In this podcast, I invited my friend Geralyn, who is a psychotherapist, was so in love with Jean’s work, that she sought her ought and spent several years interviewing her and writing her biography (before Jean unfortunately passed).
I invited Geralyn onto the show to discuss Jean’s life-changing work, the principles behind attachment parenting, the Continuum Concept, and how to rear confident, loving children (and the potential consequences of not doing so).
Table of Contents
In this podcast, Geralyn and I discuss:
- The Continuum Concept – how attachment parenting instills confidence in children
- The power of holding and carrying your child
- Raising a child in a community wider than a nuclear family
- The differences between growing up in competitive modern culture and attachment parenting
- The importance of play for optimal health and energy
- How “missing experiences” from our time as a baby/child may lead to personality problems, and contribute to fatigue/illness later in life
Listen outside iTunes
Ari: Hey there, this is Ari. Welcome back to the Energy Blueprint podcast. I am very excited about today’s guest. It’s someone who I’ve been in communication with for many years now. She is someone that was very influential indirectly on my parenting, and the way I brought up my kids, by sharing a very important book with me, this book called the Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff. We are going to be talking all about that today because my guest Geralyn Gendreau just wrote a new book called Jungle Jean.
That’s going to be coming out soon and it’s all about chronicling this woman’s life, Jean Liedloff and the seminal work that she did in understanding what I consider to be optimal parenting of human children, so very excited about this.
I’m going to read you Geralyn’s bio, and then we’re going to jump in. She is a licensed psychotherapist since 1995. She’s playful, somewhat irreverent life coach who believes that one of the keys to happiness is being able to laugh at yourself. Geralyn’s approach to psychotherapy is grounded in the theories and insights of her mentor, Jean Liedloff who is the author of the Continuum Concept, that’s the book I just showed you.
Her greatest passion is spreading the word on the naturally good-humored child-rearing approach of our tribal ancestors. In her counseling work, she practices knowledge therapy assisting those who did not have a fully enriched infancy and childhood to understand the impact of missing experiences and gain the insight, self-knowledge, and courage to live a fully actualized life. By the way, her favorite brain hack is jumping out of an airplane. Welcome, Geralyn, it’s such a pleasure to connect with you in real-time.
Geralyn: It’s great to see you, Ari. I was in one of your first Blueprints, I think the second one. That was what? 2017?
Ari: Something like that, yes.
Geralyn: You blew my mind. There’s still– Your influence on my life was probably stronger than any other teachers since my 6th Grade English teacher, Mrs. Tennyson. Oh, well, there was also my philosophy professor in college. Thank you for your work, for what you do. I have artifacts all over my house. I still drink water first thing in the morning from your very first free video about hormesis?
Ari: It was probably something related to [crosstalk]
Geralyn: Entomophagy, yes It was entomophagy and hormesis and I’ve never forgotten those things. I do interval cycling. I have my solar sauna out in the garage. This is sunlight and sauna and you are the one that turned me on to that, it’s like my battery. I consider it my battery recharger, I go in there. It’s a little igloo. It’s so fun. Anyway, I just really admire and love you and appreciate the work you do in the world, big time and watching you raise your kids. Watching you raise your kids, on Facebook, it makes me giddy.
Why the Continuum Concept is important
Ari: Thank you so much my friend, I really appreciate that. The feeling is so mutual now that I’m reading your work. Let’s first talk about how you got into this. Why Jean Liedloff, why the Continuum Concept, what got you started in this world?
Geralyn: I think it has to track back to my hunger for what she discovered and articulated as our natural state, that human nature was designed to be cooperative and happy. We got derailed somewhere along the line and my interest in that state, it actually tracks back to a near-death experience I had in 1987. I was 29. My father had died the year before. It’s a long story, but essentially I went on a vision quest. It was at Point Reyes National Seashore, Kelham beach, and running around, I was training for my black belt in taekwondo and enjoying the sunshine, getting really hot and sweaty.
Before we were hiking five miles back to my car, I decided to run into the waves, grew up in Southern California, like going and diving into the waves is just natural. Sprint, dive, pool up, come out. Well, Northern California coast is very different than Southern California. Down here, we have the Santa Barbara islands down there, it just drops off the waves, pound the shore. I went headfirst into a wave, crushed C3 three fractured C2 and C4, went into a near-death experience at the end of that. That’s a whole long story. It was 20 minutes and I remember every minute of it in slow motion. From encountering God to my whole life, doing a backbend and me feeling the impact I had on people throughout my life that was profound and humbling. At the end of it, when I was laying on the beach, I was paralyzed for a while. Then my friend helped me start crawling, I crawled up. That’s a long story too, but I won’t go into it, we only have an hour.
At the end of it, when the feeling was returning to my body, I think my spinal cord wasn’t broken. It just had a severe shock. As it refound its networks, which who knows why it did that, I experienced being surrounded by love, just held like the whole universe was pulsing, breathing, liquid love. It was like, I called it for a long time– I taught yoga for a long time and I called it ocean of love yoga, because that’s what I knew is what we are at our core. It’s what I didn’t experience, It was the missing experience. If you want to talk about the big missing experience, it’s about being born into a universe that is nothing but love. How many people can do that? That set me on the– When I was laying there and I wasn’t paralyzed and I was breathing and I was certain that I was alive and I felt this from everywhere.
Suddenly, it occurred to me and I asked the question, why haven’t I ever felt like this before? This is what I truly am, why have I not? That set me on the quest that eventually led me to Jean. I went to graduate school shortly after that, went back to bartending and did graduate school at the same time, and got my marriage and family therapy degree, the master’s degree in counseling psych. At the end of that, I was like, “Okay.” This was ’91, the positive psychology movement hadn’t really caught on yet.
I spent three years studying neurosis and psychosis and I could name it all and recognize the symptoms, but I didn’t know much about healthy, happy people. I thought, okay, so I got the ABC’s of human messed up-ness. Where are the healthy people and how did they get that way? There was a couple other hops, Riane Eisler and somebody handed me that book Continuum Concept. I read Riane Eisler’s book The Chalice and the Blade which is all about early matriarchal cultures. I’d been working in a drug and alcohol treatment facility in San Francisco in the mission.
There was a parenting manual and I couldn’t follow this parenting manual. I was like, “What do you mean, she can’t carry her child around?” He’s a crack baby. He’s a mass. His nervous system needs to be calmed down. What do you mean? She can’t even lay down and take a nap with him that doesn’t make any sense to me. My body rejected this. I’m not a mom. Haven’t had kids, but I have a maternal instinct and it was hopping mad. I was like, “Not happening,” but I couldn’t, I would have lost my job so I quit. It was about that time that, I read Riane Eisler’s book and I was like, “Okay, what would the parenting manual look like back then?” Jokingly, I said to a friend, I need to find a time machine. She said, oh no, you don’t just read this. She handed me The Continuum Concept.
Ari: Oh, wow.
Geralyn: That’s how I got to see Jean and then spent 15 years of my life in a really interesting relationship with her. She was an interesting woman.
Ari: Now let’s jump to The Continuum Concept. What is this book all about? Let’s assume most of the listeners have never heard of this and have no idea of Jean’s work.
Geralyn: Jean, she was an upper West Side, Manhattan socialite. Her grandmother died and she left for Europe. She did the European tour and met this blonde-haired, blue-eyed Italian count at the party of the century on the grand canal in Venice. She’d heard of him and it was rumored that he’d been to the jungles of South America on a diamond tempting expedition and she didn’t know he was about to make another one but she found out, she convinced him to take her along. That was her first trip, deep into the rainforest of Venezuela. Back then, nobody had heard the term rainforest. It was the jungle, it was in 1951.
