It was over 10 years ago and I was barely making ends meet.
I’d borrowed a friend’s suit to wear to the interview as I nervously sat opposite the owner of the business who was interviewing me at the time.
“I really need someone who can give me 120%. Do you think this is you?” she asked.
I nodded emphatically as I lied through my teeth about my supposed enthusiasm while mentally calculating how much rent I could cover with my first pay slip.
Hand to mouth much?
My mismanaged energy flux oscillated between extremes for several more years that could be summarised as crash and burn, crash and burn before eventually leading to a few adrenal burnouts.
Having zero was scary. And confronting.
Fast forward to a change in career where I taught yoga instead of dance for a living.
I knew all the theory in my head and could recite mantras like a boss, but the ultimate lesson was to actually embody ancient wisdom by LIVING the teachings.
It was a seemingly ordinary wintery afternoon.
Most of us had a sniffle. Some were recovering from more extreme flu like symptoms and a few like myself were mindlessly pushing through, regardless of how unwell we were.
A beautiful wise soul had just finished teaching her class before I was about to start mine.
As we greeted each other, she commented on how pale and drawn I looked, which was a compliment given how exhausted I was.
“I don’t think I have it in me to give 100% today.” I lamented
“Nor should you!” she chided
And the moment that changed how I understood the art of energy balance commenced right then. She leaned forward conspicuously and confided one of the most profound things I’d ever heard at the time.
“I never give 100%.”
My eyes widened in disbelief.
“There’s no need to.” She continued “I usually cap my energy at 60% when I teach my class, otherwise I get really drained and need to take time off”
In that instant, my life flashed before me through a series of memories.
I was suddenly fascinated by how I could change so many of my life experiences, simply by tweaking the bandwidth that I emanated at the time.
I realised that giving 100% was no longer sustainable, and if I were to do this consciously, then I would consciously have to rest at that 100% capacity so that I wouldn’t get depleted.
And lets face it – what type A personality do YOU know that can fathom the idea of resting completely? But regardless, the Universal Law of equal and opposite measures that hold balance suddenly made so much sense.
Fast forward to today, and my daily check in of my energy helps me with that day’s energy assessment so that I am so much more aware of how much I have to give on that given day.
One of my wedding clients trades stocks for a living. She would never describe herself as being spiritual, but I was really impressed with her awareness about her time management and how seemingly swift she was at making important decisions.
It turn out that in her work, she needs to be quite decisive about what bonds or stocks she trades, and more often than not, being 60% certain about a particular company is enough for her to make a decision about whether or not to go ahead with a trade.
If she were to wait til she got to 100%, not only would she never make any money, but she’d also miss crucial opportunities that would have a reverberating affect on her other clients.
When I was discussing the concept of not needing to operate at 100% with some friends over dinner the other night, an interesting concept came up when one friend agreed that she could tap into this idea during the beginning of her menstrual cycle.
A colorful discussion then ensued when her husband jokingly suggested that she also got a get out of jail free card when she was premenstrual, pregnant, breastfeeding or mad at him for not taking the rubbish out, so when was he allowed to operate at less than 100?
And this really fascinates me, not only because there’s always truth in jest, but because in this western culture that we exist in, we are so used to giving everything our best shot that it has come to be a normal expectation from our respective families and workplaces.
Why do we need to be physically unwell in order to justify a legitimate drop in our capacity (or even desire) to operate or to give?
Why are some ailments socially acceptable whereas others are frowned upon because of some society’s construct of what is deemed to be normal?
I ask this because I invite you to start incorporating a simple daily practice into your own life, especially as winter fast approaches and your energy will naturally start to wane. (By the way, I’ll be teaching a winter wellness workshop at Sukha Mukha Yoga in exactly a month – I’d LOVE to see you there!)
My suggestion is to cultivate a daily habit of taking a few deep breaths and finding stillness in your body, mind and spirit as you scan your body and notice any sensations that come up.
Feel into where your energy is like today, with no judgement and no attachment, but instead, with compassion and curiosity. And when that number comes into your field, allow a space of complete acceptance as you traverse that day’s experience.
From my heart to yours – whatever percentage you’re at.