When I was at Kripalu, I heard this very wise thing.
(Just to let you know, I’m probably going to be talking about Kripalu a lot for a little while. It happens, when you go away to a special place that’s so wonderfully far-removed from your usual day-to-day that it shakes up your insides. It happened last year when I went to Rally, and it’s happening now, post-Kripalu.)
As I was saying, I heard this very wise thing. One of my fellow participants had done a one-on-one session with a yoga instructor, and the yoga instructor had said,
“Why don’t you just give 70% of your effort to this? You seem like the sort of person who always gives 100% to everything. That leaves 0% for yourself.”
When our new friend shared this wisdom, a murmur went around the room, which I translated as collective awe at that bit of smartness.
It made so much sense.
It was also in direct opposition to vigorous yoga practices I’ve done in years past, in which it was common for our teachers to encourage us to bring our effort to 110%.
Whoever made up this rule that we have to give 100% to everything? And what does that even mean, in practice? Is it good for us, or does it just sound nice to conceptualize of something as ephemeral as effort in percentages?
My guess is that in practice, giving 100% can mean ignoring the world’s rainbow of complexity, where no activity exists in a vacuum. It could also be a great dictum to encourage single-minded pursuit of a goal outside of oneself, at the expense of self-care.
I’m sure I’ve used the ol’ “give 100%” instruction once or twice to tell myself I wasn’t doing well enough, just because I hadn’t wrung that last bit of life out of my person in pursuit of a goal.
What kind of organic, savory, languid relief could we experience if, instead of aiming to give 100% at work tomorrow, we aimed for 70%? What about at yoga? How ’bout in making dinner?
While 100% still sounds perfectly plump and round to me, 70% (or less? or more?) just seems so much more honest. So much more gritty.
And so much sweeter.