The Dance of Yin & Yang: Cultivating Feminine Flow and Masculine Presence" by Marilynne Chophel Cultivating Feminine Flow and Masculine Presence
The ancient paths of meditation and yoga are about wholeness, awakening, and embracing all that life has to offer. Every situation, whether pleasant or unpleasant, is an opportunity to become more aware of who we are, what we respond to, and how we experience life. Everything we experience can be seen as an opportunity to open and expand our consciousness, and to integrate the seemingly opposing aspects of our self. We can embrace opposites, seeing them not as contradictions but as the dynamic polarities of our aliveness, our whole selves. We can recognize that every person, whether man or woman, has both masculine (Yang) and feminine (Yin) qualities. These qualities arise from the lifeforce energy that manifests uniquely in each of us.
Yang, your masculine essence, is the active expression of your self – from which you manifest presence, strength, direction, and purpose. Yang energy is the quality you call upon to take initiative, establish leadership, and achieve goals. Yang energy also creates structure and a safe container for Yin to open and express its aliveness.
Yin, your feminine essence, is the receptive, open, and flowing expression of your self - that dreams and surrenders to the magic and wonder of life and love. When you call upon your inner Yin, you become more alive, expansive, and permeable to everything around you. Yin energy is devotional love, playful joy, and spontaneous creativity. Yin sees beauty everywhere and appreciates the details in everything. Yin energy also follows or yields – especially to Yang's active energy.
We can explore what happens when our Yin and Yang energies are in a harmonious dance, or out of balance. "Balanced and integrated, these energies guide us through life as a dynamic whole. We move forward with clear vision, yet we are willing to trust and flow with whatever life brings us. As we become more whole, our need to look outside of ourselves for love falls away. We experience the sweetness of union of our inner man and inner woman. From this place, we can create more harmonious relationships and more joy in our lives," according to Margot Anand.
We invite you to play with your inner feminine and masculine, by yourself and with a friend. First, take a personal assessment of where in your life you are more Yin or Yang, including at work, at home, in intimacy, and in relationship to others. Can you quantify how developed Yin and Yang are in the different aspects of your life?
With a friend, practice embodying and expressing Yin and Yang energies. Taking turns, decide who first will be Yang as the leader, and who will be Yin as the follower. During this experience, Yang leads Yin in creatively inspired movement, or in a number of other activities, and Yin simply follows, surrendering to whatever initiative or direction Yang offers. After a while, switch roles. In this playful game, Yang becomes inventive, challenging, generous, and risk-taking. Yin becomes open, receptive, and responsive. This practice builds trust and intimacy between partners, as well as spontaneity and sincerity, love, and playfulness. It challenges your inhibitions about asking for what you want, and cultivates the art of fully giving and receiving. The changes and reversals in roles will enrich your experience of the masculine and feminine qualities present within yourself and in others.
By Marilynne Chophel
Tao: The Watercourse Way
by Alan Watts
At the very roots of Chinese thinking and feeling there lies the principle of polarity, which is not to be confused with the ideas of opposition or conflict. In the metaphors of other cultures, light is at war with darkness, life with death, good with evil, and the positive with the negative, and thus an idealism to cultivate the former and be rid of the latter flourishes throughout much of the world. To the traditional way of Chinese thinking, this is as incomprehensible as an electric current without both positive and negative poles, for polarity is the principle that + and —, north and south, are different aspects of one and the same system, and that the disappearance of either one of them would be the disappearance of the system.
