Becoming Elemental

An OLD, much less refined version of Healing The Human Animal - I am currently NOT working with the Native American Medicine Wheel.

An OLD, much less refined version of Healing The Human Animal - I am currently NOT working with the Native American Medicine Wheel.

“Becoming Elemental” is a concept that I have been working on for many years, and it originally began with learning about the Native American Medicine Wheel from a Caucasian man who trained with traditional Lakota medicine men for over 20 years, and was granted certain aspects of the “lineage” by them.

The Medicine Wheel in this context was organized not just “directionally”, as in the cardinal directions of North, East, West, and South and Center, but also “elementally”….that is, the 5 elements we know as Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Spirit/Ether.

Before that, my practice did not really contain an organizational element that was tied to anything bordering on the “universal”…. it was this introduction of elemental powers, into the framework of my personal practice, that shifted my whole trajectory forward in a very particular way.

It allowed me to understand the notion of “balance” in a way that went beyond mere platitudes, and drove home our multidimensional selves, in a manner conducive to deep visceral experience.

canstockphoto17673727.jpg

I originally wrote an article on the “5 Elements as Archetypes in Fitness”, showcasing a somewhat more “physical fitness” orientated exposition of these traits.

However at this point, “Becoming Elemental” is one of the major orientations and “Meta-Models” of Healing The Human Animal, in a manner that encompasses the whole of someones life.

It is, when taken to its logical conclusion, a model that allows us to:

  • Increase the quality of our lives in a truly balanced manner

  • It fosters a deep sense of reconnection to the natural world

  • Cultivates our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual vitality

  • Confers a sense of being “raw, organic and primal”

  • Places the spiritual process into naturalistic context

  • Unites the primal and the divine

Though it is a “model” and thus has an element of metaphor in it, it is also, in all likelihood not “all metaphor”, as we are quite literally created by the elements.

Many of the elements in the periodic table can also be broken down into the 5 classical elements, and the periodic table is not, as far as I can tell a disproving of the idea of 5 elements as building blocks of nature. Especially not when looked at like this:

Earth- Anything that is solid, metal, or material.

Air- Anything that is gaseous

Fire- Anything that is plasma-like

Water- Anything that is liquid

Ether- Anything that is ephemeral and spacious

It not need be LITERALLY earth, air, fire, water and ether to be accurate.

In Vedic philosophy, one of the oldest systems of thought and practical practices, ranging from martial arts to medicine, it is considered a truth that ANYTHING that you can interact with, including thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and orientations was elemental, because……what else could they be? They are the building blocks of the universe.

Thus “Becoming Elemental” is way to structure ones life, practice and inner world of attitudes, emotions and thought patterns, to own, and then also cultivate all the elements. To become something gritty, fundamental, multi faceted and highly developed.

earth air water fire (1).jpg

Here is a brief breakdown of how this can manifest in practice:

Earth Practice:

The Way of Ancestral Nutrition, Connecting with Nature, Speaking the Language of Nature, Caring for The Nest (your home), Seasonal Adjustments, Money Mastery,

Air Practice:

Breathing Exercises, Energetic/Qi Cultivation, Upper Limit Work, Musical Instruments, Resilience, Scholarly Pursuit, Liberal Education, Map Building, Archetypal Identity, Learning New Languages, Philosophy

Fire Practice

Sexuality, Purpose Driven Business, Working with Desire, Shadow and Light Work, Movement Practice, Passionate living, Compassion, Empathy,

Water Practice:

Sleep Optimization, Self Care Practices, Pair Bonding Behaviors, Vagal Maneuvers, Flow States, Dream Reflection, Baths, The Social Animal, Play, Deep Relaxation

Ether Practice:

Watching the Breath, Prayer, Trance, Magick & Spell-work, Ritual, Ceremony, Spiritual Ecosystem Work, State Shifting, Working with Gods, Divination















Magick as an Ancestral Practice

In this article I want to discuss something that you do not see discussed a lot and that is the practice of magic in the context of the primal movement, the primal health movement or the ancestral movement.

There is a lot of talk about nutrition, physical training protocols, circadian rhythm enhancement, connecting with nature and tuning in that general overall way, that somewhat recreates or attunes us to some of the realities that our ancestors lived with. Of course, these elements are the bedrock of how our ancestors lived and it can teach us a lot about how we can tune into that connection and how we can live our lives better today.

However, there is an element that is often not discussed and that is the ‘world view’ of how these people actually perceived their role in nature and their relationship to everything else there is.

Funny enough, the big driver of what urging us to this search for a connection to our ancestral roots, has been science, anthropology and the study of how these people lived from an archaeological and anthropological perspective. So when we discuss the notion of actually practicing magic and how they perceived magic, we run into a bit of difficulty because in many ways, science in its current iteration, is somewhat against the notion that magic can even possibly be real.

universe-2742113_960_720.jpg

The current state of science is one where we have a very limited view of cosmology and even so of physics. We don’t really understand how things work and the idea that we do know how they work is really just an illusion, one that feels really good to us because it makes us feel like the unknown and the wild is not really a factor anymore.

These day I find that amusing because a reconnection to our ancestral and primal roots has to do with a reconnection to the wilderness, to the unknowns of reality. To the uncontrollable, to the unpredictable. Yet, at the same time, we want to interact with this reality in any fashion that is predictable, controllable and knowable.

What I am going to do is simply present a context and present the human being in relationship to this context and how we as a species are wired in so many ways to actually practice magic. So it is my opinion that there is actually something called a magical instinct. An instinctual drive towards a form of symbolic thinking that leads us into arenas as magic and then we can leverage those pillars of how magic is actually performed, the pillars of ritual, in order to enhance our lives. In order to heal some of the sicknesses that we have gotten from a society that is disconnected from it’s primal and ancestral nature.

I am going to present 3 ideas for you to work with, play with and experiment on.

  1. Our ancestors have been practicing magic for at least 50,000 years.

There are definitely records that go back and show us certain types of burial rites and stacking of skulls and certain rituals being performed around death. We don’t necessarily understand the exact context of these rituals but we know that some notion of spirit and some notion of a ritual or a ceremony or objects holding significance, or holding power has been around for a very very long time.

We also know that most of the cultures that have existed before us have a notion of an animistic universe. A universe that is alive, where everything is in built with consciousness and everything has a spirit. To the ancient worlds, spirits were everywhere and everything has a spirit and there were spirits of all different ideas.

barong-648093_960_720.jpg

We had spirits of war, spirits of love, spirits of intellect, spirits of communication, spirits of land, the air, the underworld, spirits of elements. All these things were considered a reality. Now, we can change that word into something that we can understand better today, such as consciousness perhaps.

Nonetheless, what we are talking about is that everything was built with a sort of power. They weren’t in this dead universe, as some sort of ghost riding a meat suit that was not interacting, where the essence, the spirit and soul of what you are was sequestered and locked away.No, it was engaged and in constant communication with the soul and the spirit of everything else around it.

So, if you are actually seeking a connection to the ancestors and to our primal reality as a species on this planet, I ask you to consider the fact that if you think that our ancestors were just superstitious savages and that we somehow now know better and have disproved everything that they have believed for a very long time; I want you to question how much like your ancestors you really want to be or how much perspective you want to have in the realm of how they actually lived.

When I am discussing magic, I don’t necessarily mean the fantastical ideas that we come across from Hollywood, which has really warped the notion of what magic can really be.

But think about it as a structure, a way of relating, a way of crafting a process and that process is ritual or ceremony with the intention of getting something done.

aztec-195134_960_720.jpg

So it could be absolutely anything, you could set up a ritual or ceremony in order to shift unconscious patterns, in order to connect with certain types of archetypes or invoke certain types of qualities inside of you. Human beings are hard wired for symbolic thinking and pattern recognition. Now, those things can be seen as some sort of flaw but they are actually a feature not a bug.

Because the ability to think symbolically, to have one thing represent another thing does seem to be a unique quality of humans.

Our ability to set intention, awareness, have vision and to imagine what we want and then go out into the world to create it, could also be thought of as a type of magic.

Why can we do that? While we can explain some of the mechanics of it through certain types of fields of study like psychology or neurology, that still doesn’t lead to the why or even really the how at the level of deep intention and will.

fantasy-2961723_960_720.jpg

You can simply direct your consciousness to be a creator. That sort of thing is part of the magic, so regardless of what magic means to you or how you might want to apply it after reading this article or even just to begin to explore it, my advice here is just to step out of what you think magic actually is.

“Step outside the Hollywood ideas”

Step outside the Hollywood ideas of what magic actually is and really question what this is and how you can maybe benefit from having certain types of ceremony or ritual in your life in a way that is easy for you or at least doable for you at first. Explore with it, have fun with it and check it out, it is something that our ancestors have been doing for a very very long time.

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that in some way or another, at some level, certain types of magic absolutely work and I can claim that from own experience. See what that sort of thinking offers you in terms of value. It is better to think about this, not as whether it is “real” but whether it adds value to your life, whether it makes your life more interesting and fun. So go ahead and consider that.

The second thing that I would like to ask you to consider is a question and that is:

2. If you have disbelief of magic, where does that disbelief actually come from?

I had to encounter this and test this myself as I started doing daily offerings to various classes of consciousness or spirits, on a daily basis. I would be there giving a candle, water or incense and suddenly, the thoughts would come into place of:

aztec-545745_960_720.jpg

“this isn’t real”

“how could this possibly be the case?”

“you are just full of crap”

“this is all shit”

All these sorts of thoughts have come through my mind and then at various times, I would have the opposite, and have these really deep meaningful Gnostic awareness’s, connectionsand becoming in imbued with certain types of knowledge of how the universe actually works…. interspaced with disbelief.

So it was a very touchy process for me at first. Part of what I had to question is where does this disbelief actually come from.

Is it from you? Is it from your direct experience of having tested, explored and dove into these fields and seen what you got back.

In all likelihood, you probably haven’t done that and where these beliefs come from are pretty much from a post renaissance era about how the world works and how it is supposed to work and what people have told you is real and what is not real.

How much of this have you actually explored on your own? How much of this science have you deeply explored? What types of psychic phenomenon have you actually explored? How many people have you spoken to that actually practice magic, which are out of your circle, of reinforcing your ideas? How many of these people have you engaged with to tell you whether or not they have had certain types of experiences, which cannot be explained by a mere coincidence?

mona-lisa-1107620_960_720.jpg

Have you really looked into it or have you accepted this idea that was created hundreds and hundreds of years ago by people you will never know and probably couldn’t give a shit less about you. Here you are living your life and having a certain belief structure that you didn’t create and that didn’t come from you.

It is easy to confuse the things that we pick up from other people as things that come from us, but to really question the core of where your knowledge comes from, then to really go against some of your ideas and challenge yourself to see what actually happens…. that is an awesome thing to do.

When you consider the book of human history, and accept the reality, that many humans have believed in things that at this stage and time we can call “magical”.

Then consider that fact that, that has fallen out of favor for just a couple of hundred years because of the ideas of a single culture and civilization, mostly western culture and western civilization.

Then you consider that you haven’t probably really deeply explored this issue and yet, you live your life because of it. I ask you, I invite you to really examine the core and the root of your disbelief.

The final element that I would like to consider is something that I mentioned in the initial part of this video and that is:

3. Do you actually consider the thousands upon thousands of generations before us of humans, were just superstitious savages that didn’t know any better?

Then suddenly, we have been able to correct their flawed thinking and worldview?

Because if you do think that, I would also like you to consider that you may have some elitist and very privileged perspectives on the world. Human beings survived on this planet for a very very long time.

They traveled across the world in boats or on foot to pretty much make it possible for you to be here. They were able to do things that we cannot even imagine at the moment.

bushman-509245_960_720.jpg

Suddenly now, we think we have the owner’s manual on the way the universe works because we can use calculators and computers. Most of us for example don’t even know how those pieces of technology work and yet, at some level, we consider ourselves more capable and more evolved than these people because of that fact, because we can use technology.

We are talking about people who are healthier, happier, who had more meaning, who had more connection, who were way more tuned into the environment. Who at many levels had way more skills, practical skills, than we do and we think that we know better because a couple of people, way back when, created ideas that then propagated and came into your world view right now.

I am not saying that we are necessarily wrong or that they were necessarily right.

All I am saying is consider those variables and also, really ask yourself if that is really what you think. Is that is what really seems plausible, that all these people were really and completely deluded? Or that maybe, perhaps, they knew something that we have simply lost or they were able to relate to the world in a way that was more functional for a human being, than the way the materialistic scientist relates to the world now.

adventure-2528477_960_720.jpg

None of this is to discount the value of science, because all these elements, all the aspects of perception that we were discussing; magic, science, reason, rationality… they are just maps. They are ways for us to make sense of an incredible complexity that we don’t really understand.

So, some maps can definitely overlap, some maps can definitely cross over and I think there is room for that to happen with certain types of magical practices and scientific thought.

If at a practical level, you are able to practice certain types of magic, then at a practical level, you are able to get specific types of value, a very unique type of connection and a very ancestral worldview. They are more similar to what our ancestors experienced, compared to what the current person is experiencing now, even if it comes down simply to the power of your volition, of your will, of your intention and of your awareness.

With those things considered, I would invite you to look into how you are able to incorporate magical and/or ritualistic and ceremonial ideas and concepts into your thinking and perhaps into your practice to see if it benefits you or if you get some value from it.

I would love to hear from you, I would love to get your questions, comments, concerns and thank you for joining me, I would catch you next time.

Staying Open

It seems as though posture has been a big topic for humans for a while now. These days, optimal posture has become an almost a vogue term in certain therapeutic and movement circles. There is often an intense focus, using various physical methods, on creating some form of idolized alignment, and keeping the person that way as much as humanely possible. To those not really trained in biomechanics at any really level, the advice is often to stand upright or “don’t slump” as they say; which is actually a very superficial and vague recommendation.  I would like to dive into some of the dynamics of this upright posture and take birds eyes view of it. 

*An exhaustive breakdown of posture is beyond the scope of a single article. The focus will be on this notion of Staying Open*

What is posture?

All this talk about posture often leaves out what it actually is to the body. Posture is actually a reflex. All things being equal, you enter into your default bipedal posture, unconsciously and without thought, as it is a reflexive response to the vertical upright experience of gravity. Standing upright on two feet is a hardwired, ancient response, that is a part of the homo sapiens ancestral lineage. It is tied to fundamental movement patterns, such as crawling, rolling and rocking, which also work off of reflexive patterns. Obviously we are upright bipedal primates and thus, upright posture is innate. 

    Posture is a reflex and it also an expression of emotion

Aside from being a reflex, posture is also an expression of emotion. Partly due to postural dynamics found in primates, and also the mind-body unity, the way we stand can say a lot about how we feel. Expansive open postures “often” denote positive, aggressive and confident feeling states; whereas closed off contracted postures, “often” denote fear, defensiveness, infantile feelings and stress. This is bit simplistic, but is satisfactory for the purposes of this article.

