In the last days of 2021 as a flurry of new year-related posts start to flood my social media feed, Bernie Clark’s gentle yet radical article on adopting a Yin approach to new year resolutions crosses my path. Bernie notes that most resolutions are Yang 阳, about changing or doing- I will lose x kilos, make $x, find a new romantic partner, so on and advocates instead for adopting a Yin 阴 approach, prioritising acceptance, compassion and being- I will love my body as it is, I will feel grateful and abundant with my existing financial and living situation, appreciate my romantic partner, etc so on.
I continue to reflect on this idea as time flows from 2021 to 2022: I attend CaveDay’s annual review and email purge workshops; I watch the New year fireworks from the mountains of Corio with my partner Luca and my friend Barbara; On New year I teach two heartfelt Qigong and Yoga Nidra sessions, one for Yoga Teachers and one for the global community on InsightTimer. Throughout this time, a constant brewing continues beneath the surface of my being.
This morning, waking up on the second day of 2022 to enjoy, finally, in its entirety, the sunrise over Turin – an opportunity often missed because I am teaching at this exact moment, my brew was complete.
Following the losses and unpredictability of 2020, I had dedicated 2021 to the Yang 阳 practice of cultivating resilience and fortifying myself, and sharing this practice with others. I wanted to become unshakeable, so however the river of Life flowed, whatever turns and dips might come ahead, in my raft I would always be ready. If I am strong, resilient, I can do anything, I can achieve my dreams, I can leave lasting impact on the world, I can become the person I would like to be.
But Yang, on its own, is incomplete.
In many texts 阴阳 Yin-Yang is often written as Yin and Yang. The reality is however, there is no Yang without Yin, and vice versa. There isn’t even an ‘and’ separating them because it is, they are, simply, YinYang. This is when the Whole is greater than the sum of its parts. One can study Yin, and Yang separately, but this is meaningless without experiencing and embodying Yin-Yang in its entirety. Because it is a single concept made up of 2 separate words however, the closest representation that reflects the truth of this is Yin-Yang.
From the practice and teaching of Qigong, I have learnt and now often share that there are 3 levels of existence – 天地人 Heaven, Earth and Human, associated with the 3 丹田 dantian, elixir fields, or energy centres within one’s body.
Heaven 天, as symbolized by the skies, felt through the energy of the Sun (TaiYang 太阳), is associated the intangible things that you know exist, but can’t touch or hold in your hands- your dreams, your ideal self, your beliefs, aspirations and heartfelt desire. It also manifests in your doing, when you take action and are proactive.
Earth 地, as symbolized by the soil, felt through the support of the ground under your feet, is Yin 阴, and is associated with the tangible things – what you can see, smell, taste, hear and hold within your hands. This is also associated with being, stillness, and receptivity.
人 Human, felt through the energy of being with others, is the idea of a bridge, relationship, connecting, and can be felt through interconnectedness, community, communion. This bridge, much like the ‘-’ in Yin-Yang, extends not just horizontally, reminding us we live in communities, but also vertically, as you are the conduit, the one bridging the abstract and the concrete, living in the mundane while growing towards your aspirations.
During 2020, in experiencing loss, void and isolation and fortifying myself as a response in 2021, I had forgotten, and gradually lost, little by little, faith in the world. In forgetting, I started to believe that life cannot be trusted, the world doesn’t have my back, and the best approach would simply be to rely on myself.
But during the Annual Review, having been made to look back at 2021, I feel, see and have so much to be thankful for. In the discomfort of adversity, loss and change, I experimented, evolved and grew – I worked on interesting projects with inspiring collaborators, found mentors, mentored others, connected online with people I’d never otherwise meet by chance in person and now draw from the abundance of multiple sources of income, ideas and most importantly, inspiration.
How could I forget that Life has had my back all this time?
In 2021 I chose creativity, authenticity and community as the 3 values I wanted to embody. For 2022, I’ve chosen 3 new ones, one for each level of existence, to embody the fullness of Yin-Yang:
天 Heaven- COURAGE: In November 2021, at Italian language school, in response to an essay prompt for an assignment, in my scribbly, broken, 5 year-old Italian I declared to my teacher that in 2022 I would become brave- I am brave, braver than I have ever been, more than I can ever imagine. I hold courage to believe in my existing ability and untapped potential and I prioritize change over comfort to push my limits to realize my dreams, to touch the Heavens.
地 Earth- UNSHAKEABLE TRUST: Like the short story I wrote, illustrated and published in 2019, The Droplet, a reminder that everything I need is already here, all droplets, and this droplet, I, am always connected and flowing with the Source, that Life always has my back.
人 Human- GLADNESS: A word gifted to me from my teacher Uma during my first Yoga Nidra with her in December 2021. It reminds me, like the note that I see every day, which I wrote and stuck on my wall of my work space in Jan 2020, every day of 2022 I am connected, I am grateful, I am glad, and most importantly, I ‘stay in service’ to others and the Tao, Life itself.
What do you hope to embody and experience in 2022?
What is your Yin-Yang?