People who have been brought up in the aura of Christian and Hebrew aspirations find this frustrating, because it seems to deny any possibility of progress, an ideal which flows from their linear (as distinct from cyclic) view of time and history. Indeed, the whole enterprise of Western technology is “to make the world a better place”—to have pleasure without pain, wealth without poverty, and health without sickness. But, as is now becoming obvious, our violent efforts to achieve this ideal with such weapons as DDT, penicillin, nuclear energy, automotive transportation, computers, industrial farming, damming, and compelling everyone, by law, to be superficially “good and healthy” are creating more problems than they solve. We have been interfering with a complex system of relationships which we do not understand, and the more we study its details, the more it eludes us by revealing still more details to study. As we try to comprehend and control the world it runs away from us. Instead of chafing at this situation, a Taoist would ask what it means. What is that which always retreats when pursued? Answer: yourself. Idealists (in the moral sense of the word) regard the universe as different and separate from themselves—that is, as a system of external objects which needs to be subjugated. Taoists view the universe as the same as, or inseparable from, themselves— so that Lao-tzu could say, “Without leaving my house, I know the whole universe.” This implies that the art of life is more like navigation than warfare, for what is important is to understand the winds, the tides, the currents, the seasons, and the principles of growth and decay, so that one’s actions may use them and not fight them. In this sense, the Taoist attitude is not opposed to technology per se. Indeed, the Chuang-tzu writings are full of references to crafts and skills perfected by this very principle of “going with the grain.” The point is therefore that technology is destructive only in the hands of people who do not realize that they are one and the same process as the universe. Our overspecialization in conscious attention and linear thinking has led to neglect, or ignore-ance, of the basic principles and rhythms of this process, of which the foremost is polarity.
----Yin and Yang by NadavDav
Duality in Unity. A fabric is made of threads, moving in a woven pattern in two different directions: lengthwise and transverse, warp and weft. Two separate and distinct weaves yet without both there would be no cloth. Such is the fabric of existence. To illustrate this the ancients used the most obvious and undeniable expression of this duality: masculine and feminine.
To understand, accept and move successfully in this reality we have to see that this is not centered on gender or sexuality. Gender and sexuality are but easily apprehended expressions of the principles. A man existing as a man will still find in the fabric of his spirit both polarities. The same is true of a woman. To avoid undue bias because of language let me refer to the duality found in the weave of our existence by one set of common names: Yin and Yang.
Yin is characterized as slow, soft, yielding, diffuse, cold, wet, receptive and passive, This quality of the weave is associated with earth, water, femininity, the moon and nighttime. In the Taijitu symbol (two swirling areas in a circle) Yin is usually the dark or black area.
Yang, by contrast, is fast, hard, solid, focused, hot, dry, outflowing and aggressive. The quality is associated with sky, fire, masculinity, the sun and daytime. It is the white of the Taijitu. Literally the words mean ‘Shadow’ and ‘Light’.
We tend to visualize the interaction of opposites in contact with one another as a neutralizing reaction where they cancel one another out such as crossing wires with a spark and a jump or water dousing a flame. In truth the result of such interaction is balance. The overarching reality of this nature is that they are not in opposition but rather are complementary. Indeed they cause each other to arise. Light cannot be perceived as light without shadow, shadow cannot exist without light. The seed of each is present in the other and as one pole presents itself the other arises in response. The purpose of their interaction is to restore equilibrium and peace.
This writing is mainly an attempt to chronicle my beginning to understand all this. It will not be definitive as I know I understand very little. In that light allow me to step back from the universal concept and speak for a brief bit on what I see as happening inside each of us as human beings, men and women, and how Yin and Yang are present and active.
Meditating over my coffee on my deck the other morning I was relaxed into the moment. A light rain was falling and a gentle breeze was stirring the leaves in the trees. Both the wind and the first change in the color of the leaves were speaking to me of the coming fall and slow settling into Winter. There were two thoughts that were passing through my mind concerning how Yin and Yang tend to be expressed in our bodies. The first was how Yang is perceived as residing in the right side as a giving energy, and left side held the Yin as being receptive. Regardless of whether this is empirically true holding onto the dichotomy of the two elements symbolically like this can help us to focus on each to facilitate balance. The second thought touched on how some people seem to only perceive or exhibit one element or the other.
