“Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life.” ~Lao Tsu

I stumbled upon a fascinating concept yesterday after struggling to wrap my head around the distinct contrast of two back-to-back workdays that I had this week.

I call it the Yin and Yang of “Intention” Days and “Vision” Days.

Wednesday was one of the slower and more deliberately paced days that I can remember. It started with reading by the window, later tai chi, ultimately transitioned into a short dose of zen meditation, an afternoon workout, and lots of short spurts of accomplished work throughout.

I felt a constant flow of passive, pure energy — not like a rushing river rapids, but a calm stream that maintained a steady flow.

I intended to make Thursday the same experience. However, Thursday was starkly different.

Early morning reading couldn’t hold my attention. A dose of tai chi didn’t calm me, but seemed to stir up even faster paced energy within. Meditation wouldn’t stick. Instead of fighting what seemed to be natural, I embraced it and ultimately made Thursday a day rife with loud music, movement and fast-paced, new-idea-a-minute energy.

Thursday was the “rushing river rapids” to Wednesday’s “calm stream” — starkly different in feel, but equal in every other way. What, exactly, was going on here?

The idea-driven pace of Thursday.

Yin/Intention and Yang/Vision Days

After my experience this week, I believe that we embody different kinds of natural energy every day. We might even embody opposing feels of energy at different times over a single day.

Based on how we can recognize and understand these different energies might reveal to us how our time and attention can best be used to accomplish goals, work, or simply live to the maximum of our abilities every single day.

The contrast of the energies I felt reminded me of my studies of Taoism, an ancient Chinese spiritual philosophy centered around energy and the way of living.

A cornerstone to the Taoist philosophy is yin and yang: how seemingly opposing ideas, concepts, worldly things (and energies) are interconnected, balanced, and, in turn, complimentary to one another (via Wikipedia):

  • Yin energy is described as slow, soft, yielding, diffuse, cold, wet, and passive; and is associated with water, earth, the moon, femininity and nighttime.
  • Yang energy is fast, hard, solid, focused, hot, dry, and aggressive; and is associated with fire, sky, the sun, masculinity and daytime.

Different Days, Different Energy

Was the contrast of my Wednesday and Thursday this week a simple difference in yin energy and yang energy?

  • Yin: Wednesday was an Intention day. Actions were deliberate, paced, and carried through with slow intent. My focus was boiled down to the second. My attention was placed upon each deliberate breath. Deeply in, slowly out. I listened to quiet. My mind was still and the incessant inner narrator we hear in our minds (the Ego, according to Tolle) was very quiet. Coincidentally, it was a full moon, and cloudy and raining in Boston.
  • Yang: Thursday was an Idea day. It was rife with far-seeing vision, creativity, innovation. New ideas came at a flurried and hurried pace. I wrote them down frantically and had sheets of paper strewn across my apartment. Rather than quiet, meditative music, I donned a pair of gaudy rockstar sunglasses and listened to lots of loud music. Coincidentally, the weather was bright and sunny in Boston.

This idea is still very young, but I wanted to offer it to you today for your thoughts and feedback. What if we respond to our natural energy or “feel” for the day by intently changing our plans for the day based upon how our energy can best be harnessed?

What I’m proposing is that we stop trying to shape your body, mind and energy to fit to your schedule, and instead fit your life to match the natural yin or yang energy you embody that given day.

What if we modify our aims and goals based upon our natural energy that seems to dictate what could be best tackled and accomplished? I’m sure your efforts will be reflect differently than my own “intention days” and “vision days” — how will you harness yin energy and yang energy to maximize your days?

Flickr photo credit: Chris Blakely