Think back to the last time something was really hard for you. Maybe you were stressed out or angry, overwhelmed or sad. Then think about the very next thing you had to do that day. Maybe it was something fun, maybe it wasn’t. Either way, was it easy to switch from swimming in a difficult feeling to crossing off the next item on your to-do list?
After something hard happens (a storm), we need to learn to push pause and find calm. That way we can more easily, and more peacefully, move on to the next activity in our day with awareness and mindfulness.
The way I suggest finding calm is by incorporating a yin activity. Think of yin and yang—the energies we hope to balance in our lives. We associate yin with being, slowing down, deactivating. Yang is associated with doing, quickening, activating. If you’re already at a place of high emotion or distress, going straight into more yang is not going to calm you down even if that activity is fun. But by choosing to focus on yin for a moment, we can find a more neutral zone. Then we can move on with the day.
Yielding to yin provides replenishment, recharge, and repair of the body, mind, and soul.”
Finding Calm In Everyday Life
So how do we do all that? Here’s an everyday example.
Say you’ve just had a very difficult and angering phone call with your boss. It was triggering and put your anxiety on high. You are aware enough to know you want to get out of that headspace, so you gather up the family and take them to do your favorite pleasure activity: a family walk along a beautiful trail near your house.
You’re not wrong; that’s a great idea. But what you do in between mad/stressed and playful family time can make all the difference.
Scenario 1: Pleasure Activity Only
You move straight from your heightened unwanted emotion to heightened activity. Move, move, move, go, go, go. You find yourself walking with the people you love most on a trail you adore, but your mind is still stuck in your phone conversation. You’re replaying each word. You’re feeling the anger. And you’re worried about what to do next. Sure, you may laugh when your child notices something funny; you may smile when you take a family picture. But your uncomfortable feelings and thoughts are drowning out the overall experience.
Scenario 2: Yield2Yin Calming Activity and THEN Pleasure Activity
If you take a moment to pause and invite some yin into your yang, you can ground and calm yourself before you go into your pleasure activity. Yin acts as a buffer. Instead of staying at 100mph, you can park the car, reset, and then move on to a more manageable speed. This might mean you do some breathing exercises, ten minutes of yin yoga, journal your thoughts, etc. And then, at a more peaceful state, you join your family on your trail walk. It’s not that the frustration with your boss will vanish, but you’ve cooled the engine. Only then can you actually step into the true space of pleasure.
Yes, gratification is delayed, but it will be worth it since it ultimately provides more emotional freedom, which then allows us to feel pleasure and happiness more intensely and purely.
Yin Activities For Finding Calm
Not sure how to go about pushing pause with a yin activity? In my Yield2Yin page, I’ve gathered together lots of yin techniques and exercises that you can utilize when you need to find some calm. You can find these techniques and many more:
- Grounding Techniques: Like stretching, running cool or warm water over your hands, recounting the words to an inspiring song or quote, or counting to 10
- Mindfulness Techniques: Like listing the things you’re grateful for or journaling
- Calming Techniques: Like meditation, practicing restorative or yin yoga, or listening to calming music
Try out several yin activities during a time that you feel safe and are undisturbed to find the ones that you enjoy the most—things that work best for you with slowing down. Practice these activities consistently.
Then use them next time you’re feeling intense emotions or difficulty to help you reset to a calmer state of mind.
REMEMBER: Just as the brain can be triggered by trauma memories, which can take us to a hypervigilant state in a matter of seconds, so can we effectively train the brain to be triggered by past yin activities, which can take us to a calm mental state equally as quickly.
This high effectiveness is the reason why practicing yin activities regularly, ideally daily, during times when we feel safe and are undisturbed, is so incredibly valuable.
- Healing Card Deck: A Therapist’s Advice 55-Card Healing Deck by Sara Cloostermans
- Book Recommendation: The Art of Patience: Seeking the Snow Leopard in Tibet by Sylvain Tesson
- Mantra: I AM CALMNESS // repeat with diaphragmatic breathing
- Yin Yoga Asana: Shoelace Pose
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