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Five Tips to Harmonize Yin and Yang

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) philosophy, there are two opposing energies, the yin and the yang. Think of them like two sides of the same coin though it is more about the relationship between them than about being true opposites. For example: Water is Yin relative to steam but Yang relative to ice. Yin and Yang are never static but in a constantly changing balance.

As seen in the Taiji symbol (aka yin/yang symbol), there is a dot of the opposite in each one of the comma shapes colour patterns. These two forces need each other and couldn't survive without the other. In fact, the definition of death is the breakdown of the yin/yang relationship.

If we want to find harmony in our life, our relationships and our world, then we need to have a healthy balance of both in this duality. The Yin is the energy of the feminine and is seen in the concepts of night, cold, black, slow and Earth. The Yang is the energy of the masculine and is seen in the concepts of day, hot, white, fast and sky (See left for a more comprehensive list of both).

As we move towards the end of the year, we are entering in the time of Ultimate Yin. This is traditionally seen as the time to rest and reflect after the very active season of summer (Ultimate Yang). Currently, we see this in nature as well. Some creatures hibernate and many trees release their foliage all with the goal to conserved energy during the shorter days (a very YIN activity).

When humans were more agrarian in our communities, we also worked with the energy of the sun and moon (the yang and the yin). During the summer, we were up earlier and more active throughout the day. However, during the winter, we would commune more indoors, eating canned goods from the harvest and allow the body, mind and spirit to rest.

There are many ways to honour your natural biological connection with this more Yin time of year. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Meditate on the blessings that you have received throughout the year. Take some time to bring in gratitude, love and compassion for whatever life brought in. We can easily see the worse in the world, but it takes a truly open heart to see the blessings that are all around you. Give yourself that gift.

2. Take a nice warm bath (if you have a tub that is). During these colder days and nights that are starting to arrive, it is a wonderfully balancing activity to bring a little heat into the body. Add a little epsom salt to your bath water for a little extra luxury to relax the muscles, nerves and tendons as well as help your kidneys.

3. Eat meals that include salty and savory foods, which is more inline with the season of winter. Things that are pickled, smoked and cured are particularly good for you as well as smaller portions since we are usually less active. In the distant (and not so distant) past, we didn't have fruit and vegetables from all over the world to eat year round. So we only ate we could grow and preserved from the local area. Your body is still vibrates in this way so bring some more of these options into your diet. Please consult a nutritionist for more specific meal plans.

4. Enjoy the outdoors and bring in a little activity to your day. No need to overdo it, just allow yourself a little time in the cool, crisp, fresh air. In fact, when you are finished, try #2.

5. Get lots of rest. Winter is a time to slow down and be sure to get more sleep. The Sun and Earth are working in your favour here. The days are shorter, sun's energy weaker, so give your body the chance to rejuvenate with more sleep and/or rest periods during the season. Even a short cat naps from time to time can be quite a pick-me-up.

As we continue through autumn and make our way into winter, let yourself begin to slow down, take more breaks and eat with the season. The yin/yang within will appreciate the attention.

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