So often we talk about how to get beyond the limiting, even destructive identities we create for ourselves or have been imposed on us in our lives. The fact is, no one should feel beholden to a definition that hampers their self-actualization or undercuts their physical or emotional well-being. That said, what if we examined the flip side of this equation? We often assume a fixed identity is something that works against our greater good, but what if – under the right circumstances – it can be a positive, grounding influence that helps circumscribe our daily decisions in a healthy way? Consider reader Steve’s thought-provoking comment on a post from this past summer regarding “The Uses and Abuses of Guilt”:
It’s opening day at the ballpark. You’ve been waiting for this for many long, cold months. Some of your favorite people are with you. It’s a beautiful day. You’re off work. Life is good. You ate before you came because, having decided to go Primal, you know to prep yourself. That said, a few innings into the game the beer is looking good and your tap water – not so much. “Surely, one can’t do that much damage,” you think. “It’s the season opener, for Pete’s sake.” Two more innings later, you’re hungry. You’re caught up in the fanfare. You’re mildly jealous of the friends around you and their “devil-may-care” eating habits. You watch the vendors making their way around the sections. You conjure up the concession stand menu in your mind as you remember it from last year (or a few years before). The inner negotiation begins. Which is the least of all evils? (And what’s coming around the soonest?) You settle on a hot dog because you don’t feel like getting up and missing any of the game. Five bucks later you’re settling in with your snack, even pushing the envelope on how much of the bun you’re going to eat. A few minutes later it’s all gone except for the tell-tale smear of mustard on your lip. Though your team eventually won the day, you’re not faring as well. Your stomach turns funky that evening. You feel that old familiar bloating. Even the next day you admit you’re in recovery mode. You realize then, you’re going to need a better “no” plan next time.
A few years ago I did a post on The Restorative Power of a Personal Retreat. To this day, it’s one of the “lifestyle” posts I get the most feedback on. At the time I wrote it, I was gaining my own vision into this practice – first through hearing the experiences of friends and acquaintances, doing some research and later pursuing some intentional retreating myself. Beyond the basics of everyday health, I’ve found taking these retreats to be one of the most influential practices for my well-being. It’s a rare time when I can recalibrate my senses and listen to what thoughts come up in the midst of some quiet and solitude – whether creative or personal. Every once in a while, I’ll still get a personal email about that post or have people come up to me at an event and talk about it. They share their own retreat experiences or their own interest in the idea, asking how (or where) to get started. In the interest of their inquiries, I thought I’d revisit the topic and offer a how-to primer for those interested in making personal retreats part of their Primal journey.
A few years ago as I was beginning to get a vision for what would become The Primal Connection, I was exploring the idea of vitality from new angles. I was interested in what lay beyond the basics for human survival: nutrition, movement and fitness, sleep, stress and sun. I wanted to examine the connections between our hunter-gatherer ancestors’ lifestyles (what we can reasonably determine and presume) and the existing (if somewhat marginal) activities and therapies that appeared to show therapeutic benefit in scientific studies. I talked about bibliotherapy, writing therapy, music therapy as well as other more enigmatic but relevant topics like silence, solitude, ritual and retreat. What could be gleaned from the research (and a bit of Primal philosophizing) for further refining the good life – the deeper sense of well-being that accesses and actualizes the many facets of our evolutionarily fashioned humanity? In the midst of my recent blogging forays into vegetable recommendations, gentle cooking, pollution mitigation and resistant starch, I’ve been thinking lately about those past explorations. Truth be told, looking into those areas influenced my life at the time. I’m one to write about what I live – or at very least try what I write about….
Visualization time… Take a moment and picture a world class athlete in your mind. What image is coming? If you’re like most people, you’re probably visualizing a tall, lean, muscle-bound (or at least very muscular) man or woman, the epitome of brawny human form. On the flip side of this exercise, of course, that means you’re likely not thinking of anyone who’s short, stocky, slight, overweight, exceptionally tall, etc. And yet athletes, even world class athletes, come in literally all shapes and sizes. You may have seen these pics (a few of which are embedded below) making the rounds recently (or remember them when they were first published by Howard Schatz about twelve years ago or so). On the surface, the idea of body “variety” isn’t all that novel of an observation, but I’m still struck when I look at these photos.
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