I have written about it before, but will mention it again because it is highly relevant to this discussion. The human animal is unique, in the sense that when upright, and not experiencing unnecessary tightness, our most vulnerable parts (inner organs and genitals) are expressed forward. These parts of us “lead”, whereas in most other species of animals, they are pulled back or facing the ground. So, to be open, is to be vulnerable.

                       To be open, is to be vulnerable

What I mean by "open", in this article, is the notion of our front line (face, throat, chest and abdomen) remaining in state where they are not unnecessary tight. These parts remain pliable and loose, allowing us to not be contracted into what they call a "slump". However, I also refer to emotional states conductive to connection, unity and acceptance.  

                  Allow yourself to be loved and to love others

The opposite of vulnerable in this context is defensive: what we refer to as a slump forward. Although in an experienced combative, this "slump" may have different a tensional network, this overall "collapse" has its place in our movement repertoire.  A highly refined version of it can be seen in gymnastics, boxing and american football especially and is often referred to as the "hollow body" position.  

When referring to healthy alignment, I think context matters a whole lot. What are we dealing with? A friend? A lover? A threat? Being in a constant slump is likely a chronic defensive or inhibiting response, that cant be let go of. 

One of the most common tensional patterns in the modern world is the contraction of the front line of the body. This contraction, often starts in the face, and moves through the throat, into the chest, upper and lower abdomen. The contraction of this line is associated with various psychosomatic states.

1.     Defensive posturing (fighting posture)

2.     Depressions/Collapse

3.     Restricting the Breath (chest and abdominal tension) 

4.     Restricting Sexual feelings (lower abdomen/pelvic floor)

5.     Choking off Tears (throat)

6.     Resisting the urge to bite (jaw throat)

7.     Closing off the Heart (collapse)

8.     Too much sitting

 

Being in this constant defensive posture can have many negatives to our overall state of being. It restricts the breath, puts pressure on organs, disturbs our entire alignment, alters nerve signals coming from the spine, and blocks off the heart from the world around us. 

There are countless ways to open up our front line in terms of technical methods for easing this chronic tension, and I will touch on them in the future. My hope in this article is just to get you thinking about some of the potential psychosomatic components at play here. 

Our willingness to be open to love, friendships and positive experiences is at some level tied in to this front line. As we “open” the front line, we become vulnerable, due to the fact that all of our most vulnerable organs are exposed to the world. Metaphorically and almost literally we open our heart to the world around us, and to do this, at some level we must feel safe. For many us, this type of exposure (at all) feels extremely threatening, due to conditioning from previous circumstances. 

               Posture is a dynamic living process and not a stagnant stable structure

At some level you are dealing with layers beyond the scope of kinesiology and into ones related to your somatic charges. If internally you want to shrink away from the world, are depressed, scared, angry or just feel threatened in general, then being open is that much more difficult. 

The key is to reset your tensional patterns, movement patterns, behavioral conditioning and also deal with the feelings that you brace against (armor) in order to truly change your alignment, so that you do not actually have to think about it. If you have to “will” a particular posture into place, your psychosomatic landscape, likely cannot sustain it at the moment.

Beyond the “visual observable” posture, there are the actually muscular qualities to pay attention to. Someone may seemingly have what is stereo-typically referred to as healthy posture, but actually be a tight, rigid and blocked off mess.  I discovered a while back, that I existed in such a state from time to time.

When referring to the front of the body, the feeling and qualitative state of the muscular apparatus that is seems to be the most desirable for day to day life is softness.  If we can remain soft, it means we are night bracing and trying to defend ourselves all the time. To get there, it is likely going to require a combination of exercises, emotional release, and a shedding of the conditioning the lead you there in the first place. Release your trauma, defensiveness and fear, while also restoring your innate reflexive movement patterns and your version healthy posture will be available to you more often, without a conscious effort to sustain it. 

           The most desirable feeling state we want in the front the body is softness

The title of this article is “Staying Open”, which implies an active ongoing process that is more of a verb, than a noun. The practice of becoming aware of how we contract this line, and choosing suppleness instead, can be very useful and is in my opinion an ideal place to start right now. Learning what types of situations cause us to fall  into this type of unconscious bracing, consciously releasing this tension, while breathing deeply, can start to rewire our habitual conditioning.  Certain situations can bring up feelings of sadness, love, anger, frustration, insecurity and sexuality, and can cause us to unconsciously brace against them, to reduce their intensity. Feelings are “felt” in the body. To prevent them from being felt, we brace. Most of us have been unconsciously bracing against a similar set of feelings for much of our lives.

Here is a short outline of how to apply this practically-

1.     Become aware of the front of the body, starting from the hairline to the pelvic floor and feel the sensations erupting forward.

2.     Notice the specific manifestations: Eyebrow’s raising or furrowing, jaw clenching, throat tightening, chest collapsing, diaphragm stifling, belly tightening , castration anxiety/genital insecurity.

3.     Simultaneously do your best to release the tensions (relax them) and keep the breathing smooth and deep.

4.     Choose a different behavioral option, than the one conditioned into your structure. 

Getting More From The Primal Health Movement: A Spiritual Paradigm Shift

The primal health movement is an incredibly powerful paradigm shift that is currently occurring in our culture. While it does offer many practical tools and strategies for helping us improve our lives, in my experience there is something essential in the overall expression of this movement, that is missing.

And that is the ancestral “world view”

This cuts us off from the real roots of this movement and thus, limits it’s real power to actually transform our lives. So in this post, we are going to dive into that and really reclaim a deeper connection to the Primal Health Movement and what it actually can do for us.

Primal Health Movement is currently booming and that is kick ass because it is an awesome concept that can improve our lives greatly just at that level of practical strategy. There are however a few things that have occurred in this shift that have disconnected the Primal from it’s true power to free us from the chains that it is supposed to.

  1. The Primal is The Divine

The first cognitive dissociation I want to touch on is that The Primal is also actually The Divine and there is no separation between the two. It is only because of this domesticated culture, that we have that has taken what is clearly obvious, and that is that the primal world is also the creative force, and disconnected the two.

action-3598415_960_720.jpg

So when we are discussing the primal, we also have to tune into the reality that the primal is the innate, it is the fundamental, it is the core, the basic essence of creation that gives rise to all things in this universe.

At a human level, it is easy for us to connect to these primal realities by looking backwards to see the patterns that have existed with humanity the longest. Because they are the ones that are fundamental in the creation of the human species. Whether that creation comes from God or from evolution, makes no real difference in this case. We are just talking about the forces themselves that give rise to the world as we know it.

But looked at from a universal level, the stars, the sun, the moon, the quantum fields, the basic electromagnetism of the universe; all these forces of physics that mold and shape what we are; are in essence, the primal world.

So realistically, quantum particles are as primal, if not more primal than the ides of creating a fire or learning bush craft or learning to train in a certain way or eating a certain diet.

meditation-1384758_960_720.jpg

We have to expand out notions and our ideas of what the primal actually means. the practical strategies are just the easiest ways that we have as a human species in the context of being a human creature on this planet to tune into forces that are more primal than the ones that are currently given to us by our domesticated, civilized culture. A connection to the pattern given to us or bestowed upon us by evolution as an ancestral heritage, are a way for us to broaden the human experience, to include something that is larger than the ides currently given to us by present day society.

So that is where the true power is actually at; it is a way to connect to deeper, more fundamental forces that are involved in our creation.

So while we can get very practical needs met as we shift our diet, as we shift our training, as we shift our understanding of health and our place in the universe and connecting to the daily cycles of day light and night time in order to facilitate our circadian rhythm. There is also an internal shift and that is really the most powerful one, where we are freeing ourselves from this imposed regulations that don’t have anything to do with what we are innately designed for.

So this internal shift is what we really need to be after. What we need is to shift into deeper connection with the essence of creation and we can do that through these patterns and that is the beautiful thing about it. As we meet this very physical pragmatic needs, we can also meet deeper existential needs and unite the primal and the divine into one unity, the unity that they really are.

2. The Spiritual Ape

man-1245666_960_720.jpg

The second dissociation connects into the first one and that is that we are a spiritual ape or ‘the’ spiritual ape. In many ways, the anthropological records actually show us that we have been devoted to something, that we have been praying to something or that we have seen a vital force in nature for a very very long time.

So the idea that we are designed for spiritual experience is not really a new one. I mean, there are actually parts on your brain that are designed specifically to experience ecstatic religious rapture.

If you were to actually stimulate them electrically, what you would get is religious rapture that blows us away…. and that comes from just stimulating a part of your brain.

Because of that, it is pretty clear that spiritual experience and seeking divine connection is within us innately. So connecting to divine forces or being able to connect to something larger than us is part of being a human being. Some of us pray in our physical practice and some of us pray at temples, the important thing to remember is that we are not just a bag of meat and we are not just some ghost controlling some avatar, we are something that is both.

fly-agaric-2817723_960_720.jpg

A way that can actually help tune us into both and really clarify this reality for us, is the incredibly powerful spiritual experiences that people can have taking some of the teacher plants like peyote or Ayahuasca.

Here, we are taking what we consider to be just a plant growing out of the earth and it can blow us out of our small tiny little sense of self and connect us to something deeper.

Here, you have these extremely primal spirits. In a sense, you could say they are literally growing from the dirt and yet connecting us to the deepest and most powerful spiritual truths. Our species have been using these sorts of teacher plants for an extremely long time. Some people have even proposed the idea that it was the consumption of psychedelics mixed with certain environmental factors that allowed us to sprout our extremely complex brain. While that is not necessarily proven, it is really interesting to think about.

So we have to own the fact that spiritual experience is part of “being primal”.

3. Human Adulthood

Dissociation number three is about connecting to human adulthood. Human adulthood is the idea that we get from studying domesticated animals. Realizing that part of the process of domestication, is that you actually keep the species from becoming its full blown adult version. This is actually pretty clear with wolves and for those of you who follow my work, you would know that at the time of this video, I actually live and work in a wolf sanctuary.

15027697_1350243128342217_2350974911266790456_n.jpg

One of the things I have learned from watching them are that wolves become adults whereas, dogs stay childlike or puppy like their whole lives. This process is called to neotenize. Neoteny is something that we do to a species in order to keep it in what is referred to as “perpetual adolescence”.

So by keeping a species in perpetual adolescence, we negate it’s ability to enter full adulthood hormonally, mentally, emotionally and physically. This is done in order to have a better ability to control them. So between the ages of 2 and 4, a wolf would actually begin to shift. One of the biggest differences between dogs and wolves is that between the ages of 2 and 4, a wolf radically changes into something that is very different from what it was in the previous couple of years.

bushman-509239_960_720.jpg

In a lot of ways, a wolf puppy is actually like a dog; it is friendly, it is playful, it is trusting, it is curious, it would let you sort of manhandle it and control it. But between the age frame, this puppyhood behavior completely shifts; the animal becomes more preditorial, more territorial, more independent, has way bigger boundaries and is not going to let you manhandle it at all.

This is actually most of the time that we get our calls to rescue a wolf; it is when it has made this adulthood shift. Because suddenly, this puppy like creature that people have been raising their whole lives is gone and no more, it has become an adult wolf.

In many ways, you can say that a dog is like a wolf puppy that never grows up into a wolf adult.

So this same process is happening in humans right now; our independence, our ability to be who we want to be, to do the things that we want to do and to cast off the shackles imposed upon us by these parental figures so to speak; such as government, religion, politics, it is stifled and is generally met with a lot of disdain when we do try to shift into adulthood or to try and do our own thing.

america-2025465_960_720.png

What is important to understand is that all these authoritative institutions are all vying for your mind, they are all vying for your belief systems and they are still vying to control your life. They are all very quick to tell you how to think, to tell you what to eat, what to do, what is moral, what is immoral.

Thus, they rob you of your own sovereignty and your own independence and your own capacity to make those decisions for yourself. The society that we currently have is designed to keep you in this perpetual adolescence, to keep you as a child, to prevent you from become a full on independent, wild adult human being.

So you have to take responsibility for yourself, for your own belief systems, for your own morality, for your own body and for your own life. It is the shackle that we must cast off, it is the prison that we must escape and that is what the primal can help us do that.

What we need is metamorphosis, it is just the completion of an innate process that has been stifled. We need not go out and try to create the wheel, this process is inside of us and has been completed my many many human beings before us, we just have to tune into it.

If you like this content, go on and comment down below and let me know and I can put on more stuff like this. If you appreciate this video, please go ahead and give me a thumbs up, go ahead and subscribe to my channel and thank you for joining me.

Ancestral Nutrition and Diversity

As Nassim Taleb pointed out in his book “Fooled by Randomness”, ingesting ten one mL servings of different poisons (assuming no synergy) is “safer” than ingesting 10 mL of a single poison.  The saying “the dose makes the poison” exists for a reason.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I tend to think of my diet as one of my “practices”, and consider the term “movement” to be a broader term then one relating to physical exercises. To me, movement also relates to the directional orientation of our lives: do we move towards things that help us flourish or towards those which destroy us? Do we move towards social engagement or move towards social isolation? Do we move towards growth or towards stagnation on a daily basis? I could elaborate further but I think the above statement makes the point clear; the point being that choices are movements. If we choose to do so, nutrition could be viewed through that lens: as a set of different movements/choices we make on a daily basis. In that vein, we can relate to our overall nutritional pattern, much in the same way we relate to our physical practice. It may be useful to ask ourselves how “developed” our diet actually is. Is it compensated, weak, strong, ancestral, optimal, rigid, or lacking? How do we move within the nutritional sphere? Much in the same way that my physical practice thrives, my experience has been that nutrition becomes truly “balanced” by diversity.  

The hallmark of a healthy eco system is diversity, as the more that an environment relies on any one organism, the easier it is for that ecosystem to be destroyed. A diverse environment is more adaptable to shifting pressures of the natural word. In some ways you can look at the term “thriving” and think “diverse”.  There are many animals that exist on singular foods without a large variety of foods to sustain them. One of the negatives of such an adaption is that if the food source disappears that animal is likely to go with it. Domestication and civilization (at least the type we have today) seeks to sanitize and remove this wild diversity by injecting predictability into it.  The longer global society exists, the more we rely on the same movements, languages, animals and crops. An optimal diet is similar to a well thought out movement program, in that there are many elements to consider and a variety of effects to train for. The same way our body-mind benefits from increasing strength, mobility, flexibility, endurance, coordination, and balance; is the same way it can benefit from many different vitamins, minerals, amino acids, carbohydrates, fatty acids, beneficial bacterial species, zoo-chemicals and phytochemicals.

