Nurture Your Inner Cave Person

Your body was born about 40,000 years ago, into a world without buildings. You got light and warmth from the sun by day, and from fire at night. The breeze spoke to you, carrying the scent of water, animals, ripening fruit, and shifts in the weather.

Your senses were acute. You knew the birds’ call, the big cat’s footfall. Every snapping twig and rustling leaf told you something you needed to know—about dinner, about danger.

Our bodies and minds are essentially the same as those of our Paleolithic hunter-gatherer ancestors. Yet average Americans now spend over 90% of their time indoors, rarely experiencing greenery, breezes, sunshine, or other animals.

Instead, we have flat white walls, poor vistas, toxic air, the constant temperature and background rumble of central heating, and the glaring light and monotonous buzz of fluorescent lights.

Am I saying we should go back to the cave or the bark hut? No. Our buildings keep us warm and dry, protect us and our belongings, and even give us a sense of identity. But they also tend to cut us off from the rest of life.

When we lack the sensory nutrition and biological triggers we crave, we can become tired, depressed, and irritable. We suffer from stress, insomnia, and a range of health problems. We often have a vague sense that something is missing. And we consider this normal.

We function and feel best when we receive gentle, varying, meaningful sensory stimulation—not the weird combination of monotony and overstimulation we’re accustomed to. Our senses have evolved to recognize every change as meaningful to our survival, nourishment, and pleasure. Our eyes work best with variety in lighting level and color. Our ears need to hear a rich texture of sound. Our skin needs to feel air motion and changes in temperature. But in terms of sensory nourishment, we are starving on junk food.

So what’s the good news? Within the problem lies a delightful solution. Though we have lost our connection with the rest of life, nurturing our senses is a path back to wholeness. Unlearning our unnatural habits feels really good.

Ask yourself: What did my stone-age ancestors experience that I can bring into my daily life—in even small ways? I call this the Paleolithic Touchstone, and it’s a great guide. For example, just fifteen minutes a day of sunshine on your hands and face can help reverse winter depression. Avoiding bright lights and LCDs before bedtime can release you from insomnia. A single green plant can improve your mood and productivity. When you’re starving, a little sensory food goes a long way.

Start with one small change and see how you feel. Then look for another shift that will bring you greater vitality. Before long, your life force will kick in and your reunion with nature will be unstoppable.

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  1. Kendra McKenna says:

    Thank you, Carol. I love your website am bookmarking to read your blog regularly. It is so in tune with the practices that I am reviving and learning.

    • carolvenolia says:

      Welcome, Kendra! This site was created just for you and everyone else whose soul resonates with Come Home to Nature.
      Keep coming back, and keep on commenting. I want to hear what strikes a chord for you, what you’re curious about, and what your own experiences are. And that goes for everyone else reading this, too!

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