Sloppy Zhang

Assessing our Health

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I'm going to relate some experiences I've had with meditation and awareness because I think it applies to many people in the modern world.......


The thing about meditation and most forms of cultivation is it makes you aware. Duh. Okay. That's good, right? Well guess what: the truth, if you're a modern person, probably SUCKS.


The FIRST thing I noticed about myself was how TIRED I was. All the time. 4-6 hours a sleep per night, constant work during the day, then 4-6 hours a sleep at night, wake up and do more work. If I was awake, my mind was thinking about work. Take a half hour to an hour to meditate, observe some thoughts, back to the work week.


But as my awareness developed, and I started to carry my awareness with me, I realized the toll my lifestyle (which in some cases is very hard to change) takes on my body.


I see a lot of people saying, "meditation makes me sleepy." And a lot of guides about how to avoid this. But I counter with this: meditation makes you aware of the condition your body is in, and most people are SLEEPY!


Day in day out, I was living in my mind. When you're so tightly wound in your body, you lose feeling. When you're so tightly wound in your mind, you even lose the feeling of that. Even after years of karate and other martial arts (of the external variety), my mind never got into the habit of really connecting with my body. It was more like, "this is what I want my body to do, this is how I prepare it to do it." I was sending commands to my body, but was not listening to any input from my body.


So through meditation and awareness I realized I was tired. Meditation didn't make me tired. I was already tired, and wasn't aware.


So what do I do when I try to meditate and I'm tired? I take a nap! I get myself to a healthy state, THEN start a practice. Now some days, it's a trial in and of itself to even maintain a healthy state. But awareness helps. A lot of tiny changes add up to a big change, so when you get the awareness of one good change, one bad change, one good decision, one bad decision, eventually you can make lots of little good decisions, so at the end of the day you aren't an emotional, mental, and physical wreck, and you can get some good practice in.


Now sometimes it means getting rid of bad habits. Sometimes it means doing what you aren't expected to do. And sometimes you run into a barrier, where you can't do any more and still remain in the life you are currently leading. And sometimes you are in a position where you can change the life you're leading, and sometimes circumstances dictate that you hold your position for a little while.


In any case, a small bit of a rant/personal experience, but the key message is that, in my opinion:


Most people are a wreck PRIOR to meditation/cultivation/practice, and their practice makes them realize this, and most likely if you're living anywhere close to a stereotypically "modern lifestyle", you've got to do quite a bit of work just to get to "base health".


So don't get down because you did some practice and you realized you're tired or something. Learn to figure out why you're tired, what decisions throughout the day led you to that state, and how you can start to change it, little by little.


Because when you wake up and suddenly realize you feel like shit, and don't know why, you might just be making progress. Because finally, you feel

Edited by Sloppy Zhang
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Amen, Zhang!


The huge revelation for me was pain. I had no idea how much I had tuned out from my pain. Once I decided to move toward awareness of physical sensation, it meant I had to live day in and day out, with all the pain that I had been ignoring previously. Over the last decade, that pain has been the roadmap I've needed to heal myself, but I'm still living with a great deal of near-constant pain. It's fine when I can pay attention to it, because that transforms the pain from suffering to something more like a glow. But when I have to focus on other things (like at work) the pain becomes a lot more of an irritant.

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