She then made one more expedition with the Italians and then three that she led herself. At the end of all that, she was back in New York and, hanging out with George Plimpton and, Jack Kerouac and all those people. Eventually, she wrote this book. She had to process what she’d seen. She wasn’t an anthropologist. She didn’t go to study them. She went there and lived with them. She lived among them and she had a genius mind. She was a very original thinker. She felt that not having gone to university is why she was able to see. When she got kicked out at Cornell or something, she said that was the end of the interference so that she could have an open mind and, and see what she saw and draw conclusions from witnessing rather than going in with a conclusion you’re trying to prove.
Anyway, The Continuum Concept is a theory derived from her experiences there. She would call them stone-age Indians. That’s not an appropriate term these days but she was like, “I have returned to the stone age.” This was the stone age. She saw a tribe of humans that raised their children, that reared, she’d hate that I said, raise, “You raise cattle. You rear children,” that their continuum is intact. They’re being raised the way mammal humans homo sapiens were raised over 7 million years of hominid evolution, they were held. Here’s the way I make the idea as clear as possible, a human infant unlike, let’s say, a horse is born basically, prematurely. There are heads that are big and pushing a baby out, I understand is quite an ordeal. With this big-headed thing and the head got big, the problem is we went upright, the pelvis shrinks. There’s not as much room down there. It was the babies that were born prematurely that survived. Evolution determined that we would become upright and, and therefore born very prematurely.
The human infant needs more, a colt comes out and within five minutes, he’s on his legs. That afternoon, he’s finding food and romping around. We need to be held close to the body. This is my metaphor. It’s not even a metaphor. Think about a marsupial. They’re upright, but they still squat. They have this pouch to put the baby in, so the baby is where it belongs, it’s not inside mommy’s body, but it’s outside mommy’s body and it knows it’s safe. It knows the universe is– It knows it’s wanted, it feels welcome. It doesn’t stress out because it’s always looking for the contact that its evolution, its continuum tells the baby it needs. That’s the continuum. It’s the biological evolutionary continuum of innate expectations. A human infant is born expecting this holding, expecting this closeness to the mother’s body.
That’s what allows its brain development to be optimal. All of those synapses and neural networks are forming around either being accepted and loved or being left alone in a crib. You get a different animal altogether. If you give the infant what its evolution, you can’t argue with evolution, sorry [chuckles] or you can, I think it’s a Byron Katie who says you can’t argue with reality– “You can argue with reality, but you’ll be wrong, but only 100% time.” It’s like that about evolution. You can argue with it, but evolution is going to win because it’s a power that your mind, your intellect can’t possibly, go up against with any success. Anyway. That’s the long answer to your question.
Ari: That appeals to me so much, because I’ve been studying natural health for pretty much my whole life. Since I was a little kid, it’s been my singular obsession. One of the big things that I created and something that– There are some people who share some– Definitely, there’s quite a number of people who share some overlap of philosophy that I do, but not many that are, I think, as hardcore about it and as deep about it, as I tend to be. That is really just understanding and committing to this understanding that human health is really just about aligning yourself, aligning your actions, your lifestyle, your environmental and lifestyle inputs, with what your biology needs as a result of evolution. This book, this concept, The Continuum Concept, and, and Jean’s philosophy of parenting that she’s developed as a result of observing these tribes is essentially the parenting equivalent of my health philosophy.
One thing I read recently, as I was diving into this was the definition of the continuum concept as the idea that in order to achieve optimal physical, mental, and emotional development, human beings, especially babies require the kind of experience to which our species adapted during the long process of our evolution. It’s a simple concept, but if you think about it, and if you think about, my realm of expertise, which is the health side of things, and you just examine, what exactly are the environmental and lifestyle inputs that humans need that human biology needs to thrive and function optimally, and you consider it that the modern environment in lifestyle is almost perfectly at odds with what we need.
We are getting almost everything wrong from artificial light blaring into our eyes at night disrupting circadian rhythm, which disrupts all kinds of neurotransmitters and hormones and mitochondrial function, staying up late to chronic psychological stress, to all these toxins in the environment, to being physically inactive, to eating processed junk food instead of whole unprocessed foods, on and on and on, to being secured in indoor climate-controlled environments instead of exposed to the elements, to have to move and hunt and gather our foods, to have to endure those physical stresses, and to have to also endure periods of food scarcity or food abundance, all of those things were built into our ancient lifestyle and we’re lacking all of those fundamental inputs that our biology actually requires as a result of millions of years of evolution.
It requires those inputs for not just optimal health but for normal health. This Philosophy seems basically just to be the parenting equivalent of everything I just explained. It is basically saying, the way modern parent there is, and our culture and our teachings around that, we’ve gotten things wrong. We are disconnected from what our evolutionary needs are. Do you agree with what I just explained there?
Geralyn: Totally, I’m vibrating with all of it. I want to say one thing about Jean’s work because it does apply to all of this. She had no intention of becoming a baby care expert she used to say, it’s just that’s what caught on. Her book is really about human nature and it’s really about our relationship with the natural world. There’s a lot of people are talking about this. Jean just happens to have had a voice that rang into the ears of parents around the world. The book’s been translated into 21 languages, so the message got out. Now, the interesting thing is people don’t really need to know what The Continuum Concept is. Some of them get totally into it but it still impacts their parenting. Jean’s book The Continuum Concept and her as a personality, in a sense, she wasn’t like a public figure like these days, there was no internet, but she was known and loved around the world.
I’ve lost my train of thought. What was the question, do I agree with that? It’s the same thing, really, what you’re saying, that you’re building it onto the– This is the social dimension of it, what Jean’s talking about. You’re very in the biological dimension, which feeds the psychology, impacts your psychology, which then impacts the sociology of the whole thing. It’s just this, I mean, we are such complex creatures and we have gotten it so wrong. It’s like, you couldn’t be more on the opposite ends of the spectrum. What we evolved, the optimal conditions under which we evolved, and the conditions under which we’re raising children now, we’re living now. We’re warring and loving and destroying and killing and being unjust and being full of love and kindness. There’s that everywhere too.
I think there’s a balance actually. I think it’s definitely like love kindness and compassion, it just doesn’t get the headlines. I think there is as much good in human nature, more good in human nature than bad. The bad has just had the megaphone for 2,000 years or whatever but our innate nature is joy and love. There’s so many stories in the book about how these people– One thing I want to say, we talked briefly about sleep. My sleep has profoundly changed since I did the Energy Blueprint system, I mean, profoundly. I’m so grateful for that.
I was post-menopausal and most of my friends are lucky to get five hours. I consistently get seven. It’s really, really good. The blue lights everywhere, I can’t, like what is the conspiracy against the circadian rhythms? I walk in the kitchen at the night. I actually drape that because the oven has a thing, this has a thing, there’s like four or five blue lights if I walk into the kitchen late at night. I throw the dishtowels over them like I cover them up if I walked through the living room and there’s a blue thing on the TV. I put the pillow in front of it because sometimes if I can’t sleep, I get up and walk and do deep breathing and get out of my mind. If you do that without covering those things, it’s just going to wake you up, but most people don’t know that. You turned me on to all that stuff. I have so much data in my head that was installed by Ari Whitten but then I diverged. [laughs]
Ari: Let’s, actually, real quick, I want to mention in my last house, I used to throw dishtowels over our dishwasher every night that had a blue light on it [laughs]. I know the feeling I haven’t heard of anybody else doing that until you just mentioned it.
Geralyn: Oh man, think they should invent a duct tape that will eliminate those lights and that would– That, now there’s a product. [chuckles]
Ari: You know, actually, someone has created that, believe it or not, there’s duct tape with little black dots and I put over little light sources like that. Let’s get specific about what it is, what are the fundamental distinctions between how we are currently rearing children and what Jean identified as optimal. I want to read this little quote, that’s one of my favorite quotes from her. She said, “A culture which requires people to live in a way for which their evolution has not prepared them, which does not fulfill their innate expectations and therefore pushes their adaptability beyond its limits is bound to damage their personalities”. We could say literally the exact same thing for health more broadly.
