The Yin and Yang of Recovery
by Hope Rehab Team
The Concept of Yin/Yang
The yin/yang symbol is one of the most easily recognizable images in modern culture. It is often associated with martial arts, Chinese medicine, and spirituality. The symbol originates from Taoism which is one of the ‘big three’ religions in China (the other two being Buddhism and Confucianism). One of the key goals of Taoism is to achieve balance in life, and this is what the yin/yang symbol represents.
The yin/yang symbol is made up of a circle that signifies the oneness of everything. Out of this oneness arises duality which is how we humans experience reality. Our mind divides the world up into opposites, and it is this that allows us to distinguish one thing from another (e.g. we could not have the concept of ‘day’ without the concept of ‘night’) This duality is represented in the symbol by two swirling half-circles – one half-circle is white and the other one is black. The black part of the circle is called the yin, and the white part of the circle is called the yang. Within each circle is also a dot of the opposing colour which represents the fact that neither can exist without the other.
The yin parts of reality would include things like: dark, left, passive, night, soft, cold, stillness, down, death, feminine, unconscious, and inside. The yang parts of reality would include things like: light, right, active, day, hard, warm, movement, up, life, male, conscious, and outside. A sense of wholeness is achieved by bringing the yin and the yang into balance. If does not happen, it leads to physical, mental, or spiritual illness (this is key concept within Chinese medicine).
Yin and Yang in Recovery
A common mistake we can make in recovery is to put all of our eggs into one basket. This could mean that we become obsessed with exercise, or work, or a new relationship in such a way that it leads to an imbalance in our life. In some cases, we may simply be swapping one addiction for another, and this always ends in disaster. A balanced recovery is a strong recovery, and this is where we have a good mix of spiritual, physical, and mental activities in our life.
The Yin/Yang Exercise
The following exercise can be useful for helping you achieve balance in your life. Choose three to five areas where you identify there is a lack of balance. It could be anything but possible options could include:
Intellectual pursuits/physical pursuits
Make a plan for how you can bring these identified areas where this is a lack of balance back into balance. Do keep in mind that bringing into balance doesn’t necessarily mean 50/50 (e.g. you wouldn’t aim to be awake twelve hours and asleep twelve hours). A good balance is usually achieved through experience, but recommendations from experts can also be helpful (e.g. it is usually recommended that adults have between 7 and 9 hours sleep per night).
Once you have created your plan, the next step is to implement it, and once you have done this to monitor the change this is having on your life. If you notice that you are feeling better mentally, physically, or spiritually, you are far more likely to make this a permanent change in your behavior.