Yin and Yang of Mind-Body Creation Style
by Michelle Wood
I’d like to share with you this great quote I discovered recently. I love it so much I’ve even started adding it on the back of my business cards:
“The body is the servant of the mind. It obeys the operations of the mind, whether they be deliberately chosen or automatically expressed.
Sickly thoughts will express themselves through a sickly body.
Strong, pure, and happy thoughts build up the body in vigor and grace.”
~ As A Man Thinketh by James Allen ~
I know that you believe your thoughts create your reality, but, like many of us, you also tend to project it outward: your consciousness created your car, your house, your city, your family, your political system, your global awareness. Unless you are a regular practitioner of qigong, you don’t often ponder the importance of your consciousness and its creative power in relationship to your heart or liver or lungs, or feet or teeth or bones for that matter. However, those last creations should be at the top of your “creativity list” if you expect to experience even a moderate level of longevity not to mention good health.
So, here you are, experiencing a few chronic problems and hoping they aren’t something serious, but you know you need to start addressing these before they balloon into something more acute, more severe, and perhaps more costly in health, time, and money. The path that led you from a healthy “where you were” to a not-so-healthy “where you are” is of some importance when you try to decide which path will take you back to that “where you were” of physical wellbeing. However, you can’t simply reverse the chronic “where you are” condition back to “where you were” when it comes to your health. “Why not?” you ask. That is an excellent question, and the answer will explain why it often takes time for a mind-body practice to establish itself and start to reverse any illness or disease.
It is simply this: momentum. Just like your car, you cannot be driving forward and suddenly slam yourself into reverse and start barreling down the street backwards. You will do a lot of damage if you try! First you must slow to a stop, and then head in the opposite direction. Just like you wouldn’t throw a car into reverse while going forward, your thoughts and emotions, whether they are good or bad, do not usually create immediate and drastic change in your health. The exception to that is when a physical or emotional trauma is involved. Traumas tend to bend the rules of creation and have been known to cause immediate and severe problems.
More often, though, it takes months or years of stressed-out, disease-creating thoughts flooding your body with toxic emotions like anger, hate, and resentment that cause the greatest number and severity of illnesses. Of course, this can be cycled back into health, but it must be done in a compassionate manner that is in harmony with personal and universal energies.
For example, you should avoid taking medication to reduce a fever unless it is life-threatening. For greater harmony and compassion, you should rest and make yourself as comfortable as possible with cool water and light clothing. When you wait for the fever to “break” naturally, you are allowing it to do its job of killing germs and fighting infection. Most of the time, your body will soon return to a normal temperature after the fever has done its work. In fact, if you reduce a fever too soon, it will enable an infection to linger which will very likely cause the need for antibiotics. To be in harmony with natural cycles, you always move forward along the path. Imagine that the measure of good health is daylight and the measure of illness is darkness. You wouldn’t reverse the spin of the earth to go from darkness/illness back to daylight/health, you would wait out the night and, at the extreme of midnight/illness, the cycle would naturally lead the sun to rise and a new day of good health to begin again.
Consider this writing on “Cycles” from 365 Tao by Deng Ming-Dao:
“Dawn is a shimmering of the horizon.”
“Dusk is a settling of the sky.”
“Dawn and dusk together represent the measure of a day. When the sun rises, the [full] moon sets; when the [full] moon rises, the sun sets. This represents the cycle of existence, for without such alternation, the power of the universe could not be generated. When the sun reaches its zenith, it will inevitably begin its descent toward its nadir. All events — including our own plans and activities — follow the same pattern.
“It is wisdom to know the cycles of life and where any particular circumstance that we are involved in stands on the curve. If we want to perpetuate something, we should join it to new growth to compound our progress. If we want to destroy something, we need only lead it to its extreme, for all things decline after their zenith.
“All too often, people express uncertainty about where they stand in life. It’s important to examine both the short-range and the long-range. If you want to go far in a decade, you have to go far each year. If you want to go far each year, you have to make sure that you do something significant each day. Use the cycles of life to establish a measure to your life and then arrange your plans according to the units that you have chosen. Then there will be no fear of not knowing your own progress.”
My favorite part of that writing is the first paragraph, the yang of the sun and the yin of the moon: the moon would have no light if it didn’t reflect the light of the sun. Your body works the same way: your thoughts are the sun, and your body is the moon reflecting those thoughts.
