Underlying the words “This is not the right time for that” or the lyrics from the song “Turn, turn, turn” – that there is a time to weep, a time to embrace, a time to gain etc – is Yinyang, the nature of change. 

In nature, as the year rolls around change is inevitable; Spring gives way to Summer, Autumn gives way to Winter in an ongoing cycle. Always constant, always changing, nothing is ever the same, change is a way of life. This is Yinyang, the nature of change. Change is the very essence of life, such that impermanence is permanent. 

Yin and Yang are often referred to in modern culture as feminine and masculine respectively. But I think this is a mistake to describe Yinyang with such gender specific labels. Such labels bring with them pre-conceived ideas that are based on culturally driven ideologies and thus on what it is to be masculine or feminine. Instead I prefer to describe Yinyang more in terms of the capacity to create change.

Before I go any further let me briefly introduce Qi. Qi is often referred to as energy. Without Qi/energy nothing exists, as Qi is the presence behind all that is made manifest. And Qi is composed of two qualities – Yin and Yang. It is Yin/contraction/cooling/receptive and Yang/expansion/heating/active that is at work behind the presence of all phenomena. Blood, bone, emotions, trees, wind, waves, everything, are in a state of constant change, transforming endlessly due to the never-ending motion of Yinyang. It is the constant cycling of Yinyang, through expansion and contraction that creates change. And what is most important to remember is that it is inevitable. As sure as the sun rises, the sun sets. When the peak of Yang is reached, the cycle continues, Yin starts to rise and Yang starts to decline. 

In nature a simple example of when Yang energy is on the rise is Springtime – a time when there is a sense of expansion as we come out of the cold contracting Yin months of winter. Yet when flowers come to bloom and the flower head starts to wilt this is when Yang or the energy of expansion has come to its peak and the cycle of change which is inevitable continues on. This is when Yin/contraction starts to take over and do its job and the seeds contained in the flower head start to drop to the ground in preparation for the next cycle, Yang rising again.

In regards to the human health, Qi, the energy that activates everything including the human body, needs to flow in an ongoing harmonious cycle. When Qi is in dis-harmony the ongoing cycle of change, Yinyang, is blocked. A simple example of this would be the emotion of anger – where there is too much Yang energy, expansion, or direct force creating a build-up of heat which is often accompanied by inflammation. Too much Yin or contraction in the human body however can show up for example as depression. Both are examples of Qi stagnation in the body whereby the nature of Yinyang, that of ongoing change, is out of balance – where there is too much Yin or too much Yang as the cycle of change is broken. Please note it is important to keep in mind that these are simple examples only and any diagnosis needs to be made by a qualified TCM practitioner.

There are a myriad ways of Being but all are born out of a combination of these two opposites – Yin and Yang or contraction and expansion respectively. Everything we know from birth to death is due to the action of Yinyang. CALLIGRAPHY HEALTH embodies the concept of Yinyang, throughout practice to bring the human body back to a state of balance in order to lead a happy, healthy and long life.

For this to happen one needs to trust in the change that is inevitable. In this ongoing journey of life this what Yinyang teaches us – to trust in change. Because as sure as the sun is going to rise, the sun is going to set and life is going to change. And as there is no way of stopping that change, trust in the change that is inevitable is some of the most important work we can do. When we sit with Yinyang without fear knowing that change is inevitable, we work with the Qi of the present moment and embrace the beauty of change. Knowing this moment won’t last forever the present moment opens up to us and becomes our greatest teacher.

To study the nature of change is to study Yinyang.

Pam Hellens for Calligraphy Health