Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fitness, Fashion, or Fad? Guest post by Lindsey Akers

Everyone wears one or knows someone who does. It seems they are everywhere from pendants to clip-on’s, or the ever popular bracelets. I’m talking of course about the wearable tech we are seeing pushed on the masses after the over-saturation of smart phones left electronics manufacturers searching for new markets. These devices often measure variables such as heart rate or sleep cycles, while others claim to reduce stress or revolutionize the way you feel about fitness. They’re popular for men, women, and children and have a wide selection of functionality, fashion, and ways to wear your device. Of course the winner of the marketing award goes to Fitbit, which has become a household name.

There really is a variety of these devices to meet everyone’s individual needs. Coming in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and prices, these wearable fitness devices have made their mark.

In December of 2015, I decided to purchase one of these devices on a whim. I didn’t care what the exact features were or how it looked, I was more concerned with one thing: Increasing my activity level to mimic that of an ancient hunter-gatherer. As an added bonus, my device monitors sleep patterns which helps me with my experiments in biphasic sleep patterns! After much deliberation , I settled on the Jawbone UP2 with Amazon exclusive gold and purple colors. So far I have really enjoyed the experience. It has made me more aware of my activity levels, and I find the sleep tracking to be useful for tracking my overall health and well-being. Get yours by clicking below:

Our ancestors, who lived healthier and more fulfilling lives than we do, spent hours casually strolling through a managed forest ecosystem harvesting from their forest gardens. On occasion, they had to lift heavy objects to make structures. They also engaged in sprinting as a means to escape dangers or at the end of a hunt. Speaking of hunting, we were designed for long-distance running. Humans were slower, but capable of greater endurance than most of the prey they fed on. We would routinely run for up to five miles before trapping and killing an animal to share with our community. As rewilding enthusiasts, we are trying to mimic those ancestral levels of activity: Low intensity walking combined with strength training and occasional sprinting or jogging for up to 3-5 miles at a time. We always like to say that rewilding does not necessitate the total abandonment of technology. Far from being Luddites, we strive to use any tool at our disposal to return to a human way of living!

Agriculture: Not so revolutionary

We’re often told of the wonders of revolutionary changes that led to our modern world. The industrial revolution, technology revolution, and the agricultural revolution all come to mind.  I will admit that there are benefits gleaned from each of these for the average individual. I am sitting in a house built with industrially milled 2×4 pine, factory produced nails, drywall, and metal while typing on a machine more powerful than a million dollar super computer from a couple of decades ago. Tonight I ate a meal prepared from store-bought ingredients that I did not toil to produce.  Oh, but there’s the great lie about agriculture!

It might be true that mechanization has increased the productivity and reduced human labor hours within our conventional systems. That’s not the point I am trying to argue against! In fact, I am a huge supporter of using automation to produce food. No, the point of this article is to point out the failings of monocropped agriculture, which has been the model of food production in “civilized” cultures for thousands of years. Agriculture demands that we toil, but it wasn’t always that way.

I would be remiss at this point, if I did not first give credit to the pioneers of the Permaculture movement for the ideas I am about to expose you to. Permaculture is a design science developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. They were heavily influenced by Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka, and I would be equally remiss for not giving Mr Fukuoka a name drop as well.  I cannot go into anywhere near enough detail in this post to explain Permaculture, but I will give you some resources. These are all excellent books to begin your study of Permaculture:

  • Gaia’s Garden – Toby Hemenway’s masterpiece is the best place to start for those of us in suburbia
  • Permaculture One – Mollison’s Magnum Opus. This is a tough read, but great for referencing
  • One Straw Revolution – Masanobu Fukuoka’s wonderful work on systems design

So, back to our original topic, what’s so bad about agriculture? To answer that question, we need to go back to basic biology. I mean REALLY basic. I’m talking about the stuff you learned in third grade and kind of forgot about because your Prussian model education was all about passing a test. If you will recall, natural systems rely on interdependence to maintain balance. When there is a lack of one element to the system, something will rush in to fill the niche. Ask my southern grandmother about the importation of the kudzu plant, and you will hear the closest thing to a profanity laced tirade to ever come from her. The kudzu invasion of our roadsides and meadows is a perfect example of nature filling a void.

