In today's world, it's easy to go days, weeks, months and, for an unfortunate few, even years without spending extensive amounts of time with and in nature. While your iPhone and Netflix queue offer a welcome reprieve and distraction from the routine of every day life, these distractions add to our biological stresses if not thoughtfully counterbalanced. As humans, our body's immune, endocrine and nervous systems haven't evolved to the point where they're able to effectively respond to modern technology. The good news is you can hack own biology and reverse the potential side effects of modern day trappings with a few simple tricks. Here are four to get you started and connected with your ancestral roots.
- Get Grounded - Your nervous system is an interconnected network of billions of neurons transmitting signals via electric pulses. These nerves relay information to and from your senses, control internal functions, inform thinking and movement, and form a massive energy field that is directly altered by our phones, computers, televisions, lights and modern appliances. By walking barefoot outside for just minutes a day, you directly absorb the earth's negatively charged energy field, which not only improves immune function, reduces inflammation and provides antioxidants that are difficult, if not impossible, to get elsewhere.
- Get Dirty - Soil is good for you. In fact, a strain of bacteria in soil is actually proven to release serotonin (our body's own "feel good" hormone), improve cognition and possibly even treat cancer. Playing in the dirt also increases our exposure to environmental bacteria, builds immunity and connects us to the same flora and fauna our ancestors used to prevent and treat disease.
- Build Fires - There are few things that connect us to our biological heritage more than building a fire. Fire was a discovery that provided protection from predators, generated warmth and allowed for extended activity outside of daylight hours. Fire also greatly enhanced mankind’s cooking methods and increased our range of edible foods, as it allowed us to break down starchy plants for the first time (an advent that eventually led to increases in brain size). If building a fire isn't wild enough, learn how to do it without matches.
- Forge for Food - While I could try to sell you on the nutritional density of wild foods or educate you on the variety of plants that are relatively easy to find all over the United States, I'd rather tell you about the biological benefits. Believe it or not, your brain is designed to make mental maps of food sources. In fact, some experts claim that once you've sourced food somewhere, your instincts will intuitively remember said place and the specific plants harvested. A great skill to have in the event of a drought or, God forbid, food shortage.
While the pros of modern life far outweigh the cons, our culture has intentionally separated us from the mammalian species we evolved from. Ignoring our own biology doesn't just make us fat and sick, but leaves us unfilled and disconnected from something larger than ourselves. Take control and reverse the trappings of modern life by connecting to your roots and Mother Nature.