Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Yin and Yang of Your Dark Side

First I’m going to provide several beliefs from Taoist Philosophy that need to be considered:

#1: The nature of the Universe is Yin and Yang.
These opposing forces cannot exist without each other. For simplicity right now, I’ll call Yin bad and Yang good. If there were no good, only bad would exist and we wouldn’t know it was bad because there would be nothing else to compare it to. Same thing for good – if there were no bad, only good would exist and we wouldn’t know it because there would be nothing to compare it to. In order to understand something, you must be able to compare it to something else that you already know.

#2: All Yin has a little Yang in it, and all Yang has a little Yin in it.
If you look at the Taoist Yin/Yang symbol, you see a swirl of white with a little black circle in it, and a swirl of black with a little white circle in it. This has a very deep meaning to it. In terms of the opposites good and bad, it means that everything good has a little bit of bad in it, and everything bad has a little bit of good in it. There is no linear time or space involved in this, so sometimes it can be difficult to see. I’ll give some basic examples:

~~~ You are in a very bad relationship that finally ends. 10 years later, you are stronger, fulfilling your passions and desires, and very clear about relationship boundaries in life – all because you had that “bad relationship”.

~~~ Someone you love dies and you look at the earth and the sky and deeply appreciate the beauty of what you are surrounded in and the friends and family you have. Usually you take these things for granted, but today they have an awe that pierces your heart.

~~~You want to purchase a piece of furniture and when you go to the store there is one problem after another – the sales computer breaks down, there is confusion about the sale, the clerk gets angry and frustrated giving you a bad feeling. You leave, disappointed, then next week you spontaneously walk into a store that has an even better piece of furniture – better than you imagined! – and it’s on sale for the exact amount of money you still have to spend on it.

Get the idea?

#3: Everything in nature that exists has a purpose.
If something exists, it has a purpose. We may not always be able to see or understand that purpose, but it is there. Bad things exist and part of their purpose is to make us appreciate good things. If we go back to the nature of Yin and Yang, even evil has a purpose – without evil there would be no love to the highest degree. The last time you were sick with a cold or the flu, didn’t you appreciate health and feeling good during that time?

#4: We are mind-body-spirit beings with a potential for enlightenment.
According to Taoist philosophy, each of our physical internal organs is strongly affected by a specific emotion, and each organ also has a spiritual aspect called a “Potential”. Potentials (inner strength and insight, benevolence to ourselves and others, unconditional love, compassion, courage and honor) are aspects of humanity that, in order to achieve, require

dedicated work
and intention.

These might be considered attributes one strives to attain along your personal spiritual path. The difficulties that you must overcome, experience, and understand in order to reach your Potential are the things that lead to enlightenment.

Now I’m going to discuss my personal thoughts, experience, and understanding of how to apply these Taoist principles to the nature of our Dark Side. During a previous cleansing fast, I meditated strongly on the nature of good and bad and how to incorporate both sides into my being. I gained personal valuable insight from doing this, and I hope it can benefit others.

Most of us will admit to having a Dark Side, and we all have one whether or not we acknowledge it. I consider myself a “good person”, so what about my own Dark Side? I know that it is fun, adventurous, and morally uninhibited. It likes to have its cake and eat it too, regardless of who is hurt. It will lie, cheat, and steal under the right circumstances. It even has the ability to maim and kill without remorse.

So what do I do about this part of myself that exists? I can’t deny it – it’s there, and I know it’s there because I must have an opposite of my goodness. I can’t hate it because when you hate something it will always rebel and work against you. I do, however, contain it with what I would like to think is a high degree of appropriateness. But I started to wonder.....


Some people’s Dark Side shows up as low self-esteem, self-abuse on a physical and emotional level, denial of joy in life, depression, uncontrollable anger, violence towards others, drug and alcohol abuse, and more on this line.

One of my favorite authors, Stephen Buhner, says “When you love something enough, it will show you its secrets.” Let’s look into this more deeply because it is extremely important.

WHAT IF you say “Ok, my Dark Side. I acknowledge you, I accept you, and I’m even going to love you. I love myself, and I know that hating any part of myself would be devastating to my health and my spirit, so I’m going to go ahead and love you too.” (Note: If you happen to not like yourself, this is part of your Dark Side so you’re going to have to get over it for a little while in order to do this.)

WHAT IF you decide to believe that your Dark Side contains a secret – a secret of unimagined goodness and beauty, and the only reason it hides this secret is because your Dark Side is so misunderstood and hated that it is constantly surrounded in the energy of guilt, shame, and negativity.

Now, you start a daily affirmation, “My Dark Side, I accept you and I love you.” At first, this may be extremely difficult, especially if your Dark Side is vile and at the bottom of social hatred. Keep doing it anyway. Loving your Dark Side DOES NOT mean acting on it! It is the kind of unconditional love where a mother still loves her son that violently killed someone. You love it because it is of you.

Over time, the feeling of this affirmation will begin to change and a spark of sincerity will ignite.
Keep doing it until you feel this, because the sincerity in your love is the key to unlocking the secret.

If you’ve ever seen a movie where you end up liking the bad guy, this is how it feels to transform your Dark Side. Your Dark Side holds something in it that makes it beneficial on some level. It has a code of honor that you consciously and courageously stand by – the line you won’t cross because you’ve decided not to under any circumstance.

