Stress can debilitate us. No matter its form–mental, emotional or physical–it can cause inertia and hinder our ability to thrive. Inertia is a resistance to activity or acceleration, sluggishness at its finest. Adding to sluggishness, the blinding of our options due to stress leads to indecision and loss of bearing.
But we are resilient creatures. We have an enormous capacity to process information and events, no matter how abundant the information or stressful the event. Processing these things simply requires navigation.
Some of us are more aware of our innate resilience than others. For others, when faced with a challenge or extreme stress, they may need to hit a breaking point before their mind and body “find a way.” But in the end, there is always a way.
For those blessed with resilience-awareness, they may hit road blocks and need detours, but they never quite fully lose their way. They maintain a general sense of direction, always moving. This is tai chi–to always move: up, down, outside, inside.
Up becomes down, then down becomes up again. We move in circles, but we are always heading somewhere new. We begin with yin, move through yang. And when we meet yin again, we find that it has transformed. It maintains its original yin essence, yet it is something new–an enriched resource to fuel our next cycle of outward (yang) activity.
The secret to managing stress is to know when to act and when to rest (or just let things happen). But even in rest, there is activity. “To act” means that yang energy is moving outward, blatantly expressing itself. In rest, yang energy still moves. But it moves inward to transform (e.g. experiences), build and restore yin energy.
Vice versa, during activity there is still a state of rest–or yin within yang. For there is always potential energy (yin) waiting to transform into kinetic energy (yang). This is the meaning of the Tai Ji Tu: yin and yang exist simultaneously, within one another, depend on each other, change places, and always move.
If you are on the path of yin and yang–living the life of tai chi–you will never lose your way. Because you are going in circles.
Carl Balingit is a former engineer who applies rational thought to the often subjective nature of traditional healing. He practices acupuncture in San Diego, CA.
He also prescribes Chinese herbal formulas. The herbs do not necessarily come from China.