THE YIN/YANG OF CRITICISM AND CELEBRATION
Fall is a time of year in which we are wired to take inventory. In Chinese Medicine theory, Fall belongs to the Metal element. What is made of metal? Objects that are meticulous, calculating, and reflective. The Metal element likes clarity: fogginess or cloudiness roughs its shine and precision. So, it's a good time of year to reflect on what's difficult, holding us back, or creating discord in our lives, and engage our creative selves to see these things in a different light.
One way we can do this is to ask: what am I critical of, and what, in my criticism, am I neglecting to celebrate? I'll give you a personal example. This time last year I set some high goals for myself and now that the year has come full circle, I'm sitting with the discomfort of not having met some of those goals. It's easy to slip into criticism and a closed aperture perspective: I didn't do it. What's harder, and more valuable, is to look at what I did do during this time instead. So, I made an extensive list of what I had planned, what progress I made regarding those plans, and other additional unexpected steps I made along the way. In other words, I integrated celebration into my criticism to bring about more balance. You know the black and white swirling Tai Ji symbol? There is always tiny dot of yang within the yin and vice-versa which symbolizes a state of balance. It represents both a state of being, and also movement, revolution, and change.
Integrating the positive into the negative is important for a balanced way of life and also particularly now. I don't know about you, but lately, at times, I have felt overwhelmed with fear about environmental, social, educational, and humanitarian regression. I've found myself being very negative and critical about the state of things and, in effect, I feel low, in the dark, and less than hopeful. The only way I've discovered to work my way out of that place, in a thinking model, is to also remember consciously the progress that has been achieved and continues to be made. Despite the doom, there is much hard work in each of these fields to celebrate. To ignore that and get swallowed in doom does not do those efforts (and their future progress!) honor, nor is it truthful. When we broaden our perspective to include opposing viewpoints, it becomes more balanced and more true to life. We are quite limited by our perspectives. But the more we can engage our creativity to see the other side of the coin, the better. It is within our power to see more than one perspective at a time. Metal is also the mirror.
These ideas are integrated into my work as a creativity consultant. One of the exercises I do with people is listing what I call "Antidotes." It's based on Chinese Medicine and the five-element understanding of thoughts, emotions, and energetics. When we identify a limiting state of mind, we can get creative and dig deeper to discover the other side of it, which is also its antidote.
Here's a quick visualization based on that idea. Close your eyes and pretend the inside of your body is a dark and spacious place. Focus on a place where your energy feels tight or constricted. See if just bringing your awareness to that places changes it at all. The opposite of tight/constricted is open. So bring in the word "open" and say it (either internally or aloud) to that place. Open. Open open open open. Use your senses to imagine openness there. An aperture opening, a rose blooming, a sense of lift. You might even open and close your hands feeling a triangle of mimicry between both your fists opening and that spot in your body. Do it as many times as you need until you feel a shift. If you think you might sense a shift, that counts. The start of change can be almost imperceptible. Be sure to smile about it. Changing the energetics of your body is cause for celebration. If it's tricky for you, get in touch, I bet I can help. Often in life things are not so simple, but even a small exercise can bring about an energetic shift, which is how all great change begins.
Wishing you all the best in health and happiness,