To only be sensitive and receptive in your relationships with others would be to dwell in the Yin of your spirit while there are those who seem stuck in Yang, projecting onto or into others with dynamic expressions. These Yang expressions can often seem controlling, harmful or destructive though they need not be. A person who is nurturing and caring, constantly giving to others is also operating in their Yang aspect. Yet to dwell in one or the other is imbalance. You cannot only give in a relationship without receiving anything in return or the relationship sickens and dies. Likewise you cannot only receive or you become clingy, needy and an emotional burden on your counterpart. For relationships on any level, without or within, there needs to be balance.
Sitting with my coffee, held in both hands in front of me, I thought of how Yang was giving, an outflowing, while thinking of my right hand and how Yin was receiving and inflowing manifested in my thought as my left hand. As I thought about it I looked at my coffee and it slowly began to swirl. No, I am not getting magical here. There was a wind blowing and a straight wind blowing across the top of a round cup would induce the Coriolis Effect and create a counter-clockwise swirl. The coffee was moving counter-clockwise. So, while a bit startling at the time it was in all likelihood just the wind but the action added to my thoughts. The initial reaction I had was that a straight flow of energy from my right hand to my left had created a circular movement. And that seemed to fit. Circles of life are everywhere as areas of nurture and need move into each other to find balance. Indeed, for there to be living balance circular movement is necessary.
If someone greets you with a smile you receive that goodness and in response return the smile, which is received in turn. The result is balance but not neutralization. And here is the wonder of it all. There is actually a net gain when balance is established. Yin plus Yang in balance yields a third element: Life. The ancients called this created and creative force Chi. Exercising balance strengthens Chi.
If a friend or loved one takes you in their arms and gives you a hug you receive it and the natural response is to return the hug with equal or greater affection. But what if the affection were not returned? What if there was within you something that kept you from respecting, accepting or even liking the person who has hugged you. You would not naturally return affection but would more likely stiffen up, resisting what was offered. What would be the result? The hug would become cold, offence would be noted and received. A new cycle would replace the first that was blocked and aborted. Reciprocity would result in a net loss for what ended up being shared would not be perceived as good. Chi, the force of positive goodness of life, would be damaged and reduced.
Human interaction and relationships are based on living circles of giving and taking: reciprocity. For any relationship to be happy and successful it must create balance by constant, mutual exchange resulting in the creation of positive goodness in life. This phenomenon can be expected not only in relationships between ourselves and others but within ourselves as well.
If you see someone along the way, a hungry child, a hurting woman, a troubled man the circle will begin. Seeing the suffering, understanding it, you take it into your heart. Awareness and understanding are Yin, as is wisdom. The presence of wisdom and understanding stir the fountain of compassion which is Yang. This then embodies your reaction and action to relieve the suffering of those you meet: Yin causing Yang to arise. But what if you break the circle? Seeing the suffering you take it into your heart but that is all. You stifle or stop the flow of compassion and do nothing. In the whole, creative circle the suffering is transmuted into compassion but in the stifled heart the suffering remains suffering and having no way to purge it or transform it into a creative energy it remains and the suffering becomes your own. This is a common malady of our race. Suffering begetting suffering in a darkened spiral, diminishing the goodness of life and Chi.
What if the suffering you see, are aware of, understand is your own? The circle need not leave your flesh to be wholesome and healing. Seeing the suffering Yin stirs Yang and compassion for yourself arises. Forgiveness, acceptance, encouragement, faith, confidence, every ministry of compassion that can be given to others can be given to yourself as well. The net result of Yin and Yang circling in your own soul is again the creation of something better, a strengthening of Chi, and the alleviation of suffering.
A completed flow of Yin and Yang is never a net zero, a cancellation, it is instead the flow of creation where basic goodness is recognized and made more dominant and the human spirit is given strength from the 1st Spirit of Creation as we resonate in harmony and compassion.
“Tao produces unity; unity produces duality; duality produces trinity; trinity produces all things. All things bear the negative principle (yin) and embrace the positive principle (yang). Immaterial vitality, the third principle (chi), makes them harmonious.” -Lao Tzu
WEBSITE — As We Awaken—Thoughts Along the Way by Larry Newman