Written by: Beau DeCourcy
If you read and follow some of the many paleo/primal blogs and books you may notice an underlying theme that suggests we should live in a more primal manner in all areas of life. And while I would suggest reading these blogs and books filled with beneficial information, I think it’s important to understand where the “Caveman” theme should end. Certainly applying ancestral/primal foods and movements to our lives is incredibly positive, but we also need to regain focus of our continued evolution. We need to acknowledge that simply mimicking what we think a paleo existence may have looked like has it limits in the Neolithic world.
While others may compete to see who can be the most “strict” paleo eater, buy the newest minimalist shoe, and display the leanest, shaven upper body, Aaron and I have been pondering the future of humans, and how an understanding of our ancestry can benefit our CONTINUED evolution in the Neolithic world. We believe we are, in one aspect, actually living TOO primitive.
When we are consumed by the chronic stress of a busied existence, we think with the primitive locations of our brain; the limbic system to be specific. This part of our brain is involved with the fight or flight mechanism. When we can’t run from or destroy a phantom stressor (i.e. bills, work, drama, etc…) we are unable to resolve the stressor and become stuck thinking with the limbic brain. We essentially have our feet pinning both the gas pedal and brake at the same time, and as time passes, we learn to run and fight in different ways. We run by hiding behind ‘tasks’, alcohol, drugs, comfort foods and Facebook. We fight everyone and everything that prevents us from performing these tasks because we carry with us a blind, unresolved anger. We are suspicious and reactive to all that is around us and become addicted to confrontation because it is a means to momentarily satisfy our anger. Thinking predominantly with the primitive area of our brain cannot end our depression or anger, so we continually run from it, fight pointless battles and hide behind a diluted existence.
When you reduce or stop watching mindless television, stressing over bills, skimming on Facebook every ten minutes, and you allow yourself time to be alone in silence, you will allow your brain to actually think and contemplate your existence and use the neocortex, the part of the brain responsible for deeper thought. Of course, successfully overcoming all of the drives to cease the activities listed above is not easy, however, it becomes increasingly easy as you practice reducing these stressors.
If you busy your mind and activate the primitive brain, you’ll dilute your existence and in doing do so, you create your own rat race filled with obstacles of your choosing, and you will run that course everyday until you die. Why? Because routine is safe and the primal brain strives for safety. Using the primitive brain to resolve neolithic problems is like using a sledgehammer to paint your house; it is simply the wrong tool for the job.
On the other hand, learning to meet your primal and ancestral needs with proper nutrition, movement, and by minimizing mindless stimulation will allow the intelligent animal within you to think more clearly, and adapt to the neolithic world. It is the intelligent, enlightened animal that will embrace the new evolution; a thought based evolution. Because despite what some in the ancestral movement believe, going back will never be an option.
Which part of your brain dominates your thoughts? What changes or activities have you used to reduce chronic stress and engage the neocortex?