By definition, yin is receptive, passive female energy, while yang is active, expanding male energy. The symbol depicts two interconnecting swirls representing the interdependence of these energies, with the dots at the center of each swirl showing that each is inherent in the other. This deceptively simple little symbol is nothing less than a reminder of how seemingly contrary energies are actually mutually-arising and continuously transforming. In other words, how the entire universe works.
The ancient Chinese packed a lot of knowledge into one little symbol, but from our vantage point as men and women in the modern world, what exactly does the concept of yin and yang mean to us in practical terms?
Personally, I have at times been held sway by two erroneous beliefs: first, that women should be more yin and men should be more yang - separate but equal(ish); and second, that the only way for a woman to express yin and yang is to raise the kids, be the hostess-with-the-mostess and have a full- time job. However, an eye opening little book that found it's way into my hands recently, has changed all of that.
In Collection, Shirley Gehrke Luthman (whom I can find no information about other than she was a therapist in 70's and 80's) makes the important point that feminine (intuitive, feeling, perception, images, fantasies) and masculine (aggressive, action-oriented, verbal, intellectual behavioral expression) energies are androgynous and belong to neither sex. Her ideas can be condensed to the yin/yang principles of intuition and assertion:
You must put your feminine, intuitive power in control and use your masculine, yang force [assertion] to support and express it. The internal distortion of this principle - the split between yin and yang - is the basis for all problems, power struggles, and distances between men and women.Duh, it's all about inner balance. (Thank goodness. Now I can retire the idea that females should be one way and males another, and let myself off the hook about not being a super mom/career wonder woman hybrid.) But can it really be that simple? Well yes, and no. Yes, because I believe she's right, and no because it's damned hard to put into practice. Simply learning to recognize (never mind act upon) one's feelings can be a life's work. And, she says, "it is not enough just to acknowledge your feelings and begin the act upon them. The intuitive must be in charge, and the male energy must back it up instantly, without question or doubt."
According to Luthman, our relationships with the opposite sex are merely a reflection of the internal struggle between the yin and the yang. So how do your relationships look? Balanced? Is there an easy flow between intuition and assertion? Or have you, like me, found a few places where your yang trips over your yin and visa versa?
Having spent years mistrusting my intuition, it is no easy task to simply begin asserting myself based upon its counsel. Like any under-used muscle it's going to take some consistent working out to build up my yin/yang balance. As I happen to be single right now, I'm intrigued by the idea of being able to gauge my inner progress by the type of men I attract and am attracted to. (Watch this space!) Meanwhile, give some consideration to your own inner yin and yang, and for a very thought-provoking read, get the book.
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Shirley Gehrke Luthman's Collection was published in 1980 by Mehetabel & Company and is available from used booksellers such as Amazon.com. Enjoy the entire book or skip straight to chapter six for her discussion of yin and yang.