Primates have roamed the earth for about 65 million years. And during that time, primates have been able to secure shelter and food, enough to pass on their genes from generation to generation. They did not depend on tools, or fire, or simple machines to acquire these, they simply relied on their senses.
The senses are critical in translating the outside environment into usable information for our nervous system to guide our behaviour. For example, our ancestors might have seen a small fruit hanging off a bush emitting the blue portion of the colour spectrum. That blue would enter our eyes hitting the rods and cones, and then send a signal to the brain to go investigate this fruit further, as it might be food. Then we would have proceeded to taste the blue fruit, note it’s sweetness, and then fill up.
With the movement of humans from a “wild” environment in nature, to our modern day controlled environments, we’ve lost the need to use our senses. Below, I explore how we’ve desensitized ourselves, and how to come to our senses (punn intended).
With the invention of electricity and subsequently the light bulb, we were no longer slaves to the light of the sun. We could work whenever we wanted. This however, compromised our circadian rhythms which were in sync with the sun and the moon. And these circadian rhythms are associated with hormonal fluctuations.
One of the most common recommendations I give my clients is to make sure they are sleeping in a dark room. To make this possible I suggest using a eye mask, using black-out blinds, removing their alarm clock, and making sure there is no phone, computer or television on. This is important to optimize melatonin production (I have written about this before).
What to do: A good place to start would be to make sure your sleeping environment is dark. You might also want to take a trip into nature and experience the colours, textures, patterns, and brightness of a natural environment. Research shows that this can be rejuvenating and even healing.
The ability to hear animals, fire, thunder, wind, and possibly other dangerous humans or tribes, has been critical for our survival. In fact, we are born with the innate knowledge that a loud noise could be dangerous.
There is so much noise in our environments now, that we are used to this constant stimulus. In fact, I know some people who always need music on, or they feel like something is missing.
What to do: Go into nature and take note of the sounds at different times of the day. What do you hear right before sunrise, at night, or sitting by a river? In Toronto we have a place you can go for sensory deprivation called Float. You put in ear plugs, and then go into a pitch-black tank filled with salt water to induce weightlessness. You can’t see or hear anything. It’s a very interesting experience…I highly recommend it.
We’ve relied on smell as the preliminary assessment of whether a plant is edible. After smelling something we would then go on to taste it. Then, as we tasted it, both the smell and the taste would be critical for the experience of the food.
With the advent of modern food processing, we have manipulated foods to taste the the way we want them to taste, and smell the way we want them to smell, in effect, tricking our primal survival tools. Thus, people consume foods and chemicals that are actually harming them.
One of the biggest offenders of our sense of taste is sugar. Before we started mass producing sugar, finding something that was sweet was almost impossible. Fruits would be the sweetest foods available, and on rare occasion, honey. Nowadays, everything has sugar in it, and it has changed our taste buds. (A while back I posted a video about this)
What to do: Eliminate all processed foods and sugar for one month. This will reset our sense of smell and taste and you will enjoy the taste of food at a whole other enhanced level.
It is astounding to think that if you didn’t want to handle a food ever again, you could probably accomplish that without issue. With fast food and packaged convenience foods, we no longer handle food as we used to on the farm. I believe cooking food from scratch, gives us another level of enjoyment.
What to do: Prepare a meal from scratch. This includes going to the grocery store and touching, feeling, smelling the produce to ensure the best choice.
As I wrote this article I realized that I could really dive deep down the rabbit hole on this topic. I have, for the case of brevity, tried to keep my points short to bring forth the key thesis here; that our senses, which are our primal tools of survival, have been numbed. But, we can restore their viability by bringing awareness to this issue, and implementing some sense-enhancing practices.
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The Desensitization of Our Primal Survival Tools