Yin: (in Chinese philosophy) the passive female principle of the universe, characterized as female and sustaining and associated with earth, dark, and cold.
My chin has been breaking out and irritated for months now, and when I look back, I see it has been coming up for years. I looked to Chinese reflexology and philosophy to find what words the chin represents, and how I can correct Who and How I Am in relation to these words, with the written word as my script and blueprint for change.
The words I will be working with are: temperament, emotions, prudence, vigour and wisdom. I use the dictionary definition as a starting point because this is how we have collectively accepted and allowed ourselves to live these words, which is not always best for Self (or All). In this way, we can re-define the words in such a way that is best, as follows:
Temperament – a person’s nature, especially as it permanently affects their behavior.
It is interesting to note the limitation in the dictionary definition that we have all on some level accepted and allowed without challenge. The words ‘nature’ and ‘permanent’ for example, make it seem unchangeable, something to live and exist with and as forevermore. And it certainly feels that way, as we are born with a certain temperament, enter into the world as that, and then have that experience reflected to us throughout our lives because that is what we are ‘putting out there’ into the world, our relationships and environment.
For me personally, I have been, since I was a child, slow to warm up, stand-offish, quiet, aloof, shy and not feeling safe to share myself. It is as if I was born fearing my own internal experience, feeling as if I was a small and fragile seed inside an incredibly thick shell, locked inside, too terrified to look within and equally terrified to let it out.
Since as far back as I can remember – I would fear to express myself or ask for needs to be met, creating a very alone and withdrawn experience, like a seed full of potential, but not being given (giving to Self) the opportunity to sprout and greet Life, and so like a seed without water, nutrients and sunlight, slowly starving and dying.
This experience was not something caused by a trauma or event, it is and was simply ‘my temperament’ as a result of genetics, environment and who I am, and so what I had created through how I was living – believing this is the way it is and so it cannot change.
This was not only accepted by myself but also by those in my world, and so reinforced through actions and words over time. And over time this caused me to create relationships of perceived and real ‘lack’ and ‘wanting’, an isolated existence, and a sadness from the longing to share, connect, open up, reach out and break through, but not knowing how, and so turning in, closing down and hardening.
The fact that this was and is a negative and unpleasant experience pushes me to see that I always knew I was and wanted more than this for my Self and Life. The sadness and isolation indicating a knowing of something else, something more, and that this is not how it has to be. Also because in moments where I would feel ‘safe’ enough, meaning comfortable enough, connected enough to those around me, I would discover inside myself something entirely different and quite enjoyable, a delightful expressiveness that would at times surprise even me.
However, it had mostly been contingent on the external environment, and not something cultivated from within that can stand no matter what. I personally have tried to ‘do it alone’, and this backfires every time because the point is connection, connecting, opening up, bringing Self out and letting others in. When this is done alone it is impossible to decipher if progress is being made or not. I will think I am making progress only to be triggered again into the point, and then with the inner affecting the outer and vice versa, the act of turning in, closing up and hardening turns one’s presence into something like a coldness and a closedness, perpetuating the isolation, loneliness and sadness once again.
And so I have been challenging myself: to open up more, to speak more, to express myself and my needs, to receive more, to offer more, to participate more, to include myself more, to understand more, to let go and ‘do me’ more, and to BREATHE more.
It may sound like a tall order to anyone that can relate to the particular nature/temperament I described above: not only breaking out of the shell, stepping forth from behind thick walls, but doing so boldly, and sometimes not into a nurturing and inviting garden, but into the scorched earth one had unintentionally created for Self through withdrawing and isolating. It is a slow and steady step by step process of identifying moments of opportunity and doing one’s best to act accordingly in those moments.
For example, in moments of sharing, wether in a group or one-on-one, I noticed I will say the minimal amount of words, or none at all. And then when the moment is over, there is a feeling of disappointment, feeling slightly ‘crushed’, like a lost opportunity. Now, instead of ‘turning in’ and withdrawin, I ‘TUNE in’ – tuning into myself, looking inside to see what is there, take what is there and formulate it into words, bring those words up from deep inside, into my throat, passing through my vocal chords and finally out of my mouth as words expressed and so participation and sharing me taking place – Hopefully with this process happening quickly enough that I don’t take too long and miss the moment completely! – It is a matter of practice.
Within this, a better definition for ‘temperament’ could be sounded as the ‘temper-I-meant’, meaning: the Temper (state of mind) I Meant (As a deliberate decision of what is best for Self and Others). As you can see in the writing above, the state of mind I ‘meant’ (wanted/intended) to cultivate was connection/connecting, sharing, openness, expressing, breaking through, stepping forth, inviting in, asking for wants/needs to be met. However, the temperament manifested as the opposite: closed off, cold, distancing, isolating, unsharing, starving, longing, sadness, becoming angry and irritated over time. This is not what I meant/intended/wanted to create, but was done as a coping mechanism for not knowing how to crack the shell or take down the walls myself, mostly because I never questioned or challenged the fact that there can be another way.
Once one opens oneself up to this understanding – that one can be different and there is another way -, the rest can be walked accordingly. Like making the decision to plant a garden, once that decision is made, the next steps are just a matter of living it in application.
