We all know REST should not be treated like a four-letter word, but somehow when we need it the most, it suddenly feels so @#$%ing hard.
I am writing this blog from the confines of my bed under self-imposed (and doctor ordered) bed rest following a bit of a health scare. The health issue comes partly from genes, partly from circumstance, and likely from stress. It seems this stress came from me ignoring my waning Yang energy and pushing for even more Yang instead of realizing it was now time for Yin.
We live in a very Yang-oriented world—one focused on doing, production, results, assessment, and action. In between these moments of action, there is Yin sprinkled in—times focused on being, reflection, creating for ‘fun’ rather than ‘work’, and inaction—yet admittedly these Yin moments can be few and far between because as a collective, we have forgotten how to honor cyclic Yin energy.
Yin gets a bad reputation in a Yang world, because it can be mistaken for laziness or apathy. In fact, you may have a memory (I know I do!) of a parent or teacher scolding you when you were caught daydreaming as a kid and were told that you were “wasting time” or not being productive enough. Then at some point that external authority’s voice became an internal voice that kept you from daydreaming, reflecting, and resting. Maybe you recognize it's phrases of "We don't have time for this, we have a deadline", or "Reflection is a luxury, not a necessity!"
But cue another authority figure—the doctor—who reminds us just how much we need Yin energy or we will experience health issues, or even adrenal fatigue and “burn out”. So, why is it so hard to balance these two authorities’ voices and embrace both Yang and Yin? I think it is because we have forgotten how to read our own natural rhythms to know when we need each.
I created GrowthQuests to bring nature-based wisdom back into the consciousness of my clients, and one of the first nature principles I recommend recognizing is the cyclic nature of your inner rhythms.
I tell clients one of the easiest ways to do this is to imagine the Yin Yang symbol rotating in a clockwise motion, there is always a fat-head and a thin-tail at some point in the turn. Thus, one of the energies is either full or waning at any given point in our lives.
To learn your inner rhythm, I suggest getting crafty (time to find the crayons!) and making the following:
1. Draw four circles on a piece of paper.
2. Draw a Yin Yang symbol in four separate patterns: 1. Full Yang: Light on top, 2. Waning Yang: Light to the right side,3. Full Yin: Dark on top, 4. Waning Yin: Dark to the right side
3. Underneath your four circles, write how they feel for you.
FULL YANG: How do you know when you are in full Yang? Does it feel like there is nothing that can stop you? Are you working effortlessly? What sensations are in your body? Does it tend to happen around certain times for you?
WANING YANG: How does it feel when you are losing Yang energy? Do you feel it first somatically or mentally? Do activities require more effort? Are you dreading anything? How long after the full-Yang does it tend to happen?
FULL YIN: How do you know you need Yin energy again? Are you more prone to daydreaming and reflecting? What happens in your body?
WANING YIN: How does your Yin shift into Yang? Do you feel anxious to get back into productivity? Where do you feel it in your body? Do you prefer social activities?
Now, reflect on how long it takes for your Yin Yang clock to turn.
For some women, this cycle will follow the moon and her hormonal menstrual cycle, Yin being highest during her menstruation, Yang being highest right before ovulation.
For men, this cycle varies as his hormone cycle is normally one day instead of one month long, Yang being highest in the morning, Yin being highest in the evening.
Whether your Yin Yang cycle is daily, monthly, or yearly, it is definitely a cycle. Honor your shifting energies and recognize the waning motion that gives way to a restful or eventful part of the cycle.
…Wrote the girl in bed who is supposed to be resting and not producing. :) So, I am going to take my own advice now and embrace my Yin!
**Go draw your own Yin Yang cycles.**