We are currently living the high point of human evolution, and every single day is the next high point as our knowledge and understanding is constantly increasing. As little as 50 years ago people wouldn’t have believed if you told them about how the whole world will be interconnected, and how vast amounts of information are available at practically everyone’s fingertips.
We have put man on the moon, explored the deep seas and created magnificent works of art. The increase in humanity’s understanding of ourselves and the world we inhabit has been phenomenal, and never before have we glimpsed so deeply into how our bodies and minds work.
However, this increase in knowledge and the culture that values intelligence more than anything else has caused another kind of change in us; we have began to live our lives inside our heads. You might have a differing opinion of this, but I have started to notice that when people say “me” they mean their mind, their personality, their character. They are excluding the physical body from the concept of “me”. I believe it’s very common these days to refer to “my body” as something that’s separate from “me”, and consider it more like a possession instead of an integral part of your being.
Like Ken Robinson put it when talking about university professors; for them the body is just a means of transportation for the mind.
Ever since reading The Vegetarian Myth I have been bugged by a question that Lierre asked, but didn’t really answer properly in the book: As it seems evident that agriculture is both destroying the planet and our health, why did we start doing it in the first place? What caused humanity to make the switch from hunting and gathering to farming?
I have been thinking, that maybe this polarization – or separation – of body and mind started already before we made the switch, and it was actually one of the underlying reasons for inventing agriculture.
I find it really disturbing, that we have become so alienated from our bodies and our physical needs, that we have no idea anymore about what is good and healthy for us. The low-fat high-carb vs. low-carb high-fat battle is the perfect example of this. It does not matter which approach is the key to eating healthy, or maybe it’s neither of those two, but how have we ended up in this situation in the first place?
Does a lion spend time thinking whether or not eating a zebra is healthy for it? Or do koalas consider that maybe it would be a good idea to try something else than eucalyptus leaves for a change? No, their whole being is hardwired to eat what works the best for them. They do not rationalize like we humans do. Instead, they listen and hear and do what their bodies tell them is the right thing to do.
I am not saying that rational thinking is the cause of all evil and should be abandoned, but at least on a personal level I want to re-establish the connection between mind and body, and come to accept that they are interconnected in more levels than I can imagine. One does not exist without the other, and the body is not just a dumb, automated vessel that gets your mind around to different places, but instead it has a profound effect on how well the mind actually works.
This is something I noticed very clearly when I started my own low-carb diet; the increase I experienced in my energy levels and positive attitude surpassed all my expectations! This connection works both ways too: A 2007 study [PDF] found that a group of athletes who visualized exercising their hip muscles experienced similar strength gains as the control group who went to the gym and did the actual exercises.
There is a lot more to our bodies and minds than we realize. Instead of getting more and more stuck in the mind, I think everyone should practice listening and interpreting the signals that the body is sending. On a deep level you – your body and mind, together – know what is the right thing to do. If that inner knowledge wouldn’t exist, human species would have become extinct already thousands of years ago.