All of us have support in our life. Some of us have more support than we know and others have so little support that it is a challenge to make it another day.
Whether we realize it or not, the Earth is supporting us. None of us can live without water, air and the land beneath our feet. It is part of our support system along with relationships, communities and work.
The Earth, half day and half night in every moment, reminds us of an ancient symbol, yin and yang, representing the complementary forces in the world. Yin is the night, Yang is the day.
We use yin and yang to illustrate the balances present in our support system. For example, a mother provides nurturing and a father provides boundaries. What happens when our mother smothers us with too much attention and our father doesn’t teach us about boundaries? The yin and yang of relationships, whether balanced or imbalanced, influence our life.
Our support system creates who we become and sustains who we are. It may contain many diverse elements such as an education, clean drinking water, exercise and spiritual practice.
Balancing the yin and yang within our support system is a key to living a graceful life.
A support system with a balance of yin and yang may include loving relationships that provide nurturing without being smothering, clear boundaries without being controlling and the freedom to be ourselves with immediate support when faced with a challenge such as dis-ease.
The Yin of Support
The nature of yin is feminine energy that supports the birth of a new being, the undercurrent gently and powerfully steering the ocean, the nurturing of an onion seed, storing in the earth preparing for growth, and the intuitive part of our true self.
The strength in yin comes from knowing when to yield, when to preserve and maintain our support systems. It is flowing with our current relationships, preserving the habitable environments that exist and maintaining the work that sustains us.
Where support is more yin, we may withdraw from relationships into solitude. As the resting phase of the cycle, yin may make us feel like taking time out, reflection, meditating, being alone and having down time.
An excess of yin in our relationships can see these characteristics become exaggerated, where we withdraw too far into a place that no longer supports us. Whether by circumstance or choice, this can be isolating and drives a distance between us and our support system. To create balance and move ourselves out of yin, in these moments, we use the characteristics of yang to help and to push ahead. For example: to break out of solitude and join a local creative writing course or attend a community dance group.
Personal Experience ~ Nicola ~ Yin of Support
As a child growing up, I always felt separate from my family and the world around me. These feelings felt normal as I had never known any different, and yet as I grew into an adult, being a loner has at times been of comfort and at times raw and hollow. As I look back over my 38 years, my support has been an excess of yin. I left home as a teenager after a difficult childhood and do not have contact with my parents or siblings. My nana who I was closest to passed on and it has been just me for a long while.
The positive characteristics of yin in my support system, has been the freedom to move abroad without any family ties and the independence that came at an early age of living in the real world. I have also found being outside of some of the family drama my friends have gone through a blessing, which has created quite a simple existence for me. I have also been able to freely make my own decisions without influence from a support system. I enjoy time on my own to potter around, and again the freedom to come and go as I choose without thought of another person or group, is well, limitless.
The negative characteristics of yin in my support system has been the absence of support in times of need, whether emotional, through ill-health, and even in a practical or financial way. This has been the hardest aspect to find a way around, as this absence means you need to rely on yourself for everything. As life goes through its ebb and flow, there are moments when you need a strong support system to catch you as you tumble.
What I do find challenging is the lack of human connection and communication. There are very few people in my life who have known me a long time, or know me very well. The comfort of familiarity and the love of a family is something I have looked at through a window. It’s not something I miss, as you can only miss something you have had once before.
Other moments that make the yin side of support become like a sharp edge, are celebrations like birthdays, Christmas and New Years. During these holidays, the pressure to ‘conform’ to the family standard is immense. I often find myself telling a story when people ask what you are doing for Christmas, as this is easier for people to hear than the reality. There is also the ‘pity’ side of being yin around celebrations, where invites are given to you on the basis of “If you are alone …. come to us”. These times of year can reaffirm that you are alone and can bring up feelings that you are lacking because of this.
To overcome these yin imbalances, my friendships become like family members and I take part in group and community activities. My professional life centers around adult education, in particular the movement arts, a role that helps me connect with others. As a sole trading business owner, the tendency to create more of a yin imbalance also needs careful planning and thought. In my personal life I am a huge animal lover and have a dog as loving company at home, this helps with warmth of touch and companionship. I regularly spend time nourishing myself, through Tai Chi, Qigong, meditation and creativity. When I am expressing myself through these modes, this helps me feel more connected to myself, to those around me, more grounded, natural and whole.
The Yang of Support
The nature of yang is masculine energy that contributes to the birth of a new being, the rise of a wave in the ocean, a sprouting onion seed reaching towards the sky and the expression of our true self.
The strength in yang comes from knowing when to push, expand and build up our support systems. It is the drive to build up clear, loving relationships, expand habitable environments and push for work that sustains us.
An excess of yang may feel like we are pushing or being pushed to be someone we are not. For example, our work may provide us with money, health insurance and a role in society. However, we may feel the yang is out of balance if our work starts to shape us into a person we do not like. Too much yang in our support system overall will feel oppressive and abusive.
When we find the yang element in our support system more emphasized we look to the yin. We may need to spend more time alone, re-center ourselves and flow with our current work. Taking some time to pause and begin again is important for regaining balance.
Similarly, when we experience a deficiency of yang in our support system, there may be an important part missing or we may not be expressing our true self. For example, we may discover we are working to survive rather than to thrive. Then, we push ahead and take actions such as trying a new job or requesting a change in our current position.
Balancing Yin and Yang
Yin yang energy in our support system provides us with a continuous circle of change to learn, grow and play from. At times, balance means to have more yang in support and other times harmony is found with more yin. Balance is ever changing and we embrace both aspects in our support systems. Yin yang both work naturally together in opposition, not in conflict, rather with unity.
While yin reminds us to yield, yang reminds us to push. Sometimes we flow with our current relationship, community and work and sometimes we create new ones.
Yin energy reminds us to cultivate a deep relationship to ourselves and listen to our intuition. Yang energy reminds us to express our true selves and take action.
If your overall support system seems off balance, consider the yin and yang of your relationships, environment, community and work. What can you do to shift the yin yang energy more into balance?