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Ways To Balance Yin And Yang In Your Daily Life

Ways To Balance Yin And Yang In Your Daily Life

Let me start this article with a big universal truth: 95% of things you’ll hear about Eastern philosophy, energy, meditation, and similar “esoteric” topics is utter unsubstantiated nonsense, propagated by charlatans, mostly Westerners at that, who want to further their own agenda and/or swindle some cash from you. There, I’m glad we got that out of the way right off the bat.

Another thing I’d like to point out is that you can actually reap a lot of benefits by applying some of the core teachings related to Yin and Yang energy, even if you are not a spiritual person, simply because most of these principles were discovered through good old-fashioned trial and error. The Chinese have a beautiful way of explaining complex concepts, but, as with any ancient teaching, you’ll find a certain amount of overgeneralization, instances where correlation is equated to causation, and some logical leaps.

Forget about the narrative and focus on what works

Long story short, thanks to millennia of scientific advancement, we now know a whole lot more than the ancient genius philosophers did about the way the human body and the physical world around us works, so the old wisdom should be taken with a grain of salt.

I pride myself in being a pragmatic person who doesn’t like to “take someone’s word for it,” but I’ll also take empirical data over pure speculation any day of the week. This is why I have dabbled in things like meditation, Qigong, natural medicine, and Eastern philosophy, and it’s also why I’ve been known to quote the Bible on occasion, even though I am an atheist. If there are sound principles that work within a belief system, I don’t care about the flowery narrative that is used to explain them to people.

I’ve heard everyone from gypsy fortune tellers to certified medical doctors talk about the negative effects of an imbalance within the body and how the mind can affect the body – which boils down to stress, poor nutrition, bad habits, lack of quality sleep, lack of physical activity, or too much of a certain kind of activity – and have found that everyone recommends pretty much the same things.

Some call it energy, some use fancy Latin, but the truth is, the Yin and Yang analogy is the most efficient way to get the point across. If you want to be healthy and happy, you need to bring balance into your life.

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The characteristics of Yin and Yang energies

It is said that, due to the hectic and predominantly sedentary modern lifestyle, most people today tend to be more Yin, but the prevalent energy in your life will depend on a number of lifestyle factors. Here is a basic distinction between Yin and Yang:

  • Traits associated with Yin energy: feminine, passive, cold, dark, negative, inward, soft, down, back.
  • Traits associated with Yang energy: masculine, active, hot, light, positive, outward, hard, up, front.

1. Eliminate heavily processed foods from your diet

Our ancestors believed that we were, quite literally, what we ate – the hunter who got the kill was awarded the heart and liver so that he might absorb the physical attributes and health of the animal he had hunted down. This idea is not too far off base – you won’t start jumping like a gazelle or sprout buffalo horns, but you will get a ton of micronutrients from these organs, as well as things like creatine and protein, which play a major role in building muscle tone and keeping the body in optimal shape.

Heavily processed foods offer very little in terms of essential nutrients, but they are packed with fat and salt. If you see the words “trans fat” or “hydrogenated vegetable oil,” stay away from those products, and focus healthy ingredients that require some preparation, e.g. fresh meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, vegetables, fruit, seeds, and nuts.

2. Invest in effective Feng Shui to balance the energies in your home

Even those that don’t really believe in the power of feng shui, myself included, cannot deny the harmonious beauty and utility of an interior that has been designed with feng shui in mind. For me, it has always been a good set of guidelines for interior décor, as opposed to arbitrary rules of style that keep changing as new fads appear.

Our environment has an incredible impact on our psyche. You should start by choosing the right exterior door, as it is the gateway for the energy entering the home and the first thing people see when entering your home. Make sure that you have enough space inside to move around freely, and that everything is positioned in a way that allows a free flow of energy, and be mindful of shapes and colors.

3. Keep track of your macro nutrient intake

Just staying away from junk food isn’t quite enough to create a good yin yang balance within the body. You have to be mindful of the amounts of macro nutrients you are taking in, i.e. keep track of carbohydrates, protein, and fats. A good balance between these three nutrients will help your body function at optimal levels, but it can vary depending on your lifestyle and whether or not you are on a diet. You’ll need to experiment a bit to find what works best for you.

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4. Eat plenty of diverse vegetables and fruit throughout the week

A balanced diet is essential for balancing the yin and yang energies within your body. Too much of one micronutrient can block the absorption of another or have a directly negative effect on the body. The easiest way to ensure that you have a truly diverse diet is to try and eat veggies and fruit of every different color throughout the week – red berries, carrots, and darker berries all have a good amount of antioxidants, but they all have a different form of antioxidant, and have different amounts of other micronutrients.

5. Get your finances in order and put some money aside

Financial issues are one of the main causes of stress in people’s lives, but if we dig deeper under the surface we tend to find a host of underlying issues that cause us to be careless with our money. We tend to overindulge in small hedonistic pleasures from the moment that paycheck arrives, and then turn to payday loans when things get tough, which only makes things worse for us in the long run.

The problem here is an abject lack of happiness in our lives – something is missing and we try to fill the void with food, drinks, and shiny objects. By forcing yourself to cut expenses and save up, you get a clear idea of which things are nonessential, and you can work on fixing the emotional or other issues that are causing you to throw your money away on temporary fixes.

6. Limit your alcohol and drug intake

The liver is considered to be a naturally more yin organ, but our lifestyle often puts a lot of stress on it, e.g. through excessive drinking and drug abuse, and we boost the yang aspect. This can create a significant imbalance and lead to increased irritability, as well as a number of health problems. It is one of the most common causes of an energy imbalance, and is also quite an easy fix, at least in theory. You just have to kick your bad habits and either limit yourself to 1-2 servings of your favorite alcoholic beverage a day or give it up altogether.

