the biohacking luddite
I wrapped myself around an enormous pine tree this afternoon. Just us, life pressed to life. The trees ground me when my bare feet would protest at the removal of two layers of wool socks, and the boots that warm them, from winter’s bite. The trees take my weight. Everything we needed to thrive we were given. Our bodies married to the sun and the moon, the earth and air. We were given the food that delivered vibrancy. We were connected to the life that nurtured us. In turn, we were connected. There was harmony. That doesn’t mean it was easy. That’s part of the problem, too, I suppose. The equating of harmony with ease.
We live now in unnatural environments. Heat, food, shelter, light are the obvious ones. The modern world is misaligned with our ancient bodies. We have evolved over centuries to work and survive scarcity. Today, it is sitting and abundance that kills us. But technology marches on. Rings that tell us if we slept and how well. Bracelets that monitor our efforts and our calm. We wear blue light blocking glasses to stop our eyes from sending messages to our bodies that it’s daytime when it’s nighttime. We isolate nutrients from their whole, condense and extract them to their most useful parts, cleaved off from the synergy bestowed by nature, and call it a “superfood”.
A lot of these things are done out of necessity. We live in a toxic soup of environmental assaults. If you’re at work all day under fluorescent lights, you probably need those blue light blocking glasses. But as we march more to the transhumanist approach to life, I see all of these things, the rings and bracelets and injectable pads implanted into our arms, as rungs on the ladder to the union of man and machine. Every one of these things delivers “data” from our bodies, gauges and meters to refer to for information. Body as machine, numbers as measure. All must be quantified.
Lost in all of this is the immeasurable. Lost is the connection. If the value of the body is “performance” and the way to increase “performance” is to objectify and quantify outward markers, what are we achieving? We are doing what we humans do with everything: isolating, extracting, exploiting, only it’s with our selves.
We are not our bodies, no. But, we are also our bodies. We are our bodies and souls and our minds and our experiences and our loves and our thoughts and the echo of experiences of our ancestors and we are all of the natural world and we are each other. Somehow. It’s not something I fully understand and, quite honestly, I don’t feel the need to. I just know. Where’s my data? I’d have to rummage around in my guts for awhile to find it. No need. The point is, we were given these beautiful, functioning bodies (however yours functions is likely different than mine, but all of these bodies are bodies that we were chosen for). Surely, they are more than machine. Surely they have messages more detailed and more enriching than any LCD display screen can quantify?
For everything, there is a cost. What do we lose? What do we gain? Is it the same to bury your toes into the cool earth of the forest floor as it is to plug a mat into the wall and lie on it while you listen to your favourite podcast? Is it the same to slug back some protein isolate with a superfood blend that smells of saccharine berry flavouring as it is to eat some fresh eggs poached in butter with a cup of sun ripened berries on the side? We all know it isn’t. There is a resonance to one of those options and a hollowness to the other.
Years ago, long before we even had our own farm, I took a Biodynamic course. The teacher had us imagine that we were in a car. We were driving our imaginary car down winding country roads until we came up to a farm, surrounded by trees. We drove into that farm, got out of the car and saw that there was a huge garden behind the barn. It was acres upon acres upon rolling hill acres as far as the eye could see. Huge. In one instance, we were told of the handful of milk cows penned off, the ducks quacking, the beautiful cabbages spanning out, the apple trees dripping with red gems, the carrot fronds swaying in the wind. What do you see? What do you feel? Is there a harmony in your body imagining such a thing? There is a rightness there if you submerge yourself in that place.
Now, put yourself back in that car. Same thing, you’re driving along those country roads, come to the entrance of the same farm. But this time, when you get out of your car and look to the back field, you see that it’s the same field, only instead of the whole, you see isolation. The biodiversity and complexity is replaced with one thing - carrots. Acres upon acres of carrots. Same height. Same colour. Row upon measured row of carrots in perfect lines. In today’s world it would likely be soy or corn, but we will stay with carrots.
Now how do you feel when you look at it? The carrots were there at the first farm. What makes their appearance have such a different affect on you now? Isolation. They are apart from the whole. In extraction we lose ‘rightness’. Our bodies know it, they are the most beautifully attuned sensors ever created. But they are not sensors at all, are they? They are us, from each ridge in our fingertips to every strand of hair, they sense and feel and adapt. They send messages and respond. They hone to the frequency of our lives. They are us but they are not the only us.
I tried wearing a ring a couple of years back. I was having trouble sleeping and was convinced by a well-intentioned friend, that “the ring” (dun dun dunnnnnn) would give me good feedback on what was ailing me. What I actually found out was that looking at downloaded data on what I was doing at night and how I was feeling and how I should manage my day (you’re tired, don’t do anything hard today) felt like a wedge between me and self. If I felt good in the morning, sure I had slept well and “the ring” said I didn’t, I started having my doubts. If I felt weary in the day but my ring told me I was ready for a big workout, I felt like I had motivation issues. I started realising that in my little, time limited experiment, I was doing the opposite of what I have been trying to do my whole adult life - I was moving away from the messages of my body. I was using data as feedback instead of the eloquent feedback system I was born with and want to be aligned with.
Our environments are synthetic, to be sure. There are extra things we have to do in this zoo world to mitigate the assaults on our health. We have a low EMF sauna and I have to use a full spectrum light bed in the winter. We also take advantage of our frigid well water for cold plunges. All that stuff seems reasonable to me in the context of still using the body’s responses and requests as guide. And the feedback, too, obviously. It’s this idea of fusing man and machine, the transhumanism I spoke to earlier, that is a slippery slope. We all bristle at the idea of an implanted chip and yet all the biohacking/health “influencers” happily show off their wearables, implanted or not, just excited to get more data on their superhighway to performance utopia.
