My experiences with self-discipline and self-care
We all have feminine and masculine energies in us. It does not matter whether we are male or female. In Chinese philosophy Yin refers to the female energy and Yang refers to the male energy.
This is the energy of conquest, power and achievement. Its not necessarily a bad energy, it brings discipline, structure and focus. It stems from the exercise of will power. The moral value of will power depends on what are we using it for. If the focus is to control others, it is used in the service of the ego.
If the will power is used to self-discipline, cultivate good habits and achieve a personal goal that benefits others, it is a good use of the Yang energy. The masculine energy is also the energy to protect and provide, irrespective of whether this role is fulfilled by a man or a woman.
As a child our first experience of the Yang energy would typically be our father. This is important to have, else we grow up with a Yang deficiency. But it also depends on the kind of father we have. Every father will not demonstrate a healthy Yang energy. In some cases like mine, people never experience a father.
For me the childhood experience of Yang energy was an institution. I was sent to a boarding school at age 5, so I did what was asked of me by the system. Everything was predetermined — a time to wake up, a time to eat, a time to study, a time to play and a time to sleep. It did not teach me self-discipline, it taught me to adapt to the system out of fear, else face the consequences.
This conditioning of complying out of fear continued throughout my adult life. Until one day I rebelled against the system and decided to follow my feelings. Which was not such a great idea, especially when one cannot differentiate between intuition, emotions and impulses.
With experience I have realized, before we can get in touch with a pure part of us we must, free ourselves of our impurities. Which is our impulsive behaviour, addictions and procrastination. This requires exercising our Yang energy in the service of our higher good. The last 5 years of my life were spent in inculcating self-discipline, after realizing the value of it. This discipline was my own, not imposed by an outside system.
This is the energy of nurture, sensitivity and intuition. I feel as one evolves, irrespective of our gender we inhabit the Yin energy more. Our first experience of the Yin energy would be our mother. Depending on the kind of mother we have, determines how we experience this energy. A balanced feminine energy would nurture, without creating dependence.
In my childhood the Yin energy was missing. A boarding school environment does not provide much scope for personalization. No one asks you how was your day, what are you feeling, what would you like to eat today. As a result, I numbed my emotions as a coping mechanism.
When we do not allow ourself to feel our feelings, it helps us to protect against trauma, especially as children. But we have to pay a price for that protection as adults. Feelings are the inner compass that guide us, if we don’t know what we feel, then we are at the mercy of outside influences to decide the direction of our life. No wonder I ended up choosing Chartered Accountancy, a profession that was totally divorced from my natural self.
The Yin energy is also the source of kindness and compassion. But before we can extend these feelings to others, we must learn to apply them to ourself. I have often noticed, sensitive people are very kind to others but hard on themself. Particularly at a time of emotional crisis, we need the Yin energy more than the Yang energy.
Recently when I underwent an emotional upheaval, I got in touch with my Yin energy. In any case I was incapable of exercising my will power since my mind was not in my control. Such a moment is rich with spiritual vitamin. I believe every crisis contains with it the opportunity for self-transformation. Even though it is extremely anguishing to go through darkness, not knowing when the light will emerge.
The result of this crisis was that I dropped my Yang self-discipling structures, and moved into the zone of Yin intuitive guidance. This is a beautiful space to be in. It is fluid and unbound. It is spontaneous and free. It has no fixed template of behaviour. Since I am new to this energy, I am still discovering it. There is uncertainty of what will happen next, and yet that is what makes life so fresh and alive.
Life is the dance of opposites. Day-night, inhale-exhale, summer-winter, north-south, order-disorder. The opposites balance and complement each other. Any energy taken to an extreme becomes destructive. There is a time to be disciplined and there is a time to be spontaneous. Between the two life flows.