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Serenity is an acquired taste, my therapist told me on a crisp Autumn day last year.
Back then, as the brilliant leaves fell and the trees turned bare, I had no idea what she meant. Maybe I didn’t yet care.
Now, I believe her.
Serenity is not a taste I even wanted until recently. I couldn’t fathom it, really.
I had acquired another taste, so to speak.
See, I’ve spent my whole life being on fire. Early on, I was thrust into the flames of trauma, fighting for rebirth, for fresh life. I was trying to turn my pain into something else, trying to find empowerment in it all. I was battling PTSD symptoms, going to school, searching desperately for truth, and getting consumed by toxic lovers here and there.
And I’ll tell ya, that all takes a lot of energy.
I remember my heart often racing and feeling like my skin and stomach were literally burning up. And, oh yes indeed—it’s all related!
There was so much fire in my life. It was everywhere.
Doing too much, working too hard, moving too fast, getting in over my head—that was my way of life. Intensity was always what I chased. Restlessness had buried itself deep in my bones. It was so hard to sit still.
And our society seems to praise all of this, often at the exclusion of all else; it’s so yang and masculine: the activity, the fire, the accomplishments, the intensity.
As exhaustion set in, I began to wonder: we often compliment ourselves for pushing ourselves past our limits. What if we respected them instead?
Because now, I realize that I have a choice…
Something new beckons, in a delightfully unexpected way. A subtle breeze blows. And before—I never would have noticed it. It would have seemed boring, perhaps not loud or thunderous enough. But now, I feel intrigued, welcomed by the arms of something so gentle.
Something feminine: peace.
And a new way of life.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the fire. I probably always will. I love the way it dances and sparkles and ignites within me.
But now, I realize that I’m no longer fighting for my life. I’m not clawing my way out of the depths of trauma and PTSD, dirt embedded in my nails as I writhe and scream to feel fresh air. I am not in survival mode anymore. And it’s time for a change.
So I take the gifts of the fire—
The rebirth. The transformation. The initiation. The shedding of a thousand layers. The courage. The ability to be a warrior if I need to.
And now, I do what once seemed impossible—
I go to the water.
My skin temperature cools and breathing becomes an act of pure pleasure in itself.
I go to the water.
And I know I can call upon the fire when I need to. I know that it’s there. But see, we burn out real quick if we’re constantly on fire. We simply run out of fuel.
I turn to the water, now.
To yin. To tenderness. To feeling. To a sustainable way of life. To nourishment and replenishmnt. To my heart. To this trust I’ve been cultivating within myself.
And so it goes…change billows out. I get to know myself in an entirely new way.
I begin to value my tenderness and choose others who can be gentle with my sensitive heart. I do less in a day, but find more meaning. I cherish rest and truly drink it in. I choose to stay in on Saturday nights, to be cozy with myself or my beloved instead of going out and drinking too much in thumping, sleek bars.
See, I’m good on intensity. I’m good on conflict. I’m good on pain. I’m good on chaos. And sure, life may have its bumps and unexpected turns, and I’ll handle ’em the best I can.
Now, I have a deep craving for serenity. For it too is an adventure—a watery, deep, slow, sensuous discovery.
In the water, there is no rush.
There is time to breathe and fill up my lungs. There is time for writing, thinking, and connecting in a truly healing way.
I still work hard too, but in a balanced way, a way that feels manageable and sane, maybe even soulful.
And I’ll be honest, I’ve still got a ways to go in implementing all of this. But after a year of welcoming more softness, I can already see the benefits of embracing more yin in my life:
I sleep better. My anxiety is better. My periods are less painful and my stomach no longer burns all the time. My nervous system is learning that there are things beyond fight-or-flight mode—yay! My heart is softer and more able to receive love, which makes my relationships sweeter and deeper. My alone time is a sanctuary, a temple where these words come alive. My intuition is clearer.
And it’s nice to notice, too, that I treat myself better and am more compassionate with others. I no longer push myself until I feel utterly exhausted, on the verge of collapse. And best of all, I feel more joy, a sumptuous, ancient sort of aliveness that feels natural to share.
Maybe you, too, are tired of being on fire. Maybe you are feeling burned out, seeking some softness, a slice of tranquility.
Maybe you are beginning to realize just how powerful that can be.
May we slow down.
May we find a way of life that not only looks good on the outside—but actually feels good, too.
Let us bring our weary, thirsty bodies to the watery goodness of yin and delight in cupping handfuls of salty blue sea and drenching it gently all over our bodies.
And may we let it drip into our souls, one slow drop at a time, so we can taste peace blooming on our tongues like magnolias.
And let us clear some space.
And take a life-changing, long-awaited exhale.
Knowing that we so deserve to rest and replenish ourselves.
Knowing that to embrace yin and softness doesn’t mean we can’t be passionate or active or fierce or speak up.
But it means we also make ample time to receive, to soak in quiet, to find a softer pace and:
‘Cause I don’t know about you—but that’s the one thing I never experienced when I was constantly on fire: I never just was.
I was always doing something, proving something, working on something, creating something, looking for something. It was very yang—exhaustingly so. And while being productive is wonderful, it’s not all there is.
Meet the feminine. Welcome her sweet wisdom.
Yin, she teaches us with her cooling waters.
She soothes and subdues.
She feels and heals.
She loves greatly.
She has faith.
Please know how powerful all of that is.
For when we are full, calm, and nourished, it’s amazing how beautifully we can show up for ourselves—and others.
It’s amazing how beautifully we can show up in this world.
Although some of these ideas were mentioned above, I thought I’d list ’em out for you as well. Here are some simple ways to add yin into our lives and embrace more softness, stillness, and calm.
And know that you don’t have to try all of these at once—I’d recommend trying a few that feel right to you and seeing what shifts you notice. I bet you’ll come up with some of your own ideas, too. Enjoy the process!
- Go to bed early and wake early.
- Commit to luscious self-care and self-honoring on all levels.
- Drink lots of water. Coconut water can also be wonderfully hydrating.
- Limit or try to cut out caffeine and alcohol.
- Take baths and spend time near water.
- Try nettle tea and holy basil tea. Holy basil is an adaptogen that’s awesome for soothing frayed nerves. Nettles are super nourishing and chock-full of vitamins and minerals, like iron, and are also great for the kidneys.
- Stay in and appreciate being cozy at home instead of believing you always need to go out on the weekends.
- Massage your feet with delicious smelling oils.
- Make time to not do. (Even if it’s just a few minutes.)
- Breathe deeply and slowly.
- Move slower. Trying yin yoga can be a lovely way to practice this.
- Be in nature and soak in the quiet.
- Make any changes you can to your work/social schedule that feel more sane and less frantic.
- Journal, reflect, and truly check in to know what you feel.
- Spend time alone. And spend quality time with those who value you for the wonderful human you are.
- Limit too much constant stimulation like your phone, Netflix, crowded places, or listening to loud/jarring music.
- Listen to and respect your body’s limits.
- Say no when necessary.
- Nourish yourself with foods that feel grounding and substantial—sweet potatoes, proteins such as fish, and greens like seaweed and bok choy can be especially helpful to incorporate often.
- Limit or work to transform relationships that feel harsh, toxic, conflict-laden, and make you doubt yourself.
- Rest more. Yep, if you need permission to rest—let this be it, my friend.
References I used, and some helpful reading/watching:
Herbal Goddess by Amy Jirsa
A lovely yin yoga video.