Yin, not yang . . .

by mulberryshoots

I-Ching rock photo

You may have heard of Yin and Yang or at least seen the image of two halves making a whole: the dark and the light. Yang energy is excess in all things, pushing things beyond the limit outside of oneself. Yin is shy, reserved, quiet, drawing energy from within.

The truth of the matter is that my whole summer has been so yang that I’m “yanged” out, if that’s a word I can coin here. Too much running around, reaching out for lots of things, driving a lot, experiencing strong feelings, all of which have taken place in long summer days of intense heat and humidity.

Now that the light is changing and the air cools at night, I’m definitely ready for the pendulum to swing back the other way. Yesterday for some reason, I was drawn back to thinking about macrobiotics as a way of eating and living. Years ago, I spent a week at the Kushi Institute in Becket, MA. learning how to cook macrobiotic food. Armed with a pressure cooker, heat mat, premium brown rice, spring water, collard greens and kinpira recipes, I came back, ready to combat the viral encephalitis that still had a grip on my brain. Even though Western doctors said there was nothing wrong with me besides exhaustion, I knew something was up when I ordered an “ice cream sundae with mushrooms on top” at Friendly’s.

Thinking back on it, I remembered making rice balls and tiny lunches packed in bento boxes to take to work with me. People marvelled at how little it looked like I ate and at the same time, complimented me on the glow of my skin. I lost weight then too. Remembering that has reminded me now that I have a chance to regain my center, calm myself down, eat less but nutritiously and lose the remaining weight I’ve been aiming at once and for all, say, by Christmas.

The other long-held goal of mine to truly clean things out here and live a spare, although not spartan lifestyle also seems close at hand. The dumpster was taken away as quietly as it appeared, holding three and half tons of debris. In a month’s time, another container will appear for us to go through things that are still left. Just thinking of how much lighter living will be by then has me feeling giddy with anticipation.

For me to stay on something like a macrobiotic pathway it may also be helpful to think about life a little differently than in the past. I find myself wanting to shed the extravagances of the past: over-the-top Christmas holidays; gifts for the children they might not want or need; here-or-there things that are nice but add to the stuff that eventually will be sorted out and then given away again. The Buddhists say that craving is the source of human suffering. Taoists say something a little less judgmental. In any case, you can’t make desires go away. Something has to happen so that they don’t seem important anymore. Or set things up so that desires won’t surface as often. Tempting places like Amazon.com, Etsy, eBay and Nordstroms have been deleted from my Bookmark Bar. Oh yes, and I forgot to mention Pinterest, which is a most beautiful way to absorb other people’s cravings while increasing your own! I’ll have to get my thrills from going to the market a few times a week with cash, not a debit card.

Another thing that I learned about having less is the joy of an almost empty refrigerator. To me, nothing is worse than figuring out what to cook so that the refrigerator contents don’t spoil. I’d rather shop more often and buy two days worth, eat it ALL, and then start over again. So much food is wasted otherwise. I find that I can never rely on what I thought I’d like to eat, then three days later cooking it with the same kind of relish as when I first bought it.

So that’s where Yin is taking me these days. I’m exhausted from all the Yang. Depleted. I just need to stay quiet for awhile. Sit quietly. Read. Keep the TV off, especially the news.  And turn off the cooking show where Ina Garten pours a quart of cream into six egg yolks swimming in two sticks of butter. Now, that’s Yang.