Another good metaphor is the comparison of the first two hexagrams in the Yijing, the Book of Changes. Your thoughts can be likened to hexagram one made up of six yang/unbroken lines and called Heaven or The Creative, and your body to hexagram two made up of six yin/broken lines and called Earth or The Receptive.
In his classic writing on the I Ching, Wilhelm calls hexagram one Ch’ien, The Creative, Heaven, and says this:
“The movement of heaven is full of power.
“Thus the superior man makes himself strong and un tiring.”
Hexagram two, K’un, The Receptive, Earth, he says:
“The earth’s condition is receptive devotion.
“Thus the superior man who has breadth of character
“Carries the outer world.”
The characters for Heaven and Earth enlighten us about their power and correspondences also. We are told by Master Alfred Huang in his book The Complete I Ching that “Qian”, which he calls “Initiating” is the “image of a rising sun radiating its light and energy – chi – and nourishing the whole world.” “Kun”, which he calls “Responding” is comprised of brush strokes for the characters earth and field.
Just as the energies of the sun are absorbed by the earth, and the earth responds with the physical manifestation of the energies it was given, your mind-body system works that way, too. The thoughts in your mind are like the heat and light of the sun, and your body receives and absorbs those thoughts and makes them materially manifest.
If the sun became harsh and scorching, the plants and animals on the earth would be burned just as in a desert. (I know I’ve had a couple of nasty sunburns on those intense summer days, haven’t you?) If your mind became harsh and scorching, your body would respond by creating certain hormones that cause bio-chemical imbalances. You might also begin to suffer muscular aches and joint pains, or perhaps your digestive system would cause vomiting or acid reflux, or the onset of blinding headaches would occur, or maybe even a chronic skin condition would appear. I’m sure you recognize these examples as the most common forms of protest your body sends in response to toxic thoughts, saying, “Hey, let up! It’s getting pretty intense out here.”
If this harmful mental outlook becomes chronic, if you live in relentless anger, resentment, or frustration, your body responds with worsening symptoms until the only way it can tell you to clean up your Initiating thoughts is to manifest in a debilitating disease, the very things you unconsciously create with toxic thoughts. Once on that course, even though you realize what is happening and take steps to change, the creation – your body – has momentum on the path of disease and it’s not so simple to turn back that clock. Just like the darkness has to reach midnight before another day can begin, it will take time for your disease to reach the extreme before healing can begin to occur.
The first step you can take to reverse disease is to watch your thoughts! Awareness is the key here. It is crucial that when you find yourself thinking angry, resentful, or jealous thoughts, you change directions. Instead, think of something for which you are grateful; gratitude is a very powerful healing emotion. Make these thoughts as powerful as you can; use visualization or visual aids like photographs to evoke feelings of gratitude. You can even use this while doing qigong; as you consciously direct your qi, visualizing healthy organs at the same time, thank your organs for working so hard for you and keeping you alive and healthy.
Another very powerful healing practice is laughter. Laughter has been documented to boost the immune system and increase the beneficial and healing hormones that are often suppressed by stress and disease. One study showed that the people who were told they would be able to watch a funny movie experienced improved levels of healthy hormones. What a great example of how your thoughts create your body! Just the anticipation of watching a funny movie caused a favorable, healthy response in their bodies! If you would like to know more about how that worked, please see my blog article “Laughter, It Does A Body Good” at http://successstressrelief.blogspot.com/2006/08/laughter-it-does-body-good.html
Finally, turn your thoughts and behaviors over to compassion and unconditional love. Strive to emulate people whom you admire who show these qualities. It can be someone you know personally, a public figure you admire, or even historical or legendary figures who had these qualities. My personal favorite is Guan Shi Yin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. It doesn’t matter so much who it is, only that you follow their example. The more your thoughts radiate compassion and unconditional love, the more your body will manifest those thoughts making them your reality, and often restoring your health and vitality.
Michelle Wood leads people to rediscover wellness through holistic mind-body health and relaxation techniques such as qigong and meditation. She offers articles and advice on her blogs “Heaven On Earth: Stress Relief for Spiritual Women” http://success-stressrelief.blogspot.com and “Be Well with Qigong” http://bewellqigong.blogspot.com