Before going away on my much-anticipated holiday to Bali, I made the radical decision to disconnect myself from the digital world - my iPhone, tablet and mac book, items to which I am conjoined, were left behind at home. I was about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime and I wanted to create memories, live life to the full and be wholly present in the company of my husband, without the constant bombardment and notifications, noise and background babble of our digital world. The result?
I had the most memorable and magical time, I felt completely alive, peaceful and calm without the distractions and constant stream of information. I snapped pictures on a disposable camera and because of its 27 photo limitation, I was careful and considerate about what I photographed. Instead of taking endless selfies at arm's length, I looked outward, and photographed beautiful temples and magical sunsets. After ditching my Facebook account over a year ago, I didn't feel the pressure and obsess on this particular holiday over how envious I could make my friends back at home with my photo uploads and catchy statuses. I returned to work this week - despite the rain in London - feeling refreshed, energised and fulfilled. On holiday, I felt primal: I let my hair dry naturally and enjoyed the freedom from my usual daily GHD hair singeing routine; I rarely applied make up; enjoyed meaningful conversations with my husband and I spent time meditating on my future. However, returning to the daily grind, is it possible that this kind of primal existence can be transferred to our everyday lives?
In Emma Woolf's ground breaking, spectacular new book, Positively Primal, she offers practical advice and guidance on how to live a greener, slower, purer lifestyle. Going 'primal' is a way of life stripped from technology and manufactured additives: it's not about rules, diets or a programme to resentfully abide by but returning to a natural child like state where we live by our innate impulses, in sync with our bodies and guts and living a more uncomplicated, simplistic lifestyle.
Does our world of constant connection, instant gratification, with an abundance of choice and information available at just a click away leave us feeling content and satisfied with our lives? I don't think so - it seems as if we're more depressed, stressed and disconnected than ever before. The more time we spend looking at our screens, the less appreciative, productive and loved we feel. Whenever I come away from the internet, I feel empty and wanting, comparing my life against then highlight reels of my friend's social media accounts and filling my shopping basket with items I do not need. Emma encourages us to take a break in our routines, to wake up and spend more time gazing out of the window, appreciating the small things, making conversations, shopping locally, cooking real food, spending quality time with friends and creating space to invent and play. This insightful new book is backed up by research, and science that elevates it beyond the classification of just-another-self-help-manual. Woolf has once again proved herself to be a well read, incredibly intelligent and wise author and sociologist. Self-help books sometimes lean towards a set of rules and plans with promises to transform our lives with a handful of comforting platitudes and inspirational quotes to make us feel good. Instead Emma presents a challenge - what if we made real, human contact a priority over digital distraction and virtual reality, what if we lived a more human friendly existence in relationship with the natural world around us? What would be the lasting impact on our lives?
This book made me question the food I eat or don't eat; rediscover my body; evaluate my relationships with others and more importantly the relationship I have with myself. It was far more than a nice book which is quickly forgotten the moment you put it down, Emma's words of wisdom has planted seeds of change in my life. Living primal is not a quick fix, detox or diet plan, it's a lifestyle, and long term commitment, Positively Primal is a journey.
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