Key Learning Points
Trapped in Lockdown, yin and yang to the rescue! Learn how to loosen yin and reinforce yang to recover Life!
What are the yin and yang Covid rules?
Lockdown is an enforced yin state. Many countries are re-entering it with lockdown 2.0.
It’s cost us billions of pounds in lost sales and profits, it’s slowed everything down, it’s made us avoid one another, it’s made us stay at home, and there are many new rules governing our lives.
Not surprisingly, many people are frustrated, many are depressed and some are frightened.
What’s going on? How does the ancient philosophy behind Chinese medicine help? What are the lockdown yin and yang Covid rules?
(Do bear in mind that the underlying theory of yin and yang exists whether or not I’m right about it! All this is my viewpoint, not ‘official’! Also, I freely admit that this is written with some hindsight and much of it is common sense – but that doesn’t negate the underlying theory or how we learn to apply it.)
We can look at the coronavirus as a yang vector. It surprised us, moved faster than we thought possible, wrecked many lives, was very small and quickly self-replicating. Also, it can kill. For all we know, it also mutates fast. All this makes it comparatively yang.
Governments reacted in many ways, but mostly took time. They then imposed boundaries and limitations on movement, slowing everything down if not stopping it altogether. We got stuck in our homes with very few ‘rights’. We entered a comparatively yin state. The hope is that by slowing us and removing opportunities for its transmission the disease would fail to replicate so fast.
A longer-term aim was the hope that either because we habituated ourselves to it, or because we developed a vaccine or because, like every other former coronavirus it would eventually ‘realise’ that killing its hosts was counterproductive, the symptoms would diminish in severity.
These strategies are yin-like. Yin things take time, they act slowly, they lack much obvious movement or change. They build organically.
That compares with yang, which may act instantaneously or at least fast.
So we used yin to contain or outlast yang.
But, as we discovered, too much yin stifles life and growth, and lowers spirits, the yang part of ourselves.
We desire less yin or more yang: either might help us cope and bring balance between them.
In practice, what might less yin or more yang look like, and what does the theory suggest we do?
Well, firstly, quite possibly, lockdown is overdone as a way to save us all. You could argue that having a job, and in effect, keeping the economy going, also saves lives! Indeed, as you’ll see, below, by closing many of our theatres, restaurants, pubs, and holidays, not to mention – for what seemed good reasons – cutting back on education, we are stifling yang. That restrains yang’s potential for exploration, innovation, destruction, creation and hope, and – ultimately – greater prosperity.
We need a way to let yang function in our lives if we are to stay healthy and functional. If yin isn’t challenged or ameliorated, everything closes down and yang is repressed.
Repressing yang leads to huge amounts of qi stagnation.
In fact we’ve seen how this is done. You allow a certain amount of mixing, you don’t tighten the noose too much – you let people out to exercise for example – you let them have some autonomy to decide how they use their freedom.
Allowing people to move around, within their lockdown facility, is beneficial – it allows at least some expression of Yang.
Another way to lessen the severity is to allow air (yang) to flow through.
Opening windows for a while, every day, would help people who are completely confined, unless the incoming air is so hot, cold or dirty that it damages frail bodies – of course!
Yin manifests in many ways. One expression of it is that which we face in lockdown. If people in lockdown were able to experience it in other ways they would ease their discomfort. Under yin come, as examples, the ground, water, existing surroundings, the past, one’s possessions and one’s body.
Taking these in turn:
Lockdown is, symbolically, the same as being in prison, or living in a monastery, or the closed-in, dark season of winter.
Another strategy which uses part of yang theory to lessen the misery of those in lockdown is as follows. (One thinks of the Chinese living in apartment blocks the street-entry/exit doors of which were apparently sealed shut by the authorities to prevent any egress.) If the apartment has safety or emergency stairs that connect all floors, encourage inhabitants regularly to tramp down and up them between different floors, so taking as much exercise a s possible. (Physically-distanced, of course!) This eases qi stagnation.
So do board-games, and for many, computer games. Playing any game, even just throwing a ball back and forth, helps move qi and circulate It between yin and yang.
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Laughter releases qi, which would otherwise build up and stagnate, causing further illness.
Books, films and anything else that makes us laugh is good (– except for malicious or vicious humour).
If possible, allow access to the roofs so people can go out, breathe air (yang), see the Heavens (yang) and feel at least some sense of freedom.
In communist China this next suggestion might not be possible. But in other non-communist or non-atheist countries, one could encourage or enable religious services to be held for the inhabitants. Religion helps people relate to their bigger selves and to their universe. Nebulous? Yes, perhaps, but that is the nature of yang, which takes or makes its form in yin.
Another yin approach would be to enable a listening service. This would not be the same as counselling, but more like a sympathetic ear for the desperate or grieving. In Britain there is a saying ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’. (There is some evidence for this, especially if shared with someone in similar circumstances, see https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2548917/A-problem-shared-really-IS-problem-halved-Study-finds-discussing-problems-people-situation-reduces-stress-levels.html).
Another, yang, way to help, is to open up the future. (You could argue that being unknown, but full of plans and ideas not yet come to reality, the future is Yang. The past is yin, unchangeable because we know what happened.)
For example, allowing people to learn new skills or hobbies or crafts, means that they will have more options in future. So, it is important to make education possible for the trapped.
Another way to dilute the barrier is by allowing the post to come and go. Encourage people to write and communicate with the outside. Even better if they hand-write correspondence, because that requires more arm and hand movement, planning, paper, envelopes and stamps, all of which require us to move, including walking to the shop and postbox.
Lastly, with qi stagnation, a little alcohol or equivalent drug can help. Unfortunately, it’s not much! As we all know, a little more of it clouds our judgement as to what is enough! But the British Royal Navy learned how to do it: they allowed sailors who were, after all, in a somewhat similar to lockdown situation for long periods on their ships, to have a daily portion of rum, carefully measured. Symbolically, we use a less yin form (liquid) to dilute a more yin form (the nailed-up door or the law).
Understanding how the benefits of Yang work to lessen an excess yin state is much easier. Yang opposes Yin, but for health, over time, they must balance one another. However, so powerful is yang that you don’t necessarily need a lot of it. A little can go a long way.
If you skipped the last few paragraphs under yin, here’s a recap. Yin tends to be slow to move, or needing to be moved, it has taken form and over time becomes still, unchanging. It acts to descend energy and relates to the earth we live on and to practical, day-to-day life.
Yang, on the other hand, is changing and warming, and tends to ascend energy, and relate to the sky and to ideas. Most people are attracted to yang. For example, we like colour, movement, fireworks, celebrations and drama. (Too much yang occurs in wartime when there are too many fireworks: dangerous!)
Keep those symbols in mind as we explore …
People differ, fortunately. At least in the West where, unlike in China, we are not yet trying to make everyone conform to a common or universal perfect standard of living.
Few of the following examples of yang activities will suit everyone! Some have already been mentioned. Once you get the idea that for health yin and yang must intermingle and Qi must move, change, transform and adapt, you’ll add your own suggestions.
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