A few days ago, we looked at the basics of The Craving. The body’s yearning for familiarity, it’s native language. The body’s craving for connection to the natural world…
Sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. The brain uses these mediums to absorb information that it bases our biology on and all of our adaptations to the world we live in. If we don’t get this connection, we get uncomfortable, like a lost tourist in a foreign land, and we yearn for the familiar.
Is it just as simple as the five senses? In a way, yes. But it also goes deeper, more primal and, most importantly, more integrative than looking at them individually. They work collectively to create an incredible synergy that anchors the human experience and helps us survive on this dynamic planet. These collective sensory instinctual desires for connection are what I call the foundational cravings.
Although there are many ways in which the holistic human connects, the following are, in my mind, the big ones that we should all honor, respect and try to maximize our relationship to as often as possible…
One of the most basic human connections is with the planet and solar system. Our bodies, like any other animal on this planet, are run and managed by daily circadian rhythms that are established and continually influenced by two things: the light/dark cycle and temperature variations. Daily light cycles anchor our body, give order to our biology and create our primal connection to the natural world. The sun and moon are centerpieces to this connection. When this input is interfered with, a problem ensues. Artificial light, although extremely helpful, has dramatically altered human biology. We have access to around the clock light and the more we live by the light that we have created the more disconnected those normal biological anchors become. Body temperature, hunger/appetite, stress hormones, sex hormones, brain chemicals- all of those things (and many more) are dependent upon this connection to the light and dark cycles of the earth. The body works best when in balance and light/dark cycles help create this balance. For example, the body makes certain hormones (i.e. melatonin) at night and not during the day. Staying up late with lights on means your body doesn’t make or is delayed in producing those hormones. It has always been a general rule to use the sun as a guide. When the sun is up you can be up, when the sun goes down you should be winding down. This doesn’t necessarily mean going to sleep but it means think about slowing down and dimming the lights. As a general rule the more artificial light you have after the sun goes down the more you are disconnecting yourself to one of the foundational connection points that humans have: the sun and the light/dark cycle of our circadian rhythms.
Along with light cycles, temperature variations help connect us to human life on earth, both daily and seasonally. Although it is important to feel hot and cold things in everyday life, the big way in which temperaturea connects us is through the ambient or environmental temperature. This, in all its ranges and variations, serves as a major stimulus that regulates many of our daily rhythms and our behavior. Something as basic as metabolism, the energy usage of our body, is affected by temperature. When we experience the dips and rises in temperature, both throughout the day on a daily basis and seasonally, it gives our body a lot of clues. When we are always living at a moderately controlled temperature, say 70° or somewhere around those lines, our body disconnects with some of the seasonal rhythms and even some of the daily rhythms that allow us to have an efficient metabolism, to fall asleep well, to produce hormones and to regulate our appetite. The more natural variation you have in temperature the better your body can connect the way it’s supposed to function. Our biological default to respond and behave appropriately to temperature change is something that’s built-in to everyone of our cells DNA. We are designed to be cold, to be cool, to be warm, to be hot and every bit between. Without exposure to temperature cycles, both micro (daily changes) and macro (seasonal variance) we lose a lot of the information and clues that govern our body’s natural rhythm throughout the day/year, which ultimately impacts the status of our health.
This may seem obvious but it is one that can not be ignored. Humans need one another. We need human connection in every sense and all of our senses. We come into this world through contact and dependance on our mother and this need for human connection never wanes. From a complete sensory experience, we need to see, feel, smell, hear and even taste one other. Not only physically, but spiritually, emotionally and psychologically we need other people. Family, friends and community all anchor us to humanity. Our human biology craves connection to other people in every way imaginable. Think of how powerful just a look from another person can be. Or a touch for that matter. How about conversation, laughter and love? Just a few of the many ways in which we need human connection. Very few of us can thrive without good, consistent contact and interaction with others. In this massively busy, digitally ruled world many people are starting to realize the lack of connection and are actively seeking it out. If you crave any sort of human contact it is your body’s way of screaming at you to satisfy its yearning for other people. Pure, natural, uninterrupted and unfiltered human connection.
