Yin and Yang: Balancing energies

This is a report I have written for the course I am currently on. As the format I write them in is very similar to how I blog I thought it’d be cool to have them on here as well!

large (1)Throughout the world cultures, energies have more often than not been separated into two groups. Be it in Buddhism with its simple division by left and right, the Shiva/Shatki separation of yoga, the yin and yang of far Eastern, or the western division of masculine and feminine introduced by Jung, the different pairs of energies do tend to correspond to each other throughout places and time.

Jung was the first one to primarily work with such energies in the west and he was the one to introduce masculine and feminine as archetypes and representation of parts of people. He saw the Anima as the female part of a man and the Animus as the male part of any woman. These concepts were strongly built on the society he lived in, an outdated society where men and women were not treated as equal, and where they were forced into specific gender roles that forced certain traits upon them. In today’s society gender roles and expectations are slowly being pushed out and the concepts of masculine and feminine as presented by Jung might not make as much sense as they used to. In a world where transgender, gender fluid, and agender people are slowly being more and more accepted the dichotomy is between man and woman is slowly being broken down. It is becoming more and more acceptable for women to predominantly show strong ‘masculine’ traits and similarly (although perhaps not quite yet as prevalently) men are feeling more free to show their ‘feminine’ side. Jung’s choice of words can be seen as very restrictive and may make some people feel uncomfortable or make it hard for them to understand the need for balance in between the two energies.

So both on the course and in this report, the words yin and yang from far Eastern culture shall be used to refer to feminine and masculine.

Now what is important is that, no matter what words are chosen for each set of energies, what truly matters is balancing the two. To be a happy, healthy human being, we need to be able to balance both sets of energies for an excess of either can turn otherwise positive energies into something destructive, both to ourselves and those around us. For example, where a balanced yang might grant someone a strong, determined attitude underlined by the thoughtful reflection of their yin, an overly dominant yang will see the person being reckless and maybe even domineering to those around them. On the converse a dominant, unbalanced yin might make a nurturing, sensitive person become illogical and manipulative.

Many issues people suffer from can be put down to the presence of an imbalance in their energies. We can spot these imbalances by working through strength and frailties, looking into largethe client’s relationships with those around them, as well as looking at the interactions they have with others and their environment. Working with dreams might also be an illuminating path into the balance of energies in someone’s life. Journalling may help people realise their own imbalances, or at least bring to light areas that need work and where the therapist would be able to see the struggle of energies.

Imbalances in energies can be carried over from childhood or created by the present situation the person is in and it is important to work out where the imbalance originates before it can be worked on. A man with an over dominant yang may have carried this since childhood and being told on countless occasions that ‘boys don’t do this’ or ‘boys don’t cry’ (similarly this can be the case for a woman with over dominant yin). They would have pushed away any signs of their yin to fit in the mould that they were told they had to fit in. Other imbalances can be caused by the current situation of the person (although there is always a chance that the imbalance existed in childhood and is only coming to the surface in the present). Someone who has always seemed ‘strong’ in their dealings with events might become outwardly ‘unemotional’ if they are forced to keep up the pretence of strength by those around them even when things are starting to get too much for them. Another example could be that of a woman who has been treated unfairly by the men in her life and who would become manipulative as a rebellion against the overbearing yang that she has been faced with (it is also more than likely that in those cases she would ignore/diminish her own yang sides).

Our goal as therapist is to enable our clients to achieve a state of balance in between their energies as well as give them a capacity to recognise imbalance so that they may prevent it from taking over their lives again.

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Book review: The Drama of Being a Child (The Search for the True Self) – Alice Miller

This is actually a book report I had to write for my course, so it might be less of a traditional book review and more of a summary/general impressions I had of the book. Either way it seemed enlightening enough for those who might be wondering whether to read this to post it here. I don’t usually review books that aren’t genre fiction so this feels very odd, and somewhat personal too, but I do hope it will interest those who are intrigued by this field of study and self-discovery!

 

41046HJX0YL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Miller offers through her book a fascinating tale of the effects of childhood, not solely on the child as these events take place, but more so on the adult. These events from childhood that have become the invisible strings that guide us through our lives are, more often than not, simply accepted by the adult person as a fact that had little to no consequences on their lives. It is only when as an adult we can look back to our childhood days and not only understand but truly feel what affected us as children, that we can begin to unravel the tangle of fears, habits, and issues that has followed us everywhere we went during our adult life.

Much like emotional therapeutic counselling, Miller recognises the importance of the hurt and lonely child we all carry within us. She emphasises that it is that child’s emotions that make us often react as we do to the world around our adult selves. Because that child is made of so many repressed emotions, so he seeks to either take revenge upon the world, or hide away everything even more. The dialogue with this Inner Child is, to Miller, as intrinsic a part of healing, as it is for emotional therapeutic counselling.

Miller also mentions the importance of confronting those who have caused the hurt during childhood, whether face to face or, if the former is impossible for one reason or another, through a mental dialogue wherein the adult can finally unload the Inner Child’s actual feelings onto the person who has caused them and have a discussion with them. Similarly to emotional therapeutic counselling, Miller does not believe that we can be free of the hurt of our childhood until we have truly felt the emotions that our child-self repressed.

Another element in the book that reminded me strongly of what we had done in the course was Miller’s regular mention of her patients’ dreams and their importance in their therapy. She takes dreams as the subconscious’ way of talking to us, or trying to point where or what the issues might be. She points out in one of her examples how it can be an easy way to track therapy progress as the patient’s dreams change and evolve.

I personally found this read enlightening, especially following what I had already learnt about myself during the course and it shed a fascinating light on some elements of my childhood that has just seemed that they had left me unaffected up to that point. Stories of which I have little to no recollection but have been told about seemed to come back with stark clarity as the emotions I had felt were accessed. It emphasised that it was ok for my adult self to revisit those emotions, to let them happen and face the feelings of my childhood without fear of any consequences. It has allowed me to understand my reactions to certain things that happen around me, as well as turn the emotions elicited towards their true target instead of the situation at hand.

5/5