Tune-Up Your Body to Withdraw from the Survival Animal Instinct
Have you ever thought, what life would be if you are only required to live with the minimal essentials? Before I entered the spiritual path, I was materialistic and had to have the latest clothes and be in fashion. Obviously, it didn’t help that I live in New York City. But once, I entered inwards, I began to look at what I have and what I actually need. I never thought how this will impact the mind. The more we want creates craving and desires, this leads to unsatisfactory feelings. The more we feed the mind a craving or desire the more we become trap in the mind’s circus. But I’m grateful to have found out different areas on how to work around the mind. In Stoic Philosophy, living with only the essentials is one of the principles and there are several CEOs in the startup ecosystem who follow the Stoic Principles in Silicon Valley. Tim Ferris also follows and advocates the Stoic Philosophy. Steve Jobs was once asked why he wears the same black turtleneck shirt all the time. He said, he has many things to do and prefers his mind to focus on the priorities and not the non-essentials. The same question was once ask to Mark Zuckerberg and he replied the same. The less you feed the mind with non-essentials the more the mind will be able to help you in the areas that you need to focus. But can we live with the minimal, survive, and embrace life at its fullest? Yes and I think we can be just fine. We are wire live with the minimal essentials. It is here within this mode that you can unleash many potentials that you thought you never had. In the movie The Martian, Matt Damon became creative when he soon realized the comforts of the ship were decaying. It was his survival animal instinct that kept him alive. Now, this is the future and yes it is Hollywood but if we go back just 100 years ago, we lived under different circumstances and we just adjusted to the environment. Now, let’s go back to 2,000 years ago, can you imagine how people live without the internet or a mobile phone? Well, they were probably still fine. In the evolvement of human evolution, we continue to adjust to the environment that we are creating. Today, we are creating a technological environment to improve our lives. But how has this improvement impacted our comfort level and our strong potential as a human being? Our ancient primitive ancestors lived in survival mode because they were scared and running away always. This DNA is stuck inside of us in the stem brain which makes us function under a survival life-threatening condition. Neuroscientist will tell you that yes our primitive brain keep us in survival mode and that is how most of us react in life, through fear, anger, and wrong assumptions. People like Eckhart Tolle will tell you that if you are in an unconscious state, your reactions to situations are just a mirror of your conditionality from past experiences. For instance, you can be riding the subway and the train is quite but the mind takes you out in a journey of thoughts on what I need to do next, or if you look at the person in front of you the Ego will make a judgment. Whenever you have a thought the Ego reacts. The ego cannot react without a thought. Once the ego and mind are working, it sends sensations to put the body under a Fight or Flight survival mode. And here is when gradually we get absorbed in this egoistic mind that makes is react not respond. This means, that we keep reacting in cycles with no ending until death. We react based on how others react and this reaction goes into your memory system, and the next time you encountered a similar situation, you will react based on what you have in your memory. Our body is an accumulation of memory. With Yoga, you can begin dismantling the body’s memories and yes you can burn the memories and creates new habits. Your daily habits are just memories. You see only what is stored in your memory. When you have created a separation from the body and mind, you will see how you would have reacted. Once you have this separation, it this then when you begin perceived life differently. You will begin to understand why Yogi Masters say that everything in this life is just drama play by the mind. It is here when you go beyond the dream, sleep, and awaken state. You begin to notice that there is something behind it all that is just observing the play of it all - it is the Divine within you.
Since coming back to the US, I really enjoy looking at life from a different set of eyes. I enjoy talking to random people, hearing their stories, and even just sit in the middle of rush hour and watch how everything moves. It is a different experience from being secluded in the mountains where is just nature and I. I meant, even in nature the mind will be with me but with fewer things to create a circus :-).....We walk fast to catch the next train or eat while walking to catch on the next thing. But what is the next thing? Is just another thing and then something else comes and we are back again trying to catch the next thing. And it goes on and on, just like in survival mode. I can relate to that because I was like that. That is how I lived my life when I worked in the NYC as a Senior Public Executive. It felt like I was under a Fight or Flight survival mode all the time. I managed all of New York City’s Five Boroughs public assistance operations and it was busy all the time. I think working in two wars Iraq and Afghanistan prepared for this position because New York City although is lovely, it is fast and intense. But hey like Frank Sinatra said, if you can make it in New York City, you can make it anywhere. For me it was, if I can make it out of Iraq and Afghanistan alive, well I think I can deal with New York City. And I said this because when I worked in Iraq and Afghanistan, I didn't work in the Embassy, I was behind the enemy lines. While the US military was fighting either the extremist in the local neighborhoods in Iraq or in Afghanistan the Taliban in villages, I was right behind them with my team rebuilding communities and providing all kinds of humanitarian and reconstruction assistance. I even wrote a book(https://amzn.to/2yAdABk) about my experience living in the District of Maiwand the birthplace of the Taliban. I wrote it to help other civilians going to the red zone (known as the fighting areas) like me and how to build success even in those conditions.