Not to be overlooked is natural movement. It is not a stretch to say that most of us are a bit disconnected to moving our bodies around to their potential. Humans are meant to move, plain and simple. To sit, stand, walk, jog, run, jump, leap, squat, bend, carry, lift, push, pull, climb, crawl, duck, throw, dance, twist, turn, reach, wrestle and love. And that could be all in just one day! Sitting at a table, sitting in a car, sitting at a desk and sitting on a couch are not ideal human movement days. This is an area very few people argue- we know we are disconnected to movement. Life makes it difficult sometimes, without a doubt. Many of us (myself included) try to make up for this by exercising or working out. This is great, don’t get me wrong, but spending an hour lifting weights, running or doing yoga is not ideal movement. It is a form of movement, but doing structured “exercise” is, by definition, disconnected from natural movement patterns. Does this mean abandon your workouts? No, it means take them for what they are- a condensed form of movement that is an attempt to make up for your general disconnect to daily, varied body use. They serve a purpose and can have value but, in addition when at all possible, find ways to connect to movement. Move your body, walk around, stand up, squat down, lift things, carry things, dance, work, be on your feet and generally try to move in all the different ways that your body is capable. Most of us don’t have a choice of moving as naturally as a default as we might desire but we do always have the opportunity to practice things like standing, walking, squatting, turning, lifting, pressing, carrying, rotating etc. whenever we get an opportunity. Maybe it’s very small in the grand scheme of things but every little bit of natural movement you can practice and reinforce the better your mind body and brain will connect to being a natural mover and the more viable all of your body and health will be.
Our Sixth Sense
Finally, and potentially most importantly, we need to think about connecting with ourselves. Above all of our sensory inputs you could say there’s a sixth sense which is an intuition or an internal sense that we also need to give some major attention to. Acknowledging the fact that we live in a world where we are busy, paying attention to other thing and trying to take care of other people, how often do we come back and connect with ourselves? How are we feeling physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally? Are we taking care of ourselves? Are we sleeping, resting and recovering with down time from the craziness of life? Are we having fun? Experiencing love? Laughing? Are we connected to a sense of purpose and motivation or are we just humming through a disconnected life, stuck on autopilot? All of these things are of vital importance when you talk about reconnecting. You could even say this is the most important one to start with. Give this sixth sense some respect and reconnect with yourself. Are you the person you want to be? If not, then you can see a disconnect. That sixth sense is what makes you unique, do not forget about it.
Those five foundational cravings are just the beginning of our integrative primal human experience. Here’s a few other ones that I like because very rarely do I hear them talked about and yet I think there’s so much to gain from reconnecting to them:
Not a typo (although the craving for connection to kindness is a very interesting thought and probably deserves some more exploration too), I truly am thinking about the craving for kid-ness. Ever have that urge just to be free of adult rules, constraints and pressure? That’s the craving for kidness. Most of us have lost connection to our inner child, one of the things that keeps us healthy, young and filled with energy and zest for life. I certainly did for a certain amount of time and it took having kids to help bring me back into connection with my inner child. It’s a pretty amazing thing when you actually stop and think about it: the life that kids have- how much fun and laughter and enjoyment and stress relief they get from being kids. Although they don’t have responsibilities (which I am not ignoring) we can learn a lot from both kids and how they behave. Take a few clues from kids- laugh, have fun, be silly and simply spend some time ignoring things that you don’t want to do unless you have to. Have moments where you just leave the seriousness of life where it belongs. Does most of what adults worry about even matter? There’s really no rules when it comes to living your life, no absolute guidelines of how you have to act or constraints that forbid you to reconnect to this kidness that we all have. There is a time and place for acting like adults but when you can- satisfy that craving for childlike exploration. The next time life gets too heavy and you feel like it’s too serious find some small things that make you laugh, that you enjoy and that make you feel like a kid again.
On that same note of age related connection, we are also losing connection with the wisdom of our ancestry and elders. That sounds very spiritual and Native American (or something along those lines) but there is a lot of wisdom in not only our ancestors but even our relatives. The passing down of knowledge, wisdom, skills and stories are all part of the true human experience. As we have disconnected with the older folks in our lives we have lost another anchoring point to the human experience. The more we can reconnect and show them that we care about their life and their experiences the more fulfilled we can make their life but also the more enriched we can make ours. There’s so much experience in the life wisdom of the older crowd that I think disconnecting from them is a bad idea. If you have wise people in your life, connect to them, you will both reap the benefits.
Ok, that’s it for part 2, next up a few more thoughts to wrap up this series on the craving or connection.
The Bare 5 Bottom Line on Foundational Cravings:
1. Connect to light. Use the sun and moon to guide your body and limit artificial light.
2. Connect with temperature. Experience daily/seasonal variations and limit climate control.
3. Connect with people. In the flesh, let every sense soak in personal connection.
4. Connect with movement. In any and every way, move your body.
5. Connect with yourself. Take care of you, find your center and purpose in life.
Thanks for reading, have a great connected day.
P.S. Don’t forget to be a kid every now and then…