In response to last week’s “Rethinking Stress” article, a number of readers noted the relevancy of meditation to the insight. Meditation, of course, isn’t something that changes our outer circumstances. It’s an inside job, so to speak. It can change our processing of stress by shifting our relationship to ourselves and to our own cognitive responses and emotional patterns. The result? We over time come to view our own reactions and feelings from a more grounded distance. We learn to observe our emotions instead of letting them run the show. We learn, in essence, to talk ourselves down from our own trees.
Meditation can seem like such a lofty thing, but it doesn’t need to. Anyone can do it, and everyone can benefit. So today I’d like explore meditation; the health benefits it confers, how it may fit into an ancestral framework, and how to get started. Let’s jump right in.
Last week’s “Why Diets Fail” post elicited some great discussion. There was a bit of everything – from wrangling to rallying, appeals to encouragement. It was the kind of conversation that, I feel, really makes the community. People are real. They put their experiences out there. From there the discussion, inquiry, challenge and support get going. It’s spirited and honest – doesn’t get any better than that in my book. I invite you to look back to the conversation yourself. For my part today, I want to address by far the biggest theme of that day – cravings. Your comments explored the issue from all kinds of angles. What do I do with cravings? Can I prevent them – pre-empt them in any way? Is it a bad sign if I have them? Do I need to give it time? Do I need to take a different approach? If I have them, does it mean eating Primally can’t work for me? Let’s take it apart.
In previous posts, I’ve spoken about the need to participate in innately human acts, those behaviors that seem to persist across cultures and languages and through space and time. To me, such universality implies importance and, perhaps, necessity. Why do humans from all places and all times dance or make tools or produce art if not to satisfy some Primal need that goes beyond tooth and claw survival? Today, I present to you another universal cultural constant deserving of our attention and participation: music.
These days most people have heard of the “media diet” concept. The idea is, of course, that we we partake of media sources too much, too often every single day. The result? We’re informationally bloated – mostly with junk media, the kind of stories and drama that will suck up every existing piece of serenity in our lives and have us going back for more. Whether it’s our smart phones, our tablets, our laptops, our T.V.s or Wii console, we can’t seem to let them be. As a result, we suffer the psychological, social and – as I wrote about last week - physiological consequences of this contemporary hobby horse.
One reader’s idea (Thanks, Patrick) in the comment section of last week’s post especially grabbed my attention when he brought up the idea of “periodic media fasts,” specifically “IF-ing all communication devices.” Being a rabid fan of the intermittent fasting concept, I was intrigued. Intermittent fasting in the traditional sense (no food), of course, can do wonders for honing our metabolism and upregulating epigenetic activity. Intermittent euphoria, a concept I’ve shared in the past, can upregulate – and likely upgrade – your emotional satisfaction.
When most people, myself included, discuss the negative effects of staying glued to our smartphones, computers, tablets, and social networking sites at all times, they often focus on everything we miss out on: meaningful interpersonal interactions, quality time spent with our significant others, a beautiful sunset/rise, good books, quality sleep, a great hike, the felt presence of immediate experience, that car barreling down the street toward us as we head into the crosswalk focused on who liked our Facebook post. And those are all important reasons to limit your screen time, but recent research is revealing a series of physiological, physical, and psychological ramifications to being hyperconnected all the time.
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