Meanwhile, the body nudges, “Um, there’s a thing stuck to us that’s sending all sorts of weird vibes my way. Could you take it off, please?”
We are already in a connection deficit travesty. Our whole world is arranged to keep us away from knowing our bodies, to using them, ignoring their messages, hating them for not being the right shape or size. We are taught, from a young age, that our bodies are machines, Descartes still rules supreme. Even those of us that were raised in some sort of religion likely had their spirits cleaved off from their bodies. Bodies were sin-lusting, hedonistic tempters. The spirit elevates us to the sacred. True, but not true. We are whole as intended for this go around on our journey.
Now, in the time of plague and separation, the body is fully enemy. This pandemic of fear has thoroughly turned the masses away from their bodies - these rogue machines that can take us out at any second, that have no defences against the tyranny of viruses and bacteria and diseases of endless count. Bodies must be directed and controlled with the blunt tool of outside chemical medicines. Bodies are dangerous things, dumb machines in need of overriding orders lest they self destruct and take us down with them.
It’s a curious way of perceiving ourselves. Ignorant thought affords ignorant actions. When we are not present to receive the messages of our body, all sorts of tomfoolery unfolds. We eat crap. We don’t move. We live in a web of stress. We hold onto toxic emotions. We allow reactivity to drive us. We are separate from self which, ultimately, means we will always long for connection and seek to fulfil it in ways that will never satisfy.
Everyone has heard the stories. “He was so healthy and he just dropped dead.” “I can eat whatever I want and I feel fine.” “I only need three hours of sleep a night.” My oldest daughter works in a trade. She is the only one that has not taken the injectable concoction in all of her workplace. She tells us how the people she works with like to regale her with stories of impending doom about her choices while they eat frozen pizzas and tubs of takeout potato salad from the grocery store. There’s even a fella’ that eats a jar of cheeze whiz every single day. That’s it, his jar and a spoon. It’s not that people don’t see the hypocrisy of their choices, it’s that there is no value placed on our health when we are shut off from the signals we receive. We are never taught that the constant ear infections could be related to pasteurised dairy consumption. Even a suggestion that our instincts are telling us that our child’s asthma has something to do with diet gets an eye-roll and a pat on the head.
If I eat nuts, and I would only eat soaked/dehydrated/organic nuts, there is an old injury I have from my army days that acts up. It’s a very specific injury in a very specific place. It completely disappears when I don’t eat nuts. But the second I have a couple, the “Oh yeah, I remember you!” resultant pain appears. Why? Was I eating that type of nut the day I got that injury? Maybe. I don’t remember. But how did I ever figure that out? I paid attention. I was careful. I observed and asked questions.
I could still be going from physiotherapist to chiropractor to massage therapist like I did for a couple of years when this injury first became chronic. Chasing healing. Now, I just don’t eat nuts.
My experience with chronic Lyme disease afforded me the same gift that came wrapped in painful lessons. For almost ten years I chased the magical substance or therapy that would be the one to deliver healing. Sometimes rabidly, sometimes with exhausted hope. In the end, it wasn’t any one person or any one treatment. In the end, it was serious and honest conversations with myself. It was clearing out the static and distraction of outside “experts” and honing in on what my body was telling me all along. How to tell someone this when they say “How did you get better?” Who wants to hear that it ends up being the collection of tidbits from this person or that, the endless reading of books, the overriding of “what makes sense” in the brain with the careful ear that listens to the honest feedback from within? Who wants to hear that they will not heal if they do not curtail their sugar/carb addiction or their poor sleep or their shitty relationships or the crap from their past? Not many, but there it is.
Who wants to hear that the latest gizmo is but a pale shadow of what is afforded you by birthright? The health sciences are now swinging around and telling us what we have always known: move, lift, light, dark, silence, EMFs, sunlight, cold, heat, challenge, love. Then the science tries to give us the products that we can use to emulate what is free. Sometimes we need them (if we watch a movie, we use the glasses), but sometimes you can just get rid of the offending object. In any case, whenever you need a technology to remedy something it’s almost certain that it’s from the creation of another technology. Those dastardly mercury laden lights can be switched out for incandescents. You can use candles and oil lamps at night. You can stand in frigid water. You can get out in nature and take your shoes off. And what does your body tell you there? What does your body tell you now?
This is the great embrace. The material and the mystery are intertwined and inseparable. Science cannot exist without awareness, but awareness without the material is barren: emptiness is form and form is emptiness. Human fulfilment cannot be achieved without embracing both material and the mystery. - source
Slow down enough to listen. Slow down enough to hear. My Lord, your body works so hard for you! All day long that luscious, plump heart beats. Every minute of every day, your eyes watch, your skin receives, your lungs expand and contract. LOVE IT! Marvel at what is the true phenomenon, a most exquisite creation. No machine, no algorithm, no manufactured substance can even hold a candle to what we have been given.
I have said that the work of our time is connection. I truly believe that. Connection to our Creator, to the natural world, to each other, and to self. It is the antidote to the modern world that acts as wedge to deep knowing. We are wondrous, mystical creatures that have forgotten our way. It’s all reclaimable and it’s the only thing that will fill the hole.
“The Biology of Belief”, Dr. Bruce Lipton
“Molecules of Emotion”, Dr. Candace B. Pert
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