When we plow and sow one species we create a void. By design, the world we live in has evolved to fill that void with what we refer to as “weeds”. These weeds are actually serving a function to prevent soil erosion by covering bare soil. Instead of understanding this function and adapting it to meet our goals, we endlessly toil against the weeds. This has led to the adoption of potentially carcinogenic sprays to kill weeds and petrochemical fertilizers used to restore an NPK ratio to soils that have eroded away because of a lack of weeds! You don’t have to be a Persian messenger to see that this is MADNESS!

If we look further at the problems of agriculture, we see that we are not making the full use of the sun’s energy. Have you ever walked through a dense forest at midday? There’s not very much light getting through there, right? Contrast that to a corn field where there is only about 3-7 feet of photosynthesis going on towards the end of the season.

corn field

After the corn is harvested, the soil is getting baked by the sun and all that energy is just going to waste. So, we know that agriculture is not so revolutionary when we understand the design science of Permaculture.

When you design a forest garden based on the principles of Permaculture, you exert a lot of effort up front. After that initial install, the system balances and you are left with a low maintenance system that utilizes more of the sun’s energy without the need for outside resources. This is the exact opposite of toiling every year to produce a bushel of corn.

So now you know what the real revolutionary system is when it comes to food production. What we don’t know yet is how this all ties into rewilding. I will explain that in part II of this post where we study the origins of Permaculture a bit more. Here’s a preview: Permaculture techniques are mostly just adapting ancient methods to new technologies. Our “primitive” ancestors understood how to stack functions and design an ecosystem to suit their needs. Permaculture is one of the ways we are relearning what it is to be human, and REWILDING OURSELVES!

Unnatural Sleep Cycles

It’s 24,000 BC and you’re a wild human being. You have no masters, rulers, bosses, or whatever title we give to people who tell us how to run our lives these days. You simply exist with those around you by managing natural systems and using your most deadly weapon, the human mind. How do you think you would manage your sleep in a natural state? Clearly there is no harsh blue light to keep you up at night. You might have the warm glow of a fire, but fueling it requires labor which is a scarce resource. You also don’t have an alarm clock to shock you out of REM sleep before dawn so you can go toil behind a desk. No, you simply follow the Earth’s natural cycles just like every other human has for the past 226, 000 years or so.

In the winter time, the day cycles are short. You spend your days hunting game since photosynthesis is at a minimum this time of year. You are in a state of ketosis most of the time since your carbohydrates are limited to a few stored fermented grains, wild tubers, and cold-hardy greens. This state of being helps you regulate weight and shed the extra pounds you gained gorging on berries from the plants you maintained during the summer months. When you are not hunting, you spend these cold days with family, making art, playing music, talking, laughing, and passing down knowledge. You go to sleep shortly after dark. Your sleep is interrupted for several hours after midnight when it is your turn to keep watch with a few others in the group. Then you sleep another 4-6 hours before lazily waking with the sun. This biphasic sleep pattern is the natural way our species evolved to rest. Only recently have we denied our natural sleep cycles…

It’s 2016 and you’re in a rush. The shrill tone of the alarm clock app on your smart phone just awoke you at 5:15AM. You rush to the kitchen and pay homage to the caffeinated gods of Keurig. After you press the button, you fumble through the cabinet looking for sugar. You will need copious amounts of caffeine and sugar to shock your body into a state of being capable to manage the commute. You arrive at your slave-job and grab another cup.

Ten hours later you’re back at home and exhausted. Your spouse picked up some fried chicken on the way home from her slave-job. You quickly scarf it down without much dinnertime conversation. Then it’s time to do all the housekeeping chores, and help the kids with their mountains of homework from the government schools. The sun has gone down hours ago by the time you crash into the couch and watch the professional liars on the local news tell you what to think. The blue glow of the LED panel interferes with your normal biological clock. You feel restless, so you take a few shots of whiskey to help you get to sleep. By midnight you make it to bed for five  fitful hours of sleep.

