Three young monks sat discussing their masters.
The first Zen student said, "My teacher is the best. He can go days without eating."
The second student said, "My teacher has so much self-control, he can go days without sleep."
The third said, "My teacher is so wise that he eats when he's hungry and sleeps when he's tired."
How often do we go through our lives neglecting our basic needs? I can tell you in clinic I often see people who don’t drink water at all, will forget to eat because their days are so busy or will lose out on sleep as a work project deadline approaches. To be fair if we do these things for short periods of time, our CNS adaptive range allows us to function without too much trouble but if we hold these types of patterns or behaviors for an extended period we tend to become symptomatic.
We have an ancient nervous system with some basic fundamental needs. If these needs aren’t met, we don’t function optimally. As we enter the 4th industrial revolution of the Information Age we tend to forget that our nervous systems are battling to keep up the pace of modern life.
We tend to think of ourselves as operating systems (which technically we are) but we really aren’t able to work 24/7. Our bodies need time for rest, recovery and play. We are designed to operate in homeostatic conditions and so if we push ourselves to the outer extreme edges of our nervous system, for an extended amount of time, we tend to break down.
All the lifestyle diseases prevalent in society today are as a result of us “not eating when we are hungry or sleeping when we are tired”. It’s a common topic of conversation in clinic. Sometimes the most simple action is the best action. Most times these simple things are missed by our higher intelligence.