“Life is balanced through stillness of the mind and movement of the heart.” Bo L. Arnold
Out of Balance
All of life sings to the tune of balance. From the building block of all matter, the atom, continually balancing its energies between positive and negative, to nature and beyond, it is the character of the universe to strive for balance. We are made up of the same building blocks, atoms, so we are also set up for balance, or homeostasis. However, we tend to eat, think and act in ways that keep us unbalanced most of the time.
Women, mothers, caregivers and healthcare workers are just some of the categories of people who tend to care for others long before caring for themselves. In fact, care for the self is ignored to the detriment of the body and soul and at some point the body and mind cry out for help. This can come in the form of physical illness and emotional exhaustion. However, when a caregiver lives in balance, harmoniously involved in the yin and yang of life, reserves aren’t depleted to the point of illness. In fact, a balanced perspective means we take care of ourselves first, then offer assistance to others. This allows us to have something to give to others rather than dishing out our run-down efforts giving less than we really intend to give.
There are other categories of people who live out of balance on a regular basis, ignoring the needs of their mind and body. It could be someone who works 70 hours a week or someone who has a calendar so packed to the gills there isn’t a moment to rest. Perhaps you are in a relationship that is taxing you to the point of tears on a regular basis or feeling the pinch of managing the kids, their schedules, your job, your family life, spouse and friends. Many of us are overwhelmed. Burnout is the only option for those of us who live without taking time to recharge.
When we don’t feel energetic and alive, waking each morning with an open excitement for life, we are most likely out of balance. This translates into sick and tired for us. Most of this comes from mind-created stress that we can control and diminish if we choose to do so. This stress destabilizes us. The resulting lack of energy and illness is nature’s way of letting us know we are off track. This means our yin and yang are out of balance. But, we can bring balance back to feel healthier and stronger in our body, mind and soul. We can find relief and healing by balancing our yin and yang.
Yin & Yang
All of life is ruled by the interaction of two dynamic forces, yin and yang. Derived from traditional Chinese medicine, yin is negative, feminine and passive. Yang is positive, masculine and aggressive. These forces are opposites and yet they are also complimentary. The forces are never equal, but they are equally important. One does not exist without the other. Together they are a whole, never separate or separated. The energies of yin and yang cycle in harmony – as one ascends the other descends .¨ in perfect balance.
Illustration courtesy of whatonearthishappening.com.
The Toa symbol is magical indeed. Representing the inward and outward flow of energy, the main circle has two interlocking swirls, one light (yang) and one dark (yin). Inside each swirl is another circle of opposing color, continuously intertwined. The circle represents the never-ending, like a ring, where there is no beginning and no end. The swirls represent change. Change is the composition of all of creation. Life is change. The two circles within the swirls represent the idea that no matter how deeply rooted we get in one energy at times, the opposite, balancing energy is always present within that energy. Balance is but a moment away.
As a whole being, we all have both masculine and feminine energy in us. No one of us is all one or the other. When we are too heavily invested in one energy or spend too much time there, our yin and yang is out of balance. Signs of yin deficiency include feelings of anxiety, hyperactivity, frustration, being controlling, feeling burned out, angry and aggressive, competitive, feeling overwhelmed, unable to relax, and overly critical and judgmental. In this state, we are cut off from our yang energy, our feminine balance, and unable to move easily through life. It is difficult to adapt to ever-changing circumstances. We aren’t receptive to others or connected to our internal inspiration and creativity. There is a feeling of continually needing to keep moving and keep doing.
When we are deficient of our yang energy, meaning we have too much yin energy, we feel depressed, stagnant, overwhelmed, tired, listless, hopeless, confused and weak. We may also feel jealous, obsessive have compulsive thoughts, lack confidence and have a low self-esteem. Cut off from yin energy, or our masculine side, we feel defenseless and hopeless to create the life experiences we truly want. We may feel as though we have no goals and lack inspiration to even work toward remembering them.1 But, the cure to what ails us is, to a large degree, simple. It’s balance – balance of life .¨ balance of heart, mind body and soul.
Getting & Staying Balanced
Our body and mind requires the balance of our yin and yang energies for us to be wholly involved with life and all of its gifts. In the example of caregivers, what’s needed to rebalance the yin and yang is to receive what is given, as equally as possible. This means we have to take care of ourselves. If we focused on eating healthy, making time for exercise of any form, setting aside time for quieting the mind and getting a good night’s sleep, we would be able to provide care to others on a much higher level. They would benefit and so would we.
For those of us who work our fingers to the nubs, we, too, need to follow a similar regimen to find our balance again. That way, when we are at work or planning our calendar, we will focus better, plan better and be mentally free to move forward any way we choose.
Below are a few examples of how to balance your yin and yang energies, but these are meant to get you started. You can also seek out your own ways to balance your feminine and masculine side, your left-brain and your right-brain interests, your analytical and your intuitive sides that you find most powerful for you.
- Water .¨ Drink plenty of plain water or water with lemon, cucumber or orange in it to clean your body from the inside out each day and to keep you hydrated so your systems work well. This includes your organs, joints and brain. We are fuzzy and unfocused when we are dehydrated. Coffee is not water, by the way. Neither is tea.
- Nutrition .¨ Take time to eat healthy, whole food instead of processed, chemical-filled foods. This means an organic apple instead of a bag of potato chips and a chicken, vegetable, rice dinner instead of McDonald’s. Eat at least 3 meals a day with 2 small, healthy snacks in between.
- Quiet Time – Make certain to set aside time each day for quiet time. Read peacefully for 30 minutes or meditate for at least 5 minutes per day, working up to 30 minutes a day. A peaceful mind provides a more peaceful life.
- Relax .¨ Really take a break during your 15 minutes at work in the morning and the afternoon. Get out in nature and let the sun shine on your face. Or take a walk in the brisk cool air to get your blood moving. You’d be surprised how healing a 15 minute break can be. Gossiping at the water cooler is not relaxing.
- Exercise .¨ Exercise the body to release pent up energy and get your chi, your life force energy, moving. The power of motion to rid our body of toxins cannot be overlooked. Move regularly throughout each day and feel better .¨ you deserve it.
The remedies for regaining your internal and external balance, your masculine and feminine energies, are holistic in nature and have no nasty side effects. It’s time for us to get creative and find ways to rebalance our yin and yang for a happier, healthier, joy-filled life.
1Mica Akulian, M.S, Balancing the Yin and Yang Energy to Heal Depression and Anxiety