Emotion – a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.
The ‘natural instinctive state of mind’ would be the outflows/emotions deriving from the temperament described above, with ‘one’s circumstances’ being the set of circumstances one had actually created for oneself, with the mood and relationships also resulting from the temperament, and not some outer thing disconnected from and unaffected by who one has been and become within oneself.
This is another fatalistic and disempowering dictionary definition, using words such as “natural” and “instinctive”, as if this is simply the way one is and must be. The definition states that one’s internal emotional state is derived from outside sources, such as circumstances and relationships, as well as one’s mood, as if one has no choice in the matter of mood and what one participates in within oneself and one’s own mind that creates that mood, those circumstances and the relationships in the first place.
I was recently listening to an Alan Watts speech, in which he was describing his understanding of the many different facets of love, and different people’s abilities to express it. He was explaining that even if you are the most self-centered type of person that only loves on the level of lust or self-serving enjoyment, that you should not abandon that style of loving in order to try to be like those that are capable of exuding a selfless love in every moment as Who they are. He insists that you continue to love as you can, because even in this kind of love, there exists a love for Self and Other, and within that, one can actually be well on one’s way to expanding their abilities beyond the selfish to the acceptance of self as other, and so the development of a fuller and more inclusive love.
I use this as an example here because of the self-judgment that can take place when one that is not so expressive, such as myself, can tend to look to those that are very expressive, and then use that negative judgment to further perpetuate the negative emotional experience. What I got from Watts example was to take what you DO have and want to develop, and to fully embrace and cultivate that part of you. Otherwise, if we abandon through judgment those parts of us that are apparently not ‘up to par’- it would be like sitting in a stationary car, watching all the experienced drivers on the road in comparison and judgment, without ever actually putting the key in the ignition, stepping on the gas and trying, practicing, learning from the starting point of where we are actually, realistically at.
It is important here to define my understanding and living of ’emotions’- where I do not like to put too much stock in the energetic experiences that pass through my body, influencing my actions words… or lack of words. Emotion = e-motion, or ‘energetic motion’, which has zero impact on the outside world as it takes place only inside self, and can become quite a delusional and twisted version of reality in which self exists alone. Rather focus on the physical world and ground oneself there, where actions have outflows that are measurable and can be cross-referenced.
I’d rather look at the feelings and emotions that swirl around inside of me as un-expressed and misunderstood parts of me that I have not yet given a voice, words, definition and understanding. And so they are trapped inside of me like souls stuck in limbo, wreaking havoc in my life and world until I address their issues and settle them into as as a living , expressing part of me. I cannot accept them as real and valid when it is only sensations within me, because I have too many times acted on them, lived according to them, only to realize that I was completely wrong and off-base, actually blaming and spiting the world around me when all the while it was ME, parts of ME that needed attention, tending to, to be taken responsibility for, to be addressed and changed.
Here to redefine the word ’emotion’ to ‘expression in motion’ as described above as how this can be lived as a choice in every moment – where the process of expression comes first from daring to look at the sensations, understanding and defining them, and then bringing them through into the physical for speaking, application, grounding, cross-reference and feedback.
Prudence – the quality of being prudent; cautiousness (careful to avoid potential problems or dangers.)
This word ties into the previous words quite nicely, as it is this apparent ‘prudence’, or cautiousness and avoidance of ‘problems’ or ‘dangers’, where the identification ‘problems’ and ‘dangers’ are mis-allocated into a perception that expressing self is ‘unsafe’, ‘dangerous’ and problematic, where one will instead practice ‘prudence’, and not dare to share and express self.
I have found for myself that I have been overly prudent in sharing parts of me that are real and need to be expressed, and then reckless in other aspects of behaviour where the suppressions come out – in the past through drinking and acting out, and later on in reactions of all sorts towards events, things like my job or people in my world.
The simple act of flipping the application of this word, where the prudence is placed more on the way the suppression is handled, where there CAN be real dangers and problems caused in one’s world, real consequences that can have a detrimental effect in one’s life when one acts recklessly in an outburst or as a result of an accumulation of suppressed emotions. So to place a guard in front of one’s mouth and one’s actions in this context – in other words, to apply prudence – whereas when it comes to self-expression as a process of understanding and defining and then applying oneself in sharing and participating in one’s world – here there should be a recklessness in terms of throwing caution to the wind and speaking despite fears, because those fears are unfounded, because in fact, no one can hurt or harm Who We Really Are inside ourselves (except for by our own acceptance and allowance). And so in fact, there is no danger, no problems to be found, only lessons to be learned, trials and errors leading to eventual expansion and self-development.
To redefine this word I look to the origins of the word, found here: “Prudence (Latin: prudentia, contracted from providentia meaning “seeing ahead, sagacity”) is the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason.”
To be prudent is to have the reasonable (common-sensical) foresight, the sagacity to be able to discern between what are the real threats and problems to be cautious about and avoid – such as real world, physical reality consequences and outflows- and what are ‘false-flags’ such as perceived or imagined feeling or emotional ‘dangers’ and ‘problems’ in the mind only.
I will continue with the words ‘Vigour’ and ‘Wisdom’ in my next blog…