To want strongly as to satisfy an appetite. To long for, to yearn.
Just the other day around dinner time my wife and I turned to each other and agreed we just felt like eating steak. We were craving a hunk of tasty, filling and nourishing animal flesh.
In a very primal sense, our craving was simply our bodies’ craving connection to something familiar, real food. It was yearning for its native language, just like that tourist lost in a foreign land. Building on last post, let’s look deeper at what our cravings really indicate.
I think we all know this feeling well, particularly when it comes to food. Whether it’s a specific food like steak, a good salad, some fresh fruit, pizza, chocolate or ice cream or just a general craving for something salty, something sweet or something savory and comforting, we all know this primal and often intense and insatiable feeling: craving.
How about these cravings: the need to get some fresh air or being out in the sun, to give somebody a hug, a kiss, or “maybe more”, to move your body, to dance, or sing, or just play around and be silly. Ever have the craving to just be around other people? Or the feeling of wanting to see and experience natural scenery? Or get dirty (by this dirty I mean mess around in the dirt/mud)? How about going swimming or standing in the rain? If you’ve ever felt anything like these you have noticed craving. At the most basic level, these experiences all stem from your human “craving for connection” and by this I mean your innate, genetically hardwired primal urge to reconnect to the world around you. This is your yearning, for a familiar language, to get back home.
This is the feeling that’s bred into every one of us from conception. A feeling that we have stymied and held down for most of our lives. The feeling that drives you and drives every person alive to search for that true humanness that we’ve all disconnected from. Whether it’s food, nature, movement, love or fun we all have a primal biological need in our brain. It has this desire to experience all of the things that connect us to being human. There’s really no getting around it. If you’re human this is built into your DNA. Your body, your brain, your mind, your spirit all expects and needs this total connection in order to thrive and be vibrant. The more disconnected we get from all of our natural stimulus and environment and predisposition as humans the more deranged our minds bodies and spirits end up becoming. This is something that more and more people are realizing and more and more people are trying to correct. Not only a fascinating area of study but something that we all need to take into consideration in our every day lives. When we don’t experience traditional, evolutionary consistent, true human experiences the body and brain get uncomfortable, confused and maladaptive and we start craving things in the pursuit of recapturing genuine and familiar stimulus. Cravings are the end result of human disconnection.
This feeling, the craving for connection, is something that you can literally change right this minute by walking outside, seeing natural light and texture, smelling natural scents, tasting natural foods, moving your body around, interacting with other people, giving handshakes, giving hugs (hopefully both parties are willing participants in this) or just taking a break from buildings, cars and computers.
Why? Because our basic biological senses are hard wired to crave natural connection…
Sight: your body expects to see the depth, texture, colors and contrast of natural environments and natural scenery. The brain and eyes connect to natural visual stimuli, in fact they thrive on it. The lines, hues, patterns the earth provides are familiar. The constant stimulation of these, paired with tracking of movement and depth in the 3-D natural world is unreplicable by technology. The more you can let your eyes feast on the natural habitat the better the brain does and the more feedback you get to reinforce your connection to the natural world and being human through your sight. Eyes function best when they see outside and track the colors, texture, movement and depth of the natural world.
Next let’s look at the ears and hearing. Every little sound that we’re programmed to get survival input from in our brain and in our biology is based off natural sounds. The sound of the wind running through the trees, the sound of little creatures living around us, the sound of each other (human sounds: talking, music, dancing, movement, working). Our body expects a palate of natural sounds, the brain does not do well with technology, the hum of the car, the drum sound of typing on a keyboard and computers and beeping and the general kind of noise we experience on a daily basis. Why do you think we like music so much? It’s one of our oldest connections to natural, human sound.
An example of natural sight and sound experiences: Nature Walk.
Next let’s go to the old nose. Paramount for human survival: the sense of smell. Once a vital source of input, guidance and information, smell is something we rarely truly experience anymore. Being outside, smelling plants, animals and one another is what should be normal. Now we have a world either devoid of smells or covered up with perfumes and colognes. I’m not necessarily suggesting we go back to days with no deodorant but I do think that we need to appreciate natural smell over perfumed smell or the lack of smell. Our body needs and craves certain smells. The aromas of good food, not chemicals. The smell of rain. The smell of the earth, soil, fire and cooking. The nose, the brain and our behavior are so intricately connected it is vitally important we reconnect with smell.
Although everyone experiences taste on a daily basis we need to more consistently experience the taste of natural one ingredient foods. As old-fashioned, whole, complete and balanced as mother nature provides. We should try to connect to this natural taste whenever possible- that means limiting the amount of chemicals, preservatives and flavor enhancers and all of those added food “things” (not to say there’s anything wrong with herbs and spices but we want to try to appreciate and give our body the sensitivity to be able to taste real tastes and be able to give us good feedback on what’s real and what’s not). It doesn’t take much in the way of a sugar detox to realize how sweet fruit can be. A good rule of thumb is that if real food doesn’t taste good (e.g. as soon as fruit is no longer sweet) you have lost your connection to taste.
Finally we have touch, one of the most important senses for humans. Whether it’s your bare feet feeling the undulations, texture and temperature of the ground, your hands touching natural objects with varied and random texture (rough things, slick thing, wet things, dry things, clean things, dirty things) or whether it’s the feel of another human (a pat on the back, a handshake, a hug, a lover’s body), or temperature (the feel of cold/heat, rain or wind on your skin), touch is part of what makes us human- without it we flounder. From the moment we our born, without natural touch we cannot thrive.
Ok, so we can see the importance of connection to the natural world through our senses. We need it, we crave it. We function best when we get those sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches. But our craving also goes deeper, and maybe even more primal. More sophisticated than just the individual 5 senses, these other connection cravings include some very basic but amazingly formative human experiences. These we will save for part 2.
There you have it. Been craving for connection? The next time your body’s senses talk to you, you should listen. Go get that sunshine, take a nature walk, eat real food, smell natural smells, shake somebody’s hand, look them in the eyes, walk in the dirt, walk around barefoot, the list goes on. Be as creative as you want to be but always listen to the body’s craving for connection.
The Bare 5 Bottom Line on Reconnection:
1. Everything in life and health starts and ends with connection.
2. Interaction with the planet, nature and other humans through our sensory inputs anchor our biology and keep us functioning correctly.
3. The senses crave connection (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch all influence our body’s function and our health suffers when we don’t get natural input to these senses).
4. Problems arise and manifest in a myriad of ways when we get disconnected.
5. Every time we get disconnected we crave something to bring us back to baseline. Whether it’s fresh air, food, movement, freedom or fun, these are the body’s cravings for connection.
Thanks for reading, have a great connected day!