Last week after almost a year of living in Washington, DC, I walked the popular tourist stroll from Eastern Market to the Lincoln Memorial for the first time.
At the Lincoln Memorial my eyes zeroed in the 16th President’s hands. I noticed that his left (receptive, “feminine” yin) hand is in a clenched fist and his right (active, “masculine” yang) hand is open and relaxed.
I see this holding pattern in many people when I offer them bodywork. In fact it is the most common thing I notice when people are on the table.
In the West, we tend to be less comfortable with receiving than we are with doing and giving. How many times have you heard ‘It is better to give than receive?’ Personally, I think it is better to give AND receive.
This is a yang culture that often disrespects and actively suppresses the yin. While the crowds instigated a flash photography tornado in front of the white marble sculpture, I marveled at how symbolic it is of America’s Group Body. Left and Right still divided. A nation profoundly out of balance.
Many people hold more tension on one side of the body than the other. Have you ever noticed what your holding pattern is? Is your right side tighter than your left? (Or do you notice something different?) Right now can you take a deep breath, drop your attention into your body, and notice?
Now I have a confession to make. One of the first noticings I had about my body when I was training to teach yoga is that my left side is free and flowing and my right side is tight and sore. As I write, this still seems to be the case.
So my holding pattern goes against cultural norms. (Gasp!) This means that people might perceive me as lazy and self-indulgent (which I undeniably am at times). What’s more true is that I gravitate towards the yin, the receptive. This is my body’s basic instinct. I value being (and Bea-ing) more than doing.
After the Lincoln Memorial I walked to the neighboring Vietnam Veterans Memorial just after sunset. (Btw, did I mention that I love D.C?)
A massive group of sixth graders wearing blue t-shirts took occupancy of the walkway as they rambled towards me. Being an American who is inclined towards the yin is definitely against the stream.
ps: here’s a photo of the wonderfully nurturing tree that held me in repose by the National Monument, which is about halfway between the Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial.
Feedback on this post and suggestions for future blog posts are welcome.
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