Sunday, June 10, 2012

Yin and Yang

Jane has been aware of the yin and yang symbol for quite awhile. You know it, right? Like a fat comma in black with a fat comma in white flipped over and tucked against it. It can be oriented in different ways, but that's the basic concept. Yin and yang. Most of us are at least vaguely aware that it represents balance. What Jane didn't know is that this is one of the most fundamental concepts in traditional Chinese medicine. It goes all the way back to somewhere around 700 BCE. In the I Ching (Book of Changes), everything reduces down to yin and yang.

There is a lot of information about how the symbol came about, the reason for the exact design, the philosophy behind it. Jane is not going to even attempt to discuss some of this because while it's fascinating it is also well beyond her normal conversational level of yin and yang-ness. If you are interested, look it up. The philosophy, though, can be summed up easily. least on a superficial level. More in depth discussions can be held over coffee, lunch or ice cream. Jane is happy to arrive at any of those destinations with her contribution to the discussion.

So...everything changes. Everything, all the time, no matter what. And with that change comes a constant shifting in our search for the balance that allows us to handle the change. If we are out of balance, we suffer mentally, physically, emotionally. If we are in balance, we thrive. Makes sense, yes? But of course it's not nearly so easy to achieve this as it is to discuss it and nod in agreement that we all need balance. Who wouldn't agree with that? Talk about a "duh" moment.

Jane is pretty sure that balance is different for every single person. Some generalities, though, certainly apply. If you are all about yourself, cruising along on an ego-driven trip towards Pleasure Land, you will likely hit some significant road bumps. But the same thing applies to the opposite situation. If you are completely oriented towards the needs of others without offering yourself the same consideration, you will feel the imbalance at some point. The trick is to actually want balance and then to pursue it. You might think that's another "duh" moment, but look around. If it's so basic, why aren't more people doing it?

Jane has a neighbor who walks with a dark cloud of doom and gloom over him at all times. Now admittedly, not everyone is going to see this cloud...but they sense it from his behavior. This neighbor held on tightly to every bad thought, feeling and event in his life. He held them so closely that they became his life. Balance? Not a bit. His mental health reflects this choice. His physical health does, too. The cloud is so palpable that people do not want to push through it to reach him. An extreme example, and a sad one.

What more generally applies to most of us is the need to realize when things aren't quite right, whether we call that yin and yang or some other name or whether we have no name for it at all. For Jane, this specifically means that she needs to watch the balance of busily getting her life in order and still having fun. Simple, sweet, uncomplicated fun. She has not given enough attention to that side of her energy and she knows it. Is this a huge big deal? Not right now, but if Jane doesn't take steps to add some of that simple, sweet, uncomplicated fun to her life she will find it more and more difficult to do so. At this exact moment Jane has a strong desire to find a stream, take off her shoes and wade in the chilly water. Have a picnic. Eat a popsicle. Watch a movie. Chase fireflies. Share a belly laugh. Those things represent balance to Jane.

Create your own balance list and then make time for whatever is on it. Play. Volunteer. Worship. Work. Your own yin and yang are as individual and unique as you are, and the balance grows from the inside out.

Know yourself first. And then...grow yourself.