So, somehow, unconsciously, we are living in a world under the Fight or Flight survival mode. Last month, I had an interesting experience. I got inside the subway car and it was empty. Then I said to myself, wait for a second, is the train out of service? But it wasn’t and I was the lonely rider. I felt I owned the subway car because it was quiet and it was just me. How weird is to ride alone a NYC subway car! But then I noticed something, I realized I was the only person in the subway car because the AC wasn’t on. Frankly, I didn’t pay attention to the AC. I had many stops to go before my final stop so I was able to see at every stop people’s reaction. Most of the people that left the car were young and even a family with children that got inside the subway car stood inside the car and then left on the next stop to the next car with AC. Now, I understand if you have children. Then I thought again, how the body conquers you and it can manipulate you through its Fight or Flight survival mode. Can we change this? Yes, It can be done once we step out our comfort zone. If we look only at the physicality of the body, the body can sustain different hardships. For instance, a human being can go for days without water and food. The brain is wired to do this; however, once you put a conditional habit in the brain that you have to eat 3 meals a day, then you just rewire a natural condition. It will take time to rewire this condition but it is possible. Our bodies can also sustain high and low temperatures. We are naturally wire to cool our bodies when it is hot and keep the body warm when is cold. And we can do this with minimal clothes even in the cold weather.
Gradually in certain aspects, we are becoming a comfort society. For instance, we have created comfort to the body. This comfort of the body is a conditional habit that creates health problems because the immune system gets weak. The body is a powerful machine that you can utilize and if you do it well, it can do wonders for you. The body is just a mechanism that needs a tune-up and we can begin riding it at full speed. If you ride it at full speed, you can be sitting calmly in a subway car without AC in the summer and you will notice how your body adapts to different changes. The more you expose the body outdoors, the stronger it gets. One of the benefits when practicing Yoga is that it boosts your immune system, increases your energy level, and it allows you to adapt to any environmental change effortlessly. In Tibetan Buddhism Yoga, Tummo is a practice that prepares the body to withstand extreme weather conditions either in freezing cold or hot. Wim Hof known as the Iceman is well known for dipping himself under ice for long periods with minimal clothes. I took the Wim Hof method when I was in my early stages of my self-transformation and I was just shocked to see what my body can do. I trained in the winter and after several weeks of preparation, I exposed my body in the snow, swam in the Hudson River - Manhattan (New York City) under freezing cold conditions, and then sat there doing meditation only with my swim shorts. I was fine afterward and never got sick. Practicing Tummo served me well when I meditated in shorts and swam in the Himalayas during winter. The cold weather has a tremendous positive impact on your neurological and energy system. Outside Yoga, there are other practices like Shinrin-Yoku or Nature Therapy created in Japan that helps you reverse your immune system. The more you expose yourself outdoors especially in nature, the stronger your body will become. But it is not only the exposure of being active outdoors but the activity of the body. It is in our DNA that the body is wire to be fully active doing all range of activities. These activities will have a tremendous impact on your chemical system, especially your nervous system. Maybe instead of ordering food through Instacart you can go to the Supermarket and enjoy buying your food. If you work in an office, you can begin minimizing the time you spend sitting working on your computer and you can work while standing. There are many ways you can become fully active. The body just needs to get used to a new way of doing activities and with patience, you will see your body’s transformation. I always tell people, the way you sit is how your mind functions. Just like the outer world is a reflection of your internal mechanism, your posture is a reflection of your current state of mind.
So, be fully active and joyful in any situation. When you begin to operate at a high vibration, you are vibrant and pleasant and you will see changes in your neurological structure and entire body system. I truly believe we all have a Formula 1 Machine that we haven’t explore yet. Sadhguru says: "This body is a machine that gets better with use." Don’t run it at 25 mph but run it a full speed. So next time, you are in an uncomfortable situation and the body wants to withdraw and be in survival mode, stay in there and don’t run. When you say “Not this time, I’m staying here” it is then when you are becoming the driver and not the passenger. We inherited the Fight or Flight survival mode and it is possible to keep it under control. The body should not decide for you but now you should be the master of your body. The body is your servant and you are the master. Just like the mind should be your servant. When you become the master, you are no longer under the comfort of fear (Fight or Flight Response) and hiding.
Be a full flesh human being and find your inner potential. It is there just poke at it, and you will see the wonderful things that flourish.