There are many tribal cultures that subsisted on a just a handful of foods and did very well, though the opposite examples exist also. Some environments are not “ideal” for humans, and do not possess a wide variety of edible compounds, though due to our extreme adaptability, we make it work. The idea of diversity as mentioned earlier relates to thriving, much more so than “making it work”. Yes, we can survive on a few foods, just as we can limp along with a few heavily loaded movements, but for many, it is not the optimal path. It all depends on what you want to achieve, but if your goal is to do the best you can, the intention of diversifying your eating patterns can be very beneficial. Many of us eat the same 15-20 foods over and over again, day in and day out when we do not have to. In the end, it is not just about feeding ourselves, but also the rest of travelers who come with us, such as our microbiome. A larger variety of plants fosters a broader and richer microbiome. Click on the link to learn more. 

Humans are omnivores with a broad variety of acceptable compounds for intake because we have adapted, as a species, to diversity.  All foods contain toxins of one form or another. Plants are especially notorious for this, as that is their way of protecting themselves lacking access to strength, claws or teeth. The funny thing is that many, if not all nutrients, can become poisons at high enough doses. As nutritious as consuming liver is, if over consumed, you could acquire copper toxicity and some argue for vitamin A toxicity as well. Over long periods of time, a species adapts physiological pathways to process and remove the toxins it is interacting with over long periods of time. If a diet lacking diversity in a human, it allows these pathways to become saturated and overburdened. Rotating your food protects you against this. In fact a “rotation” based diet is a common strategy for food sensitivities.  See here: 

 

Another obvious benefit besides what you don’t want is what you do want. The broader your diet, the more nourishing it can be. Not only are their different beneficial nutrients in different plants and animals, there are different parts to be used in each. Learning to eat the whole animal including organs, bones and skin, as well as all the edible parts of a plant can be extremely nourishing. Following the same line of thought, re-wilding advocate Daniel Vitalis offers the perspective of eating abundantly from the “four kingdoms” which he outlines as the animal, plant, fungal and bacterial kingdoms. See here: 

Realistically, eating is a “sequestering” process involving a lot of work and care. Consuming “stuff” from the outside world is in some ways a risky proposition for any living thing and for most species, it seems as though the body wants to keep it tightly regulated. In fact, what goes “into” your body is not so much the food you eat, as it what your body decides to extract from it and what it can’t keep out. Think about it, there is one large unbroken tube from the mouth to the anus, which in many ways keeps what you eat “outside” of your internal organs. Digestion makes the safe taking “inside” of particular compounds possible, and as freaking amazing as it is, it is a less than perfect process. This is why “leaky gut” syndrome or whatever disorders can be attributed to that type of process, is so harmful: because this tube meant to keep stuff out is not able to do what it was meant to. With this understanding of tight regulation, it is easier in my opinion to understand why diversity is so important: we are not machines taking in a generic “fuel” like gasoline. We are nutritional alchemist processing and dispensing a wide variety of useful and volatile compounds. An overabundance of any one element disturbs these organic cycles.  

The overall message here is that it is possible to view your nutrition as a practice and develop it, expand it and diversify it. Doing so is likely to confer many benefits, while reducing the potential drawbacks of eating the same foods all of the time. There is no need to be “perfect” with this or drive yourself crazy. My personal recommendation is to allow your budget and current time demands, to determine the maximum degree of diversity that is possible for you at the moment. If you have been eating the same foods over and over again start small by adding an organ, buy a vegetable you don’t normally eat or try quail eggs over chicken eggs. It is a spectrum and the broader your food choices the better. 

 

The Four Elements as Archetypes in Fitness

“There are four common elements, and each has at its center another deeper element [the archetype] which makes it what it is. These are the four pillars of the world. They were in the beginning evolved and molded out of chaos [First Matter] by the hand of the Creator; and it is their contrary action which keeps up the harmony and equilibrium of the mundane machinery of the universe; it is they, which through the virtue of celestial influences, produce all things above and beneath the earth.” - wrote Polish alchemist Michael Sendivogius (1566-1636)

 

 


Archetype is a term that was created by the Psychologist Carl Jung to refer to instinctual drives of the body and psyche. They are also prototypes from which copies are made.  Common archetypes such as the warrior, mother, father, king, queen, shaman, hero, trickster, hunter and gatherer are all self-emerging from the natural order, and thus archetypal.  Though in the same vain Earth, Air, Fire and Water are also archetypes in nature (perhaps the oldest).  The concept of archetypes can be seen in all aspects of life and they also emerge in movement/fitness/health.  People all over the world have used the elements in martial arts, dance, theater, yoga and shamanic traditions to tap into these natural forces and harness their power. 

Paul "Fire Power" Gray of the Art of Functional Movement System

Paul "Fire Power" Gray of the Art of Functional Movement System


In today’s world of unconventional, tactical, functional and athletic training, the concept of the elements is not very common. Aside from a few daring and pioneering souls in this arena, the concept of organizing your training according to these natural powerhouses is all but lost in modern training culture. In my own journey, to both use the latest and best of what human movement has to offer and fuse it with the older and ancient perspectives, this elemental approach has been pivotal. Not only does it allow you to use training as a way to connect to the world around you,  it also helps to diversify your kinesthetic IQ with an innate form of “cross training”.  A huge inspiration for me in this vain has been Paul Gray’s and Pawel Widuto’s Art of Functional Movement system. Their approach has given me a ton of perspective, though I have taken the concept in my own direction. Their fantastic view on this can be seen below: 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here is a small example of the elements applied to martial art-

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Here they are applied to yoga and there is a pretty cool self-assessment test with it to figure out which element you are:  

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here they are applied to personality:  

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
When it comes to the elements and their relationship to our bodies, we really have to look at them as our building blocks, as we are quite literally made out of them. The body is just one big sack of fluid, flesh and bone (earth & water) that is catalyzed to life by Fire (electricity) and Air (oxygen). Oxidation (burning) in the body occurs through oxygen metabolism as Air fans the flame.  If we are moving fast and hard, our metabolism increases and so does oxidation; we are burning are at a quicker rate. If we slow down and move smoothly our body quiets down and burning slows.  If we do not quicken this “body of water and earth” from time to time with fire and air, we get slow, stagnant and stuck. Even if you lift a lot but only do it slowly with nothing else, you will probably experience this stuckness.


Primal Recovery™ is an elemental system of movement and health meant to “fuse” the various elements together on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels. There is an innate education which can occur by simply connecting. To become an all-around spiritual athlete and to discover the cycles and elements inside of us are major goals of this work. The system is also influenced by the process of alchemy, whereas the goal is a fusion of opposites or a balance of the elements.  Here we unite the masculine and feminine elements inside of us. Moving between all four is called the “rotation of the elements” in alchemy  The polarity between the elements and their pull towards their opposites is what causes the motion from one to the other to occur. At a practical level this is how work and recovery feed into one another.

 
Everyone’s who trains knows how good you can feel after a solid and challenging movement session.  Intense physical challenge can purify and renew, burning away stored tension and stress. The opposite is also true, excessive intensity can burn us out and make us crash, as fire is radical and must be balanced and controlled by the other elements. That is why there is the need for consistent work on structure, recovery, mobility and rest. There are a lot of ways to apply the elements to movement on a practical level, some examples: you can take on elements physical patterns, you can embody the feeling of the element, or you can move with the spirit of the element. It also has to do with orientation in the body, in that fire and air will lean towards moving bio-energy upwards while water and earth will lean towards moving energy downwards towards the earth. Hard training stimulates the need for softer training and vice versa. Of course these are just tendencies and are not hard and fast rules or dogmas. 


We all contain and also have a unique balance of all four elements; an equal 25% split across all four is likely rare and most people have one or two predominate elemental constitutions. Many people get stuck in one element and become a “one speed athlete” where the intensity/style of their training is always constant; this leads to stagnation, overuse and hormonal disruption.  The natural cycles of movement for humans varies in intensity from nothing (at rest/lounging) to all out (hunting, defending, dancing, playing) and everything in between.  Not only that, but our potential inner capacities are also just as diverse.  The goal is to address our strengths and weakness while developing a complete physical and mental vocabulary. Ask yourself honestly if you can be stable and strong, smooth and fluid, hard and fast as well as swift and light? This is not just a question for your body but also for your mind.  If your answer is no to any of these then your elemental balance is off and one of your four pillars is diminished. Just as we don’t want to burn out, we also don’t want to be to sludge. 

8.jpg


As mentioned previously, there is an inherent polarity between the elements, in the sense that two are masculine and two are feminine.  The masculine is light, ephemeral, quick, agile, moves outward and upward. The feminine is heavy, dense, slow and moves inward and downward.  Thus air and fire are masculine, while earth and water are feminine.  Though this is in reality a spectrum and all the elements contain one another and come to life with different expressions in different individuals - as what is light and easy for one is grueling for another. You can also find aspects of femininity or masculinity in every element.  


Below are examples of the elements applied to movement as general concepts. Though in the end it depends on what aspect of an element we decide to use in a particular situation as Air can be both a light breeze or a tornado, fire can be used to destroy a forest or to warm a home, earth can a foundation or something that we get buried under and water can be a static shallow pool or a tidal wave. 

Water deals with smooth, fluid, and restorative qualities in movement. Disciplines like Yang and Wu tai chi can be found here.  Practices like Vinyassa yoga, Yin yoga, joint mobility, soft dance, light recovery runs, stretching, foam rolling and flow work of any kind are water. Water is also “heavy” in that its tendency is to move downward like “water moving downhill”, so if you’re leaving the ground completely but still doing light work, you’re looking more at Air. Also, the development of fluidity and smooth transition is in the realm of water. Though Air and Water have very similar movement patterns and both can be flow vehicles. Water leaves us feeling supple and fluid.


Earth deals with slow, fundamental and heavy; this includes powerlifting,  grinding lifts of all kinds,  planches, hard pushups, working on stability, isometrics, crawling, working on simple basic human movements, a focus on structure and moving close to the ground. Earth also requires for at least one limb to be attached to the ground, if you’re completely lifted off of it (like a pullup) you’re working more in the realm of Air or Fire, both of which move upward away from the earth.  In Earth we learn to resist unwanted movement, lay a platform for more complex work, connect our body into one unit and be solid like a rock. 


Air deals with movements which are swift, agile, expansive, light and complex. If you watch Air you see that it is capable of highly complex and circular patterns, so movement complexity is often in the realm of air. Acrobatics, movement complexes, light ballistics, trail running, light plyometric’s (such as hops), agility training, dive rolling, hanging, pullups/chin-ups/dips (depending on intensity), Chen style Tai Chi, Bagua and dynamic dance (also depends on intensity) are all Air. Air can also be restorative and “opening”. If you are feeling too heavy after some hard lifting, Air can restore a feeling of lightness. 

_DSC4080__0__2_tonemapped.jpg


Fire is the most volatile element and can be extremely destructive if improperly handled. Fire is also the source of life and when properly managed, is life giving with the potential to offer renewal and purification. Fire deals with all that is fast, explosive, quick, and high intensity. Thus any of the other elements, if taken to an extreme can become fire. Vinyassa yoga and dance are examples of this, and if either of these is pushed too hard and too fast they can become fire. Fire can be seen in high intensity interval training, intense gymnastics (and their primary skills), sprinting, Olympic weightlifting and sledge hammer work. Another aspect of fire is explosiveness, if your exploding into something your on fire.   Anything that is metabolic conditioning or that is meant to activate the metabolic furnace is fire. Any training with the intent of creating “heat” in the body is also a form of fire. Fire ignites and energizes us, but also renews.


Even if you do not practice Primal Recovery™, consider looking at your training from an elemental perspective. It could be anything you do really. Have fun with it! 


  I leave you with this quote by the great Rumi where he describes the elements as expressions of the love to the divine spirit.

“Last night I asked the moon about the Moon, my one question for the visible world, Where is God? The moon says, I am dust stirred up when he passed by. The sun: My face is pale yellow from just now seeing him. Water: I slide on my head and face, like a snake, from a spell he cast. Fire: His lightning – I want to be that restless. Wind: Why so light? I would burn too if I had a choice. Earth, quiet, impregnated: Inside me I have a garden and a bubbling spring.” - Rumi 

 

 

Primal Movement as Spiritual Practice: Our Fundamental Yoga

Humans are the Swiss Army Knife of Animal Movement 

We are movers. Humans beings enjoy one of the most mobile and adaptable bodies in the animal kingdom. We can be martial artist, yogis, weight lifters, swimmers, dancers, and gymnast; we can chase down caribou in the savannas or we can be astronauts. In truth nothing we do in the world happens without movement. Speaking, writing, having sex, giving birth, painting and serving the world all happen through the contraction/relaxation of muscles.

Movement is life and life is movement; the only difference between a living body and dead body is the movement of cells, the pulsing of our hearts and countless other rhythms happening in our physiology from the micro to the macro. 


An age old truth that is now being “rediscovered” by modern science, is the indisputable fact that the mind and body are integrally interconnected, as you cannot isolate one from the other. Mind and body are one. Psychosomatic is not just  a way of naming pathologies, it is what we are at a fundamental level.

In everything from the initiation rites of tribal cultures, the techniques of elite athletes, the amazing capacities of yogi’s, the life transforming qualities of a discipline like tai chi, there lies evidence of what we are capable of when the mind and body unity is realized. At a practical level, there are few vehicles as powerful as movement for completely transforming ourselves.

Movement can release old stored traumas, refine the self and be a driver for deeper evolution, causing literal and objective change: observable change. 


The body speaks your truth, the layers of your breathing, proportion, movement patterns and posture reveal what our truly lived patterns of feeling are. How we feel, think, behave and act is cemented in an objective and observable way on our bodies. The body and mind share an almost poetic way of expressing each other’s essence. I am sure you have used at least some of these statements or heard them used: 

  • A person who stresses you can be a pain in the neck

  • We may feel as though we can’t stand on our own two feet

  • We stand up for what we believe in

  • We do not want to live on our knees

  • We can grasp the situation

  • The weight of the world rest on our shoulders

  • A statement can be heavy

  • He carried the company on his back


 What does it mean if we take this mind-body reality into account and then realize we are structurally speaking, rather adaptable. Our alignment can range greatly between perfectly upright, excessively extended, rotated, tilted and heavily slumped.  These postural variations from individual to individual are unique to humans among the animal kingdom. What I personally find fascinating, is that in our most balanced postural state we are heart lead organisms. What I mean is that the thoracic cavity leads as the outer most edge in forward motion.

If our posture is balanced, meaning that tensional forces inside our myofascial matrix are just tense enough in the desired places and lax enough where you want it, we lead with our hearts.

In this balanced state we find this true neutral. If you look around it seems as though this state in the modern human is rare. Though to clarify, I mean that we default to this position without any conscious effort to hold any particular posture. We own it. 


Mentally and emotionally speaking, the mind and emotional charge that exist inside a supple, agile, fluid, open, strong, creative, balanced and healthy body is going to bring the person to life. When we come to life the baggage, tensions, restrictions and wasting of potential that we have lived with, cannot remain hidden to us.

The process of deep embodied physical cultivation leads into and becomes the process of higher awareness.   

