How many times have you asked yourself “what do I want to do?” or some version of it like, what job feels right for me?, or what’s my next project?, or what can I do to make a difference? Even the question “what do I want do today” helps us key into the part of ourselves that has a short or a long-range idea of what seems important and what we want to accomplish. Without this inner clarity, we can feel at loose ends and even depressed. We may start things but not finish them. Or we can lose the big picture and fret over the small stuff. Conversely, those who are very clear on their path and goals may miss the best of life because they keep themselves tied to their to-do list, or rigidly pursue their own agenda without warmth or partnership.
Either way we are out of balance with ourselves and our creative empowerment. The tendency is to react from conditioned behaviors and expectations rather than respond from an innate sense of purpose and choice. We can recognize these inner messages more easily when we take a break, quiet our thinking minds and call on our deeper intelligence. I love to use meditative movement to do this.
Raising the yin and descending the yang is very appropriate for the season because in the spring nature is clear about its purpose and is fresh with new life. The seeds that were planted last year and have patiently labored underground during the winter are finally able to burst forth with renewed vigor. Ah, the fresh breath of spring. It comes with the warmth of sunlight and the caress of new colors and smells. The chance to begin again brings a sense of hope.
When I practice this qigong movement, I like to imagine the feeling of spring and a plant or tree growing and spreading. Spring has Wood element energy according to classical Taoist thought. It is symbolized by a tree which is well routed in the soil and reaches upwards towards the sky. The tree is strong yet flexible and stays aligned with the earth below and the heavens above.
If you want to strengthen your clarity and sense of purpose, you can emphasize the upward movements of this posture, or “raising the yin,” with the intention of asking for inner guidance. Yin here refers to the earth or ocean and can also be that which is below the horizon of our awareness. If you want to relax tension and the irritation and even anger that can emerge when things don’t go the way you want, emphasize “descending the yang.” This may also help lower your blood pressure. Yang refers to the light, warmth and wisdom that symbolically illuminates us from above. Do it with the intention of quieting your mind and opening to the situation with new eyes.
Practice this movement several times in succession until you feel an inner change in your mood and/or an energized relaxation in your body. The movements will help to slow and deepen your breath which helps you relax and feel centered. Even a few breaths make a big difference and help you see things from a different perspective. Enjoy the movements and rest for a moment when you finish and before you begin a new activity to let your body and mind absorb the new energy. Practice daily for best results, and especially when you need it the most. Remember to be patient and give the timing of things and the results of your actions to the universe.