The cable TV series “Dexter” gives a great example of this. Dexter is a born serial killer. His adoptive father recognizes this in him at a very early age and raises him to live by a special code. His father does not deny his nature (his Dark Side), but allows it to exist under specific circumstances. Dexter kills, but ONLY when someone meets the criteria established by his code of honor. He does not kill or hurt innocent people. You end up loving the serial killer! I call this “The Dexter Code” and it can be applied to even the most vile Dark Sides.

For a vile example, take someone that likes to kill, or the person that molests or abuses innocent children. Loving your Dark Side again DOES NOT mean acting on these urges. Remember if you have this and you hate it, it will always work against you. If you learn to love it unconditionally, as you would your child, you can transform it and allow it to exist within an established code of honor.

Imagine that you have the mind of a killer, rapist, or abuser. If you acknowledge that you have the ability to think this way, and you know that this is something deep in your heart you don’t want to do, you can use this knowledge as a way to identify the minds of others that would hurt innocent people. Volunteer at a police department to assist them, and don’t accept money for it. Write a book about how to protect people from someone like yourself. There are many, many ways of using your dark mind in benevolent ways. If it comes down to it, there is also an industry of consenting adults who will accept payment for acting out your fantasy in a way that no one is actually hurt. But you have to make yourself an honorable code and then live by it no matter what. This is a conscious decision made with sincerity for the benefit of others because something inside you cares.

The above paragraph is only a brief example, and does not provide the beauty of the secret inside. To understand the secret, YOU have to sincerely love it enough that it tells YOU, and others that don’t love it probably won’t understand. This happens deep inside your heart and is a KNOWING experience on a very deep spiritual level that will change you forever.

When you sincerely love something enough that it shows you its secret, you will understand the beauty in what you hate and it will then work for you, not against you. By the way, I had to have the faith, belief, desire, and respect to work with this for about 2 years before something I hated trusted me enough to tell me its incredible secret, and yes, I am deeply changed by it. I share these thoughts with the hope that you, too, can experience what I did, and together the beautiful secret within my Dark Side and your Dark Side can make the world a better place.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Live Past 100!

Hi Mom & Dad - please print this out and read it at your convenience.

We had a fun class last night where we listened to an audiotape of cutting edge research in the mind-body field of science (technically called Psychoneuroimmunology or PNI for short, if you care).

I thought some of this might interest you - "they" (the research team) did an in-depth study of people that live to be more than 100 years old and here's some of what they found:

1. Centenarians live a life based on joy (rather than deprivation).

2. Centenarians don't obsess about health or healthy living. They do generally eat and live in moderation, but because it's what they like and prefer - not because they're afraid of aging and dying. (Interesting note - there were no vegetarians or vegans among them. Apparently vegetarians don't live past 100.)

3. If you are healthy now, the probability of growing older and staying healthy actually increases. (The reasons this doesn't happen to many people is very interesting! It has more to do with cultural belief than anything else - and there are many scientific studies to back this up. If you live in a culture that believes you decline in health as you get older, that's what happens. BUT... If you live in a culture that believes that the older you are the stronger you are, THAT'S what happens.)

4. The brain and the mind do not deteriorate together. You can have an aging brain with deterioration that has no impact whatsoever on the quality of your mind.

5. Most centenarians have a "ritual" - something they do on a regular basis that identifies their joy in life.

6. The majority of centenarians rarely seek medical advice (outside of emergencies and traumas). Many have not seen a doctor in more than 45 years! They feel in control of their own health and would rather figure out how to change their lifestyle than have someone else control their health by giving them a pill. (It was brought out that all the advances in medical science has had absolutely no effect on these people living to be more than 100!)

7. Most centenarians are seen as "rebels", and are seen as wise. They don't like to be around "downer old people" and would rather hang out around youth because "youth is contagious".

8. They believe in a higher power. If religious, their god is kind and loving, not wrathful. If not specifically religious, they have a strong sense of spirituality.

9. They believe middle age is somewhere between 75-90. One person said "You can't know what middle age is until you die - that's when you find out."

10. They negotiate with life and find meaningful reasons other than disease for things - for example, one man admitted to waking up several times each night to urinate. The researchers marked him down as having prostrate issues, but he corrected them by saying that his prostrate is fine - he sleeps with dogs, they have fleas, and the fleas wake him up. Since he's awake he might as well go to the bathroom.

11. They have an absence of envy, live in the present, and are optimistic about the future.

12. They love their jobs, or love what they are doing. There is no concept of retiring and doing nothing.

13. They have no sense of aging. (My favorite response from one woman, asked how old she was: "My age is none of my business!")

14. They feel that they are liked and loved by others. (This was important regardless of whether or not they actually were liked and loved by others.)

15. They have a good sense of humor and laugh often.

16. Most centenarians die easily and peacefully in their sleep.

17. Advice tidbits from the centenarian group:

- Never take advantage of senior citizen discounts. It makes people treat you like you're old.

- Always ask "what can I do to help myself?" rather than "what can you do to help me?"

- Live as if you will be around forever. Imagine you are ageless.

- Be at peace with yourself.

- Forgive easily.

Love, Cynthia

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Link to Qi Dao Newsletter

This is a link to "Qi Dao", a great on-line newsletter filled with research and articles on Tai Chi, QiGong, and other Taoist topics. Contributers are some of the top international names associated with the Taoist arts.

Of note in this issue: How to structure Tai Chi and Qigong practice into your daily life.

Enjoy & please share!