The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
Last week’s bibliotherapy post got folks talking about their reading practices – both favorite books and personal motivations. There were even a few professional bibliotherapy practitioners among the mix. Small world it is. Thanks, as always, for the amazing feedback and conversation. Today’s topic – and flip side of reading therapy: writing therapy. Just as we learn through the lens of others’ tales, we gain insight by composing our own. Avid journal keepers out there are already nodding their heads. Anyone who’s faced down deep grief, been flooded with joy, been plagued by confusion and picked up a pen in response is likely recalling the trigger of that moment now. When we’re drawn to fill a page, we’re often surprised at what is summoned. Oftentimes, we don’t truly know our thoughts until we put language to them. That’s the point of writing therapy (or one of them anyway). Words act as a medium for expression and catalyst for clarity – or at least illumination. In writing our experience, we move beyond the factual detail, obvious chronology, and surface reaction. We delve into the heart of the beast and come out changed for the passage.
We all had our favorite stories as kids – those books we begged our parents to read to us a million times over. As adults now, time might be tight, but delving into a really good book offers the same fulfillment and retreat. Our captivation with stories is, of course, as natural and inborn as our desire for music, our appreciation of art, our enjoyment of play. Little wonder, given they contributed so profoundly to social construction and cohesion for millennia. First, within a rich oral tradition, stories were passed down with great care and even ceremony to impart survival lessons and epic tales that circumscribed a tribe’s history and social mores. Narratives later became integral in spreading and binding together larger civilizations for the sake of formal religion and cultural identification. Stories, throughout human existence, have also been a conduit for the ageless, the universal, and the transcendental. Today, in a professional field dubbed bibliotherapy, mental health experts and educators explore how our natural affinity for stories can support our general well-being and even provide a healing influence for illness and trauma.
Like everyone, I’ve had ample opportunity in my life to sit in waiting rooms. In the last several, however, I’ve noticed a trend that admittedly gets under my skin: the ubiquity of television news – and the negative events it routinely emphasizes. It’s been part of the airport scene forever now, it seems, but lately I’ve come across it in more restaurants and even in clinic waiting rooms. (Nothing beats watching multiple cycles of the latest grisly murder story as you eat your lunch or are waiting in agony for a doctor, eh?) In some respects, I appreciate having more than the morning paper or the 5 o’clock newscast if there’s a story I’d like to follow. With cable news and the Internet, we can assuredly keep on all the latest – what our go-to media sources choose to report of it anyway– 24/7. More than ever, we can get every detail, every commentary, every image associated with a given story. We can spend an entire day fixated on an event. We can watch a footage segment a hundred times if we please. Do we pay for this need to know, however? Does news exposure – specifically its heavy, menacing, and disturbing stories – have an impact on our personal well-being? What does it mean to have looming tales of death and destruction so frequently playing in our periphery? What happens to the human psyche (and body) when they’re fed a steady diet of unsettling news bulletins?
As promised in last week’s Hunter-Gatherer Fitness post, I’m stirring up the (apparently much awaited) subject of sex – specifically the benefits for physical and mental well-being. Uh, you mean coitus? Yup. Thanks to everyone who responded to the announcement with rousing enthusiasm as well as comments and questions.
What could be more Primal than sex, many of you have suggested. Absolutely right. It was probably one of Grok’s most valued pleasures. (Are people today much different?) For our part, however, we have new freedoms in a manner of speaking. Although we might honor the evolutionary imperative behind our primal appetites with eventual procreation, we’re not beholden to the natural odds with every tryst. As I’ve said many a time, I love studying and learning from the example of Grok and his kin. Nonetheless, I’m a happily modern man in this instance as much as any.
They’re moments when the rest of the world – even consciousness itself – recedes into an unperceived periphery. Seemingly outside the progression of time, detached from the bounds of physical need, you fade past existence into immersion. The self quietly falls away. You’re one with the mountain, the paint brush, the instrument, the pose, the stride, the notes, the words. If you could freeze time to capture this dasein experience, you’d witness freedom, lightness, unwitting joy.
Like Schrödinger’s cat or a faint star in the night sky, however, these moments resist direct observation. The minute we bring awareness to them, they’ve already passed. We catch them, instead, out of the corner of our eye – briefly, fleetingly, on the returning threshold of consciousness. Despite their transience, we discern their effects. We emerge changed – more content, composed.
Yesterday’s project: strategic reflection on the year past. Today’s agenda: action plan. It’s where the rubber meets the road, folks. Call it a New Year’s resolution if you will, but this isn’t about some half-assed gesture toward a nebulous pipe dream. I’m talking about crystal clear objectives and an explicit progress plan. Define what you want for your health this year. Outline how you’re going to achieve it, and then get moving! Are you ready to tackle 2011 head-on? Get out your pens, ladies and gentlemen. Today we’re charting the course ahead!
Are you honing an already solid Primal routine? Are you a beginner looking for the pivotal nudge? Are you an evolving Primal type looking to deepen or expand your commitment? Wherever you are in your Primal journey, this is my question for you: what is your vision for the next step? What unfinished business do you have? What terrain will you traverse next? What vision of enhanced well-being beckons you?