During this unprecedented time of the Coronavirus many of us have been quarantined. Whether it is self-imposed or mandated by law, such a drastic lifestyle change into uncharted territory can bring up all kinds of responses.
So, how are you responding?
Are you feeling disconnected? Are you feeling sad, depressed, or lost without the structure of your day? Are you missing the happy hours with friends? Longing for those daily rhythms and routines to return? Are you going a little stir crazy?
Or do you catch yourself actually appreciating the change of pace? Has your sleep become more restful? Has this change of circumstances brought out more energy in you?
It’s okay. You can be honest here. The information you are gathering about yourself in this quarantine is meaningful and not to be taken lightly. This crisis is causing each one of us to learn more about our Yin and Yang nature.
The Forces of Yin and Yang
Yin and Yang (pronounced yawn-g, not like the southern yay-ng) is so much more than just understanding the unity of opposites, light and dark, sun and moon, etc. This Chinese philosophy has roots in philosophical and medical texts as far back as 500 BC.
Yin and Yang are used to describe qualities of energy; not fixed states:
Yin, meaning more introverted, reflective, soft, connected with the moon, slow movement, resting, nesting, and intimacy.
Yang, meaning more extroverted, expressive, force-full, connected with the sun, activity, growth, expansion, and playfulness.
Quarantine and Your Yin-Yang Nature
According to Chinese medicine, you and I have our own unique Yin-Yang nature and we refer to this as part of your constitution. At this moment of quarantine we are having what can be thought of as a predominantly Yin experience; we are away from most people, our stimulation has been reduced, our choices for activities are limited, and we are being asked to stay mostly indoors. These changes are extensive and your response to them reveals how they match or conflict with your own internal balance of Yin and Yang.
Diggin’ the change of pace just a little? You probably have a stronger Yin-nature. Way not into this whole quarantine thing? You probably have a stronger Yang-nature.
If you have a strong, healthy Yin-nature, you might do well during quarantine and emerge on the other side with more energy and stamina than before. On the other hand, if you struggle with keeping your Yin-nature balanced, this new change of pace might lead you into feelings of depression, hopelessness, fear, and feeling somewhat lost.
Nourishing Your Yin During Quarantine
Time spent in quarantine invites us to nurture and restore our Yin. Many of us challenge our Yin in our daily lives by drawing more energy from our bodies and minds than they have to offer (i.e., needing to drink coffee, eat sugar-rich snacks, and drink energy drinks just to get through each day).
If you are someone who has been burning the candle at both ends and ending each week feeling like you just climbed Mt. Everest, this time in quarantine might just be to your long-term benefit.
Our Yin nature thrives on slowness, warmth, and deeply nourishing food. Therefore, to nourish your Yin nature consider the following nutritional principles:
Everything that enters the body should be warm in temperature.
Cook everything (nothing eaten raw for now).
Cook foods slowly, over a long period of time and with less heat (low and slow).
Seek out salty flavors as they stabilize your energy (broth, bone stock, seaweed, miso, seafood, fermented foods, tamari, umeboshi, gomasio).
Focus on eating fats, proteins, and more complex carbohydrates than usual as they stabilize blood sugar.
Make sure not to go more than four hours without eating, except when sleeping.
Drink plenty of water (½ your body weight in ounces each day).
Incorporate herbal teas into your daily routines that strengthen your kidneys (which are the organs that serve as the foundation for your energy). This can include nettles, parsley, oatstraw, tulsi, cinnamon, ginger, and astragalus.
The above principles will support you in establishing a solid Yin foundation during this time. They will warm up your body and mind and soothe the parts of you that might be struggling.
Also consider adding in Yin-nourishing practices such as:
Reading books, taking baths, drinking tea, making art, cooking nourishing food, making love, FaceTime’ing with close friends, self-massage, skin brushing, taking long walks, journaling, playing or listening to music, making a vision board, stretching, practicing Yin yoga, meditating, and basically anything that allows you to enter into a flow state.
These Yin practices can support us by turning this experience into a time of deep healing and greater knowing of ourselves.
Returning to Our Lives
When this is all over and we return to our lives, our time spent in quarantine will become a distant memory. Now that you know more about the forces of Yin and Yang, you may find that your pre-quarantine lifestyle was not in alignment with your own Yin-Yang nature. So when the time comes to return, I invite you to ask yourself: is this life
I’m leading in alignment with my true nature?
Mindi Counts is a holistic medical practitioner, herbalist, and acupuncturist who uses Traditional Chinese Medicine to support clients in living their best lives. Her new book, launching Spring 2020, Everyday Chinese Medicine, is a healing wisdom guide that demystifies this 2000-year-old system. By walking the reader through the seasons, elements, and organ systems, the book is easily navigated to pinpoint your unique five element constitution and to set a plan to achieve energetic and physical balance using simple recipes, self-care practices, and time-tested herbal remedies. Mindi balances her own Yin and Yang energies by having a private practice in the Foothills of Colorado (Yin) as well as a nonprofit that takes her around the world in service of deeply impoverished communities (Yang). Find her at mindikcounts.com.