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No matter how you twist and turn it, it brings us back to the Work. When you attempt to 'do the Work' even somewhat awkwardly, at least you're not in your usual mechanics. Work requires a conscious effort. And, in order to make that kind of effort you must be, to some degree, awake. When you're only in the mechanics it's all just happening and nothing clear can be gained. YOU were not there to gain, and retain, in Understanding. 

To do something that has meaning to you, to experiment intelligently, to ponder, to try something that you think would be useful in real terms requires conscious-effort. For that, you have to be present.