A culture and a lifestyle that has different norms than what the biology expects pushes their body, their cells beyond its adaptability, and therefore, instead of damage to their personalities, you get damage to cellular function and to the system-wide biological function that results in fatigue and disease in general. This is really, as you said, just the psychological and sociological dimension of the same concept, but what specifically are these mismatches between what our biology is expecting, based on our evolutionary past, and how that is mismatched between our modern lifestyle and child-rearing?
Geralyn: Let’s take what you’re talking about with the biology and just think about digestion and the immune system. When a human baby is in its right place, it comes out of the womb. It goes on mom’s belly, it pretty much doesn’t lose contact with mother or some other warm body until maybe it’s 18 or it crawls off on its own. Think about those first moments, the baby in its right place, immediately, first food is mother’s colostrum. This lays down the foundation for a healthy immune system. We have an epidemic of auto-immune diseases. You think maybe there’s a connection. I have three or I’ve had three, if you count eczema that comes very rarely, four. When I was born in 1957, I just aged myself, they thought sodium pentothal was a good labor drug, that’s truth serum. It’s a fast-acting anesthetic. They use it in euthanasia and they put that in my mom and it went into my bloodstream. I came out, couldn’t keep food down. I kept vomiting and probably because they were feeding me formula or whatever hospital food there was because there was a taboo on breastfeeding at that point. From the gate, I missed essential experiences. This is what we call missing experiences.
Everything in my body, just like my lungs were prepared to breathe air and my skin was prepared to respond to temperature changes, and my eyes were evolved to see a certain spectrum of light and not like what a Wolf sees or a dog even, but what a human needs to survive. If there’s disruptions at that age, there are developmental stages. When a baby is born and the mother has just been through this ordeal and she has surrendered and had to love and become bigger than she’s ever been before, because who goes through that kind of pain. She’s had to go out of her mind to access the maternal, whatever it is, the magic of women that they can give birth and not kill [laughs] not whatever their body’s getting ripped open. They have to forget who they are. I haven’t had a baby, but that’s my assumption.
Right after that, they see this little thing and there’s a flood of hormones and the mother, child bond forms right there. It’s like a magnet, when you plug in your Mac and it goes [makes a sound] and it makes this little noise, like that’s like the mother-infant bond and it needs to happen right then and there. Now, if it happens an hour later, then it won’t be as strong or it’ll have some faults in it. What if the baby is taken away and mom and dad go home and the baby doesn’t get to go home. There’s a whole sequence of events that don’t occur and it’s not– It’s in the first trimester that the arm bud pops out. If it doesn’t happen in the first trimester, it’s not going to happen in the second trimester because all of this is exquisitely timed. How we grow in utero and also our development once we come out is exquisitely timed and both mother and infant have this, they know the signals, they have this sophisticated set of signals. Little ones have these very sophisticated signals to say that I need something, I need something. Of course, mom has the same receptors to those signals so the child never goes without its needs and mom isn’t a slave to the child either because they just do it in the flow of life.
Baby care, baby, childbearing is not a separate thing for them. Even the fact that we objectify childbearing and objectify children, the fact that there’s been these missing experiences like the mother bond didn’t form the way evolution informed the child and the growing brain and eventually the psychology, it should have been. What could be the cornerstone, it’s laid like this. It’s a little wobbly and so throughout the life, you have a psychology that develops a mistaken impression of the self, like I can’t get what I need here. I can’t get what I need. I cannot get what I need. A personality found on, “I can’t get what I need and it’s not safe here,” is a very different personality from one that grows up like, “I’m right where I belong and it’s all seamless and these people around me are laughing all the time. I never go hungry and I’m next to this and I can hear the heartbeat so my heartbeat knows what a homo 1sapien heartbeat is supposed to be like.” They’re jostled around all the time. The mothers dance with the baby, its head doesn’t fall off so the baby’s energy gets discharged.
That’s one of the points that Jean made that I think was so beautiful. You know how moms tend to bounce their baby, especially, they bounce them and burp them? Well, babies can’t discharge their own energy. We all have an energy field and the baby is evolved to expect that, that energy is going to get discharged by mom’s body. Their batteries, their positivity whatever, the energy exchange of mom’s body keeps the baby’s energy moving. We put a baby in a crib or in the stroller and it sits there and maybe it’s bouncing in a stroller, but it’s laying there and it’s got all this energy and it’s trying to get the energy out. It’ll do whatever it needs to do, kick, whine, scream because it’s got more energy than it’s supposed to have. Its system is not designed to discharge its own energy because it didn’t have to for 7 million years of evolution.
Evolution doesn’t like duplication, doesn’t need duplication. That’s part of why the signals are there. It’s like “ [wails] I need this.” “Okay, good.” It’s like contact improv. If you’ve ever watched contact improv, really skilled contact dancers, it’s amazing. Their bodies merge. Mom might be weaving or smashing or whatever and the baby is just jostled around all the time and that’s part of how it learns. It’s absorbing all the time, “This is what my people do.” They did have a lot of laughter, the Yequana tribe. It was like the fun and laughter. That’s something I’ve been feeling it too. I remember in the Energy Blueprint system, there was a module about play. I remember hearing that then going, “Geez, I don’t play. What’s wrong with me? I don’t play, I can.” I used to play Frisbee on the beach. That was fun play but got out of the habit of that. Martial arts, wasn’t exactly play but it could get playful. I went to ecstatic dance for years because people would get into that. It was so much fun. That was the best adult play I’ve ever had. We haven’t had that with COVID for a long time.
Ari: I actually just went to a party like that yesterday.
Geralyn: Well, you’re down in Costa Rica where things are a little lighter.
Ari: We’re down in Costa Rica where there’s about 1/100th of that level of fear and hysteria around it. It’s basically normal and people function normally and people hug and have dance parties. I was there with my two kids basically, dancing until their bedtime and swinging them around on the dance floor, and handing them off to friends. I think that’s probably as close to as you can get to the kind of parenting that The Continuum Concept strives for.
Geralyn: You have a tribe around you. The nuclear family was a bad idea about as bad as the nuclear bomb, maybe worse. It’s just not a good idea. That’s another place where we diverged from evolution so strongly. That creates all kinds of stressors. A single parent raising a child, that’s insane. Alloparenting is how we evolved, like group parenting, there’s always somebody to hand the baby off to. The baby knows it’s safe all the time and the caring people around it are part of a family. They’re part of a tribe. They got each other’s backs all the time. I imagine there’s a lot more of that down there in Costa Rica. I spent time down there in Uvita, and some of them, I’ve gotten in attendance, so anyway.
Ari: Let’s talk about these missing experiences and specifically, what kind of personality features does it result in if someone is either brought up by parents who are giving them that constant warmth, constant physical touch, constant attentiveness, or just togetherness versus, the way Jean Liedloff describes is the in modern culture almost childbearing is you’re having this adversarial relationship with your child where you’re trying to force them to be apart from you to cry it out, to be in a crib alone, to be in a playpen with inanimate objects, to be separate from you or to be home with someone else, babysitter, nanny, whatever, while you’re at off at work, instead of that constant togetherness. What kind of personality traits or features do those missing experiences result in?
Geralyn: Look at all the neurotics around you and you’ll see the many different forms of adaptations. The individual will make an adaptation. It has to to survive. It’s like, “Okay, I’m not getting what I need, I am going to [ makes tweak sound].” It tweaks itself. This is all happening very unconsciously. The first two years of life, there’s no object constancy. The child is in the soup and it’s being conditioned to protect itself at some level.
