If you’ve been feeling groggy but can’t put a finger on the cause of it, the answer might be more unexpected than you think. Sometimes the substitutes you buy to make your life easier end up draining you. A simple way to find the culprit is to run your routine through a filter and flag anything that isn’t following the RAP (Replication of Ancestral Practices) principle.
Now, what do I mean by substitutes? This could be any tool, environment, or so-called element we interact with during our routine. The blender for your morning smoothie, the blasted air conditioner in July, your drinking water, and probably your house and workspace. If you’re thinking these are necessities, not substitutes, consider what is being replaced by these parts of your life and how they could be dragging down your energy and mood.
What the RAP Principle Is
Think about it simply like this— if your ancient ancestors didn’t have it in their lives, it may be something that is jarring your biology and making you feel unwell. The RAP principle means replacing artificial substitutes with natural ones so that you can be connected to, and energized by, the power of nature. This mimics ancestral practices, that were shaped only by what the earth provided, without the man-made advances we know today.
Putting technologies like phones and computers aside, which can certainly take a toll, there are some subtle but stifling substitutes ragging on us. If you are feeling generally down but don’t know why, try living a week or two with the RAP principle and take note of differences in your energy and mental acuity.
Adulthood Requires Us To Be Proactive
Turning to Ancestral Practices can be grounding and a way to gently pull yourself out of any ruts you may face. However, it would be wise to employ the RAP principle as a preemptive measure to protect your energy before it gets low.
Earth and its elements are designed to sustain and give you life. Throughout history, the title “Mother Earth” circulated. Many traditional family roles held mothers as the providers of all the things that made you feel better. A comforting hug, a fresh snack, a healer for your wounds, and the one ensuring you had enough sleep.
As an adult, as you take care of yourself and the ones you love, is there anyone left to take care of you when you are drained or hurt? If your partner or best friend is experiencing the same challenges, they can’t pour from an empty cup to comfort you as often as may need.
At times when you have to take care of yourself, the planet offers us many resources for healing and energizing. You too are a part of nature and likely benefit when adhering to its guidance. Turn to natural resources and processes—seasons, day and night, and the ebb and flow of the elements around you—to give you a break from the grogginess caused by artificial environments.
“I Want To Feel Better Than This!”
Today you’re opening yourself to the awareness that our lives have gotten way too artificial. From birth, our minds have been conditioned to consider these substituted tools as the normal, best, fastest, or only way to go through life. As a result, especially in western societies, the general mood has dropped while fatigue and disconnectedness have risen.
Today, you know the air conditioner blows when it’s hot and the lights turn on when you flip a switch. However, fluorescent lights and air conditioning are far from helping you feel charged up. Think about the way you feel sitting in a cold, stuffy room without windows—and recall how you felt the last time you had a picnic or swam. Those environments give off very different charges.
It’s time for you to draw the line and face that you want to feel better! Daylight replaced by lightbulbs, a cool breeze replaced by AC, grass replaced by turf, plants replaced by… fake plants. Almost everything you touch, consume, or are surrounded by is artificially man-made, and you’ve been mentally desensitized to it. Biological evolution, however, takes millennia to occur, and your body hasn’t caught up with this overload of faux experiences.
The Two Most Important Ingredients: Sleep and Water
Research on sleep disruption, which is more common than ever, explains how important your circadian rhythm is for quality sleep to fuel your every move. How well you treat your biological clock can positively or negatively affect your brain, behavior, energy, mood, insulin intake, dietary choices, and even your tissues.
One large factor shifting and disrupting your circadian rhythm is your exposure to artificial light at night and in the evening. A study of the effects on sleep of light exposure at different durations, wavelengths, and times of the day, found that most subjects—even ones considered young and healthy—had their melatonin (the chemical that tells your body to prepare for sleep) suppressed, their circadian rhythm altered, and experienced chronic sleep deprivation. It exemplifies how sensitive your body really is to even small amounts of light like your phone screen or the streetlight outside your window.
Secondly, research on nutrient make-up in your water—the element that enables all of your restorative functions to occur—raises a red flag on your nutrient-deficient drinking water. Even water filtration, designed to protect you from harmful particles, unfortunately, removes good earthly parts that you need from the planet.
Most measures to ensure drinking water is safe only state how much of the unhealthy parts have to be removed. It is also vital to pay attention to how much of the healthy parts are left behind. I’m not advising you to drink water from the creek behind your house, but consider what your ancestors consumed versus bottled water or the filters on your tap and fridge—and maybe do some research on your watershed as every area is different.
Take Your Earth-Intake Seriously
If you want to reverse the effects of our man-made lives, set an intention to include more of the earth’s ingredients in your life than what you’re given by the store. Opt for fresh air and open windows or a nice warm fire instead. Even glass, which is made of sand, carries more of the earth in it than plastic does.
Make it a game with your family to see what you can replace in your home or everyday consumption that would make you feel more alive. Swap candles and air fresheners for fresh or dried eucalyptus or lavender, which serve as a beautiful decoration, last a long time, and give a natural scent to your home.
During my college years, my professor for an Urban Sustainability class gave us an assignment wherein we had to go 24 hours without any electric or pollutant consumption. We had to live a whole day with no phone, lights, running water, or batteries and we couldn’t even use charcoal to grill, because of the toxic air they put off.
A friend and I opted to complete it together in hopes of having a more successful (and fun) day with two minds put together. Was it difficult and extreme? It felt like it. But it also gave me this visceral sense of relaxation. The break from my electronic devices and silenced pings of email or social media allowed my nervous system to come back into its natural parasympathetic, healthy state.
Surprisingly, it also gave me a new lens on boredom—which can be good for you to recharge. True boredom doesn’t exist anymore, since every time we’re in line at a cafe, we get on our phones. This exercise brought my attention to how often my mind thinks about getting on a device to occupy my time.
I felt refreshed being able to draw, ride my bike, stretch, observe and appreciate my surroundings, and play my ukulele with the new found spare time in this one day! Though I was a college student at that time, it raises the question that maybe we aren’t all as busy as we think.
If you’re thinking this can’t be the secret to getting rid of a foggy feeling, consider the science behind how beneficial natural interactions can be. Water and sleep are arguably two of the most important aspects shaken up by artificial ways of life. Many people have become aware of “earthing” and evidence showing that conductive contact with the earth’s crust fights inflammatory diseases, immune disorders, stress, fatigue, and all the things you’ve been looking to finally manage.
It’s true that earthly elements charge us, and artificial ones make us feel tired, stuffy, and just off. That’s because biologically, we aren’t all that different from our ancestors. Using the RAP principle to try and live more like them will lead you to a sense of fulfillment in the meal you just made and true peace in your earthly home.
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