Skillfully Navigating Polarities
The skillful navigation of polarities allows us to be more effective in work, love, and life. Yet too often we are unaware of the nature of polarities, thereby responding in ways that are rigid, ineffectual, or maladaptive.
Here are some tools to skillfully navigate polarities:
The Taoists appreciate polarities as the natural order of things. The yin/yang symbol illustrates that wholeness is cultivated by honoring both the yin (yielding, circular, and female) and yang (active, directional, and masculine) energies. Clearly, one polarity is not better than the other; they are both essential and complementary.
Polarity vs. Duality
As described above, polarity includes complementary aspects that are both essential and offer a full spectrum of human functioning. Polarity thinking is inclusive. On the other hand, duality describes things that conflict each other (e.g., trust or fear, good or evil.). A duality approach takes an either/or perspective, usually with one being better than the other. Both polarities and dualities have their place. Polarities are typologies, while dualities are evaluative distinctions. Therefore, not all binaries are polarities.
Healthy and Unhealthy Expression of Polarities
Polarities can be expressed in healthy and unhealthy ways. For example, healthy yin energies can be nurturing, nuanced, and deep, yet unhealthy yin energies can be manipulative, convoluted, and moody. While, healthy yang energies can be strong, transcendental, and intentional, yet unhealthy yang energies can be dominating, aloof, and overachieving.
One-Sidedness Limits Possibilities
People who are extremely one-sided in their energies become restricted in their way of being and expression. For example, one who is extremely yang is often rigid and inflexible, while one who is overly yin is generally untethered (like a leaf blowing in the wind) and too accommodating of others. You need to be able to access the right amount of yin and yang energies as circumstances arise.
Unique Energetic Integration
Rarely are individual’s energies completely balanced (e.g., equal yin and yang energies), nor do most circumstances require the full integration of yin and yang. You need to honestly assess the movement of energy within your being and discern what your unique energetic integration of yin and yang energies should be.
Honour your Natural Tendencies
Embrace your natural gravitation towards certain energies. If you are more yin in your energy, embody this energy wholeheartedly. If you are more yang in your energy, express this energy fearlessly. Trust that while fully embodying a given polarity the other will subtlety inform it and be present.
The Right Touch
Stay present to situations as they arise and be aware of what energies are needed. Do you need the extra forward thrust to complete a project (yang energies), or do you need to be patient to your loved ones (yin energies), or a certain combination of both energies.
Practices to Cultivate Specific Energetic Potential
Whatever your inclinations, you can cultivate yin and yang energies. Depending on your needs you can either train to further cultivate your strengths (e.g, yang person further cultivating yang energies, or yin person further cultivating yin energies), or train to cultivate your area of lesser development (e.g, yang person developing yin energies, or yin person developing yang energies). There are many practices to choose from. For example, yin practices could include: yin yoga, aikido, deep listening, nature walks, relationships, dance etc. Yang practices could include: weightlifting, karate, meditation, and goal setting etc.
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