Benefits of Yin-Yang Thinking

yin-yang symbol

If you were to ask 100 people the perfectly reasonably question “what is in space?” I would expect that almost all of them would say “nothing”, or that “space is empty” or “space is nothingness”.

But, if you pause and think about it, truth is space actually contains everything there has ever been and continues to be today – planets, the sun, the stars, even you and me.

So yes, space contains nothing, and also everything at the same time.

How about the Mona Lisa painting? If I asked you to describe it you might say that “it’s a priceless portrait painted by Leonardo da Vinci”. True, but as much as it is all that, and there is no denying the beauty of it, it’s also equally just a poplar panel with one side covered in old paint.

You see, for every Yin there is a Yang. Here are a few examples:

  • Hot/Cold
  • Rough/Smooth
  • Wet/Dry
  • Earth/Sky
  • Sweet/Sour
  • East/West
  • Holding on/Letting go
  • North/South
  • Positive/Negative
  • Up/Down
  • Optimism/Pessimism
  • Past/Future

And when you really start to think about it, absolutely everything is the sum of many parts and cannot exist without there being an opposite to it that helps it make sense and even to make it work.

Here’s an example: Imagine a man (or woman, as you can’t have one without the other) decides to walk in a perfectly northern direction. What happens? Eventually, he starts walking in a southerly direction, or if you like the opposite to the way he set out.

How can we use this to feel greater harmony within ourselves?

Realizing that nothing can exist without its equal opposite can help you balance your thoughts and your emotions (yes, another Yin-Yang!) and help you realize that nothing is ever truly one way or another (in fact, even one way is made up of a Yin-Yang that includes both a left and a right…have a closer look at the Yin-Yang symbol).

The path towards internal balance and life balance in general, in my opinion, is to use visualizations of the different elements in your life and try to avoid anything that is too much one way or too much the other (think of scales, do you have one side weighing down the other?).

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The Taoists would say that unhappiness and stress, and perhaps even depression, have their roots in imbalances, and in striving and struggling to make things too much either one way or the other.

If you don’t try to find and maintain balance in the different areas of your life, inviting in, embracing and accepting both the Yin and the Yang, how can you feel planted, balanced and centered?

And it isn’t just eradicating what you might consider the ‘negatives’, just imagine every single day of your life you had to visit the same theme park. Eventually, despite this place being designed to be a place of great fun, you’d start to hate it!

Following the mindset put forward in that old John Denver country music hit – ‘Some days are diamonds, some days are stones’ can help you understand that nothing is ever perfect (nor perfectly awful) and the acceptance of this wonderful imperfection (the twists and turns and ups and downs of the rollercoaster are what makes it fun!) is a big step towards improved inner peace.

Once you realize and truly accept that every single person on Earth is a mix of Yin-Yang you lose the potential expectation that you might have placed on them that they are somehow perfect, or that they are somehow superior (or maybe inferior?) to you.

This might be a great way for you to feel a little more connected with your fellow man…remembering they are in equal parts flawed and functioning, up and down, right and left, right and wrong, positive and negative and if they are truly balanced they will know and embrace their negative and positive attributes too.

Once again, let’s go back to a famous piece of art. Aside from the Mona Lisa, one of the great masterpieces is the Statue of David.

Carved by Michelangelo, the statue is considered one of the finest sculptures ever created by the hand of man and if you ever get to see it in person you will likely be stunned by the size of it, and by the painstaking detail that the artist was able to achieve.

But while everyone who visits David (he’s located in a museum in Florence, Italy) stares in awe at the statue, wander around to the back of David and take a look at his left leg. Here you will see cracks and imperfections in the marble.

Yes, even this remarkable natural and man-made (yes, Yin-Yang) masterpiece is flawed, so much so that Michelangelo had reservations about even continuing with the project when he came across the less than ‘perfect’ bits of the rock.

I’m really glad that he didn’t abandon the project, that he was able to look past the imperfections to create a flawed treasure.

It reminds me of the Leonard Cohen lyric “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in“.

About Joel Helmes 74 Articles
I offer a person-centered and solutions-focused approach to my work as a Relationship and Adult Counsellor. I utilize skills from a number of modalities. I believe that we are all capable of change and I hope that I might be able to assist you in achieving this.