With more time at home during the COVID years, I had a bunch of time to have ‘experiences’ around the Bay Area. Santa Cruz, Monterey, Napa, Sonoma – the usual suspects. I also started up a Berkeley Rep subscription and saw some pretty interesting performances (Dana H., which just won a Tony was incredibly powerful). All of this travel took me up and down highways, over mountains, onto beaches and into urban areas. Fun delights for the senses. Add that to continual Zoom workshops, work trips to Canada, the East Coast and the Midwest and my adrenals have had a quite a few years. Busy, somewhat anxious, ever moving either literally or figuratively…zoom zoom.
Then, this past month I ‘put it in park’ on my trip to Wilbur Hot Springs. In lieu of a trip to Tassajara, which closed for the whole summer unexpectedly in May due to COVID, Wilbur was chosen as the substitute spot for the weekend. Wilbur Hot Springs is Northern California writ large. The website says, “Wilbur Hot Springs is a sanctuary from the fast pace, noise and information overload of our modern world. Wilbur’s ancient ceremonial land and medicinal healing waters offer a unique opportunity to slow down, quiet the mind, and relax into nature’s embrace.” And, quiet it is. No speaking in the hot tubs, very little loud anything in the pool or in the kitchen or on the trail. Quiet hours are posted and are 10 hours long. I went from 100 miles an hour in mind and body to 0. It was a shock to the system.
In that 48 hours, I went from full ‘yang’ to full ‘yin.’ What do I mean by that? And is that a bad thing?
Anastassia Kostin wrote the blog, Balancing Act: How Yin Yang Promotes Harmony and Balance. She says, “In Daoism, yin is associated with darkness, depth, weakness, submission, intuition and femininity. On the yang side, there is lightness, warmth, summer, aggression, rational thought and masculinity. The point isn’t that one side is better than the other,” Religion Professor John Barton said. “The Daoisitic worldview is that all of those things are needed. They’re all part of the flow of the universe. They’re all part of each of us.”
In my life I am yang as is the world these days but I did think I was at least a little yin. I get mani pedis (but love when they can do them at the same time). I meditate (but do love guided mediations cuz silence is a challenge for me). I try. Really, I do. I can see Yoda smirking at me. What this 48 hours taught me is that I am actually out of balance in a big way as I am almost full on Yang.
I thrive with busy-ness. Checklists. Projects. Plans. Reservations. Meetings. Ask me to sit still or sit quietly or go slowly and I get a touch anxious in my own head. I am not just TSA Pre but also CLEAR. I want to move. I am not Snoop Dog in his commercial for Corona Light with Andy Samberg. In fact, I would have lost it if he had put my phone in the ice bucket.
It took almost 36 hours for me to start to get into the rhythm of Wilbur. I drove away after 48 hours. As I moved back into cell phone range, I noticed I breathed easier. At that moment, I had to admit to myself I had felt quite vulnerable all alone with my inner thoughts in the quiet of the retreat center. I had to meet myself in the mirror and meet others face to face in the moment. I had no assignment. No timeline. No to do list. No one to email. Sometimes I even had on no clothes! (I told you it was Northern California…)
I am now writing this newsletter in a Delta Lounge on my way to facilitate workshops on Having Hard Conversations over the next two days and I realize I kinda miss the quiet of Wilbur Hot Springs. Yet, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It can be Yin and Yang.
I teach about Polarity Management in my workshops and yet I discover (again and again) that I teach what I need to learn. I have been tipping my seesaw instead of rebalancing it as I so need.
This summer I will ask myself:
- Do I have both some needed quiet in my life and some good busy-ness?
- Do I create opportunities to sit in silence and opportunities to share my voice?
- Do I design my days to include both individual alone time and collective engagements?
The rebalancing continues. Here’s to ‘putting it in park’ more often this summer. Have a lovely July.
If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you.
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Jennifer Abrams, "More Yin to My Yang This Month", as originally published on Jennifer Abrams Developing Individuals Transforming Schools , 07-01-2022 , https://jenniferabrams.com/more-yin-to-my-yang-this-month/