Friday, August 3, 2012

Making Whole: Yin Yang of You

The Yin and Yang symbol is an ancient Chinese symbol that says so much with its simplicity. It represents balance, not opposition, a philosophy that dark cannot exist without the light, that beauty cannot exist without things that repulse, that day cannot exist without night.

Embracing that philosophy means accepting ourselves for all that we are. That without having made mistakes, perhaps we would not be the loving, caring people we are today, that without having felt pain, we would not be able to heal others. It is with that in mind that we can use the basic Yin Yang symbol to promote self acceptance and healing within ourselves.

You'll need:  a digital camera, printer, scissors, drawing paper, dry glue stick (optional: this can also be done on a pre stretched canvas, with Modge Podge and acrylic paints)

Use a digital camera and take a bunch of photos of your very best feature. It could be your eyes, your hands, your hair, your smile...whatever you think is your very best, the physical thing that is the best about you, take a shot of it.  Take pics at different angles, have a friend take some images and upload the images. Crop the shots so that you have isolated just that part of you that you think is your very best feature. Re size the images so that you have a variety of sizes and shapes to work with in a collage format. Print them out on lightweight card stock or heavy printer paper.

Now, pick up that digital camera again and take some pictures of what you consider your very worst feature. It could be your toes, your crooked teeth, your ear lobes, your broken finger nails, whatever it is, take some photos of it in all its unhappy glory. Again, upload, crop and print as you did before.

Draw out a classic Yin Yang design, a circle with a basic curve design in it that both divides the circle and yet brings the two halves of the circle together in some way. On one half of the circle, cut and paste the Best Part of You features into the space, covering the white of the paper entirely all the way to the edges of the circle and to the separating curve in the center.  Save a small circle of Best part of you image for later.

Yin Yang Collage in Process
On the opposite side of the circle, cut and paste the images of your Worst Parts of you in the same way. Save a circle of the Worst part of you.

Now, glue the circle of the Best part of you onto the Worst part of you side in the upper section to mimic the classic Yin Yang design, repeat with the other side and the Worst part of you circle.

(If you are doing this on canvas you can apply the Modge Podge Decoupage sealer over the entire collage now and allow to dry. Then, once dried, go back over the project with acrylic paint to define the Yin Yang symbol's edges  and to enhance the image as you desire.)

Now, when you stand back and look at your work, what do you see? What do you feel? Do you want to make any further adjustments to your image? Any further enhancements? Why? What does the Yin Yang symbol teach you about accepting your two sides? Can you accept them? Do they balance you? Can they exist without each other? Write out your revelations if you choose around the perimeter of your Yin Yang symbol to complete the project.

Another Option for this project: Instead of using photos, use colors and words to express the personality traits that describe the best parts of you and the worst parts of you, your best traits and worst traits. 

This project has so many different options and various interpretations it can be done over and over again and provide you with new insights each time.

Diane Steinbach is the author of: Art As Therapy: Innovations, Inspiration and Ideas:, Art Activities for Groups: Providing Therapy, Fun and Function and A Practical Guide to Art Therapy Groups

image: flickr
Attribution Some rights reserved by DonkeyHotey


  1. Hi Diane, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris

  2. great idea! I'm feeling particularly blue this week, and this is a nice exercise in feeling better. You just made me think of one of my favorite sayings, "This too shall pass." thanks. {:-Deb

  3. Balance is what I always seek. Very creative. :)

    I found your blog through the blog hop and I followed you via GFC. I hope you can visit my blog at :)

    You might want to join my Twitter link up!



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