I Lived in the Amazon Jungle For a Month: This is What I Learned
By Dr. Chad Walding, DPT
September 9th, 2019
This time last year I was in the heart of the Amazon jungle living with The Yawanawa Indians. For over a month I lived in a community that had absolutely no connection to the outside world. Wifi does not reach to where these people live.
I’ve always been fascinated with ancestral health. I’m interested in what they ate, how they moved, and how they lived. The more I go down this path the more I seem to discover about myself. I felt called to learn from people living in a more native way.
During my time there… I received many lessons about community, leadership, and my own personal mission in this lifetime.
As I went through a very sacred rite of passage… I found myself becoming a student to the tribe, their elders, and their way of life. I’m still unpacking everything a year later and likely will be for the rest of my life.
But as I look back… I think the best teachings I received came from the children.
I first noticed how well they moved. The physical therapist in me couldn’t help but applaud the perfect positions and movement patterns when they walked, bent over, squatted, pressed, pulled, or carried something.
I saw children holding other children in their arms. I saw an 8 year old boy climb a 100 foot tree. I saw them stacking heavy loads over their head and walking barefoot,
But as I looked closer I realized I wasn’t just seeing good human movement. I was watching children TAKING RESPONSIBILITY.
You see, in a tribe everyone has to work together. Things aren’t done for you. You have to do things for yourself… and the children pick this up at a very early age.
If you don’t want jungle bugs to bite you… you need to rake the leaves away from your hut.
If you want some berries… go climb the tree.
If you’re hungry… go hunting.
If you’re cold… make a fire.
Wash your clothes. Clean your hut. Chop wood. Carry water.
I noticed them doing these very simple tasks with smiles on their faces. They were working together… sharing, laughing, and high fiving each other. They played with long sticks in the river and sang songs while preparing dinner.
Not once did I hear a child cry with a temper tantrum. Not once did I see them fighting each other. No once did I hear them complain about doing something that needed to be done. They simply did the thing with joy and enthusiasm.
As I watched these children… I was also looking at what happens when children brought up in this environment become adults...
The men in the tribe we’re incredibly brave. I saw three of them go hunting in the raining jungle with nothing more than a shotgun, machete, and a flashlight. They returned the next morning with food for everyone. They spoke with courage and authenticity.
The women would dance and sing with a tone that seemed to pierce through space. I cried so many tears of gratitude listening to their songs around a campfire. So many stories were told. And with each story, and with each song…
I discovered more and more about myself.
I come from modern culture. We have radical advancements in technology. We have industry. We have nations, states, cities, tall buildings, concrete, billboards and football teams. We’re constantly bombarded by consumerism through television, social media, email, pings, and notifications.
We sit behind desks, eat fast food, drink soda, take medications, turn on fluorescent lights, watch flat-screen TVs, and look down to smartphones that can tell us anything that’s ever happened (and been recorded) throughout human history in a matter of seconds.
This type of progress has its positives. But it can also have a negative impact on our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well being...
We hurt in our neck, shoulders, back, hips, and knees because of all the sitting and poor positions we put ourselves in. We’ve literally forgotten how to move.
We eat lots of sugar, toxic fats, and artificial ingredients. We get inflamed. We take pills. We die of diseases of civilizations with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer's and neurological disorders.
We struggle to lose weight, overcome health challenges, and find happiness. More and more people are hurting emotionally as the suicide rate continues to climb.
We’re not only killing off others species… we’re killing off each other with violence, mass shootings, and wars. Our outer pollution is nothing more than a reflection of our inner pollution.
In many ways we’re a culture that has lost its way. Some are saying we’re on the brink of extinction.
I get it… but I believe in perspective and choice.
The thing is...You can see a world where the sky is falling. You can blame other people and situations for what’s happening to you. You can keep complaining and not really have to do anything. That’s fine IF THAT IS what you want to do.
Or…You can take some responsibility… and in doing so create a better life for yourself, your family, your community, and ultimately the world around you. We’re really just one big community trying to figure this thing out.
To me… responsibility begins with getting clear on my intention. This the direction you want to take your life. Get clear on your values. Align your values with all your thoughts, words, and actions. This is taking responsibility for your personal space.
Next…You can take responsibility for your health. No one can put healthy whole food in your mouth. No one can pour clean water down your throat… only you can do that.
Get outside. Gently expose yourself to the sun. Move your body daily. Go to bed at a good time and practice good sleep hygiene. Take deep calm breaths and get your body in a relaxed state. This is the foundation of your health. YOUR BODY is yours to care for.
Take a look at the story your in your head. Pay attention to what you keep telling yourself. Notice how your mind has been conditioned by everything that’s ever happened to you… and everything you’ve ever been told.
Examine the thoughts you habitually think. Pay attention to the emotions you habitually feel. What’s the impact of these? Where do they come from? Are they thoughts and emotions you would choose to have? Does anything in your life need to change? This is taking responsibility for WHO YOU ACTUALLY ARE!
Consider you only have your perspective… and others have their perspective. What is true for you may not be true for another. Ask someone about their perspective. Be interested (and make them feel interested) in what they have to say.
Help others feel better. Lift them up. Do not put them down with shame, judgments, and comparison. See them as a brighter possibility. This is taking responsibility for your relationships. It makes the tribe stronger!
Responsibility takes you out of a victim identity. It allows you to take control and be a creator in your own life.
There is a direct relationship between RESPONSIBILITY and POWER. If you’re struggling somewhere in your life take a look at responsibility. The more responsible you are the more personal power you will have. Personal power is really the currency we’re all looking for.
Imagine a world full of responsible people for a moment… and before the voice in your head says “wouldn’t that be nice”.… remember the creation of this world actually STARTS WITH YOU.
RIGHT HERE. RIGHT NOW.
So…Make your bed. Drink water first thing in the morning. Journal. Chew your food. Go for a walk. Smile at the sun and hug somebody.
Be a person of integrity and hold yourself accountable. Do what it is you say you’re going to do. When you make a mistake… take responsibility for it. Be courageous in fearful moments and do the thing anyway!
Be gentle with yourself and remember you’re only doing the best you can. You always have been and always will be. This is a step by step process and we’re all just remembering who it is that we really are.
In our modern culture… there is a harmony we can find through ancestral wisdom and technology.
I believe there is a path that is calling us… it’s the ONE PATH that has been calling humanity for thousands of years.
It leads to a quantum leap in our own evolution. It is the next step.
It is a path we can walk together.
Our goal here at NativePath is to get you back to vibrant health and feeling your absolute best. If you would like to learn how to reconnect with natural ways of eating, moving and living - ultimately, helping you find YOUR native path to whole body health, then check out Native Body Reset, our Lifestyle Transformation Program for Whole Body Health Program!