Let’s take Jean for an example. She’s a pretty extreme case. She was born to a mother who never wanted to be a mother, an artist. She came out of the womb and at the time that she wasn’t given to her until a few minutes later, when she was cleaned up and wrapped in swaddling clothes or whatever, and handed to her mother and her mother said, “Take the disturbance away,” in Italian.
Jean’s thing was always that we want to feel welcome and worthy and she felt absolutely the opposite, she felt completely unwelcome. Now, that’s laid down in her psychology at a very, very deep level. Then there’s all kinds of other stories about the mother. It’s all in here. You really get to know Jean from her first moments to her last breath. She always had a, we came to call it, the blind spot.
When I first met her, we had lunch down at the– I met her in San Francisco at a talk in Pacific Heights. I tracked her down once I read the book and she happened to live in my backyard. I was living in San Francisco. I’d ride my bike over to Sausalito once I started assisting her. The first time we met at the Depot cafe, she looked at me and she used to call me darling or pussycat all the time.
She said, “Pussycat, there’s something I do to push people away. I don’t know what it is. I lose friendships. Gloria Steinem was a good friend and I must’ve done it to her because she doesn’t reach out. Just promise me you won’t go away. Just tell me what I’m doing. I want to understand what I’m doing. I help all these people. Nobody can seem to help me. How do I push people away?” This was a theme throughout our relationship. She tried to push me away all the time. It was a meanness like this. It would be like a cat would come out and scratch me and hiss. Then I’d go like, “You just did it.” She’d be like, “Don’t be an idiot or you’re being too sensitive.”
This blind spot we have, I think of it– The story of this is all in here, because Jean, I was able to help her see her blind spot at the end of her life. Only because I had been with really a shaman type who showed me mine through a process that’s described in the book. We all develop these, I call it the not-self. It’s like, whatever the adaptation, which becomes a strategy to handle stress and overwhelm, it becomes part of your personality. It’s that fish doesn’t know that it’s in water because it doesn’t know anything else. This is who we think we are. It’s really this damaged little thing has some way of defending itself when it feels threatened.
Jean’s was this tendency to defend herself with this push-away behavior whan I called it. In answer to your question, remind me your question? [laughs] What is it that happens when we get over this continuum? Did I lose you? No, you’re living in the third world, we are expecting little glitches.
Ari: Yes, indeed. Tell me about it. We’re still recording. We’re still on the same recording clip that we were on so we’ll just carry on.
Geralyn: I don’t remember where we were. Do you?
Ari: Yes, basically the personality differences that emerge-
Geralyn: Oh, right, Jeans.
Ari: -between kids who are parented in these two different ways, modern culture versus the continuum way.
Geralyn: Think about if you didn’t get this experience you were getting, the right experience when you were a child so that your immune system and everything is styled in the way it’s supposed to be, life is comfortable and there’s a lot of joy. It doesn’t mean there isn’t pain. I haven’t read anything from the book yet, and I want to, but let me finish the thought. In the absence of the right experience, there’s adaptations and all these different neurotic formulations of a human being’s psychology emerge. Some of that’s addiction, criminality, Jean wrote this beautiful article called Normal Neurotics Like Us.
We think this is normal. We think this under-functioning troubled, bored, angry, tired, unfulfilled, seeking happiness, we think that this is normal. We think that this is the human condition, we assume that this is the school that we’re in and yes, it is. The hope of all this is that with the adaptations there’s a biological evolutionary need that wants to be met so that’s to be comfortable in your skin. Bottom line, it’s like I’m comfortable in my skin, the world’s a safe place, I can feel my joy because that’s what I am and my innermost is this light and love and joy, but there’s always a cage around it so that it can’t be expressed.
Geralyn: We don’t just crawl up in a corner and say, “See, I didn’t get what I needed as a child, it’s not my fault that I’m so messed up and I can’t do this anyway or become a criminal.” These are the kinds of options we have in our world and you can see it all around you. This is as many different adaptations as there are humans walking the planet, some of them are more severely disturbed than others, some of them people live with, they numb out, they never notice, they don’t care they think this is life.
The beauty of the book and part of why I’m so passionate about it, is it actually if people read it, and it’s a compelling read, I have to say. I’ve been writing books for close to 20 years now for other people ghostwriting and editing, and this is the first book that I got to write and what an assignment to research this woman’s life, go into the jungles, in my mind’s eye, I didn’t travel down there, but to look at letters that she wrote in the ’50s and the letter that she wrote that finally led to her book contract and just to dig around in somebody’s life like that.
In the historical period, it was so much fun, but they lived in joyful good tear. When we develop optimally and when our brains are functioning and we’re not as sickly, we have energy, we have but let me read you this story, you will love this. Talk about seeing where the roots of energy depletion come from. There’s any number of them I could do but I particularly love this one.
It’s her first expedition. She’s with Enrico Middleton, the Italian, the aforementioned blond-haired, blue-eyed Italian count, and the financier of this expedition who’s a little fat man named [unintelligible 00:42:08] Orlando. They’re are three or four days into the trek upriver, they’re going to the Santa Mon territory. The Santa Mon is a tribe that Enrico was familiar with, not far from where the diamonds had been found in the past. This was before the rain forest got overrun with civilization and all the nightmare down there now.
Let’s see. Enrico recognized the passage ahead. He had traversed it before and he began to describe the challenge that lay ahead in detail. “We’ll have to climb over the steep granite wall next to our Pucci falls.” He said, “How steep.” Jean asked. “Quite.” Enrico replied, avoiding her eyes. “This is the passage he told me about.” They frowned nervously. “Yes.” Enrico replied. Then with a single slow nod of his head, “This is the one,” still avoiding Jean’s gaze, he went on. They place logs across the path of the canoe and haul it inch by inch. The sun is merciless, you could get heatstroke. He described the pain he’d experienced time and again when the canoe would slip into a crevice between boulders and pivot out of control, scraping his shins and ankles against the granite. Jean’s face remained stoic, that day looked horrified.
Fearing what lay ahead, the three of them spent several days bracing themselves for the hard work and pain that was sure to follow. They arrived at the waterfall full of dread and primed to suffer, already hating every moment of the Portage. They started off grim-faced dragging the canoe up the rocky slope. When the canoe swung sideways, the sheer weight of it would pin a member of the work party to a burning rock, while the others scrambled to move it off.
A quarter of the way up, all ankles were bleeding. By way of begging off for a bit, Jean jumped ahead to photograph the scene. She climbed up 10 yards and perched high on a rock, from that vantage point at a distance from the action, she noticed a curious fact, there, before her, was a group of men engaged in a single shared task. Two of them were tense, frowning, losing their tempers at everything and everyone cursing in the distinctive way of Tuscan men. The tarping guides on the other hand, were having a fine time of it. They were laughing at the unwieldy canoe and making a game of the battle with gravity and rock. Between pushes, they showed off their scrapes and bruises. When once again the canoe would wobble forward, pin one then the other of them underneath it, they responded with amusement rather than upset. The fellow who was held bareback against the scorching granite invariably laughed the loudest once he could breathe again.
All of the men were doing the same work, all were experiencing the same strain and pain, all were sweating in the blazing hot sun. There was no difference in their situations except one, Jean and the Italians had been conditioned by their culture to believe that such a combination of circumstances was at the very bottom of the scale of wellbeing. What’s more, they were quite unaware they had a choice, any other option as to how they could experience the situation.
The guides were equally unaware of their choice, these supposedly primitive people had also been conditioned to deal with their circumstances in a particular way. They knew what lay ahead but hadn’t spent the days before the trek wallowing in dread, quite the contrary. They approached the Portage in a perfectly merry mood. They seemed to revel in the camaraderie, each forward move of the canoe was viewed as a victory, a cause for celebration.