Of course alignment is much more complex and vast than simply looking at a person standing in the isolation of doing anything else (there is also alignment outside neutral). Though, upright standing posture can be a good indicator of a person’s state. We also must consider proportion from left to right, top to bottom and front to back. Is the person bigger in one then the other?  Imagine someone who is really heavy up top, has a large torso, their hands and voice are loud but their lower body is tiny. What would that say about the person’s life?

The body is the pointer, the road map, the vehicle and the measure of our capacity or lack thereof in this world. This is true because the body is an object and thus an object-ive reference point for inner processes. 


“This second armor expresses itself in the concept of himself the student has developed, in values and beliefs he holds, in his human relations, in his habits and style of life, and in his work. Any (and many times all) of these areas of life are limited and distorted in ways that express and extend the student's pattern of muscular armor. People often develop their life style, values and beliefs, friends and love relations, and their work in the service of their emotional defenses”. - Charles R. Kelley: EDUCATION IN FEELING AND PURPOSE

Due to our adaptability and the possibility for a very large variety of activities, having a reference point of universal movement patterns and an ancient biological inheritance that is as old as life itself on this planet, is what primal movement is all about.

This unique human animal body is likely billions of years old if we take our ancestry back to origins of life.

Things like the push ups, rolling, rocking, squats, lunges, crawling, kneeling, tool usage and swinging a club can be both used to reawaken dormant parts of us, remove unwanted tension, and ground us. 

My experience has been that laying a foundation in certain patterns can help reactivate a deep root system. It can also act as a platform for activities that have no outer context (like meditation) and can potentially reconnect us with our bodies quicker than other non “ancestral” systems.  

There are people who mediate an hour daily and yet cannot enter into some of our most basic default positions of our species like a squat! Having access to our fundamental patterns can help stabilize our spiritual practices in the raw experience of life. 

We share many of these movements and features with a lot of the animal kingdom; in some ways we are still worms and reptiles. You could think then that if nature has passed these things around so much that there is a particular type of primordial intelligence there. Using these patterns and anthropological perspectives, can be particularly healing in today’s industrialized world of nature aversion.  

As much as many of us claim to love animals, there is often a separating of them from ourselves: there are people and then there are animals. We see ourselves outside of nature looking in instead of seeing ourselves intertwined into the fabric of the natural world. 

I believe and have also experienced that one of the most powerful ways, that is easily accessible, to recover our animal selves, is through primal movement.  At a fundamental level - primal movement is simply primal ways of FEELING because patterns of tension and relaxation are patterns of feeling. 

Engaging in these fundamental human patterns of movement, as well as exploring our capacity for emotional expression through catharis then adding complexity, thus exploring their limits and ranges is helps bring us into the primal reality of our bodies.
These are ancient inherited ways of orientating in the world; sitting at a computer is rather new kinestehetic experience

Our ingrained movement patterns at neurological, metabolic and myofascial levels will thus then, affect our base mode of sensing.

Our emotions are also greatly affected by movement patterns because armor (excessive muscular tension) is created when we repress emotions, to “lock” them up energetically. So when we are not grounded on these level's in the form of moving like a human animal, we are fundamentally disconnected from a rich, healing and earth based set of psychosomatic experiences; the experience of being a creature of the earth.

 

The original meaning of the word yoga is to “yoke” or to “unite” the separate strands of ourselves into a whole, which is why primal movement is a fundamental physical yoga; moving the body as a whole, tying together structure, movement and breath and connecting us to the natural world.This is a necessary set of experiences for all humans because they are needs. We as a species, like all other species are designed to move and behave with certain patterns. But due to the shift of going from hunter gathers to computer age warriors many of these earth based sensations have been lost.

Moving in these ways can heal the disconnect between mind and body, between the primal and spiritual, it can remove our aches and pains, increase our energy, awaken the spiritual and physical athlete, reduce our stress, ground us and restore the vitality that is our birthright as wild animals on planet earth.

We are not meant to be sick, broken and weak but strong, capable and resilient. 


If we were to look at the poetic relationship between mind and body alluded to above, what type of poetry would we be writing and experiencing with a healthy dose of ancestrally inspired movements? It is difficult to engage in this and not have at least a baseline respect for the wilderness and our connection to the rest of life. To progress in this discipline, in any real manner will require certain character armor’s to be shed.  Again, it is not a nostalgic rendering of how we should be but a recovery of who we are. You can be wild and live in a city, because wildness is a state of being. It is how we think, feel, walk, perceive and relate. Though there is no magic bullet or cure all, primal movement can be a boon if your intent is inner freedom; it certainly has been for me and for others on this path. As you free your body, and reacquire your confidence in it's potential, lots of beautiful transformative processes to your spirit can occur. This is not something to achieve, it is something to unleash. 

Knowing the Breath

photodune-14001555-healthy-lungs-and-breath-s.jpg

Out of all the primal inborn elements that we live with on a daily basis, none is more essential to our capacity for life, then the mighty and humble breath. Without food you can survive for weeks, without water only days, but without breath - you can live merely minutes; a few difficult, agonizing and painful minutes.  There are many different techniques, protocols and tools at our disposal, that can assist us in our quest for wholeness and vitality, but breath work in its many manifestations - may be one of the most powerful. Its power has been utilized by practically every religious (in the form of chanting), trans-formative, shamanic, martial and psychosomatic path; there is no mistaking the usefulness of consciously working with the breath.  

We are all born with the capacity for a full deep breath and a complete exhale; many aspects of stress, sitting and trauma can eventually remove this capacity. The abdomen and often even the diaphragm itself - will become tight and restricted, effectively preventing this full breath. The average person takes between 17,000 to 23,000 breaths in a day! Now imagine that every single one of those is restricted from being complete and true. It is like over eating a food which has no calories and no nutrition, starving- while in an abundance. When we inhale, the diaphragm, a large dome shaped muscle located underneath the lungs - moves downward (it also expands in other directions, but less so) and when we exhale, the stored elasticity, allows it move upwards compressing the lungs. This up and down motion has a side effect of massaging the organs in our visceral cavity, helping them function an their optimum.

 

photodune-12855386-breathing-technique-in-lotus-posture-xs.jpg

The mechanical aspects though only touch the surface of what full and complete breathing can do your vitality and state of mind. To get a better grasp of what that means, it is necessary to understand certain aspects of our nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is divided into three branches; the sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight or freeze), the parasympathetic (rest and digest) and the enteric (gut based nervous system). This autonomic nervous system controls automatic functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, breath rate and digestion. Normally, these functions continue on without a need for us to focus on them. In this automation, there is a yin and yang, whereas the sympathetic nervous system excites and raises, the parasympathetic calms and lowers. The point here is that the breath gives us a direct route to the manipulation of these two broad and far-reaching polarities. 

Many aspects of sub-optimal vitality can be traced back to an imbalance between these two branches of the nervous system. If we are constantly stressed then, our SNS (for short) is constantly in this low-level activation, which leaves us always "on" or idling. This low-level activation will cause us to have higher stress hormones, higher blood pressure, impaired digestion, immunity issues, chronic infections and fatigue. Whereas if there is too much PNS activation and not enough SNS tone, then you may be tired all the time, sleep long hours and not feel rested, not be able to deal with fast-paced situations well and feel like a "zombie". If you want to take an elemental approach, one is too much fire and the other is too much water. There are many ways to address this balance, but the breath is the cheapest, most innate and one of the most powerful. 

 

photodune-10453662-breathe-in-s.jpg

The key to "knowing the breath" is to also understand that different activities require different breathing methods and there is no clear cut "this is the way". Knowing how the various aspects of the breath affect our system and using that knowledge in a variety of ways is the goal of this branch. In truth, having access to a full breath, as well many different techniques for various purposes is what is important. . This way you learn to work with this innate power house on an intuitive and organic level. By providing an alphabet of breathing, you can learn to express its potential by owning the ability to "write" with it as needed. 

 

The Hunter Gatherer: Ancestral Nutrition and The Yoga of Eating

download.jpg

Humans are Hunter Gatherers which implies a very powerful concept and that is that we are what we eat. Often we here this saying “we are what we eat” and think only of its implications to our personal individual diet and its quality. In many ways a species is defined by its diet, because diet determines an animals nature; it decides it's place and effect on the ecosystem in which it lives. Such as how apex predators deeply impact the health of the environment or how herbivores keep vegetation under control while also acting as food for the carnivores. In many ways diet determines everything from the size of brains in relation to body weight, to the daily patterns the animal lives with; herbivores spend a large part of the day eating in small quantity while carnivores and omnivores eat more sparingly, but in larger quantity. So food is no small thing and to live is to consume other life. Regardless of what type of diet you do follow, if it is inspired by natural whole foods, while removing "food stuffs", than you are tapping in to the ancestral core whether you are a vegan, vegetarian or an omnivore. Here at Healing the Human Animal, we focus on educating individuals on how to apply the principles of eating like a wild Homo Sapian without trying to imitate one. 

Food in a natural setting (the wild) is a time consuming endeavor and it forms a large percentage of what our (jobs) would be; the hunter goes out and hunts while the gatherer gathers. The survival and more importantly, the thriving of the species depends on organic substances acquired within that context. Without nutrition there would be no science, no philosophy, no parenting and no productivity. 

download (1).jpg

 Acquiring food is of extreme importance because without food we die, so a large part of our psychosomatic energy has evolved to get food. It has long been known by leaders and dictators that if you control the supply of food - you control the people. In today's modern agriculture driven world food is easily available, taste amazing and is in abundant supply. The hunter and gatherer is hardwired deep into our make up having been in our programming since the dawn of the modern human species and its ancestors. This disconnect between the hunter gather and the farmer is at the root of a host of the health issues we face today.

Nutrition is an extremely complex subject that is at the mercy of the context it is put within. For instance, dietary concepts can stem from biblical sources, biological sciences, political biases, morals, pathological disorders, epidemiological studies and anthropology. So having a consistent reference point is quite a challenge! Thus our world view as a whole deeply influences and is simultaneously influenced by what we believe is meant for consumption. As said above, in spiritual practices what we eat is often a consideration;  everything from Abrahamic religions to yogic philosophy, from Pagans to Buddhist. It seems to be understood that what we eat and the state of our spirit is connected. Which really does make sense as our bodies (the temple's) are food. An alligator can make a meal out of us as surely as we can make one out of the alligator.  

download (2).jpg

Food, whether of a specific type, the exclusion of a specific food, or a complete restriction (such as in fasting), has been considered to play a powerful role in mental, emotional and physical evolution by many traditions. For a long time, the link between what is consumed and the experience of the spirit has been a recognized truth. With that said, the specific reasons for dietary observations in any culture would be both a mixture of practical necessity and of the goals being pursued by their school of thought. Often if the focus becomes the "purity of spirit" at the exclusion of the body, then the diet becomes less grounding by restricting animal foods and the overall quantity of it is kept small. The diet is made to be less "heavy" by these changes. In the same vain the most grounding diet possible is one based off of traditional omnivorous hunter gather diets. 

However, there is currently a fad, which is referred to as the "Paleo Diet" and while well meaning, it is in fact impossible to follow in today's world. We do not live in the paleolithic era. There are pollutants and other man made chemicals spanning the entire globe that is now a part of our food supply. If we were to kill a mastodon with spears, crack open the bones and suck the marrow out with a side order of sour wild berries that no longer exist, then we would be eating Paleo. Cavemen were not eating a five course meal of peppered beef, hybridized spring veggies, gluten free bread, some chicken eggs and 5 different type of nuts at every meal. We can not and should not, try to base our diet off of eating a puritan Palo diet because such goals are an illusion. What we can do is understand the "principles" which ancestral meals were built with, then apply them to the contemporary world and viola, you have the peppered beef and 5 different types of nuts. 

download (4).jpg

As much as traditional spiritual cultures do not seem to refer to this,  there is a deep ancestral bond that can be instilled in our experience through the adoption of a diet inspired by our ancestors: by eating real food. Through it we can find an ancient connection to a primal past. At the same time, as research pours in from anthropological sources, biological sciences and anecdotal evidence, it is this type of nutritional strategy that confers the most health benefits. It ameliorates states of disease and causes us to erupt with vitality. Eating like a wild animal can offer us the resilience, strength and capacity of a wild animal.  

Ancestral nutrition is simply a context, although it is one that stems back into our roots as a species and to the origins of life as a whole. The context of what “types” of  things an omnivorous animal in the wild would consume, is the oldest context.  

download (3).jpg

Wild animals rarely suffer from chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and chronic fatigue; diseases which are often referred to as diseases of civilization.  Although there are many factors in these psychosomatic states of imbalance, such as being sedentary, overly stressed, sexually repressed and mentally numb, nutrition plays an enormous role. During the process of healing my body from the many childhood diseases I suffered from, I discovered that restoring my nutrition to one influenced by our ancestral heritage was a necessity if I was to thrive.  Nutrition is not just a collection of individual parts: such as proteins, fats and carbohydrates, but a delivery system of complex information. Feed your body the ancient code it evolved to use for its primal programming. 

Reclaiming Experience

              “What is needed is self actualization not self image actualization.”-Bruce Lee

It seems like many of us in the world today live in some degree of self-imposed existential inhibition devoid of the nectar of direct experience. Our day to day life and how we choose to engage with it, is often not heavily influenced by a reality that is created by our “actual” experience of life. By “direct experience” I mean a state in which the stories, false ideals and conditioned psychosomatic behaviors that dominate us are minimized or completely removed, even if just for a moment.

In this state, we are present, embodied and “alive”. This idea, of direct experience can be found in many spiritual disciplines around the world, and can also be seen in western “body-mind” therapy circles. It has driven the philosophies of monks, mystics, therapist and athletes the world over.  It has been presented through many names and aspects of it can be seen in various concepts, such as:

  • Mindfulness
  • Beginners Mind
  • Being
  • Samadhi
  • Flow State
  • Awakening
  • Enlightenment
  • Being in the moment

Even though some of these concepts may seem foreign, it seems that the common thread is that all these concepts drive us toward a primary mode of consciousness: that we are completely engaged with the experience at hand, without the “thinking mind” or our conditioned modes of operation, coloring the moment to make it something it is not.  The more we can do that, the deeper into our direct experience of life we can go.

I would like to point out quickly, before we move forward, that there is a major element of embodiment in this state, as connection with the physical is fundamental in direct experience. Whether we are talking about, yoga, bio-energetic body mind therapy, extreme sports or the Zen arts like archery, our ability to fully engage and release all else, is fundamental to how these traditions are structured.

Ultimately the purpose of these disciplines is cultivating a state that you leave the “training arena” with and use in the rest of your life.  

Most of the traditions that have sprouted the above mentioned terms, are pretty much in agreement, that the average person is not actually engaged or having direct experience most of the time.

