Wednesday, October 22, 2008


The symbol of Tai Ji (you can see the image to the left, under the poem by Ts'ai-ken T'an) is a symbol almost everyone knows, but most just call it the "Yin Yang" symbol. And that is what it represents. Yin and Yang.

What is so cool about this theory is how it really represents a duality in life. Both yin and yang exist. In everything. At all times. Kind of like electron particles behaving like waves. Duality.

Which totally makes sense to me, because I've never truly felt black and white about anything. (Which is probably why my gall bladder keeps acting up. It's supposed to the the main organ involved in decision making. Sigh.)

So you may know that Yang represents the sun, heaven, active, bright. Yin represents the moon, earth, rest, shade. And when I ask anyone around here to quantify those qualities - ask them which are good qualities, which would they have in their lives - they all point to the yang qualities. (Except for moms with newborns. They're always lured by the word "rest.")

So I'm not sure what this means. Is it because our culture (I'm speaking of American culture) that we vibrate to yang qualities? Remember when people used to say "active"? It's not good enough for us, we have to be "pro-active." We've got to be plugged in to something - computer, music, cell phone, gameboys, television, i-whatevers, cube-thingies, x-baggies. Our kids are even trained at a young, young age to think fast, move (in their games, anyway) fast, eat fast.

I read an article by a Buddhist monk who reminisced about a bell that rang three times a day in his village. Every time the bell rang, everyone in the village stopped. They just stopped and became aware.

For several minutes they held that space, filling it with compassion and love. And soon, grounded again, they resumed their day.

Wow. What an incredible thing that must have been. A whole village stopping to just be. Can you imagine the power of that? That would just be the coolest thing.

So, tonight I'm going to try it with my family and then I'm off to teach class and I'm going to try it there, too.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Hey! You try it too. Freak people out at work or in a classroom or in a grocery store: bring in a bell, ring it and then just stand there smiling, appreciating life.


  1. So did you ring and bring calm? Are you all still in stillness :) How nice would that be - for a community to find that practice to be a simlpy normal and integrated part of life. mmmmm

  2. Thanks for asking, Karin! I wasn't present enough to follow up with that! (Clearly, I need an internal bell.)

    I thought I would try it with the family, but, it's been too hectic (which is specifically why we need it!) and the only bell I have is an oven timer! Not a pretty noise!

    But, in class, I did use it. When I rang the bell students were able to come to their centers and really feel present, which was great! They were able, for the most part, to let go of their constant thinking and just be.

    The other cool thing was that we rang the bell, but also created an intention - to connect to each of the students in the room. Kinda like the community that the monk wrote about.

    Holding that space was different. It allowed students to feel present, but added the dimension of moving out and feeling the presence of others.

    This is different from your brain knowing someone is standing next to you, as you know. When you really are present, you feel the energy (qi) of those around you. And this is what masters of internal martial arts use to defend themselves - they feel the energy of others, and know what their opponents are going to do BEFORE they do it.

    So it was cool, and I'm definitely bringing this practice into the class consistently.

    As for the family...I'm looking for a better bell.

    Heal well, Karin! Hope your back is mending. Hey, you need a bell too! For calling people to help you while you recover!