The Quarantine Diaries 9: The Yin and Yang of Lockdown

Though I’ve already written about finding balance in earlier entries, in today’s post I’d like to dig a little deeper by exploring the concept of balance in nature, and in life. I will then look at how we can apply this concept to help us deal with the unique challenges posed by lockdown during the Covid-19 crisis.

Mixing the yin with the yang

I’ve been practicing a lot of power/vinyasa yoga in order to keep fit and stay strong whilst in quarantine, but in the online yoga classes the tutor recommended balancing these with ‘yin-style routines.‘ This refers to long-holding postures designed to increase relaxation and flexibility. These are also wonderful for meditation. You can find many of these routines on YouTube. In balancing the two opposing styles of yoga, I’ve found that I get a lot more psychological benefits from my yoga practice. This post is too short to delve very deeply into the philosophical origins of the yin and yang. Suffice to say the ancient Chinese symbol represents the balance between equal and opposite forces in nature, such as darkness and light, positivity and negativity, male and female. As for the female side being associated with darkness and negativity, you can read my take on that in The Elemental Eve.

Emotional turbulence

My past week has been marked quite deeply by alternating moods and emotional states: there has been deep sadness in learning that a close friend lost her father, which led to a tendency to regard the current situation in an a very negative light. This came at the same time as PMDD, and the resultant feelings of hopelessness and desperation that so often accompany it. Once the storm of PMDD passed, there followed moments of light, a feeling of inner peace and continuing hope. In these moments I am certain that the current situation can be overcome, and perhaps can even change our behaviours and attitudes for the better. In the same week, there were several conflicts and reconciliations, as I’m sure many people are experiencing right now. I expect these patterns to continue throughout this period of quarantine. The only way to deal with such surging highs and lows, for me, is to find the balance which exists between them, to maintain focus on the activities which ground me: yoga, meditation, writing and music.

Contrary States

For today’s poem, I’ve chosen The Ecchoing Green by William Blake, because it reflects (or echoes) very well the theme of the poetry collection to which is belongs, Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul.’ There couldn’t be a better collection of poetry for summing up the concept of Yin and Yang, of equal and opposite forces within nature, and within us all. The Ecchoing Green is a 3-stanza poem which begins cheerfully and innocently with birds singing and children playing on the green. In the second stanza, the focus shifts to an old man, ‘John with white hair’ who sits ‘among the old folk’ and remembers taking part in such carefree sports as a child. In the final stanza, the sun is setting, the tired children ‘no more can be merry.’ The final lines ‘And sport no more seen,/On the darkening Green.’ are vaguely disturbing, prefiguring as they do an unnamed future threat. However, in reading the collection as a whole, it becomes apparent that such darkening is needed in order to bring perspective, in order to enhance and increase the beauty of the light.

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