Our minds, traumas, lack of embodiment, philosophies, agendas, fears and ideas of reality prevent us from actually experiencing life itself. This whole dynamic can be seen in simple and also profound ways. It can range from a fear of opening up (by tightening the front of our bodies) in a particular social situation because of how we experienced past events (that can even go back as far as infancy), to the way in which we structure our entire lives, through the philosophies, ideals and values we choose to embrace.

Through deepening my practices that make up the core of Healing the Human Animal, I have joyfully and painfully, discovered that many of the thoughts and values I had about myself and the world, begin to dissolve the deeper into my personal experience I go.

 

For many of us, our value system is a complete artificial fabrication crafted by media, community, trauma, neurosis and the agenda others, and not from uninhibited fully engaged experience.

In simple terms, we become conditioned. To the degree that our motivations do not stem from our own inner core, is the degree to which our own inner experience is rejected in favor of something else.The lack of embodiment, grounding and immediacy many of us live with, bouncing around between the past and the future, between what is expected from others and what we try to impose upon ourselves, robs us of an authenticity that comes from being able to be alive in our actual truth.

There is no foundation for experience: people claim to have certain values and certain motivations, and then when you look at their actions and the outcomes they consistently create; it is not that difficult to see that they have absorbed an idea, for which the living experience is missing.

It is seen in those who say they value something, such as health, they exclaim they do not want to be sick, and then proceed to carry out action after action that leads them to illness.

Actually feeling good, energized and fully alive is not really an experience they truly seek to have, yet being sick is also not an experience they want.

These splits in the personality come from “believing” certain things and not having a stable base of self-actualization from which to gauge these beliefs.  It is not difficult to see why this manifest, when you consider that from the moment you can speak, walk and act within society, there are countless forces attempting to tell you why what you feel is wrong:

Don’t cry, sit still, don’t play that way, don’t show the other kids your body, eat like this, talk like this, boys don’t that, girls behave like this, do your homework like this, write your paper like this ect…

We could go on and on with examples, but the point is really clear, nearly from the moment we are born, conditioning from external forces set in, we are generally broken like a horse and domesticated into the particular culture we exist within. In order for this to happen our feeling faculties and mental faculties must be severed. This psychosomatic surgery weakens us and makes us easier to manage and lead.

What we feel is right in the moment is then stifled, blocked and even punished.

Slowly this distrust of own experience sets in. From there we create stories, adopt disembodied ideals and do our damnest to maintain the status quo we have created for ourselves.   Not everything we adopt in this way is “wrong”, but, ultimately questioning what it is and adopting our own moral compass is fundamental to having a direct experience of life.

DSC02501.JPG

Instead of pursuing pleasure and what feels innately right, many are motivated by puritan thoughts, redemption through suffering, being a martyr, self-deprecation, being elite, being the best, the most badass, the hero, the savior and just a general slew of unconscious roles that take away from who we actually are.  

The more we impose on ourselves a role, while denying ourselves our true feelings  for the sake of some imagined ideal that we are using to escape our actual experience, the more we are diseased.

It infects “self-help” by us trying to “improve ourselves” instead of thinking of “improving our experience”. One insinuates that we are not good enough already (because of an imagined ideal) and must be fixed, whereas the other zeroes in on the way we live the various moments of our lives. 

Once we give up our true self to play a role, we are fated to be rejected because we have already rejected ourselves. Yet we will struggle to make the role more successful, hoping to overcome our fate but finding ourselves more enmeshed in it. We are caught in a vicious cycle that keeps closing in, diminishing our life and being.”- Alexander Lowen

To become free, truly free, we must reclaim experience though deep psychosomatic embodiment and a non-manufactured engagement with the forces of life.

Through this we can cast off the archetypes and stories that do not emerge organically from our own soul. We find our own inner source of divinity, and feel its wild spirit roaring through our being.

When we step into our own living experience, it alone guide us by swallowing the stimuli we are exposed to, digesting it, extracting what nourishes us and releasing the rest. Then, the feelings and roles you have adopted, can more easily be cast off.

You are either leading yourself or being led. To be led by unexamined forces is to be diminished, and not fully alive, not actually present within the reality of your being. One of the biggest acts of rebellion and spiritual cleansing you can perform: to become free.  

Transforming the Soul Through Movement Metaphors

For many of us in the movement discipline spheres, we come to our practice with the hope to engage in a practice that overall, enhances our experience of life and of ourselves. We are in one place or stage, and want to initiate a process, that ultimately creates change of one form or another. What we seek is transformation.

It can be easy to think of these changes in terms of performance metrics, such as, is my hand stand straighter, am I increasing the amount of weight I am lifting, or is my range of motion increasing?  There is of course nothing wrong with this (with a lot of potential good) and ultimately external metrics can say something objective about internal processes, if we are willing to be honest with ourselves.

However, external metrics will probably reach a place of diminishing returns as innate potential in a particular movement is reached or as age erodes away what you are able to recover from.  

 

Longevity and Diminishing Returns

I am personally a stickler for longevity and the desire to be the best I have ever been when in my “geriatric” years. The improvement most of us are going to see is not in how much horse power we can release, though mastery of technique is certainly possible.

In the end the intention we come to training with is going to be a big determining factor in the results we get.

I definitely pay attention to these external metrics; they do however take a less prominent role in my perception of the effectiveness of my training.The biggest determining factor, I use to gauge how well my training is doing, is in the state of my “soul” and what “internal” changes I am experiencing at a psychosomatic level; of course healthy changes often take place with healthy "external form". It is even possible view the hormonal changes that can be created through training, through this lens.

I ask: how is my training changing me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?  

Refining the Self through Training

The “soul” is a vague term, that is difficult to pin down objectively, and surely we all create our own meaning for it. To me, I experience the word as an all-encompassing container for the various aspects of self-culminating into one outcome: my truest self. It is similar to how many separate instruments come together and create a single “song”. Different forms of training can all change the “music” of who we are, but the focus in this article is on movement training specifically.

Approaching physical training attempting to transform our essence, is not a new idea, though it does seem less common in popular culture these days. The goals of refining the self, of deepening our level of embodiment and the healing of the whole organism are intrinsically suited to longevity and is adaptable to the different stages of life. Not to mention that it is likely immensely more rewarding over the long term than nailing a particular a weight or exercise for its own sake.

Of course, the attainment of a particular external metric, as mentioned previously can be used as a vehicle that we ride to the destination of certain internal changes.

How Training affects the Rest of Your Life

How well am I expressing what is within me and are my skills in navigating life growing? How are my social interactions doing, or how about my sense of purpose? What am I being called to engage with or ignore? Do I feel comfortable in my own skin or do I have burning desire to grind it into a pulp with my next training session? Do I wake up energized, sexually charged and ready for the day and night ahead?

It may be difficult to make that jump for some, such as, how is swinging this club, really affecting my relationship with my spouse or how is my squat training affecting my finances (roots & basic survival). In my experience and research it is possible to draw (at least some) parallels between how you engage with life and what is going on in your training to some degree. Training is a microcosm of the macrocosm of our life.

Swinging a Club as a Movement Metaphor

I want to use the example of swinging a club with the exercise commonly referred to as a Mill.  Can I stand in place, activate my core properly and propel the club outward and bring it back in? I propose that another way to ask about this same scenario from a psychosomatic lens is:

Can I remain grounded, while in touch my core needs, as I interact with the world by pushing things away and also reaching out and bringing things in?

I am going to hammer at this example, for the sake of simplicity, but it is ultimately just one small example in infinite field of movement training. As a club swings around you, it wants to pull you off your feet; a person who is easily moved in life and without a stable root, is probably going to struggle with the leg drive required to stay put. Chronic muscular tension in the abdomen (super common with undigested emotional material) is going to alter the ground forces moving from the lower body to the arm. 

The shoulder must be stable, and able to push and pull freely. Then this must extend to the hand, where it will strongly challenge the grip and if you simply cannot “get a grip in life”, how do you think that is going to feel?

Can these club exercises increase the intelligence of my hands and can this change, lead to a greater ability to “grasp the situation at hand” in all aspects of my life, or just in the gym?

Emotional & Tensional Patterns

Patterns of tension are patterns of feeling, and what we feel, determines how we choose to engage the world around us.

Ungrounded people, have a poor sense of their body, and especially their legs and feet. They cannot drive “energy” downward. It all likelihood, the inability to engage your lower body is going to reflect in broad ways in the rest of your psychosomatic experience, which likely has a lot to do with the life you have created.

If you are afraid of “reaching out and brining in” as you would with good things, lovers or friends, it is likely that you are not going to be awesome at pullups or that they cause latent pain to come to the surface.

If at a fundamental level, the emotional motor pattern of bringing things close to you is a pattern your emotional tensegrity cannot sustain, it is probably going to reflect in how well you pull during training.  If you have issues creating boundaries, and pushing away things that do not serve you, it is likely you won’t be setting any pushup records.

I have written about it before, and it is worth pointing out again, that it is totally possible to reinforce preexisting behavioral tendencies through training and as you imbalance your structure, your further imbalance yourself as a whole.

Some people are stuck in the reaching out pattern, and they are often the ones who feel like they give themselves too much during relationships; they are left with arms open wanting love to come. They may find them pushing capacity to weak, or that it causes them pain to perform common presses (this is something I have had to deal with personally).  

Where does refinement take us?

Developing a full, rich and balanced life, often requires knowledge of arenas not related to physical training, it can however, set the emotional and mental stage, which can be used to act out this knowledge.

Bioenergetic imbalances, chronic muscular tensions, disembodiment, a deficiency of wildness and a generalized lack of aliveness is rampant at the moment, even for many of us who consciously aware that this psychosomatic reality even exist. The above previous example, touches on the basic ability to engage these various movements/emotional actions, but does not engage the possibilities of transforming these qualities.

As we restore primary emotional competency and then expand beyond that, as we sophisticate, refine, and deepen our practice, what changes can take place?

Can our “elegance” in these psychosomatic matters infiltrate deeper into our competency and willingness for engagement in our whole lives? I leave you with some of these questions, as I am still asking them myself and will touch on them in future post.

Opening Up to the Heart and Embracing the Social Animal

“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.” – Dalai Lama

Core Teachings of the Worlds Spiritual Traditions 

If we explore the core teaching of most of the world’s wisdom traditions, religions, and spiritual gospels, certain archetypal patterns can be seen emerging from this broad diversity of perspectives. The focus of this article will be on just one of these, and arguably the most important: the heart as the core of the spiritual self. Time and time again, from the principles of compassion in Buddhism, to the golden rule in Christianity of “do unto others as you would have others do unto you”, the heart plays a central role.

This central role is also a reality in the body, as pretty much every system in the body is dependent on blood flow in some form or fashion. The thing is, the heart is not just delivering blood, but at a mechanical level, is producing a pressure wave with every single beat.

Like primordial drum in our chest, each of us is attuned to this continuous rhythm. One of the most powerful ways to affect this rhythm, is by altering our emotions.  

Beyond the purely mechanical, there is an immense amount of electromagnetic information conferred to every single cell as well. The heart produces the strongest electromagnetic field in the body, and can with current instruments, be sensed at least 10 FT outside the body, as verified by the Heartmath Institute.

The Heart in Human Culture  

Many of us think of the nervous system as the brain, spinal cord and periphery nerves, without the realization that the heart is part of the nervous system in its own way. Beyond the idea of the heart as just some sort of pump, the field of “Neurocardiology” has demonstrated that the heart is in many ways an organ of perception, able to override the cranial brain and make autonomous decisions. It should come as no surprise considering the amount of lore, poetry, philosophy and art that has come forth about the hearts passion, courage, desire, purpose and primary role in human life.

The origins of love are beyond my comprehension and the broader aspects of how our heart influences our lives is way beyond the scope of an article, truly requiring volumes to flesh out. So touching upon the title of this article, I want to bring my focus to a particular element  in this vast arena of the cosmic implications of the heart: being a social animal. The emotions of the heart, such as love, gratitude, compassion, acceptance and forgiveness are connecting forces. They pacify social tension and bond us to other people.

 As a strategy of evolution, love (some form of it) makes a lot of sense, especially for social animals because it allows groups to form, that can as a unit, deal with the many variables involved in survival. 

Homo sapiens are deeply social creatures and the need for social bonding runs deep in our biology. From the moment we are born, there is an innate drive to clutch to another human being; there is primal need to be touched, nurtured and cared for.

It won’t take much searching around to find study after study illuminating the health and longevity benefits of community and loving relationships.  They seem to be more important at determining mortality than smoking, exercise or good food. If we want to be truly healthy, we need to foster good high quality relationships and support structures. Here is an awesome TED talk on the topic.

 

The Closed Heart 

Much to the unconscious dismay of many of us in the modern world, our hearts are closed to this most fundamental of realities: 

that we are inherently social animals

Individualism is practically the new religion of the modern world, which sets the stage for the most common killer in western society: heart disease. We need one another and deep down, most of us crave the intimacy and human connection of the tribe. Something inside of us beckons outward, to touch, be touched and be understood. 

The desire to be with other humans is hardwired into us by the radical molding powers of evolution and is ultimately, fundamental to our survival.

Without each other we would parish. There is currently a host of traumas, perspectives and attitudes that block us off from this, by building a wall around this vulnerable part of us. Many defend this wall with statements like “I hate people” or “people suck” and my favorite:

“I hate people but I love animals”

It is likely that the “animals” fill a deep desire to connect with something, without the pain illuminated to us by interacting with our own species. It is easy to blame others for our own pain in relationships, because it takes the focus away from our own wounding.

        Enriching and awesome......but not a substitute for human relationships

       Enriching and awesome......but not a substitute for human relationships

If we look at the evolution of our species, and observe hunter gather cultures, the reality of the tribe is an all-consuming one. In fact many individual tribal people seldom think of themselves purely, as they instinctually know, that they are like an organ in a body and that their actions affect the whole.

The human genome evolved to expect this tightly knit unity and beyond eating and training like a wild human, opening up our hearts to a community is an integral part of rewilding. It is civilization that teaches us not to connect, it is not something innate. 

My own process in this arena of existence has been a challenging one, with endless demands for growth, opening up to vulnerability and learning to love. Abandonment from both my biological parents, multiple best friends setting me aside for “better” people, my first couple of child “puppy loves” rejecting me and life threatening betrayal in high school, left me closed off to say the least.

Other humans became a source of danger instead of one of nourishment.

With that belief held deeply in my heart; I only reinforced it more and more in a self-fulling prophecy. I unconsciously taught others not to love me. It is my darling wife, who was able to slowly nurture me out of my walled off isolation. She saw past that encrusted layer of self-protection and taught me how to love again, allowing me to open back up to other people. Doing so has been immensely rewarding. Ironically, one of the biggest challenges was allowing myself to receive love and accept it.

The main pain here, which I have been all too familiar with in the past, is that we simply are not good enough to be loved. If we believe this, and feel this in our hearts, the likelihood is that we will get this. Being a social animal starts with self-love. When we truly love ourselves, then we can extend this outward to others. 

