School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: September Newsletter

By Kat Forrester
I sometimes hear people wondering and asking about this aspect of the Movement Medicine Mandala, the yun. I believe it’s important for human evolution to include the third factor in our approach to living. I invite you to put on your “thinking cap” and read on. Western culture is by now familiar with the Taoist concept of yin and yang as describing the dynamic polar opposites which create movement and life in this universe.

The well-known visual image shows a circle divided into two halves – black and white – yin and yang. And there is a third factor which appears in two ways:
1) the line dividing the two polarities is a curving line, not a straight down the middle.
2) there is a spot of white in the black, and a spot of black in the white.

The curving line and the spots add dynamics of the third factor. This depicts the yun. This is the factor which makes the yin and yang dance and sing with each other, endlessly, creating the ten thousand things. The source of this understanding is in the Tao te Ching (attributed to Lao Tsu, 6th century BC). The same text is also quoted by Susannah and Ya’Acov at the beginning of chapter one of their book on Movement Medicine.

Tao te Ching Chapter 42
The Tao begot one.
One begot two.
Two begot three.
And three begot the ten thousand things.

A deeper examination of this Taoist text is provided in an article by the modern Chinese thinker, Francois Cheng, based on his conversations with the French psychiatrist, Jacques Lacan in the 1970s. It’s a brilliant description – read on!

Interpretation by Cheng:
The Tao means the Void. The ineffable.
The One is understood as the first primordial breath – which divides into two vital breaths: yin and yang. At the heart of the two is added a third (yun), which is none other than the breath of the Void. This third is essential – because without this breath shaking up in the Void, the yin and the yang would each set up camp on their own account, or find themselves in a sterile opposition. With the intervention of the third, the breath of the Void, the two partners yin and yang enter a field which is open, distanced and interactive.
The third is born of the first two, and becomes a dynamic entity in itself, a true space of exchange and of change. So the two are able to cross and intersect, and become more than themselves.

There’s more in the article, but that’s the main thing. I love this. The third factor takes us beyond duality. In our times, so much of our life is governed by computers – which work precisely on the “Binary System” – meaning that at every step, there is a choice between two alternatives only. A computer decision is a complex chain of hundreds of thousands of choices, every one of them based purely on: black or white / yes or no. No third factors! This binary thinking mode of computers and AI has a huge impact on our human thinking patterns. We’d better watch out!

I always enjoy Ya’Acov’s advice – if you are dealing with a difficult choice between two opposing factors: “look for a third”. (Or more!)

If you start looking for a third factor, you will find it all over the place. The Japanese art of flower arrangement, ikebana, always has three components, to represent heaven, earth and humankind. The ”I Ching” – the ancient Chinese book of divination, works with TRIGRAMS, which are various combinations of yin and yang lines in groups of three, which doubled up gives eight possibilities. Classical music (sonatas, symphonies) is very often arranged in three movements. Theatre used to be presented in three Acts, but present-day audiences now prefer two Acts (with just one longer interval for boozing). The Christian Church has the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) as well as the three Marys. The shamanic image of the Tree of Life portrays three zones of awareness: roots (sub-conscious), trunk (conscious), branches (super-conscious). The Movement Medicine nine Gateways are arranged in three groups of three: Journey of Empowerment, Journey of Responsibility, and so on. It’s endless - look around!

This is not just academic – it has very practical application. For example, in conflict zones: binary thinking leads us to focus on which of the two parties has the right or the might. The third factor can guide an inquiry which opens up the possibility of Peace, Love and Understanding.

Have fun! I’d love to hear from you with your discoveries by email:

Spelling: The original spelling in the article is yun. Movement Medicine has adapted this to yueng – I am not sure why – perhaps because if you google “yun” or “yung” the computer binary chain leads you through what it knows to “yueng” which is a Korean surname. Doesn’t matter really, does it?

Book Reference: The article in French, “Lacan et la pensée chinoise”, appears in the book: “Lacan, L’Erit, L’image". Publisher Flammarion, year 2000, ISBN: 2-08-081454-0 

My source: The above article and this ancient “wisdom of three” were pointed out by my teacher Ramona Llach, in an international women’s macrobiotic study group which met for 14 years in Switzerland, on the topic of “The Art and Science of being a Woman”.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.