i ching #24: Returning




This post is #24 of 64 hexagrams in a series of posts about the I Ching, an ancient Taoist text that has many ties to the Tao Te Ching. For those of you new to this series, you may want to start by reading my post called “What is a Hexagram?” that helps to explain more about the general idea of the I Ching.


No matter how far you may roam, you will always come back to your center.

In this hexagram, there is one yang line at the bottom of a heap of yin lines. In the previous hexagram, it was flipped and the yang line was at the top and it spelled trouble. But this time, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Things are starting to turn around and it feels good.

The study of Taoism reminds us to consider the waves of life. If you live a chaotic life, you will stray far from your center before returning. It’s like a huge wave that crashes down after going very high. The higher the wave, the bigger the crash. Sometimes it takes many crashes before one realizes that smaller waves are easier. Sometimes people never figure that out.

When I think of the return in this case, I am reminded of the breathing space like Xorin Balbes talked about in our interview for SoulSpace. We all need that pause.

Last weekend, my life got a little bit crazy. I had let things slide a bit too long with my house and I got to the point where the frustration mounted into a bit of a meltdown. Not a huge meltdown, but one that was big enough that I realized that I needed a break. So I followed Naomi Wittlin’s advice and went to my thinking spot. While there, I wanted to practice just being with my frustration. I am reading a book right now called The Conscious Parent and one of the practices in that book is to practice being with your emotional states so that you can help your children be with theirs. It was hard. I am used to running away from those types of emotional moments, not being IN them. I could see that my frustration with the state of my home was bleeding over into how I was talking with my daughter and my husband.

I am not sure that I ever got to the point where I faced my frustration and sat with it, but I did feel better for sitting there in my thinking spot for a while. I just needed a break. I needed to return.

So what about you? Tell us about a recent return you experienced in the comments below.


  1. I could use that break right now. I feel pulled in too many directions and I’m not getting enough time for me and what I really want to do. I’m not having a meltdown but I feel like I could…it feels controlled…it a way I am sitting with my emotions. ..fully aware of what they are and where the are coming from…and I’m waiting for the return…
    Michele Bergh recently posted…Your Body Can Make You HappyMy Profile

    • Your advice was so helpful, Michele. I finally GOT it! You said to feel how the emotion feels in your body, notice the physical sensations that go with each emotion. Have a list of emotions. All very good stuff! You are such a good friend.
      amy recently posted…#WhatAreYouWorkingOn: No. 4My Profile

  2. In Judaism, especially during the time of the New Year, we undergo a process called “T’shuvah,” which people translate as “repentance” but actually means “return.” The idea is that life is one huge path and sometimes we stray from our proper path. We use the time to recognize that misdirection and steer back toward where we need to be. If only we all had that inner GPS all the time! I guess it’s part of the cycles of our lives that we ebb and flow. 🙂
    Naomi recently posted…Little bits of inspirationMy Profile

  3. I’ve been thinking lots about how our inner essential self continues to show up despite all the outer appearances of our life. So your post today feels like another reminder – of outward experiences that call to return to our inner core. I like the self-care practice that took you to your thinking spot, and I like the idea of consciously being with your emotional states in order to model that for your child. I’m not sure you didn’t actually face your frustration though Amy – I don’t think it needs to be more complicated than what you experienced. You saw your impact on your family, you knew what triggered you, you figured out you needed a break, and you know not to let things go to the breaking point. Sounds like a win to me.
    Deborah Weber recently posted…Fool: U is for…My Profile

  4. What good thoughts….it seems that most of the time I find myself just saying…”let it go”, let it go”. I’m not sure that really accomplishes anything. I think I need to allow myself to ‘be’ in that moment, to acknowledge my feelings in that particular situation, and then either find a way to resolve it or ‘let it go’ if need be…..mmmm
    Debbie Goode recently posted…Meet PipMy Profile

  5. This is the third blog out of three blogs that I have read this morning that is very inspirational. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something, but more than likely, I am in that place of return having crashed from a very long wave.
    Thank you for a good read.

  6. Amy, I have been looking forward to your comments on this hexagram. It seems an odd concept to have a favorite hexagram, but this is certainly one of my favorites. As you know, I commented on it while I was doing my Tao Te Ching commentary (http://ralstoncreekreview.com/chapter-40-return/).

    Generally I see this as the wondrous return of light (the yang line) after a period of darkness (the yin lines). Your comments, though, reminded me of something from the Bible – Isaiah 30:15: “For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,’In RETURNING and rest you shall be saved. In quietness and in trust shall be your strength.'”

    I see that you understand that concept, don’t you?

    Thanks for your insights.
    Louis Weltzer recently posted…Comments on the Concept of Evil (by Bob Griffith)My Profile

    • Hi Louis!

      Thanks for stopping by. Yes, I do see that concept. And I am glad that you are reminding me to comment on that post you wrote earlier. I am very sorry! I will find it and comment. I forgot to do that.
      amy recently posted…#WhatAreYouWorkingOn: No. 4My Profile

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