Light drugs like marijuana tend to numb the mind, making us passive, and are thus yin in nature, but this may not be best way for your body to rest if you are already overly yin. Hard drugs should be avoided like the plague, for obvious reasons.

A huge disclaimer before we move on: if you have mental health or serious physical health issues, consult a doctor and follow his or her advice, don’t try to self-medicate with “natural remedies” or meditate your troubles away.

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7. Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise

The heart is the engine that drives our bodies, and we tend to abuse it on a daily basis. Too much yang, and you’ll have problems with high blood pressure and rapid heartbeat, too much yin and you’ll have poor circulation and higher risk of blood clots.

Stimulants like coffee should be taken in moderation, or avoided altogether if you have problems with erratic heartbeat, but even those with more serious heart problems can benefit from light steady state cardio exercises, e.g. long walks at a relaxed pace.

Those in good health can do cycling, running, or swimming three times a week in addition to this to strengthen the cardiovascular system and balance the yin and yang energies in the heart.

8. Strengthen your muscles to speed up your metabolism

Extra muscle mass on the body, if you train smart and keep everything balanced, can help improve posture and boost your metabolism. Although lean muscle won’t exactly burn hundreds of calories just sitting there, the body will burn a decent amount just to maintain the extra muscle. The additional training needed to put on extra muscle will also improve blood circulation, strengthen connective tissue and even improve bone density. However, you must not overexert yourself or focus solely on building strength, as this can cause an overabundance of yang energy.

9. Know which activities are Yin or Yang-based

As long as you combine strength training, which is yang, with exercises like stretching or yoga, which are yin in nature, you will create a good balance. This is actually a sound principle – you need to warm up properly before each intense session, and the body needs to be stretched, cooled down, and rested properly to avoid burning out. Too much yang, i.e. powerful and intense exercises, can lead to low blood sugar, insomnia, aching joints and a number of other problems. This is why you should combine both and spread out your yin and yang activities throughout the week.

10. Go to bed earlier and have a good night’s sleep

Not only will getting enough sleep on a day-to-day basis improve your concentration, but it will also allow your body to regenerate, regulate hormones, and create a good balance between yin and yang. It is also best to go to bed earlier, so that you can wake up near dawn and sync your body with the natural daily yin yang cycle.

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11. Take a short walk in the morning with the first rays of the sun

Our bodies need the sun to create vitamin D, which is essential for bone health in both men and women, as well as maintaining sufficiently high testosterone levels in men. A short morning walk combines several useful aspects into a single activity – you get plenty of sun and fresh air, you do some light cardio and you tap into that yang energy that is more prevalent during the first six hours after sunrise. It is a great way to wake up and warm up the body and prepare it for the busy day ahead.

12. Avoid “detoxes” and other ill-advised health and fitness fads

We’ve already stressed the importance of a balanced diet, but I have to warn you against “cleanses” and “detoxes” or any similar nonsense. Subjecting your body to extreme fasting, where you only drink a specific juice, tonic, or a unique brand of New Age snake oil, and eat nothing, or next to nothing, is not a smart move. It will only lead to micronutrient deficiencies and make you weak.

Your body already has systems in place for expelling toxins – through sweat, urination, and bowel movements – and it adapts really quickly to a healthy diet, so there is absolutely nothing to gain from these “detoxes.” You only risk creating an even greater imbalance within your body and developing eating disorders with such methods.

13. Meditate or engage in internal forms of martial arts

A good way to ensure that you are stimulating yin energy is to take up an activity that is simple and fun, and doesn’t take a lot of time. Meditation is the perfect solution, as you can reap huge benefits with just a 10-20 minute session a day. You can also do internal martial arts like Tai Chi, Baguazhang, or Xing Yi (Hsing-I), which place great importance on the yin side of things, but also have a yang component, at least the styles that have retained the effective combat components. These will teach you how to build up and release energy effectively and will promote a good yin yang balance in the body.

14. Get more loving physical contact from those close to you

We might not be aware of this, but that good old-fashion physical contact is very important in keeping our energies in balance. When you hug someone who is dear to you there is a huge surge in dopamine and oxytocin, hormones that relieve pain and cause a feeling of blissfulness. Since we are under a lot of stress throughout the day, we need these little moments of utter joy and relaxation to calm our mind and allow the body to counteract all that pent up adrenaline. In more esoteric terms, you need that positive energy to balance out all the negative energy that builds up.

15. Don’t wait for the world to give you something — fight for yourself

Waiting for handouts, or for the world to give you “what you deserve” is the fastest way to become complacent and tilt the energy scales to the yin side. Yin energy is passive, inward, and if you start becoming a hermit who sits at home and mopes, it will negatively impact your career, social and love life, as well as your psychological health. You need to take more action and tap into your yang potential – seize the moment, work on fixing problems straight away, and just generally be more active throughout the day.

There will be days when you’ll be running around like crazy, but after you’ve dealt with the biggest issues on your to-do list, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the blissful yin-centric periods of rest and recuperation with a book, video game, or a cup of coffee with a close friend.

Don’t let anyone tell you that balancing the yin and yang in your life is a quick fix, or that it is something incredibly mystical and spiritual. There are a lot of sound scientific principles involved in this process, and it takes a lot of dedication to create good habits and find balance. Try out some of these tips, and give them a few months to really start to work – you’ll see a positive change soon enough.

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Nemanja Manojlovic

Editor at MyCity Web

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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