Their whole life, this was another thing from your course that I learned, I’ve mentioned it earlier, I didn’t go down that particular rabbit hole but about play. Everything they do is play, now I’m trying more and more– I heard something the other day I was listening to her name is Darcia, she’s one of the researchers, she wrote a book, I can’t think of her last name, Garcia, she wrote a book called The Evolved Nest. It is really drilled down, her research into what indigenous cultures around the world, hunter-gatherer tribes around the world, they have these common practices, common in all cultures and all parts of the world. The continuum correct parenting practices have been very well articulated by many different scientists.
I’m going to do a second edition of this that will be bigger, and hardback and hopefully published by some big, with a whole research session, looking at what science has now said to verify because when she talked about carrying the baby around all the time, because people were horrified to spoil the child that will not– Then, how am I going to go to work and all that kind of thing. Never buying the family bed, talk about controversy, all these stories about children being killed, because daddy rolls over. Well, if he’s dead drunk, maybe, but that’s not going to happen. All very fascinating.
Back to the play thing, I’ve been trying to. I noticed again, after I read that we need play as much as we need sleep. It’s the second thing we need the most is play and yet, when we have these neurotic fixations, it’s hard for us to get into a playful place. A person first needs to a, learn to recognize when their anxiety or something is coming up and connect it to the missing experiences that in itself takes a couple of weeks of real observation, people can do it. Then once they learn the signs and the bodily signals that are saying, you’re not getting what you need distress, distress, distress, that’s their infant sphere, still reacting to that trauma that’s laid down deep in the nervous system. You can’t really go down there and unwind the trauma, but you can find a more adaptive way of dealing with stress.
I talk to people about the deep breathing, that vagus nerve is calmed by humming. There’s all kinds of things you can do to self soothe that part of you that didn’t get what it needed. That’s still craving touch and love and acceptance so you’ve got to give it to yourself, because let’s face it, you can’t crawl back into the crib and do it right, so this need for play I was reminded the other day.
I’m just looking at how can I work this into my life, Mother’s Day was fun. I did it in a playful way, I got these really yummy chocolates, like the best ones you can get, dark chocolate, good chocolate truffles with actually soft centers. Anyway, so I got two of them, I got the one on the top and then I turned it, they’re beautiful black boxes with gold embossed Happy Mother’s Day. I got her two of them and put them top to bottom and wrap them together, and she’s like, “There are two here.” and I said, “Mom,” I said, “I gave you one box that you have to share with me and I know you’d want a box all to yourself, so you got two.” She just laughed and gave me this big hug and it was like make things play.
I’m trying to teach myself Canva. I’m not a digital native. I didn’t grow up with the phone in my hand. I remember when we first got answering machines, that’s how long I’ve been around so this is not natural to me, I struggle with technology, but I decided to make Canva fun I’m like, “Okay, just go in there play it’s like your crayons and just treat it like you’re having a craft day and go in there and play around.” Changes the experience entirely.
I don’t have to schedule playdates, with COVID it’s been hard to go out and do the things I love to do, play Frisbee, I mean my knees, I can’t quite play Frisbee on the beach anymore, but still those playful
things to build them into one’s life is another way to build your energy really. Then the other thing I’ll just– Do we have a few more minutes? Can I read you–
Ari: Yes. We have more time and I’ll mention quickly what I did for mother’s day yesterday.
Geralyn: Oh, I’d love to hear.
Ari: I took my wife surfing. She’s [unintelligible 00:50:21] She’s like maybe eight or 10 sessions into it. We had the best day of surfing ever.
Geralyn: Oh, that’s– What a memory, yes.
Ari: Then as I mentioned before, we went to a dance party.
Geralyn: That just sounds so delightful. I was hoping your kids would run in or you would bring them in to say hi when you were out and I saw the dog, but I didn’t see the family.
Ari: My son’s at school and my daughter’s napping right now.
Geralyn: How old is she, the little one?
Ari: She’s a year and eight months.
Geralyn: Well, I love seeing the photos of you and your family. They’re just beautiful. I lost my train of thought. What was I talking about? I don’t remember.
How our upbringing shapes our behavior
Ari: I have a question for you. This is something that happened personally that I’d be curious to get your input on. We have a guest house in my property here, and my wife had a friend who they’re from New York and they have a history of friendship. I invited them to stay in our [unintelligible 00:51:32] husband and their two kids who are the same age as my son, four and a half. I invited them to stay in our guest house and partly based on, “Hey, it would be great to have more community.” It’s my wife’s friend. She has a friend, my son would immediately have friends on the property but that was actually a big problem that I didn’t quite foresee, which was those two kids. They’re actually twins. We’re– Trying to think of the right words.
There was a constant pestering of my son. They constantly saw themselves in competition with my son. They took every opportunity to try to one-up him, tried to compete with them. It was almost like bullying but in the form of verbal abuse, like the constant unrelenting supply of verbal abuse and a total lack of empathy. For example, if my son fell and injured himself and was bleeding, instead of going over there to console him, they would take the opportunity to make fun of him, or when he was learning, when I was teaching him recently how to ride a bike and these two kids already knew how to ride a bike. They were constantly running into his face that they were better at riding a bike.
On the first day of him riding a bike, it’s got these two kids in his face, constantly telling him, “I don’t need my dad to help me get on my bike.” I could give you a hundred more examples. There’s a lot of manipulative lying behaviors. For example, they would, I witnessed it several times things like they would say to my son, “You’re stupid,” and my son would say back, “No, I’m not stupid.” Then they would yell to either their parents or me, “Matteo just called me stupid.”
Geralyn: Oh, wow.
Ari: They were manipulating him. They were [unintelligible 00:53:45] want him in trouble. My son was sitting there saying, like he didn’t even understand that it’s not in them at all to do that. He didn’t even understand what they were doing. He was sitting there trying to explain, “No, I didn’t call you stupid. I just, I wasn’t stupid. You must’ve misheard me.” He doesn’t–
Geralyn: Well, that’s beautiful. He can just explain himself.
Ari: He doesn’t even understand that another kid would lie to intentionally get him in trouble in that way. Anyway, my point is we really raised our son in this continuum way. He was on us 24/7. He’s been given so much love since he was a little kid. I really wonder whether these behaviors that I was observing in them in these two other kids is ties into this. It’s a lot of those competitive needs for bullying, constant need to one-up others, and need for external validation that you’re the best and need to put others down. Jean talks a lot about, it’s innate in us cooperation. I witnessed in these two kids was not a cooperative vibe. It was a very much antagonistic like I’m going to tear you down to build myself up. I’m wondering if you can comment on that dynamic.
Geralyn: I do want to be careful here because they don’t like to do any parents shaming. Most parents are doing the best they can and they don’t know. They just don’t know. This adversarial relationship between parent and child is set up in a culture that sees children as– The [unintelligible 00:55:30] there was no such thing as the terrible twos. There’s a certain individuation that comes at two years old, and the child pushes a bit here and there but for the [unintelligible 00:55:39] it was normal, it was expected that this would happen, and they made a joke of it. It’s like a little kid goes hits another little kid with a stick. He’s not strong enough to hurt him. It’s like that’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s a hunter-gatherer and this is a behavior.
I worked at a boys center for a while and these kids would just wrestle. Then we were trying to say, “No hands-on. No hands-on.” They’re mammals. These mammals play and part of how voice gets stronger is they– This is a maladaptive version of that. It’s based in deep so your son has a deep sense of himself. He’s secure. He knows who he is. He’s not been separated from his, like his natural power to stand up for himself. He doesn’t have to do it, manipulate it. He just goes, he’s like confused because nobody’s ever done this to him before, but so that’s his signal.
When you think about these signals, he’s signaling, I’m not getting the right thing. He’s not like collapsing around their insults. He’s just going with it and sorting it out for himself and saying, “Well, this ain’t right for me. You’re misunderstanding.” If he couldn’t say, “You’re you misunderstood me. I didn’t say that,” I got to see him. “I didn’t say that. What are you talking about?” Rather than the relation didn’t work, basically, they didn’t get away with it.
