I took a World Religion class back in university in which we studied eight different belief systems from around the globe. One that really stood out for me was Taoism, founded by philosopher-writer Lao Tzu (which translates to “Old Master”) in 4th century BCE China.
What really piqued my interest were the principles of Taoism, focusing on “genuineness, longevity, health, immortality, vitality, wu-wei… detachment, refinement… spontaneity, transformation and omni-potentiality.” These are very different principles than those of the belief system I was raised under, Christianity. Although the Bible does touch on some of the same areas, the message and tone are completely different.
Taoism is concerned with becoming perfectly aligned with the natural world during this life on earth, instead of escaping this life and entering heaven (a better and more perfect place) in the afterlife, as the Abrahamic religions do.
Becoming perfectly aligned with the natural world means seeking balance in our lives, which is where the principle of wu-wei steps in. Wu-wei is described as the “healthy balance of qi (energy) between Yin and Yang. A balanced Yin Yang “leads to good physical and emotional health,” which informs the practice of Chinese medicine in that certain medical conditions can be attributed to a deficiency or excess of Yin or Yang.
But what is Yin Yang exactly, and how can we integrate the principles into our lives to restore balance and harmony? Yin Yang is a “duality forming a whole.” One cannot exist without the other. Think of it as night and day. We cannot have night without the concept of day. Just like we cannot have the feminine without the concept of the masculine. The perfect combination of the two opposites forms the Yin Yang.
In terms of the feminine (Yin) and masculine (Yang), these energies can be assessed in the individual and tweaked to create harmony in their life. Spiritual healer Deganit Nuur explains that people can be categorized into possessing one of these four divine energy types.
People who possess Greater Yin are more emotionally in tune with their feelings, creativity, intuition, and senses. As natural empaths and Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs), Great Yins can ruminate over things. They are prone to isolating, which can lead to loneliness.
Possessing much of the same qualities as the Greater Yin, (creative, sensitive, introverted) but this energy incorporates some masculine aspects of Yang such as not being affected by other people’s energies as easily as the Greater Yin is. Lesser Yin is able to advocate for other people and can roll with the punches. As a result, Lesser Yin is much more balanced.
With more extroverted tendencies and higher energy, Lesser Yangs expect more from life and are passionate and playful. Lesser Yangs are future-oriented and dream big, but they can deal pragmatically with their feet firmly on the ground. People also find Lesser Yangs charismatic and attractive. On the downside, being this type can lead you to feel anxious or trapped in things. Lesser Yangs can even sabotage a healthy relationship or a job because they feel stifled in stability. With all that said, Lesser Yang is considered a more balanced energy.
Greater Yangs know how to get things done and accomplish goals. They are brilliant thinkers, problem-solvers, and natural leaders. “It’s common for Greater Yang folks to overextend themselves and do all the things for all the people. You give too much and don’t receive enough.”
How can we balance our energy?
Regardless of what your type of energy is, practicing mindfulness daily can help you stay aware of your habits. This in turn allows for change, growth, and the restoration of balance. For example, I possess a Greater Yin energy. Yup, sold, that description is totally me. Being aware that I tend to self-isolate means I can consciously push myself out of that tendency and strive towards the Yang to live a more balanced life.
2. Rest and Reflection
While this sort of seems just like mindfulness, it’s not. Rest and reflection, which can also mean quiet time or meditation, helps you to understand why you do the things you do. Using myself as an example still, I’ve come to understand I self-isolate out of a fear of rejection. So what I need to work on first is self-acceptance, because if I accept myself first, then it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of me and this will lead me to becoming more social. Again, this leads me to a more balanced life.
3. Push Yourself in the Opposite Direction
If you’re a Greater Yang, do something feminine, like getting creative, resting more, or taking time to sit in silence. If you’re a Greater Yin, do something physical, start a new project, or do something competitive.
Balancing your Yin Yang, or striving for wu-wei, can leave you feeling more whole, happier and content with life. It’s something I am aiming for daily.
Get more like this—Sign up for our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Photo: Lavern, Flour, Chattasa, Muslakov, Tejedor, Alex, Ahmad; Unsplash.