Meet Mark

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...

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Category: Mindfulness

How to Get Organized and Stay Focused in a Modern World

Getting organized used to be a whole lot easier.

As nomadic hunter-gatherers, we only had to keep track of the things we could carry because that was all we owned. As members of a tribe of extended family members, we could lean upon others for assistance with day-to-day tasks and trust they had equal skin in the game. We didn’t have to shoulder everything ourselves, and the responsibilities necessary for survival were simpler. The accessible world was much smaller, the breadth of available knowledge limited by location. You knew all about the lives and goings-on of your immediate community members and which plants were edible in a 20-mile radius and where to get water and when the antelope grazed and the leopard prowled. But what happened 50 miles away was a total mystery, and a thousand miles away might well have been infinitely vast. Important info was recorded through oral traditions—stories and songs. Anecdote and analogy and parable carry weight to this day because for millennia, they were all we had to go on.

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How to Handle Constructive Criticism as a Primal Advocate

It’s a role that’s probably more often thrust upon us than one we individually choose—that of Primal advocate. There we are minding our own healthy business, and somebody’s question or comment fixes the spotlight (or interrogation light) on us. Why do we eat “so much” protein? What could possibly be wrong with bread? Why do we wear the shoes we do or race down the street like we stole something?

Sometimes it’s the people in our inner circle who are the inquiring minds. Other times it’s co-workers or even strangers. It might even be our doctors. Whatever the case, what might begin as a simple question can often devolve into a full-blown harangue about how we’re putting our health in grave peril. On the flip side, it may be we who descend into an extended diatribe on all things Primal as the other person tries to slink away, having just been intrigued by our lettuce wrapped “un-wich.” How do we respond in these conversations without losing all patience or perspective?

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Primal Rage: How to Manage Unproductive Anger

If you ask the average person on the street to list “primal emotions,” I’d venture that anger would be one of the first examples they offer. I think we automatically connect a primal state with anger because anger’s power is more reminiscent of instinct than sentiment. It’s an emotion that can instantaneously engulf our entire being—a red hot feeling that can send all rational thought and genuine self-interest down the toilet in a nanosecond. While other emotions have their physical hold, anger can grip us in a way few others can. Fear, the other primary instinctual emotion, generally lifts with a clear, even euphoric release (as long as its situational, not a product of neuroses). Anger, however, doesn’t die so easily. Like the embers in a fire, it needs ample time to fade. The visceral energy of anger is remarkably durable. We kid ourselves if we think we’re immune to its inherent human force. That said, how can we keep it reined in enough to not thwart our own well-being (not to mention anyone else’s)? How can we control or manage it—even channel it? In short, how can we have and express anger without getting burned by it?

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The Power of Food Rituals

From the intricacy of Japanese tea ceremonies to the ornateness of holiday dinners, food related customs hold big sway in every culture. They all reflect in some way an element of that culture’s values and common story—whether long inherited or deliberately chosen. While some of our rituals can be traced to particular religious traditions, others are more secularly instituted, family oriented or even individually constructed. Those grander social customs might evoke more conscious nostalgia, but science suggests even the small practices we enact around our eating can have surprising results.

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15 Alternatives to Sitting Meditation

No longer the sole province of the hemp-swathed sprouting enthusiast, meditation’s popularity has exploded across our collective faces. Tech companies have embraced mindfulness meditation as the ultimate productivity. Google has “mindful lunches,” complete with prayer bells and hour-long vows of silence. And as legitimate meditation researchers uncover more benefits to our brains, our bodies, and our psyches, diehard rationalists have been forced to accept the scientific merits of mindfulness.

My explanation for why interest in meditation has grown is that it’s a replacement for the nature in which we no longer reside. For hundreds of thousands of years, we spent our days in natural settings where much of the mind chatter stops and we exist in the present moment. The falling leaves sparkling overhead with sunlight. The herky-jerk scamper of a startled lizard just off the trail. The erratic brilliant butterfly fluttering through the scene that you can’t help but stop to watch. That was life for most of human history. It wasn’t special. It was home. It’s what we knew.

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The What, Why, and How of “Dispositional Mindfulness”

It’s okay to do the double take—dispositional mindfulness. How’s that?

By now most people have heard of mindfulness meditation. I’ve written a bit about it for the blog, also noting that other forms of deep relaxation practice tend to work better for me. As quiet blocks of time devoted to emptying the mind and bringing awareness to your breath as well as other body sensations, meditation can clear away conscious thought and let us rest in a deep calm, triggering the feel-good, health-promoting hormonal effects of the body’s potent relaxation response. Research has shown regular practice for even just a couple months literally changes the brain’s structure and confers a whole host of health advantages. But what about the application of a mindful approach to everyday life rather than a particular “practice”?

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