A slow solitary walk under a bright moon and a blanket of soft, billowy clouds brings me back to an intimacy with myself hat has been in a waning phase. I’m like a pile of building blocks slowly coming back into order. Its no coincidence that we just turned the corner into Fall – a season of harvesting, slowing down, getting in touch with the ground through eating more root vegetables and grains…Its a time of greater introspection and inwardness. A time to embrace the darker aspects of the season and let go of living under the blazing energy of long, sun-filled days of activity. The fiery energy of summer’s heat and a more busy pace and tempo can slow down into a time of preparing for the bare silence of winter. For now, I’m infinitely grateful for a slight cooling, the nights lengthening, an invitation to reap what I’ve sown metaphorically and let go of what I don’t need moving forward.
The night walk brings me back to a realization I’ve been carrying with me for some time now. “My life is out of balance. Too much yang, not enough yin.” It is a simple truth, one that reveals itself in moments of picking up after Rowan, trying to walk up the stairs carrying too many things, trying to cook and hold Rowan at the same time, balancing work and motherhood responsibilities, not resting enough. Its the kind of slow fatigue that sums up to the truth of an existence that understands the need for rest but can’t seem to integrate enough of it.
The original Chinese character for ‘yin’ meant ‘north side of the hill’ (facing away from the sun), while ‘yang’ meant ‘south side of the hill’ (facing toward the sun). Yin is associated with the moon, feminine energy, reception, softness, darkness. Yang alternately is associated with the sun, masculine energy, creativity and doing, that which is hard and also bright. According to the earliest comprehensive dictionary of Chinese characters (ca. 100 CE), yin refers to “a closed door, darkness and the south bank of a river and the north side of a mountain.” Yang refers to “height, brightness and the south side of a mountain.” So it is for me; Exiting a phase of facing toward the sun and all its associating ‘doing’ and finding myself wanting to land behind a closed door, resting in darkness under the moon where there is nothing else other than stillness and the knowing that it is time to rest now.
Too much yang, not enough yin – a mantra I’ve been saying to myself for some time now, an ongoing reminder of my needs for less doing, more being, less carrying and juggling – and more resting and stillness. It is the perfect season for practicing more quietness within the walls of our homes and within the infinite mysteries of our own hearts and bodies. We can come inside, slow down, turn on the stove for a baking project and create coziness. We can turn our attention inwards and hold a clear mirror of self-observation and awareness in order to receive what is reflected back.
The yang quality of experience denotes a certain baseline of outward facing versus inward facing attention. As a parent so much of our attention must be rooted on our child or children. Our energy must be devoted to an outward order and flow that can often eclipse an inward order and flow. For me, the greatest periods of balance are when my outward world is a reflection of attention that is also directed within.
And, this is the ebb and flow of life. In and Out. Back and Forth. Up and Down. Inward, Outward. Light, Dark. Expansion, Release. Unfurling, Curling. We can become the great weavers of our own existence if we pay attention to the seasons and flow of our own lives and if we choose to dance the dance of life with intention and grace. As Patricia Joudry and Maurie Pressman write below, we too can move towards striking a dynamic balance between doing and being:
Yang is the initiating impulse, which divides and delineates; yin is the responsive impulse, which nurtures and reunites. Without yang nothing would come into being; without yin all that comes into being would die. Yang is mental activity in its forceful aspect, yin the imaginative and poetic, exalting the merely mental to the beautiful.
Yang goes ahead with things, yin contains things within herself and knows their nature without effort. Yang does, yin is…Yang is knowledge, yin the mystery that reveals itself and becomes knowledge…
Yang is will and yin is wisdom, and one without the other is neither, and together they are joy…