Honking horns, loud office chatter, and whirring machines batter our ears with incessant noise. Artificial light and digital stimulation overstress our nervous systems day and night. Traffic jams, long lines, interruptions, distractions, and big egos pervade daily life in such a manner that we don’t even realize the piece — or rather the peace — that’s gone missing.
Mark Sisson, the leading voice in the Evolutionary Health movement and author of the bestseller The Primal Blueprint, extends the primal theme beyond the diet and exercise basics in this much anticipated sequel. The Primal Connection presents a comprehensive plan to overcome the flawed mentality and hectic pace of high-tech, modern life and reprogram your genes to become joyful, care-free, and at peace with the present. You’ll make scientifically validated, highly intuitive connections across the board, emerging with a renewed appreciation for the simple pleasures of life and our most precious gifts of time, health, and love.
The connections are organized into six categories:
· Inner Dialogue: Reject self-doubt and gain mastery over your thoughts and actions by following the Ten Habits of Highly Successful Hunter-Gatherers.
· Body: Rediscover the pleasure of touch. Rethink footwear to cure foot and back pain; learn correct posture and biomechanics, maybe for the first time ever!
· Nature: Relieve stress at the biochemical level simply by immersing yourself in pleasant natural surroundings – anywhere, even if you are city-bound.
· Daily Rhythm: Prioritize healthful sleep habits, wholesome diversions, solitary downtime, and limit technology to remain focused, creative, and productive.
· Social: Withstand the pull of instant gratifications and narrow your social circle to honor real-life friends over Facebook. Build a supportive and nurturing tribe.
· Play: Rediscover your innate cravings for daily doses of spontaneous, physical fun! Finally understand the true meanings of pleasure and leisure.
The Primal Connection allows you to have it all; you’ll honor your ancient genetic recipe for health while still enjoying the comfort and convenience of modern life.
Q&A with Mark
Q: How does this book differ from The Primal Blueprint?
A: The Primal Blueprint focused on the ten lifestyle laws of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, with particular emphasis on what seem to be the most urgent and obvious life changing elements of the Evolutionary Health movement: eating primal foods (meat, fish, fowl, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds) and exercising in a manner aligned with optimal gene expression (frequent comfortably paced movement coupled with brief, intense strength and sprint workouts). The Primal Connection extends the primal theme to matters of the psyche and the disconnects inherent with high tech modern life and how to fix things.
Q: How are the connections categorized?
A: There are six sections of the book offering scientific rationale and step-by-step action plans to make assorted connections as follows:
*Inner Dialogue: Reject self-doubt and gain mastery over your thoughts and actions. Learn the “ten habits of highly effective hunter-gatherers”: dealing with personal conflict, letting go of the past, reevaluating your definition of affluence, and trusting your gut instincts.
*Body: Learn how to safely and gradually transition to a barefoot-dominant lifestyle, including workouts. Learn correct posture and movement mechanics—maybe for the first time ever! Understand the transformative power of touch and how to leverage it in daily life. Learn the importance of frequent, comfortably paced movement, including taking regular breaks from prolonged sedentary periods, and even how to create a standup work environment to enhance concentration, circulation, and fat metabolism.
*Nature: Relieve stress at the biochemical level simply by immersing into pleasant natural surroundings. Improve your indoor environment with creative efforts to integrate natural sounds, light, and plant life, and the use of energy-boosting negative ion generators. Garden, play in the mud, or otherwise get dirty (and let your kids do it too!) to turbocharge your immune system and actually strengthen your resistance to infection.
*Daily Rhythm: Obtain adequate sun exposure to large skin surface areas to ensure healthy vitamin D levels—one of the most overlooked, and health critical—connections you can make. Optimize sleep by observing mellow, darkened evenings in a quiet, cool, stress-free environment. Engage in solo, silent retreats to recharge your batteries. Prioritize work and entertainment stimulation, and discipline use of technology to remain focused, creative, and productive.
*Social: Envision an “inner circle” of close friends or family members, numbering around twelve people or less, to focus the majority of your social time and energy. Nurture a larger social circle or perhaps another two dozen people with whom you can maintain meaningful, reciprocative relationships. Deemphasize attempts to connect superficially with a larger group of people through social media.
*Play: Rediscover your innate cravings for daily doses of spontaneous, physical fun! Play helps nurture your creativity and complex problem-solving skills, without results-oriented pressure. The net effect is to increase confidence and enthusiasm for the challenges you face with your core daily responsibilities.
Q: What are the overarching themes of The Primal Connection?
A: You’ll embrace three critical themes that will help you withstand the destructive forces of modern life. First, your genes expect certain inputs to make you healthy, strong, and happy. If you create a different experience—slamming junk food or blasting artificial light and digital stimulation after dark, you’ll compromise long-term health, period. Your genes don’t know, or care, whether the inputs they receive are health-promoting or health-compromising, they are simply programmed to fight for homeostasis at all times. Drink a soda and your genes respond by prompting the release of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. In this refrain, the development of type 2 diabetes from prolonged excessive insulin production, and the subsequent resistance of cells to respond to insulin, is not a genetic defect but an example of gene expression at work. Your genes will fight valiantly to moderate the wildly excessive intake of carbohydrates in the Standard American Diet by producing insulin until this genetic mechanism becomes utterly exhausted and a diabetic condition develops.
The second theme is that abundance and scarcity are often mismatched with our genetic expectations. For example, our ancestors had abundant leisure time and scarce material possessions. This is something our brains are still wired to expect and appreciate, but the exact opposite often plays out today. Consequently, we feel stressed and anxious about busy schedules and consumerist, “affluenza” mentalities because they in conflict with our hard-wired genetic reference point. As Dr. Art DeVany, PhD expressed, “Modern life leaves our minds restless and under-utilized because we are confined, inactive, and comfortable. We cannot be satisfied with more and more, because we are evolved for another lifeway in which material goods do not matter. The result is that we are deeply unsatisfied with modern life and don’t know why.” Our genes simply don’t know what to make of all our “stuff”, and our lack of physical or cognitive down time to get refreshed and rejuvenated for the challenges of daily life.
The third theme is that your deep primal drive to pursue behaviors that generate feelgood hormones—the key to prevailing in the survival of the fittest game—must today be tempered with common sense and evaluation of long-term repercussions. For example, we are hard-wired for a sweet tooth because we experienced an adaptive benefit to avoid poisonous plants (plant life that is sweet is universally safe to consume and rich in calories and antioxidants—survival promoting!) and consume seasonal fruits and tubers that enabled our bodies to store energy for winter months of minimal caloric intake. Yep, our ancestors fattened up for the winter! Today, with massive amounts of sugar at our disposal and few modern citizens wishing to fatten up for the winter months, it makes sense to temper this sweet tooth wiring with sensible caloric intake that is aligned with long-term health. For example, emphasizing seasonal fruit intake but refraining from year-round intake of overly cultivated, overly sweetened fruits. The same is true for the massive amount of digital stimulation we are exposed to daily. We are hardwired to be attuned to novel stimulation in our environment and kick into the fight of flight response at a moment’s notice. Today, the fight or flight response is one of the most egregiously abused genetic mechanisms in the human body. What was once reserved for a predator attack is now accessed every time we fall behind on our quarterly reports or blaze through a stream of text messages on a busy subway ride home after work.
Q: What are some examples of actual Primal Connections?