Winter Solstice – yesterday, the most ‘yin’ day of the year, the day with the shortest amount of daylight hours. Throughout the centuries, this day has been celebrated in many traditions as the time of embracing the inner self, owning the darkness, knowing that the light is soon to come.
It’s more than the few hours of daylight that makes this a yin day and a yin time of year – winter is yin; summer is yang. Winter is cold; summer is hot. Winter tends to be wet; summer tends to be dry. They are opposites, but not separate. Yin cannot exist without Yang and Yang cannot exist without Yin. It is easy to divide phenomena into categories: night/day, winter/summer, wet/dry, heavy/light, down/up, etc. but the fact is they are in relation to each other. All things have a yin aspect and a yang aspect to them. They mutually create each other and are complementary.
In a symposium I attended several weeks ago, Changliang Al Huang emphasized that the correct terminology is ‘YinYang’, not ‘Yin and Yang’, as we sometimes say in our culture. One cannot exist without the other; they are not independent.
Often in our culture we emphasize the ‘yang’ – activity, accomplishment, goals, rigorous exercise, sports – all outward activity that is part of each of us. However, it’s important, and we’re reminded at this time of the year that it’s YinYang, the Yin aspect is a major part of our selves – stillness, reflection, regeneration, resting. We need to be aware and take time to ‘be’, to acknowledge and honor the ‘yin’ aspect of our ‘YinYang’.
We do that with tai chi, yoga, meditation, soothing music, silence, watching the birds, standing on a mountain, taking a leisurely walk.
So with this winter still upon us, let’s remember that we are all ‘YinYang’ and need to pay attention to both aspects in order to have health, balance and well-being, for ourselves and in our relationships with others.