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February. 21, 2022

The “Mind”:  Part IV

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*NOTE:  Due to the popularity of recent posts related to the “mind”, I’ve decided to share something that came through while parenting my children the other day.  It really helped them to make sense of how their minds work, and why their minds sometimes seek to complicate things or create challenges for them. I hope it helps you too

Before we lived under rooftops, in air conditioning (or heat) and with beds to sleep on, we lived outside. Perhaps we found caves for nighttime to keep a bit warmer or safer from wildlife, although we lived outside.  

And outside is how we were designed to live. Today’s societal infrastructure has created many luxuries and comforts, although it has also created disease, disorder, and misconduct.  

Let’s take a closer look…

The mind’s primary responsibility when we lived outside was to prioritize survival.  In other words, “survival” came down to:

  1. Food & Water
  2. Temperature Regulation (not getting too hot or cold)
  3. Safety (not getting attacked)

And the day was planned out this way. First, you would have woken up and thought about how hungry you were going to be later on.  So, you would have formed a plan to hunt or gather food, depending upon where you were and what season it was at the time.

Next, you’d make sure you had a safe place to sleep that night and that you wouldn’t get too hot or too cold. Not to mention, the natural discomfort of sleeping outside in fluctuating temperatures, on the ground, etc. would have provoked pain each night until your body adapted and learned to sleep more comfortably.  

In short, you would be tougher and more resilient to pain as a result of progressive tolerance and natural living. In today’s world, it’s just the opposite, in that we have softened our environments and we are now more sensitive when things feel uncomfortable than we were before.

And throughout each day, you would closely be monitoring your environment to see if you were being hunted.  You would be prepared to be attacked, have created weapons or some form of defense, and you would have a map of where safe locations might be along the way for familiar paths taken. 

You would be outside exploring. You would be on an adventure. You would be one with nature, and a part of the life cycle you see in front of you. You wouldn’t feel so disconnected, and you would regularly celebrate feats of nature such as the sunset, sunrise, rain, thunder, lightning, and moon cycles.

These characteristics of life would be built in.

Now, let’s take a look at modern life:

  • We set our own schedules by using artificial lights.
  • We store food in our freezers and refrigerators, so we don’t run out.
  • We sleep on beds that we constantly want to be even ‘more’ comfortable.
  • We regulate temperature through thermostats and use artificial air conductors to simulate wind inside of a home through heat, a/c and fans.
  • We don’t experience much pain, bleed often (especially if male), or have to worry about being attacked.  

So, our mind finds other things to worry about. They instead fear safety through relationships, self-sabotage safety through poor self-care, choose foods that make us unhealthy so we have to worry about food again, and they have made our “comfort zones” for temperature closer to 4-5 degrees, instead of 30-40 degrees fluctuation each day. This way, we have temperature to worry about as well.  

In short, the mind is an expert at finding obstacles and overcoming them, especially related to:

  1. Food & Water
  2. Temperature
  3. Safety

So, whether you live in an environment that is super comfortable or totally uncomfortable, your mind will be tasked with these responsibilities. And when you come to terms with this, you can learn to relieve anxiety by reassuring yourself that you are safe, have enough food, and the temperature will be great for your health.  

Then, get outside and let nature do its thing.  

Spend as much time outside as possible to relieve any challenges related to anxiety, depression, recurring sadness, mood swings, fear, etc. 

Nature is incredibly healing — and centering — for the mind.  

If you’ve really been stuck in a negative thought cycle or pattern of thoughts, consider an adventure. Get your mind to reset by bringing it back to its natural environment:  outside.

Because outside is where your mind has real work to do. And where it feels most useful and appreciated.  

I hope you enjoyed today’s newsletter. Please do your part to help others who battle anxiety, depression, or dis-ease in their lives. You know who they are and if they spend their days inside. Please forward this post to them, so they, too, can feel better.

Thank you and I love you.

Dr. Kareem
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