On "Yinning"

The solstice is drawing near. The season of yin is fully surrounding us. I was joking with a friend this evening, as I lay in the warm bath, that I was “yinning”. It has become my favorite activity of late, this “yinning.” Yinning, for me, includes long baths, cooking in a relaxed and inspired manner, following the flow of my 5 year old at play and in his curiosity, knitting, sitting by the fire, and listening to the rain on the roof, among other things. It is pretty awesome!

I am a Naturopathic Doctor and, not only does this job mean managing a lot of patients and their health concerns, but it also means being self-employed, which, for those of you who don't know, is a tiring, never-ending job. Because of several moves in the 8 years I have been in private practice, I have effectively become an expert in starting and developing small alternative healthcare practices/ businesses. To do this, each and every time, required me to be in what I will call a very “yang” mode of living. I had to go out, make connections, network, explain my work, promote my practice, advertise, market, and be “presentable” at all times. In Lissa Rankin and Christiane Northrup’s words, I was being “spermy.” Effectively, for a woman, this type of lifestyle can deplete the yin in our systems if we are not careful. I was not careful.

When I read Lissa Rankin’s book (The Anatomy of A Calling) this fall I was highly amused by her analogy of choosing whether or not we want to be “spermy” or “eggy” in the world. In recent years I have been grappling with my own masculine and feminine natures. Becoming a mother in the midst of trying to start and run a medical practice essentially meant that I had this constant tug urging me to stop being the way I had been all of my life: “spermy.” I pursued academics and my career, I went for my dreams, I pursued the people I wanted to date, I made shit happen and it was awesome! But there came a time when “making shit happen” no longer worked. It just has not worked for me in the last few years. Honestly, some days it has me quite baffled.  The message that comes through loud and clear continues to be: stop striving; be “eggy”.

So, here I sit on December 3, listening to the rain splat on the skylight, interrupting the space of silence that is my house, looking outside into the blackness, feeling soft and fresh from my long bath and allowing myself to sink into some active “yinning.” I am contemplating my practice of medicine and my business, wondering how I can continue to grow it if I am being “eggy” in my life. I have to trust that there is a greater context to this life and that the myopic focus I have taken all of these years is but a fraction of what there actually is to experience in this life. It is time for me to embrace the yin, to let my foot off the gas pedal and stop making so many plans. In the words of David Whyte, “What you can plan is too small for you to live. What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough for the vitality hidden in your sleep.”

This deep urge to engage in “yinning” feels like my soul’s wisdom coming through. In the context of the upheaval in our world today, I can’t help but wonder if this compulsion to stop pushing is yet another facet of the return of the Yin, of the feminine; a divine call that is bringing us back into balance. I hear it coming from the mouths of my friends and patients, I feel it surging in women’s emotions and struggles as they present in my office, knowing that something “more” needs to happen- something very different from how they have ever lived life before. I am deeply confident that we all (men too) would benefit from some “yinning”, especially right now as we move deeper into the season of Yin.

So, find some time and some space to stop doing and allow all of your senses to open up. Allow yourself moments of silence and stillness. If you have busy children, take this time to just watch them- the stillness is within you. Take a moment to step outside and feel what the plants and trees are doing at this time of year. Notice the cool air and the darkness compelling you to slow down. Now is the time, both seasonally and in the history of our earth and our society. It is time to slow down, to take note, to break down that which is not working and to allow ourselves to see and experience what emerges, without pushing, without being too “spermy.”

Stay tuned for another post to come on what "yinning" has to do with fertility....