October 30, 2011

Yin/Yang: What To Do When Yoga Has Healed You.

Dear Yogis,

I’m troubled.  We need to talk.  Our relationship has gotten off track somewhere.  Have you noticed?

Once upon a time, I was along with you, and we were happily realizing our truths, examining past wounds and clearing them, raising our vibration, and generally, well, healing and transforming.

But then–because yoga works–I started to feel better.  And, my life started going better.  Then, I got up off of my mat, and looked around, and thought, “Gee!  Maybe now that I feel better, it’s time I moved along and actually lived my life, instead of analyzing it, and looking for deeper layers to clear.”

But, when I got off my mat, I felt kinda like I had betrayed you.  Like, the terms of our relationship depended on me staying in the depths of self-examination along with you, and somehow I had broken that pact.  And when I rolled my eyes when you told me all about finally locating the roots of your (fill in the bank here.  For our purposes, I’ll insert “fear of spiders”)…?  Well.  Now I’m “negative.”

Boo.  Hiss.

Please don’t get me wrong, I still believe in that magic of tracing these impressions.  But I also just believe that you can’t spend 24/7 doing this.  It’s exhausting.

There are two issues at work here.  One is the problem of getting stuck in your transformational process.  Carolyn Myss has a name for the obsession with relentlessly spending your time digging around in the muck of your life: “woundology.”  She coined this term in Why People Don’t Heal. 

The second issue is, once yoga has worked, then what?  Where is the model for how to move ahead with you life, and keep yoga in it, if doing yoga is about maintenance and ongoing work, but not always soul shaking, gut wrenching, deep work?

I’m not suggesting that we’ve ever graduated from doing deep work; in fact, I do believe that the work is perpetual.  We just need a model for the work to be happening in tandem with…routine external activities.  Because seriously, most people don’t have space to take the lid off of their childhood wounds AND hold down their dream job, AND have a loving family, AND have a robust social life.

I like the Taoist Yin-Yang symbol as a reminder of how things work.  The white half is Yang, and black half is Yin, but within each there is a spec of the other.  This is to show that Yin is never entirely Yin…as a matter of fact, it is changing, as we speak, to Yang.  And vice versa.

An easier way to understand this—an illustration I was introduced to by Jason Campbell—is a diagram of sea and clouds, rain and vapor.  If the sea is Yin (like the dark half of the circle), and the clouds are Yang (like the light half of the circle), and rain is Yin of Yang (the dark spec in the light half), then vapor is…?  (Answer at the bottom.  C’mon now.  You can do the math!).

The sea never stays entirely sea.  It is in the process of becoming vapor, which will become clouds, which will beget rain, which will fall into the sea…

See?  Digging in the muck of your being is not an end in and of itself.  If you stay there, you are denying the laws of nature.  She does not like this.  I, your best buddy, do not like this.  Digging in the muck is a means to grow the lotus, and the lotus is the flower of your life activities.

Get along now.  Get up off your mat.  Live.  Live.  Live.  Do the things you say you want to; be the person you say you want to.  And while you’re living, dig in the muck–but not too much–so that the next lotus can grow. The one that is blooming now is destined to die and return to the muck so that another can grow.

That’s the way of the world.  To deny is it delusion.

(Answer:  Yang of Yin.)

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