I want to read you something from the book again. We’re talking about children. I can’t say what, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the parents, maybe the child saw the dad, some people would attribute it to any number of things. You can’t know until you really get into someone they become interested in finding out a, they see it as a problem. Maybe they have a heart attack when they’re older because they’re competing so hard in the corporate world or something. Then they have to look at that. What is it that I’m dishonest in my [unintelligible 00:57:21] or I’ve been drinking for so long that I’ve got a list of amends to make this long because of the number of people I’ve squashed with my arrogance, which is not natural.
Ari: It’s exactly that, this fundamental- it’s this fundamentally adversarial relationship always for humans around you. You want to be up here. You want everybody else to be down here and you don’t have any empathy. You don’t care that you’re putting them down or making them look bad or lying to make them look bad because you need to be up here. It’s that fundamentally adversarial relationship with the world around you that seems just totally at odds with this innate sense of cooperation that Jean describes.
Geralyn: There’s something about the dominance model too this tracks to reanalyze learn. I’m not going to be able to be articulate enough about this to go too far down that way, but there is– The conditioning exists in the society. Even in the capitalistic society, there’s competition built-in. Jean had some interesting observations and it’s this whole adversarial bit, the best example is she used to say, the parents say to the child that they’re going out and he’s going over to grandma’s house for the evening. Mom says, “Now be good, Johnny.” What she’s really saying is, “You’re bad so fake it.” The children match mom and dad’s expectations. That’s also part of their evolutionary heritage. They have to look around and see what’s done in the tribe and learn to do that if they’re going to survive, and that’s modeling.
90% of what we learn, we learn from modeling. They imprint on us. There’s something about chimpanzees that they do this. It’s the alpha. It’s like the establishing of the– That’s an instinct. I don’t know if I can go so far as to say it’s a lower instinct, but I imagine it is because humans, one of the additions of Jean’s book was called something about– Oh, I’d have to look it up. Paradise loss was one. She didn’t care for that one, but there was another way. Allowing human nature to work successfully.
Human nature working successfully looks like cooperation and building a society that if the nature is working successfully, that the relationship with the natural world, the relationship the connections with other are working successfully so everything’s smooth. You’re talking about children that were not, would that work? I don’t say children that were raised like wolves, but there are ways of directing the instinct in a way that isn’t optimal. It comes down to that optimization thing, like are you going to do with us. I know we probably should wrap up after our little blip but–
Ari: We’re okay at 9:00.
Geralyn: Okay. I’m okay till 2:00 actually. We could do a long-form interview. [laughs] I just love hearing about your son’s reaction but I want to read you the section because it gives you a sense of what might be the continuum correct way for little boys to interact which your son would be far more capable of than– You want to move the dogs and the dog outside? [chuckles] He’s happier or is it she?
Ari: It’s a he. I want to mention one other example of what I noticed is these other kids, they would constantly say things. It’s just this unrelenting stream of pestering 24/7 of my son where they would say, “I’m taller than you.” The kid is actually shorter than my son and he would say, “I’m bigger than you.” He would say, “I have bigger feet than you.” The kid has actually the same or smaller size feet. He would say, “I’m stronger than you and I’m better at this than you, I’m better than that than you.” “I’m smarter than you,” and all these things. My son would constantly say he would respond and he wouldn’t say, “No, I’m smarter than you. No, I’m stronger than you. No, I’m better than you.” He would say, “No, we’re equal. We’re equally strong, we’re equally smart.” I never taught him to say that but that was his response. He didn’t understand what was going on. My son wanted to just be everybody’s equal, this kid needed to constantly put everybody else down so he could be there.
Geralyn: He wasn’t conditioned to the make wrong, to the one-up mission. Now, this is another thing that happens in continuum cultures. It’s like he was just offering them a correction. Jean used to talk about that with little kids. She’d say, “If they do something you don’t want them to do, you just show them what you do want them to do.” It’s like, “Here’s the correct way, this is what we do.” No charge, the assumption is they want this information. She would say, “If they don’t do what you ask them to do, ignore them.” They hate to be left out of the action. They don’t want to be left out so just don’t reinforce the bad behavior by giving it attention.
If they still don’t do it, like you’re leaving and you got to just walk over and very gently, “We’re going now,” and take them along. It’s not like, “We’re going,” grab them by the arm, intimidate them into doing what you want. I’m sure you guys just do it naturally because you gave yourself permission to feel your instincts and follow them early enough. His sense of self is intact. He hasn’t fractured off, so he has this false self. He’s whole. His psychology didn’t get fractured all over the place. He didn’t need to do a lot of that adaptations. He’s just himself, and because he knows what he knows. I’m going to read you this part.
Geralyn: I don’t know which trip it was. It’s on page 118 so probably the second. I just love all this stuff, it’s so much fun. She’s back in New York and she’s reflecting on her experiences. As the unlearning continued, Jean’s appetite for new ideas grew. Assumptions that had been closed and treated as facts were blasted open. She no longer accepted the supposedly obvious truth of beliefs such as progress is good and leisure is preferable to work. Also, confronted was the American notion that a man’s emotions are a sign of weakness that ought to be hidden lest the feeling man lose the esteem of his peers.
A boy in the civilized world would be taught this lesson in a myriad of ways long before he approaches manhood, but no such lesson or expectation is foisted upon a Yequana boy. Repressing emotions does not become a cornerstone of his identity as a man. One day, a Yequana boy of 10 years old came to see her, screaming loud enough for the entire village to hear. Jean knew the boy. She’d observed him playing with the other boys for weeks. She thought of him as utterly self-reliant and like many of his peers, highly disciplined.
Through her cloudy, supposedly civilized lens, the boy appeared to be a master of his emotions. She had no behavioral template for what began to unfold before her eyes that day. Here was a ten-year-old boy clinging to his mother, making a terrific fuss in front of the whole tribe. He had an abscessed tooth that made no heroic effort to remain stoic or conceal his emotional reaction to intense physical pain. Nothing in the boy’s past experience suggested he would suffer ridicule if other boys saw him in such a shaky state nor would he lose anyone’s esteem for running to mommy for comfort, quite the contrary, everyone completely understood.
The other boys readily accepted his sudden withdrawal from their fearless ranks, a cluster of children, many of whom were the boy’s playmates, hovered around while Jean extracted the tooth. They gave off none of the subtle signals modern boys would use to mock or shame the lad. His mother remained close, not overly concerned, just quietly available while Jean began the procedure. He blanched at the pain, she had no Novocaine, and let out a shrill wail when she finally worked the tooth free. She plugged the bleeding hole with gauze, it was over.
Exhausted, the boy went straight to his hammock, not even turning to look at his mother. He felt no need to assess the reaction of his peers. An hour later, he approached Jean’s hut. The color had returned to his cheeks. He said not a word, just played with some of the rocks nearby as if to let her know he was okay, then he wandered off to rejoin the other boys.
Ari: I love that. Very relevant also of what I was describing.
Geralyn: Yes. Competition is built into our society. The competition between women, oh my God, you don’t even want to hear about that. Just some crazy stuff. I do want to read one other favorite part. This zooms out and gives a bit of a context for how we are tracks back to our discussion about the neurosis and all that. This is a chapter called The Concrete Jungle, so she’s back in New York now. She’d seen an undeniable truth, the Yequana as a people were happy, their lives filled with joy, they were free in ways outsiders could not even conceive. You hardly noticed this until back in New York, she looked around and saw the throngs of malcontents, the difference in terms of general disposition expressed itself quite noticeably in their physiologies.
