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Yin and Yang


The ancient Taoist concept of yin and yang is a way of understanding that the Universe and everything in it, from the smallest insect to the largest solar system, is in a state of flux. Nothing remains static; everything in the Universe is always in the state of becoming either more yin or more yang.

Yin and yang can be most easily grasped by looking at opposites:
Yin is female, yang male; yin is soft and yang hard; yin negative and yang positive; yin cold and yang hot; yin empty and yang full.

However in reality everything can be defined as being more or less yin or yang and as moving towards one state or the other- it’s all comparative. For example Midsummer Solstice is the most yang time of the year- the longest day, after which the days become progressively darker and more yin again. Daybreak is more yang than midnight, but more yin than midday. Spring is more yin than Summer and more yang than Winter.

The quality of yin energy applied to human behaviour is stillness, quiet, rest, introspection, receptivity and peacefulness. Yang behaviour is action, noise, liveliness, excitement and sociability.

In reality we are always moving from one state to the other. After a hard day working, being alert and busy, a very yang state, our energy drops and we need to rest. By spending a lazy evening and having a good night’s sleep, quiet yin time, we hopefully feel energetic and ready for action again.

To live at either extreme for too long is to be out of balance. Too much yin can lead to stagnation, depression & apathy, too much yang to stress, anger and exhaustion. Either extreme can lead to a disease state.

These energies are represented by the well-known yin yang symbol. The white swirl contains a dot of black at its fullest point and the black swirl a dot of white. Neither side dominates; it is a symbol of perfect balance and dynamic movement combined.

We need to acknowledge the flow of yin and yang in our lives and go with it. Fighting life’s natural fluctuations between busy and quiet, productive and fallow, sociability and solitude is a waste of valuable chi energy and leads to frustration and discontent.

Make the most of the busy times and rest and recuperate in the quiet ones, knowing that the tide will turn and bring busy times back to you once more and you will be refreshed and ready to participate again.

If you can see you live habitually at either extreme then you may benefit from create more yin or yang times- party animals could do with a night off and a long soak in the bath with a book, homebodies need sociable outings to provide the contrast and stir up their chi. Enjoy and appreciate the rich variety life has to offer!

If you'd like to know more about Taoism the Barefoot Doctor provides easy to grasp and practical books. Try
Barefoot Doctor's Handbook for the Urban Warrior
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Taoism with the Barefoot Doctor
Harmonise your Environment Using Feng Shui
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Content copyright © 2014 by Lauren DīSilva. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Lauren DīSilva. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Lauren DīSilva for details.

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