If this second scenario sounds in any way familiar, you might benefit from an experiment in biphasic sleep. It’s been well documented in academia that the concept of uninterrupted sleep is a very recent trend. Before electricity we used to experience cycles of sleeping and waking throughout the night. Without cheap and abundant light sources, ancient man slept in an entirely different pattern than we do today. As much as I appreciate Edison and Tesla (more-so Tesla), I have come to realize that artificial light is disruptive to our sleep.

How do we begin to regain our ancestral sleep patterns? I’m not suggesting that you should go to bed at 7PM every night and quit your job tomorrow! We have to take a gradual approach to rewilding ourselves. It took 25,000 years to get here, and we will not correct the damage overnight! Start by:

  • Turning off all electronics by 9PM in the summer or 7PM in the winter. Read a book or spend time with loved-ones instead
  • Replace unnatural and potentially toxic fluorescent bulbs with a solution that mimics natural lighting
  • Work towards financial independence so you can free yourself from slavery to the alarm clock one day
  • Go to bed earlier, wake up after midnight, and spend an hour doing something enjoyable or productive.  I bet you can think of something to do that might get your spouse on board with this idea…Break your sleep into two cycles for a week and compare your energy levels to before biphasic sleep

Sleep is an important part of what makes us human. Our bodies and minds need time to heal. This is especially important for growing children. I highly recommend taking your kids out of the government schools and letting them sleep in later. Teenagers especially need more sleep due to rapid growth, and waking up to get on the bus disrupts this critical time in your child’s development. Try to begin homeschooling in the mid-morning instead of following the traditional model of school by 8AM. Everyone’s stress levels will go down!

Give biphasic sleep and gradual awakening a try as you walk your path to rewilding.

 

Welcome to the Rewilding blog!!!

This is my very first post to the site, and I have plans for many more to follow. I’d love to tell you that I am sitting in a yurt somewhere in the middle of a managed food forest drinking kombucha and chowing down on grass-fed steak with a side of Au gratin Jerusalem Artichokes.

The truth is, I am sitting in my suburban home (complete with lawn), drinking a fat tire, and browsing through some unhealthy snacks in the kitchen. That brings me to my first point, rewilding is a journey. We are not going to undo 25,000 years of subjugation to the master-slave paradigm overnight! At this point, I might have lost some of you. So, let me back up a bit and begin with a simple question: What is rewilding?

According to the Wikipedia submission rewilding is, “large-scale conservation aimed at restoring and protecting natural processes and core wilderness areas, providing connectivity between such areas, and protecting or reintroducing apex predators and keystone species.” First, I should point out that a keystone species is any species whose behavior impacts all other species around it. A popular example of this is the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park.  By any definition, WE are both apex predators and a keystone species. The human mind is the pinnacle of evolution on earth. It is our greatest weapon and tool. It grants us the ability to manipulate matter in creative ways, which allowed us to reach the pinnacle of the global ecosystem. By becoming the dominant species on the planet, we also earned the title of keystone species. Our behavior influences the lives and existence of every other species on the planet. Things like the Gulf of Mexico dead zone have a cascading effect on other ecosystems around the globe. When we behave in a way that is detrimental to our environment, we have a negative impact on all species. When we behave in a positive manner, we can have a regenerative effect on the earth.

How do we behave positively? We return to our natural state. We behave like HUMANS. We REWILD ourselves. That’s my goal for The Rewilding Blog. I want to share my journey towards a hunter-gatherer lifestyle and educate others on specific ways to do the same. This does not mean that I plan to live in a cave, eschew technology, or change my name to Fred Flintstone! On the contrary, technology is one of the many tools I will use to return to a natural state. Let me go ahead and make a public admission that I plan to use this blog to generate revenue for myself. Content creation can generate passive income. It can be done anywhere, and at the time of your choosing. The same cannot be said of income you get from the average job. By the way, JOB = Just Over Broke for most of us. My goal is to create multiple revenue streams so I can be in control of my time. By the way, If you’d like to help me with this goal, you can click here and support this blog by shopping on Amazon.  Lack of control over our time is one of the primary things that separates us from our human ancestors, most of us have no control over how we spend 8 or more hours out of each day. So that is one way we are not behaving like humans. Here are some others:

In future posts I will expand on each of these topics and offer specific steps to bring ourselves closer to a natural state of being.