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Yin, Yang, and Seasonal Change

Lake Superior waves in autumn MN water and rocks
The Yin within Yang on Lake Superior

If you’ve ever taken my classes, you know that beyond just teaching Qigong patterns, I explain a lot of concepts from Chinese medicine and philosophy. Why is this? Because understanding the philosophy and origins of anything helps a person better understand and integrate any teaching, not just Qigong.

Beyond this, both Chinese medicine and culture offer a rich explanation of how the universe works, and a good understanding of these things helps you better orient your own compass within that universe. With that, there also comes a more harmonious flow of energy and better understanding of ourselves. Also, because Qigong is a part of Chinese medicine, any good teaching should naturally bring with it an introduction of its underlying concepts.

We all recognize the Yin Yang symbol, a circle, black on one side, white on the other, with a black dot on the white side and vice versa. The Yin side seems to flow into the Yang side, back into the Yin side, rinse, repeat. Beyond being a symbol that made for great jewelry when I was 14, it is also one that, with the right framework, explains the relationship between these two elements, which exist in all things.

Yin and Yang represent energy, each energy with their own nature, that exist together in a relationship that is mutually creative, destructive, restrictive, and reliant each one upon the other. They exist together in balance when there is health, and in imbalance when there is disease, whether that is physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or even social when applying these concepts to the greater world as a whole.

What does this have to do with seasonal change? Everything. If Yang is warm, moving and bright, Yin is dark, cold, and still. This is totally an over-simplification, but it’s enough for the scope of this post. Every season contains within it elements of Yin, Yang, or both at the same time. The darkest coldest depth of winter represents the Yin within Yin. All is still and silent. The earliest seeds of spring, still cold, but becoming brighter and windier, represent the Yang within Yin. The height of summer, with its long days, intense heat and storms is the Yang within Yang. Which brings us to where we are right now, the autumn or late autumn/early winter- the Yin within Yang. Shortening days, dropping leaves and temperatures, and wind.

I’m literally watching this energy play out in front of my window. I’m up on Lake Superior, taking a few personal days to write and dream. Outside, the intensity of the sun is waning, there is snow on the ground but with blades of grass peeking out from underneath it, the wind is howling and the waves are beating against the rocks.

I used to hate this early winter, viewing it as a harbinger of the depth of cold to come. But my study of Chinese medicine has given me greater perspective on this, and I’ve come to see it as a necessary part of the dance of seasonal energy, which in turn has given me a greater appreciation for this sacred time.

If you’re looking for a mindful practice that promotes flourishing health and provides you with a framework to better understand the world around you (not to forget the clear mind with which to see it), you’ve come to the right place. I'm getting the 2022 class schedule in place right now, sign up to find out as soon as registration is open.

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