originally published on September 23rd, 2023 by Patty De Llosa on her blog
Published here with her permission
I’ve always been very much a yang person. How about you? Do you, too, push and press against all odds, struggling forward toward perceived goals? Life has often seemed to present me with one conflict after another in an endless confrontation with people to convince or to help, and events I needed to get through safely. And do you, too, feel the need to be a winner, or at least prove yourself a worthy opponent?
In my case, this meant that when I pushed too hard or became ill I would be overwhelmed by a sense of weakness. At least I accused myself of weakness, naivete or stupidity, in spite of the fact that what I really needed was some time out for healing. Then, the minute my energy began to flood back in, I would push myself to get up and at’em again, like a bloodhound following a scent.
A yang-oriented person is always in front of herself—forging ahead to some perceived destination—and seldom occupying her own head and torso, arms and legs. In order to live in a more balanced way, we need to respect and allow for the energy of yin. Jungian analyst Marion Woodman calls it the Power of the Feminine. Yet for much of my life it seemed to oppose all I stood for, rather than occupy its rightful place as part of my life force.
The Valley spirit never dies. It is called the Mysterious Woman. The door of the Mysterious Woman Is the gate of heaven and earth. Call upon her as you will, She will never run dry.
It wasn’t till I found myself standing in front of a large crowd in Halifax cathedral, performing the Tai Chi long-form in my mother’s Chinese jacket, that I was shaken to my roots by the power of yin. With so many eyes on me, I was in a state of heightened alert as I listened to a voice like an organ intone verse six from Lao Tsu’s Tao Te Ching—my pushy self silenced by its power.
A few years later I connected with Marion’s work. She invited me to a body/soul-oriented understanding of what yin energy represented—the feminine, the moon, earth, nurturing, loving, caring for all living things. Over time I felt a gradual readjustment to the pushy person I had been. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t often seduced by the wish to forge forward against all odds, or press upward to take heaven by storm. I still get caught up in the energies of yang. But once I began to reexamine my assumptions and priorities, I was summoned to a larger view.
So whether you vibrate more happily to yin or yang energy, I invite you to a new focus, because we are living in a time where aggravation, aggression and negative thinking infuse the world all around us and affect our own attitudes. It’s really important to shift our thinking from opposition—you against me, party against party, country against country, or even me against me opposing the forces of nature. This moment in our fractured world calls on us urgently to open to the possibility that both affirmation and denial are complementary parts of a larger whole. We need to hold them together in one embrace, because when we are able to do that, love appears.
“The opposite of power isn’t weakness,” Marion often said. “The opposite of power is love.” That’s what transforms yin and yang, masculine and feminine, from opposing energies to parts of a greater whole. Assertion becomes receptivity as complementary energies work together. You can see it right here in the yin/yang symbol: how the dot of white at the center of the black of night gradually expands to the full white yang of midday until the dot of black in a sea of white quietly enlarges, and afternoon moves gently into evening.
Love will always be too big for us to encompass with our mental definitions. It is a power in its own right, present everywhere in the world. Aware of it or not, we are all received by that larger embrace—call it God or Chi or Universal Energy or the Soul of the World. When we are able hold both yin and yang together in our minds and hearts, when theybecome complementary instead of opposites, at that moment we are met. Not necessarily by what we want but most likely by what we need.
Marion liked to offer an analogy in our gatherings. I’ve written about it before, but I include it again here—in the name of hope for a world-wide change in attitude from opposition to inclusion.
Imagine you are cutting through the jungle with a machete, trudging along day after day, week after week, hot and tired and feeling more and more hopeless as you try to find your way out. At last you see an open space ahead and perk up. Soon you come to the edge of a wide river. Yay! You feel a moment of relief, even rejoicing—you’ve arrived at last! But then you realize that on the other side there’s nothing but more jungle. You droop, discouraged, your heart in your boots, ready to give up. But wait a minute! As you look again, determined to face the truth, you notice to your amazement that someone or something has been cutting an equal path through the jungle across the river, towards you.
We are always met. We are never alone.