Yin, Yang, and the Balance of Everything

One of the many many things we discuss during the spring swim seasons at Ramona is the idea of balance. I’ve always taken a shine to the Daoist symbol of Yin and Yang and its ability to remind us about the idea of balance; so much so that I made it our team logo.  Now, aside form the fact that I think it looks really cool, the Yin-Yang symbol really makes visual the backing ideas for everything we practice during swim season.

A quick primer of the Yin-Yang symbol:

In this symbol we see the light and the dark perpetually encircling each other. Where one ends, the other begins, and in both the light and the dark, there is an element of the other (the dots). Together they form a perfect circle, each side serving as a complement to the other.

The most important aspect of this symbol is that it represents and reminds of the fact that life is about maintaining balance. When we think of opposites, like black and white, good and evil, daytime and night time, the magic of Fridays and the weight of Mondays, we have this tendancy to view them as seperate things rather than simply different and essential aspects of the same experience.

There are seemingly infinite dualities that we experience everyday. The more you think about it, the more they appear:

Work vs.  Play

School vs.  Sports

Team Work vs.  Individual Work

Family Obligations vs.  Team Obligation

(swimmers) Air vs.  Water

Mind vs.  Body

Stroke vs.  Glide

Legs vs.  Arms

Breathing in vs.  Breathing Out

Here’s the thing though: You can’t just breath IN; even if we don’t want to, our nature will force us to get rid of that air so the cycle can start again. In the same way, you can’t maximize the benefits of a healthy body without a healthy mind, and without individual drive an athlete can never be a valuable part of a team.

The main problem of all these opposing aspects is that in our minds we tend to see “VS” instead of “&.” But when we make a slight adjustment in perspective, we find ourselves with Air & Water, School & Sports, Mind & Body, Work & Play. Now we can start seeing how all the different parts of our lives work together, and how each are given meaning and balanced by the presence of the other. Just like the dark and light aspects of the Yin-Yang symbol, each of these seeming opposites are really just parts of a larger whole.

As student athletes and coaches, people either actively developing themselves or working to assist others in their development, we need to be reminded of the fact that a happy and fulfilled life is one of balance. We can’t create conflict by pitting practice against homework, family against team if we want to be truly successful. What we have to do is figure out how all the elements can work together in balance so that strength and independence develops in our teams  and ultimately makes life WAY cooler to live.

The next time you see the Yin-Yang symbol on some of our team gear (or anywhere), try to think of the different things you have going on and remind yourself how they are not really opposites, but smaller parts of the larger whole. You’ll like what happens next :)

See you at the pool,

Coach Banister