I need a little more light. Okay, that’s good. The Yequana were smaller and less muscular and yet they could carry heavier loads, far greater distances than the strongest civilized man. While in the jungle, Jean did not wonder why that was so. Not until she returned to the states did she notice the contrast between the relaxed physiology of the Yequana and the tense armored bodies of New Yorkers.
Years later, once she had time to fully understand the implications of what she’d seen, she would explain it this way, “That much tension would make anyone weak. The indigenous people I lived with were relaxed and at ease pretty much all the time. They don’t waste their natural energy worrying about what might happen. They don’t resist or refuse to accept what is happening in the moment. Rather than waste their natural vitality fighting a fight that can’t be won, they have plenty of energy available for strenuous activities.”
Upon returning to the US, Jean was astonished to see the fierce looks on the faces of people on the streets of Manhattan. “I came upon a number of scenes,” she says, “On the subway or in Grand Central Station and almost daily in Times Square that were more savage than anything I’d seen among the jungle people.” Of particular interest to her was the contrast between the faces of the Yequana and the faces of New Yorkers. The jungle people were transparent, their feelings showed on their faces. They had no reason to conceal, censor, or revise what they were feeling in order to fit in or conform to social norms. They simply felt what they felt. When their faces weren’t reflecting some emotion, they were in repose. Jean had never seen a New Yorker’s face in repose.
The faces of the people she saw all around her were seldom clear. Having lived among the unguarded Yequana for a total of nearly two years, she couldn’t help but notice that the faces of New Yorkers reflected an inner battle, a fixed look of anger, a fixed smile broadcasting the fear it was meant to conceal, a stone-cold world outlook of discontent or disdain. Moreover, people often planted seeds of distrust when the words that came out of their mouths didn’t match their obvious emotional state. People consistently scrambled their communication creating a toxic environment of wariness and suspicion.
In contrast, a Yequana’s face was like the sky, host to various weather patterns, but otherwise clear and sunny. They displayed a total lack of emotional complication, but not because their feelings weren’t complex and varied. Their faces revealed an extraordinarily wide range of emotional states, but their baseline was joy. They had no need to pursue happiness because happiness pervaded everything they experienced even grief, sickness, and death. Among their fellow tribesmen and women, they had no need to hide or alter their feelings. The atmosphere around in between them was one of deep trust and respect.
This stark difference led Jean to draw a new distinction. It seemed to her that real feelings occur in the moment and when fully felt are a complete experience with no residual emotion to carry forward and color the future. In contrast, feelings that are not fully felt turn into blocked energy that leave the experience incomplete. Jean had never seen the Yequana complicate their feelings by denying them. Feelings were not repressed or disallowed. The Yequana did not hold on to unresolved feelings, become overly emotional, and then act out in a display of bad behavior, a common occurrence among New Yorkers.
There’s just a tiny bit more that finishes that. People call New York a concrete jungle but they have never been to the jungle, she would reflect. It may sound a bit cliche, but I actually lived in a real jungle and I can tell you we are the savages. What is natural to our species is the norm in the jungle. In New York, what is natural is far from the norm. More shocking, what is natural isn’t even known.
How our persona influences our response to the world
Ari: It’s so interesting. This made me think of the whole concept of the persona that we learn about in psychology, which is fundamentally the mask we put on to interact with the world, to interact with other people that allows us to be the way that they expect us to be or that we want to display to them. The more there is this mismatch between what our natural tendencies, our innate tendencies or needs are, and what society expects of us, the more there is this need to create this fake persona.
It’s funny, since I was a little kid, I remember really loving dogs because of the complete absence of a persona. I remember just appreciating this from the time I was a little kid that when you interacted with a dog, what you saw was their true nature, and exactly whatever they were feeling and experiencing is exactly what was displayed outwardly. I always remembered from the time I was a kid being really annoyed at humans that we weren’t that way. [chuckles] I’m like, “Why are people not the same way?” Why do people become all of this is to create all these layers of inauthenticity that get in the way of them expressing themselves authentically. It drove me crazy. My whole life still does today.
I think the other thing that jumps into my head, which I think maybe is not obvious to everybody listening, but I would love for you to tie this in to the concept of energy. Like how–
Geralyn: That’s what I was just– That’s what I’m thinking [unintelligible 01:13:58] What you’re describing is the norm. Normal neurotics, like us, everybody has this mask. You meet someone who doesn’t, it’s startling, or whose light shines through it enough that you’re not distracted by it, and you can see who they are. That’s a lot of what I think all this spiritual, developmental, personal growth stuff is people know there’s something missing. They know they’re being fake. How many people have the, I’m a poser thing going on. Instagram encourages that. People have more and more energy holding up the falseness or the image.
Do you know how much energy that takes? Psychological energy, what an energy drain trying to be something you’re not, trying to keep– You got to try and track what everybody expects of you. That takes a lot of energy. That’s a lot of brainpower. We know that the brain burns most of our energy anyway and yours is going overtime to figure out how to get the acceptance you didn’t get when you were an infant.
Ari: That’s exactly right.
Geralyn: We’re in a bad situation here. There are plenty of remedies. Maybe we can talk about that in another session because there’s– I don’t want to leave people with a sense of hopelessness about this. If anything, I want to leave them with a sense of hope. Just reading this book resurrected my instinct of intelligence. I started teaching something called primal movement for a while, which was not unlike the continuum work. Interestingly enough, there’s that movement work called continuum, which is not thing why Jean uses that. Well, there’s a little similarity actually. There is so much we can do to get back in touch with our instinctive intelligence to begin to trust it.
So many of us were taught not to trust it, like, “Put your jacket on.” “I’m not cold.” ‘Put your jacket on.” Oh, I can’t trust my own body temperature. I can’t trust– We’re too little to be able to make sense of that.
Ari: Or I can’t trust my own immune system.
Geralyn: It becomes like there’s– Exactly. It’s like, wow, having a fever is a horrible, awful thing but that’s what the body needs to do to get well. We treat everything. We treat symptoms because we don’t look at the causes or trust the body to do what it wants to do. Don’t get me [unintelligible 01:16:13] on that one. To your questions, so much of the way we live is an energy drain. That’s why your work is so valuable for the people who find you. Because there are mind-body hacks that can help. My hope is that this book would give people a shift in mindset. People don’t change because they need to change. People change because they become inspired.
Even for me to develop, being playful about the things that used to be hard, that’s a total flip. I lose things all the time. I’m not alone, I read a study that said something like the average person says, spends 40 minutes a day looking for misplaced objects. [chuckles] Now I make it into a game. It’s like, okay, here’s an opportunity to play, it’s hiding somewhere. [chuckles] Did you see where my glasses landed? I can’t find my backpack, but I know it’s hiding in here. [chuckles] It’s up to something.
If there’s a way to link build play into life, and that alone would start to shift a person’s biochemistry and neural networks to be able to see the world differently, and to see love and joy and opportunities for kindness and to practice gratitude, all of those things that all the personal development systems talk about. They’re rooted in that stuff. I love the work of Brene Brown and her book that has the 10 pillars of wholehearted living. Wow, between that and Jordan Peterson’s 12 rules for life and he has another book out now. That’s some sage advice coming from those two.
If this book or your work or whatever they find to give them that first boost of energy because you can’t really get up out of the quicksand yourself, you can try as you like, but unless you’re relaxed and let somebody who is not in the quicksand pull you out gently, with whatever it is, and you trust the universe is going to give you what you need to walk on this world as yourself in your skin, not wasting all that energy on posing, let’s call it what it is, Instagram is like posers central. It’s pretty sad. When somebody shows up in their authentic that sounds like a puh, that’s a note through the whole– This is possible.