Often we pull away because we do not feel as if we are good enough, as if exposing ourselves to those around us, to really allow ourselves to be unguarded, will only reinforce what we already know: that we are not wanted.

So instead of exposing ourselves to this pain, which instinctually threatens our ability to survive, we prefer to close off and not expose. The “other” is like a mirror for our own self-hate.

The technical details of how to approach the issue of “opening up” will come in other future resources. However, I want to bring it up, that it is not just a metaphorical notion; it can be seen quite literally in how we carry ourselves through the world. The slumped forward posture that is archetypal of today’s culture, is an expression of this walled off closed heart dynamic.

The front line of the body closes in order to protect the vital organs and sexual organs; this is a primal response, seen readily in the fetal position and in self defense/protective situations.

With healthy alignment, the heart and solar plexus often “lead” and this exposes are most vulnerable areas: our vital organs and genitalia. We are the only animal with this structural alignment, as most other animals lead with their head.  To lead with the heart is to literally be opened up and willing to engage with the outside.

We need to open up on many levels. The willingness to engage, bond and build community is essential to healthy wild life. If we open up our alignment and structure we can shave away the armor that rigidly holds us in a protective posture, which can in a downstream fashion, allow us to love and connect more.

We can also develop social skills, awaken the intelligence of the heart through heart based meditation and work on the emotional wounds that hold us back, which will in all likelihood affect our alignment.  My preferred method is to approach it from multiple ends and to move forward with a relentless courage that seeks the capacity to be vulnerable. 

Untamed in the 21st Century

For the purposes of this article I will use the words untamed, wild, animal, undomesticated, aliveness and free interchangeably. I will also use, caged, domesticated, trapped, and half alive in the same manner. 

What it Means to be Tamed and to Rewild 

Reˈwīld

verb

1.    to reverse the process of domestication.

2.    to return to a more wild or self-willed state.

Modern day humans are in many ways still Paleolithic hunter gathers, designed by evolution to exist as wild animals on planet earth. The reality that we currently exist within, as domesticated humans, is in many ways contrary to that innate architecture. I will not put a value judgement on this move into organized society, I am only pointing out that the current set-up is not one that jives with how we evolved to be thus far.

It is possible that in the grander scheme of things, that organized society is a stepping stone to something better.

Evolution is constant force of nature that is inescapable and far be it for me to have any inkling as to what purpose civilization has in the larger scheme of things. My purpose and intent, is and will always be, on how to be more alive and free in today’s world.

Being wild and untamed means many things to many different people. Some people, usually heavily domesticated ones, believe it means losing all control, being a “savage” who is ravenous and has no conscious sense of himself.

Some people think it means learning the skills of hunter gathers and adopting some of the life style habits that our ancestors lived with, and personally, I think that is big piece of the puzzle, as those are quite literally the innate patterns of wild humans; however that can sometimes drive our focus so far back, that we cannot see forward, by inducing ancestral nostalgia.

 In our quest to “rewild”, I think it is important to understand what it is that we are searching for. In the end, what I personally feel most of us seek is an inner state first and foremost, above and beyond an outer one. We want to be in touch with the wild fire that burns in our bellies. 

It is feelings on both ends of the spectrum that drive us towards this path. Depression, anxiety, meaninglessness and disillusion with the modern concrete world, drive us back into the primal one, where we feel connection, meaning, wonder, magic, belonging, homage and purpose. Many us have come to this movement for health reasons and have discovered renewed layers of vitality,  that remained hidden to us, while living the zoo life. 

Being in nature, being with other species of animals and learning ancient skills, to many us, just feels “right”, and helps us to rewild.  However, can we say that to partake in things that are not directly “ancestral” makes us “not wild”? Personally, I do not believe this is the case.  This leads to the title of this post and the question of “what does it mean to be untamed in the 21st century”?

"First off, it’s worth examining what it means to be domesticated.  In the most basic sense, to be domesticated is to be tame.  Tame animals are not dangerous. They are easy to manage and hard to provoke.  Their adrenal response, the cause of the fight-or-flight reflex, is tamped down.  In some sense, this is neoteny in behavior- the lifelong preservation of the trust, playfulness, and sociability of youth.”- Allison Guy

To answer that question, it is useful to understand what being domesticated means, if we are qualifying wild, by not being domesticated.  There are multiple aspects that affect this scale between tame and wild. For instance, the cultivation of neotenous behavior; neotony is the preservation of youth into adulthood, so that an animal never actually “matures” and thus remains a child it’s whole life in some ways. This is done in order to make the animal easier to manage and lead. In doing so it receives predictability, food and safety.

The only requirement is that it releases its freedom.

Another element is that the reproductive capacities of the animal are controlled by either neutering or directing its usage. In many ways to be tame is to be half alive because, overall, the animal’s sense of “self direction”, drive and will, is eliminated and the animals sense of purpose has become the prerogative of whoever it is who is doing the domesticating.

If we look around at the state of the modern world, many of the above mentioned attributes can be readily seen in certain very large populations. The masses are easily lead and directed. Religion and politics try to control every aspect of our lives and either of the two, can affect policies that can control our reproductive self-direction.

Here we have major institutions leading us, controlling what many of us are exposed to, what we can consume and who we can have sex with.

Thinking for ourselves or taking control over what we put into our bodies, how we move, who and how we have sex and how we relate to nature, is less common because we are indoctrinated into a domesticated way of relating to the world. Some can escape it on their own and others do not, why some do and others don’t I do not know.

 

Remaining a Child your Whole Life 

ne·ot·e·ny

noun

ZOOLOGY

1.     the retention of juvenile features in the adult animal.

The world is shitstorm of projecting and blaming, with little responsibility owned. Natural resources suffer, because humanity acts like a big baby, carelessly sucking on the tit of the earth, whining that it wants it now. That is neotony all the way.  The craziest thing is that in our case, we have done it to ourselves. We are the zoo keeper and the animal contained within it. We hold the key.

"Juvenile behavior was developed to protect children of any species from doing too much stupid shit that will get them killed. That someone discovered how to foster that state into adulthood is one of histories great tragedies” Mushtaq Ali Ansari

We do not have many references, or shining examples to pull out with scientific authority and say, “yes, this is a wild human in our society”.

In my experience/perception being “wild and untamed” as a hunter gather living in a tribe, is in some ways a very different thing, compared to when you are discussing someone who thrives and contributes to the modern world. Are they mutually exclusive? Personally, I don’t think so.

To Be Untamed

To me, untamed is in many ways internal, in the sense that it is not an external activity in “particular” that is required “as much” as I want my mind, emotions, body, and spirit to be free. You can get there through Kung fu, Qi Gong, and meditation or through “primal movement”, gardening, and walking your dogs, or through Rolfing and bioenergetics. 

The real cage is the one built around our minds, hearts and guts, that separates us from our true nature. Of course to say that it is only internal is not exactly accurate either, but I think true rewilding moves from the inside out even if you have to start from the outside in.

You can be physically strong, and still be trapped inside a neurotic cage. You can be a hunter and not be connected to the land or even destroy it for profit. You can train ancestral movement, but not be able to express the wild animal that is within, in an authentic manner that is not subdued.  It is more than a set of practices; it is a state of being.  

To me, to be untamed is to live your life the way you see fit, free from imagined burdens, conventions or limitations.; to be free of imaginary restrictions placed on you by society. It means being self-possessed. It means maturing fully, taking on responsibility for yourself and the whole human tribe, by contributing to the world. 

It means waking up to the reality that we live inside nature, as an integral part of it, it is not just a stage for us to act our stories on.  It means being vital, connected to your body, purpose driven, energetic, playful, loving, fierce, fully alive, authentic, dangerous, resilient, real and present. If we become fully alive, then we have become unchained. We can have all these traits regardless of whether not we live a forest life; we can be a CEO and still be those things.

We must not try to become our tribal ancestors, for we cannot, however we can become authentically free in today’s modern world.

I live and work at Wolf Sanctuary at the moment, and I can absolutely say that wolves have been fantastic teachers in this “self direction” (and many of the qualities expressed above).  There are many wild animals that can be tamed to some degree, but not so much with a pure wolf. You cannot “tell” a wolf what to do, you can reason with it however, and ask it to work with you in certain ways, it might comply and it might not. They are self possessed, their spirit cannot be easily dominated, whether or not they were raised in captivity. They decide to comply based off of their own volition. 

Trying to force a wolf to do something it does not want to do causes it an enormous amount of stress, they might die of heart attack before they jump through a ring of fire.

We need some of that, especially where it matters. Even though, other animals can be great teachers in this “wild spirit”, we must not get in the trap that tells us that we must be acting like a wolf to be an animal, human activity, dwellings and ways of life, are the patterns of animals; humans are animals, we just have to remember and embrace that fact. 

Much of the rewilding movement relates to lifestyle changes, practices and skills; this is fantastic of course, as these behaviors can have direct pathways to the state we want to unleash within ourselves. Some of us want these skills for their practical use alone or for health reasons, while others want them in order to reconnect to something ancient; personally I want them for all those reasons.  

For those of us seeking freedom, we must remember, the external activity is a way to untame the spirit and unlock the truth of who we are in our full glory, so that we may live in a different way. Many of us are like flowers that have yet to bloom.

Overall, in end, it is my opinion, that being untamed in the 21st century is going to depend on the state of our spirit, more than anything else and in reality, it likely would have been the same for our ancestors, the only difference is that the world they lived in, did not try to cage and leash their spirit, the way that ours currently does.

With this, I leave you with practices, perceptual modes and suggestions that can perhaps assist some in their pursuit to flourish and mature fully. This is just my personal list and reflects how I approach this process; there are likely countless ways to get there.

  • Maturity and self-possession
  • Moving your body with freedom and ownership
  • Eating like our ancestors
  • Being connected with and spending time in nature
  • Being a social animal
  • Breathing fully
  • Undoing emotional repression
  • Freedom from domesticated ideals
  • Hunting , gathering and growing your own food
  • Bush craft
  • Connecting with your ancestors
  • Thriving
  • Having animist perspectives
  • Ecstatic sex
  • Grounding
  • Being with other animals
  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Bioenergetics/ Body-Mind Psychology    
  • Martial art
  • Learning
“You need a little more animal energy. You are too sophisticated, too civilized, and that is crippling you. Too much civilization is a paralyzing thing. It is good in a small dose but too much of it is very dangerous. One should always remain capable of being an animal. Your animal has to be freed; that is the problem as I see it. If you can learn to be a little wild, all your problems will disappear. So start from tonight — and enjoy it!” –Osho

The Role of Catharsis in the Primal Health Movement

What is Meant by the Term "Ancestral"

With the current resurgence of ancestrally based platforms for living, many of us are looking backwards to determine how to best move forward. It is a beautiful movement and I have truly gown to love the practice of doing our best to understand how our ancestors lived their lives and letting it influence us. That practice in and of itself is rather ancestral.

There is some debate in these various groups and some of them reference particular time periods, such as the Paleolithic era or even relatively modern pre industrial cultures that are still around, or were around a few hundred years ago, as their reference point. I feel as though this is beneficial, even if it is perhaps a little bit short sighted. The camp I have grasped onto the most is the one who is tracing back our ancestry to the beginning of life on this planet. 

When we say ancestral, we do not just mean humans or humans in a particular time period. Our genetic code and overall relationship to this planet and to each other is billions of years old. We are because many other species before us have been.

Often, the biological inheritances that we think about are the major players in this game of life and evolution, such as our diets, movement patterns, environments and social interactions. These of course form the major backbone of our lifestyles, but there is in my experience, a missing element in many of these conversations.

The missing element that I have encountered and have addressed in some ways in myself, through cathartic modes of release are the inner state and energetic essence of the individual.

Something to be understood is that what makes a lion in a zoo a depressed neurotic version of itself is not just the  basics of water, food and shelter.

The questions I ask here are, how free is your emotional structure and framework? How wild is your mind?

Not in a sense of it being chaotic and lacking maturity, which could be seen as primitive “perhaps”, but how many of your animalistic desires, intensity, aggression and impulses are locked away and repressed? What patterns and compensations that result from a domestication of your spirit do you have ingrained in your body? Are you truly free?

The Field of Bioenergetics 

To look deeper into these questions I would like to refer to a field of psychotherapy called “Bioenergetics”, and pull from some of what it has to offer. Even though the name has “energy” in it, it does not necessarily refer to some etheric form of unobservable energy. The first definition that comes up when I looked up the term is:

 “The study of the transformation of energy in living organisms."

The father of Bio-energetics Alexander Lowen, almost certainly had that meaning in mind when he created the field. Everything that we do, think and feel is dependent on an energy source. Have you ever been so tired that you can’t think or feel?

Something not readily obvious to many is that thoughts and emotions are literally driven by some form of energy, the basic energy of life that is supplied by food and respiration.

All the outcomes that occur from a living organism in fact are driven by bio-energy. So in essence, what we will be looking at in this article is the dynamics and distribution of this energy based off of how an individual uses it. Coming back to the field of “bioenergetics”, as a practice, the following definition is basic introduction to the idea.

 

“Bioenergetic therapy offers an integrated, effective, relational approach to address these common manifestations of early wounding, distress, and dysfunction.  At the heart of Bioenergetics is a deep conviction that there is a mind-body correlation for many psychological problems.  It makes use of the connection created in the therapeutic relationship to be the foundation that supports the process of healing.  It often includes work with body contact, boundaries, grounding, and the understanding of muscular tensions as indications of somatic and psychological defenses against past trauma.  The goal is more than the absence of symptoms – it is having aliveness, getting a taste of pleasure, joy, love – vibrant health”- Anshul Mittal

One of the most central themes in BE is what is referred to as “body armor”. Body armor is the habitual patterns of feeling and tension present in an individual that manifest as an objective and observable outcome in that person’s body. There are also qualitative aspects to it, such as how a person feels or senses various parts of the body or the degree of embodiment present. 

*First, a disclaimer, I am offering these explanations as very elementary and simplified versions of the dynamics present within these fields for the purposes of this article. There is a whole lot to BE that is way beyond the scope of this article and I will write more about them in the future.*

These patterns present themselves as a way to avoid feeling certain emotions, and the most common ones are neediness, anger, rage, sadness, grief, sexuality and excitement.

 

These structures generally develop in early childhood and relate to how a child processes the world and how his or her basic needs are met. These needs are as simple as being picked up and held, being wanted, being kept warm, being nursed, being allowed to express ourselves and being allowed to explore. Many of us don’t really get these things in the quantity/quality that is necessary to completely prevent this armor. As time passes and we grow into this armor, the repressed emotions magnify and solidify; then we build our lives with these patterns.

The notion is not that the emotion is somehow “stuck” in a particular body part, so much as emotions and feelings are related to certain body parts and we tense or disembody in order to suppress the feelings. BE uses many exercises meant to help us express these emotions and restore feeling to body parts that have been cut off. There is as well a strong intention of grounding the person in reality. The grounding helps those who “disembody” in order to prevent feeling.

