Category: Nature

Urban Hiking: Exploring Your Local Terrain

The concept of hiking for most people conjures visions of dirt paths, rocky trails, mountain passes, or grassy river banks. But what about metropolitan skylines, side streets, bridge passes, and old rail yards? We Grokkers are a variable mix of urbanites, suburbanites, and country folk. When it comes to talk of hitting the trails and enjoying an outdoor workout, those of us in cities can occasionally feel boxed in. Sure, there are the parks, city beaches, and lake shore routes, but the opportunity for wilderness immersion is likely lacking. If we can?t take in a natural vista, we?re often inclined to just hit the gym. At that point, we might ask, what difference does it make? I?d argue we?re majorly missing out. Though many of us live in dense, heavily human terrain, there?s plenty of adventure to be had, ample chance for discovery, and abundant opportunity for the rich, contemplative experience we often seek in the most secluded wood. It?s all about embracing the whole of the world just outside our doors – and journeying into it with new eyes and an open mind.

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Worker Bee Field Trip: MovNat One-Day Fundamentals Workshop

Ever since Mark linked to that Men’s Health feature by Christopher McDougall on Erwan Le Corre and his MovNat system a few years ago, I’ve been interested in it. I saw the videos of a barefoot, shirtless Erwan lithely moving from rock to rock, climbing cliffs, leaping from high places, sprinting, diving, and moving fallen trees. His interview describing the plight of the “zoo human” and what to do about it really resonated with me, so I began trying to work MovNat-esque training into my life. It seemed like a good fit. Outdoorsy stuff has always been my thing, and I’ve never been one to avoid dirt. I didn’t make natural movement a huge priority, instead focusing more on weights, but I always kept it in my thoughts and played around with it whenever the opportunity arose.

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Earthing: Another Reason to Go Barefoot?

I’ve written before about the benefits of going barefoot. Anatomically speaking, it’s the best thing you can do for your feet. Lately, however, I’ve been wading through a theory that suggests we have more to gain from ditching footwear than a more natural gait. In a book called Earthing, authors Clinton Ober, Martin Zucker and Dr. Stephen T. Sinatra put forth a bold proposal that body-to-earth contact has the power to directly impact our health. At the heart of their theory is a central physics-based relationship. Since the advent of shoes, houses, flooring, and elevated beds, we’ve lost our contact with the earth and its inherent electrical field. In discarding (or minimizing) this physical connection, we’re forgoing natural healing benefits that previously played a significant role in our physiological functioning. The body, when grounded in the earth, returns to its natural electrical homeostasis as part of the living electrical matrix. It’s an intriguing theory with, as yet, little attention. Is attention warranted though? Is it really the “most important health discovery ever,” as the authors suggest?

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City Living: Is It a Brain Drain?

I’m off to NYC next week to spend a few days at the BEA (Book Expo America) and attend a meet-up organized by John and Melissa. I get a real sense of excitement and anticipation – and maybe a little unease – whenever I leave my pastoral digs in Malibu for the bright lights and big city. I love a good visit to a major metropolis, but the impending trip did get me thinking about the effects of city living on mental well-being.

Those who live in a city (by choice and not just circumstance) love something about the bustle. Where others see mayhem, they see mosaic. There are the people (and people-watching), the cultural offerings, the sporting events, the restaurants, the public space, the public transit, the eclectic neighborhoods, open air markets, street musicians, and general tapestry of cultural, commercial, artistic, and architectural nuances that make for rich living. On the other hand, there are the massive throngs of said people and their vehicles moving at every speed, in every direction. There are the flashing lights from every corner and kiosk. There’s the perpetual roar of traffic, the horns, sirens, and car alarms that go off at 3:00 a.m. There’s the pollution, the crime, the buses that don’t stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk.

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A Beginner’s Herb Garden

Gardening is a hot topic this week on MDA. Two days ago, Mark gave you the whys – gardening can be therapeutic, it can improve health markers, it can be a great way for people to move frequently at a slow pace, and the list goes on. It’s also a great way to save money on organic produce, to maintain a constant (and self-replicating) supply of edible green things, and to get out into the sun. Let’s just say that gardening is good for you on multiple levels, and if you’ve got the space and the time, you should probably give it a shot.

You might recall that in that same post, Mark mentioned his relative lack of horticultural mastery. This is true for me, too, and a lot of you guys out there as well. You might say that this Worker Bee doesn’t fly far from the hive. Still, I didn’t let that discourage me when the queen (er, king? I’m struggling to maintain the bee metaphor here without tripping over gender issues!) bee tasked me with starting a rudimentary herb garden and then writing about it.

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Gardening Is Therapy

It’s been a great weekend here of sun, fun, and PrimalCon of course. In returning to reality yesterday, I was checking the news and seeing some of you out there are bracing for yet another round of winter’s jest. My condolences – seriously. I’ll admit I was happy to forgo the six month long Maine winters for California years ago. Nonetheless, there are still aspects of Northern life I miss and admire. I remember, for example, the almost manic excitement with which people awaited spring. Their fervor for planning the year’s garden seemed wholly inverse to the short and still relatively cool growing season. I don’t know how many of you are gardeners, but I’m all for using the term loosely. Whatever gets us down in the dirt, digging in the midst of all those fine microbes, is work worth doing (without the toxic chemicals of course). An older neighbor of mine (with the greenest thumb I’ve ever seen) always tells me gardening is “good for the soul.” Although I don’t have an ounce of the talent she does, I’d have to agree. It only gets better though. Research demonstrates it’s also good for the mind and body – in ways we might not expect.

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