• Mara Elwood

Creating with Yin and Yang

When Kristin Neff came out with her audio program “The Yin and Yang of Self-Compassion”, I bought it and engaged with it because I knew that I needed more balance to these two components of self-compassion in me. I am usually someone that deferred to the Yin side of self-compassion, and I had trouble practicing the Yang side. That “No” said with affection feeling like I was letting someone down. I have realized that this actually puts me at a disadvantage. When I practice Yang self-compassion I can be more fully and authentically present with people and activities that I get involved in, rather than overcommitting and only being half-available for everything. I still find the Yin side to be my fallback, but I notice when I may need to engage with the Yang side now, and this opens up a greater possibilities of easeful living for me.


I have just finished my Post Graduate Diploma in Arts Therapy in Aotearoa (New Zealand), and since I am lucky enough to live in a country where offering in-person classes is possible, I decided to offer some creative spaces for people to have another way of integrating learning at a recent 5-day intensive MSC retreat taught with my amazing friend and co-teacher Anna Friis.


In the Yin and Yang program Kristin guides a meditation that uses the breath as a vehicle to feel the energies of Yin and Yang compassion and balance them, it is available on Youtube here. I have led this for people on the Circles of Practice before and it has always been well received(you can apply for the circles as soon as you have completed the MSC programme), so on the first day of the retreat I offered this meditation and then had people engage in a collage activity to represent the Yin and Yang energies they experienced.

The above is a photo of my own Yin and Yang cards.

The activity was loosely based on “SoulCollage” in that I offered each person two cards, one for Yin and one for Yang and when these cards were finished with images that felt right for each person, I also provided the plastic sleeves to fit them in (this always gives the finished product a feeling of being “special” and precious). My good friend Katharina Kercher teaches workshops in Soul Collage is you are interested, check out her website. I hope that these cards will be placed somewhere that the retreatants can look at them occasionally to remind themselves of these two powerful energies that can support us to be more well rounded and balanced practitioners of self-compassion and compassion.


This Blog post was written for the "Circles of Practice" newsletter to be published on Nov. 29th, 2020.


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