Part three, the last and final part. In the previous posts of this series, we have talked about how evolution and lifestyle changes have affected our fitness. We have talked about ways to reconnect with ancient ways of keeping fit that can help you feel more fulfilled. You can read part 1, and part 2 here. Today, we will talk about how to be conscious and present. This involves thinking about how to connect with the natural world, the people around us, and ourselves.
Leave the shoes at the door
The stereotype of a CrossFitter who loves shoes definitely applies to me. I am all about shoes and love seeing when a member gets a new pair. But, our ancient humans were not as lucky as us to have 9 pairs of CrossFit shoes alone. Their whole bodies were functional, even their feet. And how do we get functional feet? Ditch the shoes.
Obviously there are proper times to wear shoes, and you definitely should wear them at appropriate times. But shoes can also hurt the development of our feet. Imagine wearing mittens for the majority of your life. Your fingers probably would not work very well. This same concept applies to our feet/toes and shoes.
So, leave your shoes at the door when you get home, let your feet be free. When you go get the mail, keep your shoes off. Feel the grass, the concrete, asphalt, dirt or gravel. Your sense of touch will be increased and widened to fully take in the different textures you are walking on. This helps you feel conscious, present, and connected to the Earth.
Also, a lot of ankle, knee, hip issues come from our nice gigantic moon boot soles on our shoes, but I will save that discussion for a different time.
Learning about your food helps you be conscious and present
How much do you really know about your food? For most people it’s probably not much. Where and how was the chicken you are eating raised? The tomatoes on your counter: where were those grown, when were they picked? And how long did it take to get to the store you bought them at?
The pork chops you just bought: what was that pig fed before being butchered? Why is the peel of your oranges two different colors that looks like maybe it was spray painted?
Once again, I am not a doctor and therefore can’t give medical advice (legally). But a lot of people are spending lots of money taking medications to treat certain issues that could probably be addressed by making better/more informed choices about what goes in their bodies.
Learn about your food. Don’t want to learn about your food? Fine. Then buy your food from people that already know about it. Farmers markets and small specialty grocers know about the food they grow, raise and sell. Buy from them and ask questions. They enjoy discussing their passion. Plus food grown or raised with love just tastes better, I promise.
Be conscious and present without distractions
Turn the TV off. Put your phone on silent. Stop talking, and pause the music. Listen, watch, and observe.
Pick up on small details. Feel how cool the floor is compared to how warm a sun baked lawn chair is. Try to hear the squirrel as it runs along the fence or climbs the tree. Pay attention to your breathing, and feel if your posture needs to be corrected. Let your muscles relax, sit with your thoughts and observations.
This isn’t a new concept. Prayer, meditation, contemplation they are all based on the same concept. The point is to take a break to be present and conscious in the moment. This allows your mind and body time to recharge, and time to plan or just dream.
The world is a pretty amazing place when you stop to just observe and think. Getting rid of distractions allows you a chance to rest from stimulation or constantly having new information thrown at your face.
Giving your mind a break allows us to think a little bit deeper than the next scroll on Instagram. It creates a 360 degree window of what is actually around us rather than a peephole into someone else’s fabricated life.
Gain old skills
Can you start a fire from scratch? Without a lighter, or with only one match? Can you climb a tree or hop a fence, fallen tree, or some other barrier? What about building anything that doesn’t come with instructions?
Can you whetstone a knife? And put a point on the end of a stick with that knife? Can you read a map? Can you move brush? If you need to, can you physically control another human? Can you cook more than just in a microwave? Do you know the local fauna well enough that if you had to eat it, you w0uld trust your decisions?
We have forgotten a massive part of being human, survival.
Now, has survival changed? Yes, definitely. Humans have adapted well. Humans are, for the most part, urban domesticated animals now. We are the purebred labradoodle that, if not fed by the hand of humans, would starve. We are the chihuahua that, if left in a temperature below 60 F, will freeze to death. Humans have become house pets. We are house pets whose only skills are sit, lie down and heel.
Learn the skills that survival dictated early in our lineage. These are skills that our house pet selves have forgotten, or were maybe never even taught. Just like selective breeding and years of training has taken the old world out of dogs, it’s taken it out of ourselves.
Our old world companions were tough. They didn’t need us but it was a mutually beneficial relationship. If humans stopped existing and house dogs had to fend for themselves, large numbers would parish.
And the same goes for us, we don’t have the skills to survive without the modern cushions provided to us. Hold on to that wildness, that feral human, because there will come a time you will be glad you did.