Living in Yin

mindfulness in yogaNature knows opposites well. Night and day, sun and moon, light and dark, summer and winter. Each one balances the other and without one the other would not exist. Opposites exist to support each other and to bring balance and harmony to everything in nature. Nature doesn’t fight the inevitable change from one to the other but bows graciously to the duality or ever changing polarity.In it’s rawest form this is known as yin and yang. Yin is the soft, earthy darkness of winter, the moon and night and Yang more playful and light, is the summer and heavens.

People, like with all nature, have these dual aspects to their personality, their life, their thoughts, their physicality. This can be seen in our day to day life and over the whole span of our life time. We start off quite yang, energetic, seeking, moving and as we age we move more into the yin stage of our life, accepting, knowing, surrendering. In our physical body our upper half is seen as more yang, while the lower half is more yin like. Within our body there are more yang aspects such as muscle and yin parts such as connective tissue. Regardless, we cannot exist without both parts, one side of us relies on the other and vice versa.

Western culture however has become much more yang like in it’s existence. We are constantly wired for information, we uphold stress and busyness as pillars of success. We eat more quickly and sleep less. We are driven to success by doing more, being more and thinking more. If we are not wary we will become too yang like and this imbalance over time can cause physical, emotional, spiritual pain or blockages. Even though our society rewards yang behavior, to be truly happy we need to encourage yin qualities into our life such as stillness, patience, gratitude, contentment and acceptance.

Some guidelines for living in yin.

Take time out each day to be still.

Find some activity which you normally do very quickly and slow it down, maybe eating or conversation.

Become an observer of your reactions rather than reacting. If someone says or does something that stirs something in you, see if you can sit with it for a while before you pounce.

If you practice vigorous sport or yoga try to soften the parts of your body that you are not engaging in a muscular way such as your face, throat, shoulders, temples, between the eyebrows.

Spend some time being connected to the earth or nature in some way.

Listen rather than speak.

Accept rather than try to change or act on.

Practice for this week: Are you living in yin or yang? Each moment of your day, each day, has the capacity and room for both. Make it your practice to discover which side you live mainly in and take action to bring the balance back. Too much yang we become hard, too much yin and we become dull.

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