We live in a world where being connected via texts, email, and social media is not just common but expected. We have to set boundaries and limits from our phones if we want some true alone time. “Disconnecting” is now something we yearn for just to have a little respite, even for the extraverts out there who thrive on social activity. How do we find balance for ourselves?
Yin and yang are two fundamentally opposite energies, yang representing the energetic and ethereal, and yin the restful and solidified. Many of us live our lives responding to so many inputs that we have too much yang and are neglecting the balance of yin, which ends up depleting our reserves. Sleep is the most obvious casualty, but we also need to cultivate more yin time in our waking hours.
Being so easily connected is a double-edged sword. I, for one, was very hesitant to start getting emails on my phone when I got my first Blackberry (back in the day when I worked as a CPA). But I found it did actually help me take care of things more efficiently and timely, and emails didn’t pile up so much, which was quite nice. The problem was the boundary setting, and recognizing that it’s not only ok, but it’s important and necessary to have some true “off time” every day. We are in an “always on” mode far too often, and it’s taking a toll on us. Many of us don’t realize how sleep deprived we actually are, and even our vacations can be high paced and energized, with not much rest time before jumping back into work.
Does this resonate? I love my technology, and I love the freedom it gives me. It’s been a slow road for me to learn how to use that technology to set boundaries and limits so I can have some regular yin time in my daily life. Using the do not disturb or sleep time is a great tool, and disconnecting work email accounts during times you are “off” is also very important. Emails can be checked when you are back “on” again; there is no need to see them as soon as they arrive in your inbox. It’s all about balance.
Keeping technology at bay is only one part of the solution. We also need better self care habits to truly sustain a good balance of yin and yang in our lives. Especially in winter, when we tend to go into hibernation mode, we need to let our bodies get extra sleep and rest if it wants that, whether that be in the form of naps, going to bed earlier, or allowing ourselves the freedom to sleep late if we can.
But just more sleep and turning off email is still not enough; we also need to incorporate regular activities that allow our minds and bodies to relax during waking hours – they need nurturing too. This can be done with exercise, yoga, meditation, massage & bodywork, taking time to enjoy nature or animals, or any combination of these. I love my Dance Mixx classes that I teach, but that’s also a high energy activity which needs some yin balance. My personal favorite yin activity is getting massage and energy work, which is also so important for your muscles and fascia. I had incorporated regular massage into my life long before I decided to make bodywork a career choice, because I saw the direct benefits to my body. Now I also see the benefits to my mind.
We recently entered into a new Chinese year, going from one that was particularly frenetic to one that is more nurturing and yin-based. It’s been an active goal of mine to be more balanced in life and work, rest and play, and this year is the perfect time to fully implement this goal. I think we can all use more yin in our daily routines, and I think balance is achievable, using the technology tools we all have at our disposal. We just have to choose to let ourselves rest, believing that rest is just as important as our productive times.