“Just because you can go 100%, should you?”
“What if 80% gets you the same result, but you’ve preserved 20% of your energy?”
Those questions, asked of me in a yoga therapy session several years ago when I was working to rehab my torn labrum in my hip, stopped me in my tracks.
“What do you mean?” I wanted to holler back. “Of course I have to give 100%, how else does anything ever get done?”
Instead, I sat there silently, knowing there was so much freaking truth in those questions.
Damnit. I hate those moments. The cruel reminder of my default state of going all out and all in at all times. That state that never ends well for me.
When I’m about to take it to 11 (bonus points if you get the Spinal Tap reference!), in movement it shows up as bracing. It runs throughout my torso, head and neck. There’s the set, the grip and finally, the muscling through the motion.
I found myself in this state again because I was working on going from 6 points on the floor: toes, knees and hands, to 4 points on the floor: toes and hands.
To get my knees off the ground, I set my jaw, gripped my abs and tensed my shoulders.
To the outward eye, I looked like I was moving with ease. You couldn’t see the difference. In that state I could go in and out of the pose many times.
But, inside is another story. It’s so very subtle, yet the grip is like steel. I moved that way for years without catching it myself. The anticipatory engagement happens a split second before I lift, but it’s there. And it makes everything harder.
It took slowing waaaaayyyy down to find the pattern. Jaw. Belly. Shoulders. So much effort. So much work.
“What if? What if?” I asked myself.
“What if I just softened 20% before moving?”
Lightness. Ease. Fluidity. A lift with less effort and better outcome.
Less isn’t just better. Less is more.
It made me pause and reflect. It’s a moment where my lesson learned on the mat is absolutely representative of life off the mat too. Isn’t that always the way?
Where are the other places I grip, brace and move with force in order to give 100% where outwardly the effort and results appear good, but my inner experience would improve if I just softened 20%?
The answer? Everywhere.
I’m still working on it. Life changes a lot when there’s just 20% less effort. It’s less hard. It’s less frustrating.
For me it will probably be a lifetime of noticing and pausing and softening to counter my inclination to go in blazing, wanting to give 100% and more.
Life at 80%.
Where might you be gripping and giving it your all, but you could soften and still arrive where you want? Where does it show up for you? In your singing? In your relationships? In your business? In your parenting? If it is happening in one place, it’s probably happening in another.
Let’s all explore the idea of life at 80%. Where there’s room for joy around your effort.