Do Less, Gain More

It sounds counterproductive, right: Do less, gain more? I’m not suggesting it’s always true – just sometimes.

Imagine human beings were offered a certain amount of energy to expend at birth. During life, we use this energy while, at the same time, generating and exhausting energy from life forces outside of ourselves: the Sun, other people, wind, stress, etc. And somehow, we balance the intake and output of energy as we live, grow and die. How do we manage this exchange?

The yogis suggest that we slow our breath. The Taoists offer a variety of breathing, movement and even sexual practices to generate and store energy. Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to life force as chi and offers a variety of different ways of management and manipulation.

But how should modern Westerners manage their energy? Based on our current living conditions and what we observe of our bodies and effects of stress (good and bad), how do we do it? Is it correct to adopt practices developed decades or even centuries ago?

A new way comes with new perspectives and a new world. As the world changes, our bodies and minds change. Our energies are generated and exhausted in new ways, at different rhythms and at different paces. Food, soil, water and even our atmosphere continues to change. While studying about energy management methods from the past may be beneficial, I think it is important for us to keep in mind that training practices need to be applicable to modern times in a modern body.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in regard to energy management. The following are some insights I’ve gathered thus far to aid in ensuring I have enough energy for work, family and reservation:

1)   Don’t exhaust all the energy you have each day. Reserve energy for those moments when you’ll need more than usual. 

2)   Thinking exhausts energy – all types. Make time for quieting the mind.

3)   Energy is meant to flow in and out of the body, like a river into the ocean. Move your body each day in order to generate the flow so that, during periods of rest, the flow is maintained.

4)   Be flexible within a workout routine. If you feel tired or are preparing for a stressful situation, change your routine. It may mean lifting less weight or taking an extra day off from training.

5)   When there is a lot of movement around you, do less or be still altogether. There are times to move and times to be still and pay attention more closely.

We experience energy on all levels, from our cells within to the wind above. Energy is meant to be attended to and respected- sometimes, that means doing less.