Many of us in the movement and mobility circles run into this armor all the time with ourselves and with our clients (if we have clients). The collapsed chest, tight hip flexors and weak glutes may not just be a result of sitting, but could actually be tied to something that happen when the person was a year old.

 

It is harder to quantify, but that does not mean that when we help people radically transform their structure, that we are not interacting with the person’s emotional body. A movement practice dived into with earnest intention and “balance”, can totally transform a person’s character structure or it can “undo” some of it.

It is of course possible to avoid the things that are difficult and simply reinforce your armor through training. I unknowingly did this for years.

For example, if the person below made a point of squatting a lot at the expense of the upper body.

Chronic muscular tension is also a way of reducing the available energy of an organism because it takes energy to hold these rigid patterns in place and it takes extra energy to do anything in the face of these patterns, as we may be literally fighting ourselves in every moment. 

The less energy we have available the less we feel because feelings are driven by bio-energy. Hence the more energy we have at our disposal the more “alive” we are and the more alive we                                                                                     are, the more we feel.

What is Catharsis 

With that background in place, it is easier to the role of catharsis in the primal health movement. Catharsis is defined as:

ca·thar·sis

Noun

1.     the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.

“We are born with an emotional safety valve, natural catharsis. The gentlest form is talking to ourself out loud. We may be embarrassed if overheard, but children are less inhibited, and use natural catharsis as self-therapy from babyhood. They talk out loud while playing, and the meaning of the words does not matter. They fight, run, throw themselves around, shout, scream, swear, cry, laugh. When prevented they sometimes throw tantrums when they lose control of themselves.”- John Kapp

Here is an example below:

 

If we look around the animal kingdom we realize that the ability to heavily armor and distort our natural structure is mostly unique to humans. We don’t see intense postural variations in the rest of the wild world. The question arises then.....Why not?  It is theorized by some researchers and therapist that the origin of armor is the result of a few things: 

1.     Our innate purpose as a species is chosen by the individual and is not biologically hardwired, so we must “choose” what is meaningful to us. This self-chosen meaning is what drives a lot of our goal driven behavior.

2.      We have a “will” that we can impose upon our “feelings” in order to propagate self-directed goal driven behavior. The “will” of making ourselves do things that goes against impulse is the source of the armor.

3.     The human will is an imperfect mechanism of evolution and manifest itself in many secondary ways.

Below is a quote that explains this idea. “Radix” refers to bio-energy or life force.

“Goal-seeking entails the flow of the radix so as to maintain movement toward the goal in the face of alternative directions. When the goal is biologically determined, the attraction of the goal is automatic, and there is no conflict between the animal's feelings and its goal-seeking behavior. Thus the bird "feels like" building its nest or migrating or defending its territory, and does not need to "force" itself toward these instinctive ends. When goals are individually rather than species determined, however, the attraction of the goals cannot be built in. In man, the channeling toward a chosen goal of the radix flow which underlies feeling and movement is automatic. Conflict between feeling and purpose occurs often, so much that it becomes chronic. The common result of this conflict is a lasting block in the capacity to experience and express spontaneous deep feeling. The second common result is failure to develop the capacity to live purposely, either because of inability to choose appropriate long-range goals, or the inability to pursue such goals effectively after they are chosen, or both.” Charles Kelly

The world that we currently live in, is one in which, our animalistic needs are not often attended to as babies (like letting a baby cry its head off in a crib until exhausted). One in which, many of us feel very little sense of purpose, or do work that does not enliven us; as a result, we are constantly forced to do things we really would prefer not to do. This creates a lot of armor.

On top of that, intense emotional expression is seen as primitive, animalistic and wild, thus it is shunned. We are not meant to neurotically hold unto energetic emotional expressions day in and day out, the way that society teaches us to.

Emotions have a “charge” which seeks to move the body in specific ways and if we stifle this movement, we lock up this energy and we alter our structure. Tribal people appear to be less armored, as their lives are simpler, many tribal cultures are very attentive to the needs of babies, and there is less unwanted activity that is imposed upon the individual.

The more “civilized” we are the more armored we become.

They likely require/required much less in the way of cathartic episodes. It also seems like the expression of these intrinsic energetic eruptions were stifled much less with tribal culture. Does the howling, stomping native sound familiar? 

Before we move forward, I would like to point out that armor is not only negative and if we impose our will on ourselves in order to stay “disciplined”, or to push forward towards a goal despite what our feelings want, then we are employing the use of armor. Some armor is good and without some, it would be difficult to accomplish much in a Neolithic world.

The key is developing healthy armor, which can be done through intelligent strength and mobility training. Strength training teaches you how to impose will or intent. Armor can be very useful for getting things done and if you are highly driven, you’re definitely playing with a type of armor.

Hence the conquistador pummeling forward at his goal is going to be more armored, then the happy care free tribesman, whose daily task do not go heavily against his/her sense of purpose.

My own personal experience with catharsis has been life changing and has done more for my health and movement quality then other more common modalities, due to unloading enormous store houses of rage, neediness, pain and aggression (my patterns).  Doing so has opened up ranges of motion that previously faced a lot of resistance when addressed by more “structured” movement drills.

Not to say that these drills have not been beneficial of course, just offering perspective. Being a student of primal/ancestral movement, I can say that some of the most primal “movements” and responses I can imagine have come out of me during these sessions.

I have expressed movements/vocalizations that can be seen in other primates, worms, big cats and several other animals. This type of release has been more valuable than many other forms of “self- help”. I have experienced better workout recovery, more sexual energy, greater degrees of “quiet” in my mind, more freedom, better health, greater feelings of lightness and closer communal bonding. 

The out-pours of an intense cathartic session are incredibly ancient responses to the varying stimuli that we deal with and many of these types of responses are heavily suppressed by society and repressed by the individual.

Yelling, screaming, raging, crying, stomping, setting intense boundaries, anger, extreme excitement, biting and sadness are often discouraged, as they are seen as “immature”. Much of this is outside the realm of conscious thought, organized vocalization and is really impulse driven. We suppress these impulses and in doing so they can affect the health of the body mind continuum.

If you study animals for any length of time you will see these innate and “wild” responses occur and without any conscious suppression.

An energetic drive occurs within the animal and there is no “stopping” it inside the animal’s body, it does not fight against this impulse, instead the body expresses this emotional drive freely, the animal completes its cycle and lets it go. Not so with humans, as we often have feelings and impulses that we fight against and restrain in order to present what we feel we must to the world around us.

We face a unique set of circumstances in today’s world, one in which we are still biologically and energetically hunter gather’s meant for a very different world and yet, civilization offers the individual an enormous amount of potential for growth not possible in tribal cultures.

How do we bridge the gap between our animalistic past and continue to move forward in our society?

I think it is certain that we have an opportunity to include the past and sophisticate the future. With the right types of training, it is possible to absorb and take upon ourselves a very capable and healthy form of armor and simultaneously release the primal “noise” that exist inside of us, the creature the revolts against domestication. Not everyone needs catharsis, but boy if you need it, it can be a life saver.

Re-wilding must go beyond the imitation of our ancestors and address the “soul” of the person and unlock an inner state that is unburdened by civilized notions of acceptable behavior.

I am not advocating complete and utter destructive abandon, only awareness that these animalistic impulses do occur and that learning to find healthy ways to express them can be life changing, they certainly have been for me and many others.

* There are cases where this type of catharsis is contraindicated to such as psychosis, suicidal tendencies or extreme neurosis. Better to seek out a professional therapist in these cases*

Below are some suggested Practical methods of Catharsis-

1.     The mystic OSHO developed certain meditations meant to unlock and express these emotions.  Most notably his “Dynamic Meditation” and “Gibberish Meditation” methods.

2.     Alexander Lowen’s Bio-energetic drills

3.     Primal Scream Therapy

4.     Wrestling and Striking

5.     War Haka’s from the Maori Tribe

6.     Free form dance  

7.     The Body Doctor (explained below)

-My personal favorite is to combine expressive body movements and vocalizations in a free for all release with very little “structure”. The key with this form of catharsis (and the others) is to not force yourself to do anything. It should not look or sound any specific way. You allow yourself to express whatever it is you need to express; whatever feelings inside of you that seek an exit. If there is nothing wanting release then so be it. Allow yourself to erupt with freedom and awareness. In order to balance this out, lying on the ground for a while in silence afterwards is highly recommended and helps to consolidate the experience. -

How To Heal The Human Animal

My Childhood Health Struggles 

If you are struggling with chronic health issues and a lack of vitality, I can certainly empathize with you. My hope is that this article will confer some value and assistance to your journey back to robustness. Many people who meet me these days, can’t imagine that I have not always been and looked this way (healthy). In truth though, it has been a tough journey for me to feel and look the way I do, with improvements happening daily.

I suffered from a lot of different health issues in my youth.  The less severe ones have been (all of which occurred in youth): I was hospitalized for bulimic tendencies, had high cholesterol, was severely overweight, had frequent urination, horrible sinus infections that threatened my life and had many hospital visits because of a mysterious and crushing abdominal pain. To top it off I also had terrible anxiety, so much so that my parents struggled greatly with dropping me off at kinder garden, having to literally take weeks off of work to hang around the school so that I felt safe.

The above though was actually the mild stuff, the two that have given me the most resistance to work with (and the most lessons) have been my flat pituitary gland and horrible joint pain in knees, shoulders and elbows. The pain was so bad that running just a few meters would cause me to collapse in horrible pain. The pituitary gland is often referred to as the “master gland” as it controls most of the body’s hormonal functions, especially our sex and vitality hormones like testosterone, thyroid hormone, and growth hormone. 

The gland looks like a little pea that sits in a thrown like structure called the Sella Tunica, and this thrown normally has cap on it that keeps cerebral spinal fluid out; mine does not have this cap and thus it full of CSF; this essentially flattens it. This flattening can have a suppressive signal that causes a decrease in some or all of the bodies’ primary hormones. This was the case for me and at age 13, I was given a 6 month round of testosterone injections in order to jump start my puberty, which was being delayed. External hormones always shut down your internal creation of that hormone, and thus with the flat gland, it set me up for issues for many years to come.

These days, I am healthier, stronger and more alive than I have ever been. It does not mean there is not room for improvement, just that if I were to compare myself no,  to myself even just 5-6 years ago, the difference is night and day in how I feel most days. The process of healing and becoming vital has been arduous with many setbacks, though each time I was setback, I came back stronger and better, having learnt from my mistakes. In this process the outer transformation has been a reflection of the inner one.

1506887_10201818914419411_1930011281_n (1).jpg

Healing the Human Animal 

Healing The Human Animal is a framework that has evolved from my own journey and through the distillation of universal principles in the arena of health and healing, placed within the forefront of evolutionary theory. It holds that we are animals (primates) and that animal magnetism, and the wild health it brings are birthrights.

If the conditions of our wild spirit our unleashed then the health of body and mind follows.

It does not take a prescriptive stance in that we want to modify disease states; our goal here is to modify health states.  What we want is the amplification of our innate robustness and our focus lies on that end of the spectrum. What I am sharing in this article are perspectives that may be useful to you in your journey to “radiant health”, what Chinese Taoist referred to as "health beyond danger".

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein

Health is so much more then the absence of disease or the managing of symptoms. Yes, sometimes you have to start there, or potentially return there for small periods of time, but the goal needs to be to move beyond it, into wholeness and dynamic wellness. In this way of framing it the thoughts go from disease to vitality. How vital do you feel? It may shift from time to time based off of the variables of your life, however there is a underlying current. Not "I feel good for my age"- age is a number.

Vitality is not just the ability to train and be athletic , or about pushing yourself into overwork in your job and pushing forward (that is mental toughness): it is your ability to live fully.

Having a healthy sex drive, moving with freedom in all your joints,  being strong, sleeping well most nights, not needing to rely on stimulants, having consistent energy, needing to move, having passions, being open, wanting to be touched by others and wanting to touch, being able to relax, being connected to your soul, being able to love and give yourself fully, and wanting to learn new things- this is health.

The process of Healing the Human Animal is the process of becoming fully alive.

"Keeping the body totally fit and functional is no job for the uninformed or the careless person. It requires an understanding of the body, sound health and eating practices and disciplined living."
-Paul Bragg

So below I have organized the 8 primary areas (that I am aware of at the time of this writing), that if given consistent attention, can help you unlock your innate health and reawaken the robustness of the wild animal, which is your birthright. If you remove that which is in the way and give your body/mind what it needs, it has been my experience that healing just occurs. This article does not delve into the details of how to apply the technical aspects of the principles, it just outlines the major landmarks in order to give you perspective. 

 

1.    The state of your mind needs to be addressed.

The way you think about yourself and what you think is even possible, is going to affect the outcome. The stories you hold in your head about aging in general, about what it means to be healthy, and about how much vitality you can unlock in yourself, will determine and set the stage for the rest.

 

If you know and understand that superior health is your ancestral birthright, then your actions and thoughts will align with that truth.

The standards you hold for yourself in this arena will play a huge roll. If you’re okay just “managing” your diabetes or believe you’re supposed to be in pain because of old injuries, then your ideas will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Switching your thinking from “symptoms of disease” to “degree of robustness” is the biggest shift necessary here. Learning to let go of self-imposed limiting ideas is paramount. If this shift does not take place then you will undermine yourself with self-destructive habits, in order to create the reality that matches the framework in your mind. The way your thoughts lead to the right actions or the wrong actions, is the path to pay attention to.

2.    You must release emotional trauma.

While conventional “thoughts” are in the head, the rest of the body stores and holds on to emotional patterns and these patterns can and will interfere with the healthy functioning of the body. Patterns of feeling are patterns of tension. Your life force is distributed along the path where there is the most energy. Look at the balance of proportion in your body from left to right, front to back and top to bottom; is one significantly larger than the other?

What parts of your body feel stiff, heavy, sluggish, deadened, cutoff, lax, weak, inhibited, over active or tense? Do you have the urge to bite, to strike out, to yell, to scream, to cry, to self-destruct, to stomp, to laugh or to collapse? Are you exhausted because your keeping your pain, anger, frustration or sex drive bottled up?

These emotions need to be felt and expressed in order for healthy flow to return. Time and time again when I stall or plateau, I find that a good cathartic session breaks through my current limits. I am a trainer in movement and physical training, but I can say with an absolute certainty that catharsis has proven to be essential in going from sick and depressed, to well and vital. 

Seek out methods of trauma release. Learn to let go of the wounds that trace all the way back to infancy. Take a look at Lowen Bioenergetics, Primal Scream therapy and Osho’s Dynamic and Gibberish meditations. Also, looking into Bioenergetics grounding, can take you very far in this realm.

3.    Commitment.

download (1).jpg

You will face resistance, there will be failure and there will be setbacks. If you allow these to deter you, you will stay where you are at or degrade further.

