A Review of The Primal Connection

You can find Jason Seib, author of this post, here on Facebook and also over at EPLifeFit!

I’m a little behind the times on this one, but no less excited to tell you about it.  Mark Sisson’s new book, The Primal Connection, is everything I hoped it would be and everything we have come to expect from one of our valiant leaders. This book really got me thinking, and I will certainly read it again.  It’s not a diet and exercise book, but instead it’s a big-picture look at all the other ways in which our modern world contradicts what our bodies understand about life and how to live it.  I must say, this book desperately needed to be written because it is human nature to refine our point of view repeatedly until it is far too narrow and we end up saying things like, “just exercise more to get healthy.”  Or even, “just eat paleo to get healthy.”  In reality, the fast track to peak health, and therefore an amazing body, can best be reached by truly understanding ALL of the inputs that affect our health, rather than trying to find a magic bullet answer that will give us the results we want.  Maybe even more importantly, The Primal Connection also peers deeply into our psychological health and well being by examining how our behaviors and routines affect the biochemistry behind our happiness, or lack thereof.  If you are perpetually unhappy in this mixed up world, it may be hard to accomplish any kind of goal aimed at improving yourself.

This enlightening tour of our own needs is broken into sections titled The Inner Dialogue Connection, The Body Connection, The Nature Connection, The Daily Rhythm Connection, The Social Connection, and The Play Connection.

the primal connection

The Inner Dialogue Connection is where we learn how to sidestep the ridiculous stream of negative chatter most of us have playing in the our minds in every waking moment of our lives.  To help remove this clutter, Sisson gives us The 10 Habits of Highly Successful Hunter-Gatherers.  I must admit, when I read these tips I felt as if they were written just for me.  More than once I found myself stalling out and staring off into space as I was forced to come to terms with some of the silly behaviors I have allowed to stand between me and more happiness.  I definitely had multiple “Duh! Why haven’t I figured this out before??” moments in this section.

In The Body Connection, we learn how our bodies were intended to be used, not in an exercise sense, but in the things we are always doing.  It all seems so perfectly logical after reading this book, but it’s funny how easy it is to overlook the negative effects of sitting in chairs and always wearing shoes, and it’s interesting that so many of us believe we can fix these things with an hour in the gym every couple of days.  This section opened my eyes to some simple methods to begin reversing a lifetime of bad habits in the daily use of my body.

The Nature Connection spoke to my soul.  It made me want to get outside more often, even in the lousy weather of winter in the Northwest US.  Sisson presents some compelling evidence and observations in support of our need to be in touch with nature.  I think it’s easy to let our man-made bubbles encase us a little too tightly, and it is nice to be reminded that we are part of nature and need regular reconnect opportunities if we are to thrive.  I especially appreciated his advice on how to really sense the world around us when we are in nature.  I imagine I am like most people in that I zone out a little too much when I hike and I should be soaking it all in before returning to my zoo animal life.

The Daily Rhythm Connection discusses the importance of the the cyclic aspects of our lives, like the sun and sleep, but it also addresses our tendency to get lost in multitasking and useless information overload.  I do not know a single person who does not need to read this section.  We all seem to be moving really fast, yet accomplishing little, and most of what we are accomplishing contributes nothing to our happiness and well being.  Here, Mr. Sisson forces these realizations upon us and challenges us to make some very logical corrections.

The Social Connection made me realize how far we have drifted from the lifestyle that developed our social nature.  Tribal life, and the relationships it created, was very different from the way we live today, yet we still posses the same needs that were so beneficial to us all those generations ago.  Whereas we used to begin and end each day in a large group of mostly immediate and extended family, we now can pass through our entire lives with very little personal contact with people we truly care about and who truly care about us.  Sisson gives us some excellent advice on how to close the gaps that may surround us.

Finally, in The Play Connection we are reminded that we learn and sharpen so much of what makes us human when we play.  Nearly everyone is guilty of only engaging in any form of play when there is some sort of outcome to which we can become attached, like scores, times, and personal records.  For me, I felt like this section gave me license to lose myself in play a little more by reminding me that it’s good for my body and my mind.  Of the many things this book taught me, this one is near the top of my list.  I don’t want to look back on my life from my death bed and see that I was always to busy to play.  For those of us who have forgotten how, we are offered some great ideas.

In summary, I’d like to point out that I  think you need to read this book, but you also need to give it a chance to really soak in.  Don’t blast through it without taking time to ruminate on each section and how it might apply to your life.  More than once I found that I could have easily overlooked a real gem of information by assuming it didn’t apply to me and moving on without any introspection.  I honestly believe that The Primal Connection contains accurate instructions for being happier, even if you are already happy.  Read it, apply it, and then let me know what you think on my Facebook page.

Go forth and be awesome.

Comments

  1. says

    I ordered this book when it came out on pre release so I’ve had it for a couple of weeks now. I started reading it and then thought I’d better read The Primal Blueprint first just to get a better understanding of Mark’s stance on nutrition and exercise, even though I have spent countless hours on this website.

    Anyway I got through that book and now am back to reading The Primal Connection. As you mention Jason I’m letting what is written in this book soak in so I’m not rushing through it. I think it’s so important to realise that this Paleo/Primal or whatever you want to call it life that people in this community of ours are leading is not just about the food and the exercise but rather a WHOLE lifestyle approach. I’m so pleased that this book was written as is allows us to look beyond the (as I mentioned) exercise and nutrition to really understand all aspects of our life.

    Thanks for the great review Jason!

  2. Jim Thrower says

    I’m about half way through this book and reading a little at a time so I have time to relate the ideas to my personal life. I’ve been on a health journey for three and a half years starting with Atkins when I was weighing 280 pounds. As I was adding grains and legumes back into my diet I realized I no longer enjoyed them and my body didn’t either. Then I heard about paleo. I realized in many ways I was already eating that way and decided to look into the lifestyle further. I read Robb Wolf but could not relate to his style. I then found Mark Sisson, now that was a style and author I could get behind. I have been following the Primal Blueprint and listening to several podcast (Underground Wellness and a couple paleo ). I think I can easily adapt “The Primal Connection” to my lifestyle with practice. With the changes over the last few years with diet and health came a lot of natural inner change… but I still have a way to go. My biggest hurdle is exercise. Never was one to do a lot. I was doing well the summer of 2011 and really saw results (185 pounds and better muscle tone) but with my winter work schedule and probably doing to much exercise (1 1/2 hours a night plus a 30 minute dog walk), I quickly burnt out and slowly stopped. The result was quick loss of everything I had worked toward and a ten pound gain. The “Primal Connection” has me to rethinking my laziness and has motivated me again. Been listening to the “Everyday Paleo” podcast and thinking I should join this site and maybe get proper instruction for my workouts and possibly get results without the burnout. I really like what I’m hearing on this podcast (the idea that health is the first goal…then the pretty body). I hope to continue to use it and Sisson’s ideas to more forward in my healthy lifestyle. At 56 years old with a bad shoulder and two bad knees I do have to adapt exercises, but this lifestyle has already resulted is a lot of relieve for both those issues. I doubt I’ll ever be ripped but descent muscle tone, more strength, good health and a happy outlook is more than enough at this stage in my life . I’m only glad there are people out there sharing their knowledge..it has completely changed my life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *