what I wanted to do. And do you know my body pushed right back?
I didn’t acknowledge the yin needs of my body. So I ended up feeling burned out. I collapsed. And It took me months to recover.
I have learned through blood, sweat and many tears –and trying to find the loopholes in the forces of nature, the following wisdom:
1. You can’t argue with the natural rhythms of the universe.
What goes up must come down. Yin and yang are balanced energies. And the seed of one always exists and is growing into the other. Universal energies always come back into balance. Learning to work with them will get your needs met more beautifully than working against them.
“What does it mean that success is as dangerous as failure? Whether you go up the ladder or down it, your position is shaky. When you stand with your two feet on the ground, you will always keep your balance.” ~ Lao Tzu
2. When you work with yin and yang life unfolds amazingly well.
If you balance rest and activity, one feeds the other. I promise you from experience that if you rest deeply and indulgently there will be this moment where you just bounce up and yang energy takes over. Sometimes it’s as simple as a need to go to the restroom or get some water, other times it’s that you feel a need to create or buy groceries. Either way, Yin is not to be feared.
3. Yin time allows for growth.
My favorite example of this is the bean seed. You plant it in the ground and it rests there in complete darkness (the epitome of yin). I trust, based on the seed packet, that it will grow in 7-14 days because that’s what seeds do. They start in yin and grow into yang.
4. Yin time allows healing to take place.
If you have ever lifted weights you know that you tear the muscle first and then rest it to allow it to grow and adjust to the new expectations of strength. The same is true in all areas of our life.
5. Yin time can heal even the largest of traumas.
Jill Bolte Taylor was a 37-year-old neuroanatomist top in her field when she found herself in the middle of a major stroke. This is a very yang activity in the body. It took over seven years of extreme yin time and balanced yang time to recover from this trauma. Recover she did.
6. It is in the quiet stillness that we tap into a deeper wisdom.
A calm relaxed mind is a receptive mind, open to possibilities. I am not open to universal wisdom as I rush around buying groceries or picking the kids up from school. I am open when I am breathing deeply, centered and grounded in my being. Then and only then can my inspiration breathe itself into being.
7. Yin time evaporates fear.
In the quiet stillness of your restless life, you can find a place of deep trust and faith in life. You start to see patterns and appreciate the subtle beauty of how things are unfolding. Hindsight becomes foresight and your intuition can wake up and offer you wisdom.
8. Slowing down leads to fewer regrets.
Speed leads to unconsciousness and mistakes. Pace motivated by fear can lead to disaster. Slowing down, getting clear on what you want and where you will be focusing allows you to move forward consciously, deliberately and with purpose. And this is when dreams turn into actuality.
9. Balance leads to more oxygen leads to clarity
Nowhere is balance more important than with our breath. Lack of oxygen and shallow breathing leads to illness, brain fog, anxiety, fear, aggression, crappy sex, and more. Breathing a three part breath – activating our collarbone, rib cage and diaphragm requires a balance of our yin and yang in the body. Breathe in, deep pause and breathe out, pause and the cycle continues. With oxygen, life feels doable without the unbearable.
10. Yin time is appreciation, basking, and gratitude.
Every spiritual teacher, high-performance coach, counselor I have ever seen or read recommends firmly taking time each day to focus on what good is going on in your life; if Oprah, Hillary Clinton, and Tony Robbins have time for this exercise – I certainly can find the 3 minutes.
Yin adds value to life. And we can’t bargain with it.
Each day I schedule in yin time. I start the morning with meditation or basking in the beauty of my life. After lunch, I have a brief period of rest. And after school, I have some quiet time where I contemplate how I’m going to move forward into the evening and the next day. What is interesting is that scheduling in these intentional yin times, no more than 15 minutes total, has opened up my yang capacity. These yin times consistently help me become more productive, appreciative, well rested, and deeply connected to my life.