In the practice of Qigong / T’ai Chi, I remind students to use the 70% rule. Seventy-percent extension when extending their arms, 70% when stretching, when moving their legs into bow-stance [70% front leg, 30% back leg], a 70% effort.
My Sifu explains that T’ai Chi is a way of life. He would say, “If you come to class and it makes you feel kind and compassionate that is good. But if when you leave the building, you immediately get frustrated by a text you received or driver on your way home — you are not practicing T’ai Chi.”
I have been pondering this 70% rule lately and asking myself, “why not live at 70% outside of class?” Why not create at 70%, instead of 100% all the time. I let students know that they can go back to their hamster wheels after class … if they choose. But let’s be honest with ourselves, why would we want to?
I know for me, after my two year C-Adventure, 70% feels balanced. I no longer feel I have to force myself to be or do something to make me look productive. Instead, I am inspired to be productive.
Here’s some thoughts on living life with the 70% rule:
Clarity. It gives us a more relaxed view inward and outward, where we can have more clarity in our choices and not feel pressured to give an immediate answer.
Focus. Working at 70% means we have a more expanded focus to spend on creative solutions instead of the problems.
Less Stress. Yes, now this is a huge bonus, right? Who couldn’t live life with less stress? Well, when you’re gauging your life at 70% it’s built into the equation because you have time to slow down, and choose what it is you really would like to do in a day, and what can wait until tomorrow. Taking time to reprioritize gives you the chance to truly feel into it, instead of being the Energizer Bunny and just go, go, go.
A Gift of Presence. The flip-side of stress. Seventy percent is leaning into present awareness without force.
Rested. You feel better because you’re not wearing yourself out constantly at 100%. You could choose to go to bed earlier, sleep well and rise feeling ready to begin the day. Science shows us we are more physically healthy, with less colds as a result of your body having time to regenerate.
Eating. This is something, I have been working on—eating until I’m satisfied (70%) instead of stuffing myself at 100%. Same principle as feeling and not forcing, right?
Socializing/Activities. I usually have no problem saying “no” to those things that don’t light me up, and a “hell yes” to those that do. Remember, saying “no” to others is saying “yes” to yourself.
Space and Stillness. Living life at 70% gives you 30% space [flexibility & freedom] and it doesn’t have to be filled up with anything you do not desire. In fact, begin with stillness, whatever that means to you and then decide, or just BE (Breathe & Expand). What if you took that extra time to devote to your well-being? Whether it was reading, taking a class or a hot bath, having dinner with a friend, meditating, connecting with nature, or having a conversation on the phone, instead of texting.
More Energy. Now that you’re not running yourself ragged 100% of the time, you have more energy for yourself and for those around you. Now that’s a gift — period.
Yes, living life at 70% suits me and I feel inspired-action instead of forced, creativity to solutions, rather than focusing on the problems. I enjoy being off that hamster wheel, and maybe you will too.
My consistent practice of Qigong / T’ai Chi gently reminds me of what 70% feels like in my life, and it gives me that inner smile.