Understand that there is always going to be failure and times where your consistency drops off. This is 100% guaranteed in any endeavor that you choose to undertake. The key is to know this beforehand, and not allow the momentary setback to prevent you from continuing your chosen path.

Being resilient is all about standing back up after a hit, not preventing the hit in the first place.

The setback can be used as a step back to re-evaluate and readjust your current path.  Success is really about controlled and calculated errors. Constant refinement and an attitude of persistence is the way. You may have a few really good weeks and then crash (I have). The goal is to slowly make the ratio of up days to low days larger and larger. Even then, hibernation is essential and lower energy days does not necessarily mean something is wrong; learn to embrace the space between the notes of music.

You must be 100% committed to your health and build your life to support it, not the other way around, in turn,  your will be rewarded with more life.

4.    Patience

“Remember your body moves slower than the mind. This is on purpose. The body is the tree that bends itself to the mind’s light over time. Show it continual love, give it continual care. It will yield to your intent, if you stay steady as the sun. Steady with light and love.”- Aubrey Marcus
1417219541qzjfr.jpg

This relates back to commitment, while commitment is the yang side, patience is the yin side of this equation. You have to wait.  You have to be immensely patient. Your lack of health did not occur in a day or a month, it has probably been something that was created over years and years of sub optimal habits and perceptions.

You have to be willing to give yourself the space and acceptance to have back slides, to not see immediate changes and for progress to just move slowly.

Sometimes you will have quantum leaps and sometimes progress will slow to crawl. Stay with it and be patient.

Even if you’re not trying to overcome health issues and you are trying to make changes to your body, give yourself the gift of patience. Learn the path of the turtle and with time the rewards will be immense.  

5.    Over nourish yourself

Simply put you have to create a nourishing environment for yourself and give your body-mind a surplus of the necessary elements it needs to restore, repair and build up.

Sleep 

First on this list is your sleep. Sleep is a nutrient. Sleeping deeper, is the most important thing, as better quality sleep is more important than more sleep. Take supplements, use meditation or breath work before bed, use a sleep induction mat, use white noise machines, use ear plugs, and blacken out your room.  Learn how to let go. This is one of the simplest things you can do to start getting healthier right away.

Nutrition 

Second on the list is your nutrition. Your diet is meant to support you, nourish you and enrich your life, empowering you to do the things you want to do. Make it as restorative as possible by making sure you have an ample amount of vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, phytochemicals, zoo chemicals and water.

Think of having a high amount of everything, instead of demonizing any aspect of a truly restorative ancestral omnivorous diet.

Eat the rainbow and eat the zoo. If you are trying to get way leaner, create a “small” caloric deficit of 10-15% and resist the urge to crash diet. Waving your calories up and down intuitively can also be beneficial, as it stimulates natural cycles of feast and famine. Without an ample supply of nutrients, your body will be dealing with an unnecessary stress and not have the required resources to heal.  Take a look at “The PerfectHealth Diet” written by Paul Jaminet.

 Movement

- Third on the list is movement.  Katy Bowman, M.S in her book “Move Your DNA” delivers an amazing idea, and that is that we have a movement “diet” and that some movements (running on a treadmill, sit-ups) are equivalent to junk food.

Likewise there are movements that are very nutritious. The human body has evolved for complex movement across a multitude of environments. We are movers and our capacity for it far exceeds that of any other creature on this planet.

The amount of different disciplines and styles of movement available for us to master are countless. With that said, there is also a set of “universal movements” that are part of our birthright and kinesthetic alphabet, that are essential to master and own. Crawling, walking, rolling, rocking, creeping, lunging, pushups, waving, squatting, kneeling and the use of tools, are all part of this alphabet and form the core of the human movement possibilities. We want a nutritious moving diet with high quality, stimulating and restorative movements that addresses our movement “needs”. We need certain movements as our entire genetic code expects these things to occur. Move more, move better and tap into the primal ancestral movement code inside you DNA.

Relationships 

Fourth are nourishing relationships. We are social animals and have evolved to need each other in order to survive and thrive. Study after study has shown that community and loving relationships are healing, and correlate with longer and higher quality lifespans. Without others, isolation, loneliness and a lack of touch infuse our lives.

 

 

Touch is one of the most powerful healers at our disposal, stimulating growth, restoration And development. 

In the wild, isolation over long periods of time, would make our demise that much easier, as it would mean abandon and outcast. No man or women is an island onto themselves. Not wanting others in your lives is probably a sign of wounding and turning away from yourself and your own kind. This is where trauma release and the acceptance of the need for others comes into play.

 

6. Get Strong and Robust  

This is the state we are aiming for with all the above. Robustness is the ultimate goal of health work. To feel vital, be adaptable, capable and not limited by the state of your body, but being empowered by it to do the things you want to do.

The get strong, you need progressive resistance training and proper recovery.

There are many ways to perform resistance training, such as with your own bodyweight, maces, clubs, sandbags, barbells and dumbells to name a few.

Find what you love.  This is where you raise the ceiling of your capacity and what you can handle; this is where you ignite the flame within.  Resistance training also helps the body release testosterone and growth hormone, while simultaneously lowering cortisol, the bodies’ primary stress hormone (if you don’t overtrain); all of this contributes to youthful vitality. Once the previous steps are in place, this is where the primary alchemy of vitality is ignited.

7.    Sexual energy and sexual repression.

Your libido is a strong sign of your health as your fertility denotes virility and robustness.

Life force energy is sexual energy and vice versa. The desire that we live our lives with in general, the desire for love, accomplishment, growth, meaningful work, expansion and friendship all erupt forth from our sex drive (the drive to be creative and productive). If your life is listless and you lack sexual desire your health will suffer.

The sexual desire does not need to be directed towards another person, but being fully sexually potent, is simply a state of being. If you have fantasies (that you actually want to act out) that you repress, consistently ignore your sexual feelings, and/or do not feel sexy, then your vitality cannot erupt.

To be fully alive is to be fully sexual.

How does pleasure as a whole permeate your life? Do you seek out pleasurable situations and things you enjoy? Do you feel it is a good thing to do things that are fun and that feel good?  Explore your sexuality, increase your fertility, ignite your desire for life and learn to allow pleasure to permeate all you relationships, your work and your life as a whole. The more health you have flowing through you the more of your “essence” you actually have access to.

8.    Learn to use the new energy.

Health changes you by supplying you with more energy, thus, making you face what is inside you and outside of you. The more energy you have, the less space there is for apathy, repression and purposelessness. You will have to find places to put the new energy and distribute a new level of being “charged up” into the avenues of your life or you will be burned alive by it. It may not just be a process of doing more, but of giving more deeply.

The same person that existed in my broken body had to transform alongside my physicality.

Here is where we move from taking care of ourselves and our needs, to what you can give the world. Like a straw, you take in the new charge and funnel into the world.

Your gift will be magnified by your new level of energy, make sure you make a priority of giving it. If you are not using the new energy then you will self-destruct by tying to hold onto it. This is one of the purpose's of health and strength, as imbued by mother nature: to serve the whole.   

 Hopefully, some of these ideas can offer some useful perspective to you on your journey.

 **This article is not meant to treat any disease or replace quality medical care if you need it. If you have a life threatening illness it is recommended you visit a good high quality natural health physician, which I am not. This article addresses health and strength rather than diseases and is strongly informed by my own research and healing process.**

Grounding and The Fundamental Resting Positions

"There are two basic ways that the process of grounding personal energy can be understood: one is physical, the other is mental.  Since mental processes are rooted in the body and bodily processes are experiential in nature, the two aspects of grounding are really one.  When we talk of being grounded in reality, we mean that an individual is both psychologically balanced and physically stable.  This ideal is expressed in the Latin phrase: mens sana in corpore sano (a healthy mind in a healthy body).  While the attainment of this ideal is made difficult by the stresses of life, it is important not to lose sight of the desirability of such a state.  Fortunately, there are practical means to assist us in moving our lives in a healthier, more grounded direction". - John Lawson

 

 The Importance of Grounding

A common and important term that is used in both spiritual circle’s and in body mind psychology- is grounding. It refers to the energetic state of the body and the orientation of the mind in an individual.

 

Grounding is about being centered in our primal core as a creature of the earth, present within physical reality and fully alive.

This, also by default taps into another concept that is referred to as embodiment.  To be embodied is to be deeply “present” within our bodies.  Intelligence is not just found in a single location (the cranial brain) but is spread across the whole body and thus the hands, arms, legs, feet, core, genitals, back and abdomen have their own innate awareness that offers perspective to the whole. Or in other words, as obvious as this may seem, we are not just our heads (regardless of what society tells you). 

The notion of embodiment helps us understand how present we are in various parts of our bodies. A person with a very large upper body and a very small lower body is a clear example of someone “being” more in one part of the body then the other.

The primary area through which we ground is through the legs/feet  and the state of these areas often say a lot about our connection to the earth/physical reality, (barring traumatic accidents that have left you permanently altered), if you are in pain in your lower body then there is pain in your root system.  Pain here is often a wounding with your perceived ability to survive; for how can you survive if you cannot stand on your own two feet.

 It is through the limbs that we interact with the world and our embodiment of the limbs has much to do with how grounded we are. 

Is our mental orientation pulled away from the demands of daily life- off in a daze of dreams or is our full mental and physical capacity available to us in the situations we need them in? For many the hope for spiritual enlightenment and connecting to our “higher selves”, is being done at the expense of our “lower selves” cutting off our spirit at the knees. 

13318646_10208281886423785_663148744_n.jpg

Grounding is not just a “concept” but an energetic state of the body and mind, being grounded means your mind and body are calm but have their full capacity at their disposal. You are not overly hyperactive and unable to relax or depressed and lacking vitality. A connection with the ground is balancing. 

If you are not in touch with the ground, energy moves upward into the shoulders, neck  and head, the breathing is high in the clavicles instead of low in the belly and the persons is hung up, anxious, heady and restless.

Another manifestation of the ungrounded state is the opposite: where the person feels cut off from the nourishment of their roots and the charge of the body is low resulting in a depressed state. The roots offer us a direct route to our innate vitality by tapping into our wild phenotype.  It brings on a harmony between our inner state and the state of the environment we are in.

Through my own process of transformation and growth I have found that understanding and reconnecting with the primal aspects of myself on a visceral level have been immensely powerful by allowing my psychosomatic self, a foundation.

It confers great nourishment and intensifies the experience of life to be connected with the primal spirit. It grounds our perspective allowing more ethereal realizations the capacity for deeper embodiment. The deeper my embodiment is the easier it is to bring the more nebulous spiritual realizations I have had into my daily life.  Being grounded is the opposite of being a space cadet. There is on spiritual paths today, the possibility of being so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good.

It is much easier today to “rise away” too far, then it was in previous times or even in some other parts of the world. The modern age, with all its benefits and positives, currently has an anti-body culture entrenched in it.  Many of the issues we currently face as a global society are directly related to being disconnected with the primal aspects of who we are as a species.

We have become "domesticated" and in this we have lost our full capacity for life like a tiger in a zoo.

 

As mentioned above, grounding happens predominantly through the lower body.

The important questions to ask ourselves are “what is our relationship to our lower body and what is its relationship to the ground?”

With these questions in mind let’s look at a contemporary western phenomenon: the chair. Sitting in chairs is a relatively new pattern that is in many ways harmful. Chairs are supposed to help us rest and take a load off, and while they do accomplish that, the human structure has positions inside its very design that are meant for that purpose: to rest. They are our resting positions and they are about our body’s relationship to whatever surface is directly below us.

The most commonly known position in this category is the squat, but there are many others.

During our development as infants, these positions are some of the most used and relished and before we can stand we must squat and before we can squat, we sit on the ground.  

Learning to let the ground support you is imperative, that is the purpose of a foundation: support. There was a point in the past where my knees were in pretty bad state, and trying to run just 10-15 feet could cause me to collapse in horrendous pain. Any type of squatting and kneeling was very difficult to do and I had a lot of fear surrounding those patterns. Certainly parts of it were emotional and showed in my lack  of connection with the world around me, but there is always a movement pattern connected to emotional states.

Slowly over time, with the aid of a staff that I used to lean against and support myself, as to not put too much pressure on my lower body, I regained my range of motion and can enter, be within and exit many of these fundamental positions without issue. At one point the thought of entering into a squat or sitting on the balls of my feet was a scary idea. Pain in the knees, ankles, hip and lower back can be a sign post that you are disconnected from the ground. 

Learning to take on the shape of ground support is powerful medicine for our relationship to our ancestral heritage.

 

“The opposite of movement is rest; one without the other is nonsensical. At rest we assume natural Archetypal Postures. The archetype is the original pattern or model from which copies are made; the best example or prototype of that class of objects. Archetype used in the context of human movement refers to postures that emerge from, and are embedded within, the interaction of many joints and many muscles. Losing access to our Archetypal Postures is a biomechanical peril. We sit on the floor in many postures that are our birthright, postures that our modern society neglects to value, instead preferring chairs and sofas. Rising from these Archetypal Postures to our full upright bipedal posture uses deeply embedded patterns of movement.” – Phillip Beach

 

Both in psychosomatic therapy and in fitness training, there are of a large variety of “exercises” designed to help you accomplish the goal of addressing the lower body. Body mind therapy has a variety of potentially useful ways to get us grounded and physical training has countless lower body drills (many of them also useful). While these exercises can accomplish the task of helping us become more grounded there exist movements that are inherently within the human structure which can accomplish the same and offer us something engineered movements can not.

Many of these movements are not “man made”, they are a part of the human body. I propose that these positions can be very useful in the goal of helping us ground and are priceless additions to getting out of pain. They are innate and thus are inherently primal. 

They also bring our attention into the lower body with a force and dexterity few things can parallel. They address and work with every angle in full range of motion that the lower body has at its disposal. With these factors in mind they can not only help us ground, they can help to educate the lower body, thus increasing its intelligence.

13329851_10208281883903722_835335801_n.jpg

 

Due to the fact that these are our natural resting positions, how easily you can enter, be within and the exit some of these positions can reflect the state of your overall recovery; meaning that they can be diagnostic to your overall structural and nervous system state.

They can as a result illuminate how tense and stressed you really are. There is no doubt that to be in these positions properly- requires an intense focus and awareness to enter into the lower body.  Aside from being energetically grounded, there is the issue of being viscerally grounded. The tension patterns that are ingrained into our structure matter a whole lot.

The same way a person’s posture can be slumped and “stuck” that way, the lower body can lack a type of tensional force that the human organism is designed to be exposed to, and thus it will not function properly without it.

This will affect every part of us from our feet to our finger tips. To recover these innate structures and put them underload for time, can help us reconnect with and embrace our inherent root system.

“ Here in this body are the sacred rivers, here are the sun and moon, as well as all the pilgrimage places. I have not encountered another temple as blissful as my own body-" Saraha