Yin/Yang as Contrast

In my last entry I referred to dark/light as an example of Yin/Yang. The first thing that comes to mind when I think in these terms is black and white photography. This is one of my favorite artistic mediums. The edges are much more apparent than they are in color photography. More is left to the imagination because of the lack of other colors. The shadows or dark areas give definition and clarity to the light. Rather than working against the light, the dark supports the light, making it shine brighter.

In belief systems grounded in judgement, light and dark are seen as good and bad. The terms positive and negative carry connotations of judgement, even though scientifically these terms denote opposite sides needed to create a balance of function (as in the two ends of a battery + and -). When we automatically judge something as negative or bad, we deny ourselves the understanding that balance requires two sides to act as counter-weights for one another.

Emotions are judged harshly if they have been labeled as negative. Fear is deemed negative in the Western mind and yet, in Eastern philosophy, it is seen as one of the Master Teachers. Legitimate fear can save your life. Unrealistic fear can paralyze you. Learning from your fear can increase your self-awareness and nurture your spiritual growth. Sitting with an intense and uncomfortable emotion brings insight and often healing. Sit quietly and ask “Fear, what have you come to show me?” Then listen with an open mind and heart for the answer.

I have shifted the way I language emotions because even extreme happiness can stress the body and the mind, creating imbalance. I now assess (rather than judge) my emotions in terms of intensity. I am currently experiencing wonderful times with my family and the intensity of joy and fulfillment feels overwhelming at times. If I were grieving, it would be tempting to fight against the experience rather than embrace it. In both cases, it is a matter of the intensity of the emotions I am experiencing. As the intensity rises so does the sense of being overwhelmed. In both situations, the answer is to embrace the experience and be aware of what I need to remain balanced physically, mentally and emotionally. Imbalance in either direction (joy or sorrow) can, over time, lead to exhaustion and illness.

I am passionate about life. Human beings experience life through their senses and that includes emotions. When I am out in nature, I stop and drink in the visual wonder of it all. I take deep breaths and smell what is around me. I close my eyes and listen. I pay attention to the memories and/or emotions that these sentient stimulants evoke in me. I want it all.

At the same time, I seek balance so that my responses (physical, mental, emotional) do not toss me around or throw me against the walls of my life. Been there; done that. It is exhilarating to soar (yang) and necessary for my health to come back to earth (yin) and walk in balance.

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