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.
Think back to the last time you were under stress. What kind of physical symptoms can you recall?
Pounding heart. Increased pulse rate. The sensation of blood rushing through your body and brain. A narrowing of focus, your thoughts and gaze centered on the stressor itself; and then, suddenly, you’re scatterbrained. Anxiety. Your stomach a pit apparently filled with fluttering, winged insects. These are all familiar to anyone who’s faced down a deadline, bull in the arena, mounting stack of bills, or mugger.
But those symptoms also show up at other times in response to different situations. Mustering up the courage to ask a girl or guy out? Trying to make a move on the first date? Preparing to take a big test? Stepping up to the free throw line for potentially game-winning or game-losing foul shots? Psyching yourself up minutes before a public performance? You’re going to feel anxious and sweaty, your pulse will pound and you’ll exhibit all the classic symptoms of being under immense amounts of stress. But you’re not actually in danger. You’re under pressure. You’re gearing up to perform. Your nervous system is preparing you to handle the coming task.
Let’s look at those symptoms differently for a second.
Today’s Dear Mark is a four-parter with some fantastic questions (and passable answers, I hope!). First up, I answer a reader question from the comment section of last week’s Barbell Dogma post. Second, I discuss the number one nutritional trap of restaurant foods, and it has nothing to do with grains, sugar, or carbohydrates. After that, I field a question about the stability of the yolks in Primal Egg Coffee allowed to sit in a thermos for several hours. And finally, I present a few strategies for combating the insomnia resulting from a post-exercise late night cortisol rush.
When it comes to living a healthy, Primal lifestyle, for the most part I’ve got things dialed in. There are very few things, if any, I’d change about my eating plan, my workouts, or my sleep schedule, for example, but there are some areas in which I know I can improve. Some major, some not so major. Like everyone does, I’d imagine. Nearly all of my struggles are related to finding a deeper sense of peace and contentment in this hectic modern world. In fact, I selfishly wrote a book, The Primal Connection, to give myself more tools and strategies to achieve the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment from within that we all seek. (The book, you may be happy to know, recently won the Eric Hoffer award for best self-published book of 2013.)
While I’ve made some strides in these areas in recent years, the journey is never over. There is no perfect lifestyle or perfect diet or perfect workout. We all have something, or some things, we’d like to get better at. We all have struggles. So, today, I thought I’d share with you guys some of my personal struggles, as well as some ways for addressing and even overcoming them.
Last week, I made the case for the inclusion of chill-out, relaxing, and otherwise anti-stress teas and herbs, particularly for the stress-wracked among us (and who doesn’t deal with significant amounts of stress?). Several readers on the last post made the comment that, while effective, these tea ingredients don’t necessarily please the palate. I believe one even used “feet” to describe the flavor and aroma of valerian tea. That may be true, but I’d argue that when your sanity, your testosterone:cortisol ratio, and your mental well-being are on the line, pharmacological efficacy of a particular herb supersedes any concerns regarding its flavor. Stress kills, and, well, we want to live – and live well.
With that said, let’s look at a few more options. With any luck, you’ll find at least a couple that you can stomach and perhaps even enjoy.
© 2013 Mark's Daily Apple | Design By The Blog Studio