Relearn to Trust Instincts | Brian MacKenzie

Issue #18


It’s no secret that how we live today drastically differs from how our ancestors did. Our inventions and technologies have enabled us to do so much more with less effort. But has this come at a cost? Are our instinctual reactions no longer reliable or trustworthy? 

Our instincts are hard-wired into us for survival purposes. They are usually internal alarm systems warning us of danger or telling us when to rest or stop doing something. Metabolism and our physiology evolved our minds to listen to the underpinnings of our senses. Unfortunately, due to the convenience of technology, we have dulled our senses and lost touch with their natural, instinctual responses. For example, when artificial light was invented, it allowed people to stay awake longer than they should’ve been able to in a natural environment. As a result, people now sleep less than they used to and work more because they don’t naturally feel tired when they should be resting their bodies.

The same holds with physical activity; since machines do most of the work for us these days, our bodies aren’t moving as much as they used to. We rely on the convenience of technology and comfort over physical activity, leading us further away from understanding our instincts and needs for rest and movement. To get back in touch with ourselves and our intuition, we must learn to practice in terms of training and how our minds interact with our bodies. Having a breath practice teaches us how to slow down by learning how to respond rather than react in moments of stress or distraction, knowing when it’s time for rest or when it’s time for action – all based on what our body is telling us rather than what is convenient for the mind at any given moment.

Breathing is fundamental to everything we do – breathwork helps to quieten the mind so that we can listen more intently to our body’s signals without being swayed by our illusive reactions and distractions around us. In addition, taking slower, controlled breaths can help ground you in the present moment so that you can make conscious decisions based on what your body needs rather than what your mind wants at that particular moment.

Humans have been disconnected from our essential instinctual reactions due to the convenience and comfort of technological advancements over many years. We have reverse anthropomorphized ourselves to the idea that we operate similarly to computers and aren’t efficient enough or lack something due to our inability to function like them. There is nothing wrong with us; the only mistakes we make are those we repeat towards this dogma. This has become systemic through our continued frustration towards entitlement and getting what we want now. “I deserve this. I’m in a rush; get out of my way. I’m busy.”… We are a predictive biological multicellular organism that science will never replicate. Because of this, we continue to be persuaded that technology can do it for us. We are far more than how we’ve behaved towards ourselves; no protocol or amount of research can be done to walk us through the pain we seem to be in.

To bring ourselves back into alignment with ourselves again, we must take charge through practice and learning how to respond rather than react in moments of stress or distraction while listening intently to what our body is communicating instead of giving into illusive reactions driven by illusive poetic stories from the mind. Then, with consistent practice, we can start trusting ourselves again and recognizing patterns associated with certain behaviors, leading us back toward trusting our instincts again!

The moral of all this is to trust nobody who is reactive, even yourself!


brian mackenzie

Brian Mackenzie is an innovator in human performance on stress adaptation and a pioneer in the development and application of custom protocols to optimize human health and performance. His clients and work have included: Ari Emanuel, William Morris Endeavor, Sheppard Mullin, Deloitte, Google, Tim Ferriss, U.S. Military (Navy, Army, Marines), Canadian Military (CANSOF), San Quentin State Prison, The UFC Performance Institute, Altis, Jon “Bones” Jones, Laird Hamilton, Tia Clair Toomey (3X CrossFit Games Champion), Rich Froning Jr. (4X CrossFit Games Champion) and many others.


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