Powerful and Gentle
Have you heard about primal diets? Primal exercise routines? Brands or experiences that embody the more fundamental components of the human existence? Look around you, they are everywhere. What’s driving this? We don’t want to return to caves, in a time before electricity and modern medicine, but there is a connection we are craving. A connection that has been minimized, and neglected. A connection with our biology. A connection with desires and impulses that has been deemed unacceptable in our society. These drives can be dangerous and lead to antisocial behavior, but if they are acknowledged and honored appropriately, they can help us to achieve a healthy balance we have lost.
Our bestial instincts and our ferocious energies have been condemned and quieted in the name of refined society. We rely on sophisticated organization in order to build civilizations and coexist, but we have abandoned an important part of our genetic constitution that cannot be ignored. We no longer need to run from predators or chase down prey, but the structures in our brains that were responsible for those activities remain present. The fight or flight response, and the stimuli in modern society that can trigger it, have been covered extensively. What about the other half of the equation? How does the energy, aggression, and virility required to hunt or attract a mate affect our lives today?
The methods that are regularly practiced to release excess energy from these pathways are often destructive. I know because I have tried a number of them. Excessive eating, excessive drinking, drugs, and physical or verbal violence are some of the big ones. How many people do you know who drink frequently or abuse drugs? How often do you hear about college students destroying property or attacking women? How many men attack and harass women? How many men engage in physical altercations? This animalistic energy once served an evolutionary purpose, but now with the original methods of expression censured or obsolete, this energy is released in damaging and harmful ways.
What if we could release this energy constructively? What if we could acknowledge our wild and savage instincts within the confines of our organized social structure? This energy is incredibly powerful and, if channeled effectively, can motivate creativity and foster discipline. Accessible expression of this energy, and kind concern for other members of society are not mutually exclusive. We can be powerful and gentle. We can simultaneously respect the crazed beast inside of us and quiet it when it is socially necessary. Water can be a giant wave or a tranquil pond. If constructively directed, wild energy and aggression do not preclude kindness and courtesy.
What are some ways we can productively direct this energy? Exercising, dancing, drawing, writing, and even yelling (in the woods) are some that have worked for me. Particularly, when I discovered the power of exercise as a depressed and obese nineteen-year-old, it changed my life. Years later, I am still learning, but my commitment to strenuous physical movement has helped me to release aggression that was severely damaging my life and my relationships. Directing this energy taught me discipline that translated well to other endeavors. I learned how face daunting challenges and developed the strength to push against their resistance.
What had been damaging became constructive. Once I noticed it, the power of my innate fiery energy allowed me to tackle tasks I previously thought were impossible and form habits that have helped me to grow. I have been able to remedy some of the relationships I damaged, and build new stronger ones based on honest and open communication. When I began to learn how to direct and release some of my animalistic and bestial energy, I found myself a more kind and gentle member of society.