Relieve Stress Through Yielding

In the western world we are encouraged to be proactive.

I was told at a very early age that if I really wanted something I can go and get it for myself. (It’s not a bad idea to inspire a kid to live an interesting life when there’s a risk of that kid just watching TV all day!)


However, the “go out and get it” philosophy has its problematic areas. Always reacting, acting, striving and grasping can lead us to a very unsatisfactory place at times.

Beware attachment!

Here attachment doesn’t necessary mean a boy’s attachment to his mother. But it suggests our attachment to dysfunctional relationships, material possessions, societal positions, are the attachments that really make us unhappy.

The Buddha saw this as resulting from man seeing himself (or woman seeing herself) as apart from the outside world – as separate from that which they are attached to – which was dilusory.

All religions have at their core the unity of all things. And if everything is one – there’s no need to attach, to cling, to desire.

There’s no doubt that our desires make us unhappy. We want possessions, relationships, status. And, the clinging to the thought “if only I had so-and-so I would be happy” makes us miserable. And, we even know that once we achieve this so-and-so (the relationship, the job, the house) we will instantly start craving something else. And the attachment goes on.

What we need to realize (and it’s not easy) is a life free from attachment. Free from yearning for the things we want and free from running away from the things we don’t.

Non-attachment is realising the best place is the one you’re in at the moment and this will give us happiness, make us free from anxiety, engender compassion for other living beings and reduce stress.

Build up your yin energy

The concept of Yin and Yang – the opposing forces that make up the universe – has been central to Chinese Taoist philosophy for many millennia.

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

– Charles Osgood, From Yang and Yin to and or but

Living a modern existence with all its stresses, attachments and pressures can deplete your Yin resources and leave you feeling tired, stressed and depressed.

There’s just too much fast, hard, hot, aggressive Yang in your life. Sound familiar? How can we pacify our busy, stressful lives with cool, calm, yielding Yin?

These things – quiet walks in nature, meditation, breathing exercises, learning to relax parts of your body when they aren’t being used – can all help.

But, assuming the nature of Yin, as well, will also keep us more grounded. Yield more, become more passive in the face of aggression. Try humility in the face of arrogance. Why fight fire with fire?

What we can do

It may be an anathema to our western culture but let’s try to just go with the flow a bit more. Try to yield to the suffering in life and take it on the chin. Nobody told us it was going to be easy.

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  1. David Waumsley says:

    Thanks, I completely agree with that. Hard not to fall back into old habits though.

    One of the best things that happened to me was having to move home a number of times. It made me reduce everything to the bare minimum and told me how much I had spent on not making myself any happier. It was life changing and spread to other areas of my life.

    Recently, with taking time out and living in India I have learned more about going with the flow. In fact it the only way you can be here.

    • Hey, David. You’re the first comment we’ve had here on! There should be some sort of prize!

      I really like not having too much stuff around me as well. It makes you realise how unnecessary material possessions are.

      Your experiences in India must have been very interesting and changed your perception and outlook as well. Fascinating stuff!

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