Tony Schwartz: Ultradian Rhythms

Before working at Taiji Zen, I used to teach classes designed by a really smart guy named Tony Schwartz.  I wanted to share an article with you all about one of the most important things we used to teach, because Tai Chi philosophy has been stressing it for thousands of years.  In order to be perform optimally, you have to take breaks!  (Sound familiar?  If not, you should read Dax’s post about Gathering and Exploding.)  Specifically, research has shown that taking a break every 90 minutes (a period of time called an ultradian rhythm) is one of the most effective strategies for sustaining top-notch performance.


Here’s an excerpt from an article Tony wrote:

“In his renowned 1993 study of young violinists, performance researcher Anders Ericsson found that the best ones all practiced the same way: in the morning, in three increments of no more than 90 minutes each, with a break between each one.”

I highly recommend reading the entire article, which you can find here:

Schwartz, T. (2010, May 18). The 90-Minute Solution: How Building in Periods of Renewal Can Change Your Work and Your Life .

In order to Fālì (use explosive energy), first you much Xùlì (gather energy).  Without Yin, you can’t have Yang.  It’s always comforting to see scientific research prove ancient Chinese philosophy.

How often do you take breaks at work?  What do you do during your breaks to Xùlì?  Share your favorite techniques in the comments section!


About Eric

I'm a positive psychology nerd and I help develop the Daily Zen content for the Online Academy. I'm also an aspiring actor in China, and spend my free time getting beat up by the good guys in movies and TV shows.

Leave a Reply