There’s somebody who’s being themselves, wow. Maybe I want to take their course or whatever it is, because it can spread. It has its own because people recognize it and when that chord is struck, Rumi used to say, the one clear note at the center solves everything or something like that. I used to recite a lot of Rumi, I’ll have to look that one up. Because it is that way. There’s a clear note. If somebody strikes it, there’s that resonance, that tuning-fork effect. The more people that reconnect with their essential nature, and the more primal protectors like us who walk around the world and wait a minute, something primal going on there, you don’t want to mess with it. It’s actually more intelligent than your civilized ideas about how to do things. Anyway–
Ari: If I could try to summarize this briefly, the central concept, it’s basically like, if there is this mismatch between our needs, our innate needs, from the time we were newborns, and what inputs we’re receiving from our parents from the world around us, it creates fractures in our psychology and our personality and creates all of– It creates this tension, creates the persona. It creates all of this energy that’s being spread out and the loss of parts of itself that then in order to regain, you have to go on this search for wholeness again. Is that accurate or how would you phrase it?
Geralyn: Well, we can’t go back to the continuum, but there’s that– What is it? The Japanese art of imperfection where you put the gold in the broken vase and then it’s a different kind of beautiful. It’s like, we can’t just give up. We have to find our way home as best we can and start treating each other as humans. There’s something so beautiful about the possibility of recognizing these things. Really all of civilization emerged from this cracked vase. his is so far from the continuum, but here we are. We can’t go back.
I have this feeling that there’s a movement. I can see it. There’s all these eco-villages. Somewhere in Denver, there’s some guy who’s building this housing development or something, but it’s a high rise and it’s made out of the big containers, the ocean-going containers, and they’re making houses out of it. I’m visualizing it. He didn’t say this. My brain did. This is a high. It’s like everybody’s going to have their little cells. There’s a way that we know the nuclear family doesn’t actually work so people have to come together using what we got.
Technology isn’t going anywhere, but how can we use it in a way that it actually brings human nature, our deeper nature forward, instead of putting our darker angels on the front burner. There’s a way that we can elicit it in each other. There’s the smart city and there’s I know this cluster of brilliant geeks who are wanting to create, I’ll just call it that kind city. You know how in China, they have this surveillance and if somebody does something that’s out of line [unintelligible 01:22:12] everybody’s shuns them? That’s the deepest threat.
Talk about threatening somebody with death, being shunned by the tribe is shared death and it’s really uncomfortable for a long time until the death comes. Talk about deprivation. You’re deprived of the most essential thing for human beings, which is connection. Because we all know we can’t do it on our own, lone wolf self syndrome be damneed. We need each other. We need each other. That’s one of the biggest messages. It’s like, “Let yourself need other people. It’s okay.” I lost your question again but I could go on and on about this for a long time, I guess.
Ari: If you were going to kind of summarize maybe the single biggest takeaway from Jean’s work of what we need more of in the world, what would you say?
Geralyn: Well, I would say the most important thing is to recognize and reinstate wherever possible, to make the corrections where we can. We can’t change the world, but you never know what’s going to be the trim tab. It could be that the next generation is the trim tab. Particularly, if they’re in full possession of their innate intelligence, which leads to cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence, relational intelligence, social intelligence. We do our best in the meantime to notice what a mess we’ve made. I think there’s going to be a new society.
Everything rises up out of the ashes. Every empire crashes and then something new emerges that’s the next evolution of that. I trust that. I can’t live without that optimism. I would say spreading the word, that’s why I wrote this book, is to get it. Her book has sold millions of copies, 21 languages. Some people read her book cover to cover in a sitting. Other people find it difficult to read because she’s an intellect. She writes paragraph-long sentences. For a lot of people, it’s not an easy read. This reads like a good novel. It’s an adventure story so that the Y and Z generations will pick it up and just not be able to put it down. Hopefully, they’ll talk to their friends. Everybody will want a copy.
It’s not about, I want to be a New York Times best-selling author. I do between you and me, but the story deserves it and the information in it, the transfer of ancient knowledge that the permission-giving to the feminine instinct every woman has in her bones. What do we need more right now? Is for women to really know the truth of who they are and be able to stand in that knowing, then the Me Too movement ends. It ends because if the problems are resolved because women are in possession of what they know, and they can say, “No, this ain’t right.” You’re saying like, “No, that ain’t right.” Not even that much energy on it. Just, “No, this is how we do it.”
We can all help each other in that way if we get a passion for it. My hope is that this book ignites that passion in enough people that the word spreads and that the next generation can be a generation of geniuses that can solve all these problems. There’s a rumor that there’s an algorithm that reinforces the behavior of kindness instead of the behavior of fear and greed. What if there was a Google that did that? It’s all about spreading the love. These kids could be the ones to really turn it around.
Your son, your daughter, it’s not going to be long before they grow up. I don’t think the climate is going to collapse in the next 20 years. He’ll see a solution that if they’re in full possession of their intelligence and they’re not disturbed by all these neuroses, think how much energy they’re going to have to rebuild the world. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Ari: I love it. Geralyn, thank you so much. This has been really a pleasure. Thank you for the work you’re doing. I think it’s so important on a personal note. Thank you for introducing me to this whole [unintelligible 01:26:28] several years ago when I was having kids, when my son was coming into the world. I think the work you’re doing is vital. I think it’s critical. I know that you’re looking for support right now. Just please tell my audience what you’re looking for. I’m personally going to be making a donation to you to help this work.
I hope that our listeners can, if they feel inspired by this, if they feel that it’s important to get this message out to the world. Speaking to the listeners, I hope you guys will help fund Geralyn to get this work out there in a big way. Geralyn, tell people where they can go to support you.
Geralyn: The website is just junglejean.com. If you go there, you’ll get an opportunity to give your email address. Then you’ll be in the loop to know when the book comes out. It’s scheduled June 26th. Buy at that day. The ebook will be a $1.99 or something so that we can get Amazon bestseller status. That’s always a good marketing thing. Then there is an Indiegogo campaign. It’s another 14 days I believe from today, which is May 10th. If we make the goal, we’re a third of the way there now, if we make the goal, it will be up forever after. Indiegogo gives you that option. It’s called in demand.
There’s a lot of expense involved. I’m hoping to do a podcast myself. Writing a book is one thing, the promotion of it is a whole another thing, and I want to get this book out to the world. The Indiegogo campaign is currently active. You can go on junglejean.com. Oh, no. You just do junglejean.com/fund, and you’ll get a white page that takes you to the Indiegogo campaign. When you sign up for your email on the website on junglejean.com, you’ll get a mini audiobook of me reading chapter 1. That’ll be fun. You’ll enjoy listening to that.
Ari: If they go to junglejean.com, will you send an email out to the Indiegogo campaign?
Geralyn: Oh, sure. Something that would be helpful with that is, I’ll have my guys on the backend figure that out. That’s easy to do.
Ari: Then the Indiegogo campaign is located where, how do they look that up?
Geralyn: If you just go to Indiegogo, I’m pretty sure you can go if I go from an incognito window, I’ll find out, but I think you can just go to Indiegogo and search Jungle Jean, and it will show up. It’s there. We’ll be live for another two weeks and hopefully beyond that.
Ari: I will try to get this podcast out as soon as possible, this coming Saturday. That way we can time to hopefully get as much support for your Indiegogo campaign as possible. For everybody listening, I have zero financial connection to this. I don’t make any money from your donations. It’s purely about you supporting Geralyn’s work with Jungle Jean and getting this continuum concept information out there to the world. Again, I’m going to be personally donating to this. I hope you all will as well. I think it’s incredibly important information that the world, the next generation of children needs to hear. Geralyn, thank you so much. I really appreciate–
Geralyn: Yes. It’s really a delight.
Ari: This was a pleasure. I hope we can have more conversations in the future as well.
Geralyn: I would love that.
Why the Continuum Concept is important (06:15)
How our upbringing shapes our behavior (51:12)
How our persona influences our response to the world (1:11:49)