“You’ve got a circle…that man lives inside of. He lives inside this circle. He’s responsible for this circle and this circle only!” *
The benefits of a regular physical/spiritual practice are broad and deep. One of the most profound differences I’ve recognized from early on in my Xing Yi Training is a stronger sense of boundaries. I assume most teachers trying to set a student on a path towards a lifelong growth process will encourage morning practice as essential to laying the foundation. On a practical level it’s easier to cut out time first thing in the morning. As the day progresses and fatigue sets in it can become more challenging to build momentum via focused contemplation in the context of often overwhelming “things to do” lists. When you practice first thing in the morning, you create a feedback loop with your mind. You’re essentially reaffirming “this is something I value to such an extent it will take president over all other activities”. In doing so, the rest of the day is contextualized within that frame.
There are wavelengths beneficial to an individual’s body and mind, and this is not the default mode of the average person moving about the world. Paying attention to the breath and body, learning to slow down and focus attention, I perceived a sharpening of my perceptual faculties. And, contrariwise, I became aware of the unhappy and self-defeating tracks the average individual moves about on a day to day basis.
“How am I not myself?”*
When you quiet the mind in focused meditation it’s like a snake shedding dead skin. Obsessive thought loops soften. There’s a movement away from egoic identification and emersion into a primordial state of mind. Who were you before you and who will you be after? Meditation gives us a glimpse of this. And when you leave the practice and return to your persona, you may find you feel more You than before. For the Xing Yi practitioner this state is an embodied proof of Taoist metaphysical concepts. Before there was confusion, there was the Tao. If one can dwell near that state of cosmic balance, then everything runs smoothly.
Now the reason I wanted to write this is to discuss boundaries. When you have a regular meditative practice, you’re drawing a circle around yourself that distinguishes your mind/body from the teaming confusion around you. Most humans are like cars driving too fast with the wheels ready to go flying off. Forget about “optimal” mental/physical health. Most people don’t exercise. They poison their bodies with low grade food and they allow their ships to be directed by the winds of whoever’s around them. A feedback loop from 3 friends of low moral/intellectual stock will enforce a perception of the world as they see it. You could swap friends out with family, co-workers, the television etc. A world full of weak nasty voices who don’t know what the fuck they’re doing trying to put their hands on the steering wheel. I developed a motto while dating a girl with borderline personality disorder: “You don’t get to drive if you don’t know where you’re going.” Weak rhetoric and tumultuous propaganda have brought the modern world to the brink of ruin, and you’re going to tell me to trust in some delusional “We”?
“You cannot deceive me my friend, for I know too much. And my horses are swift.”*
The modern world runs on cognitive channels which are inherently flawed. Meditation re-wires the brain and allows us to recognize broken or clumsy cognitive structures within ourselves and those around us. For example: the effectiveness of weak propaganda to direct people’s interpretation of clearly framed news data. I’ll read an article which from the headline is obviously trying to shade information to make me feel a certain way. I’ll then be moving about the world and hear some doofus at a coffee shop hysterically parroting said propaganda as if it were a revelation from on high. Should I catch the panic and pass it along the Mutter line? Emphatically: No. I draw a line in the sand and disregard the bullshit data.
Meditation also allows us an unsullied retention of subtly perceived information. You can read a book on micro-expressions and maybe catch between moments what a person is actually saying to you. Or you could practice Xing Yi and get a visceral sense when there’s a dissonance between what’s being said and the speaker’s inner stance or veiled motives.
I can’t see why a person wouldn’t make it the top priority to strengthen their mind and body. Your boss doesn’t care if your high cortisol levels are paving the way for some sort of cancer. Chances are you have friends and family who (if viewed objectively) are closer to enemies as far as how they affect you on the regular. A Millennial invests ego in confused pseudo-philosophies and is gonna try and make suggestions how you can be a “good man”? Meaningless. You should have friends, family, a job, sex partners et al. But I’m telling you, at the end of the day, you’re the only one looking out for number one. If you dedicate yourself fully to a path of physical/mental empowerment you will have a refined ability to sift through the confusion, making better choices for where you want to be, as well as to guide people you care about through their own sea of chaos.
*The above quotes are from Charles Manson, I Heart Huckabees, and Dracula respectively.