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Updated on October 13, 2021
I Lived in the Amazon Jungle For a Month: Here Are 7 Things I Learned
In September of 2019, 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 zero connection to the “outside world”. WiFi doesn’t exist where these people live.
As you may know, 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 countless lessons about community, leadership, and my own personal purpose.
As I went through a very sacred rite of passage, I found myself becoming a student of their tribe, elders, and way of life. One year later, I’m still unpacking everything I witnessed.
As I look back, I find that those who taught me the most lessons were the children.
When I first arrived in that dense, damp jungle, I immediately 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 that I wasn’t just seeing good human movement…
I was seeing children—5-year-old children—take responsibility.
You see, in a tribe, everyone has to work together. Things aren’t done for you. And the children pick this up at a very early age.
If you don’t want jungle bugs to bite you, you rake the leaves away from your hut.
If you want some berries, you go climb a tree.
If you’re hungry, you go hunting.
If you’re cold, you make a fire.
Every single day, you’re responsible for washing your clothes. Cleaning your hut. Chopping wood. Carrying water.
Here’s what I found to be so profound: They did these very simple tasks with smiles on their faces.
They were working together—sharing, laughing, and high-fiving one another. 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 with each other. Not once did I hear them complain about chores...
They did everything with joy and enthusiasm.
As I marveled at these children, I began to survey the adults of the tribe—wondering, “Who will these Amazonian children grow up to be?”
The men in the tribe were incredibly brave. I saw three of them go hunting in the rainy 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 song…
I discovered more and more about myself.
The Pitfalls of a Modern Culture
Like you, I come from a modern culture…
A culture where we have radical advancements in technology. We have industry. We have big cities, tall buildings, concrete, billboards, and football teams.
We’re constantly bombarded by consumerism through television, social media, email, and notifications.
We sit behind desks, eat fast food, drink soda, take medications, turn on fluorescent lights, watch flat-screen TVs, and look down at smartphones that can tell us anything that’s ever happened 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 begin to get aches and pains. Our neck, shoulders, back, hips, and knees throb from hours of sitting and poor posture. We’ve forgotten how to move and how to carry ourselves.
We eat lots of sugar, toxic fats, and artificial ingredients. We get inflamed. We take pills. We die from modern-day diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer's, and neurological disorders.
In many ways, we’re a culture that has lost its way. Some are even saying we’re on the brink of extinction.
With that being said, there are ways to reverse those things mentioned above. Read on to learn the 7 life-changing philosophies that I learned during my time in the Amazon Jungle...
1. You Can Rechoose Your Perspective
Here’s what I know to be true: Each of our lives is determined by perspective and choice...
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 without taking action.
You can take responsibility and create a better life for yourself, your family, and your community.
At the end of the day, we’re just a community of 8 billion humans trying to figure things out.
2. Responsibility Begins with Intention
Responsibility begins with getting clear on your intention…
Do you want your body to stop hurting? Do you want to live closer to your children and grandchildren? Do you want to reach out to that friend you’ve grown away from?
If so, here’s the step by step process:
- Gain clarity in the direction you want to take your life
- Get clear on the values you want to live by
- Align those values with your thoughts, words, and actions
3. You Hold the Power
Did you know that YOU can take responsibility for your health?
Here’s the cold, hard truth: No one can put healthy, whole food in your mouth. No one can pour 64 ounces of water down your throat each day. No one can go to the gym for you.
Only you can do those things.
So 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.
Here’s why: Your body is yours to care for. The sooner you see that as a privilege, the sooner you can begin to live the life you want.
4. Look at the Story You’re Telling Yourself
Whether you realize it or not, we ALL have a story that we tell ourselves. From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed, that story is on a repetitive loop that dictates your daily actions.
Most people’s stories go something like this…
“I’m too old. There’s no way I can do that.”
“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. This is just the way I am.”
“My family will never forgive me for this. I may as well estrange myself from them. They’ll be better off.”
Take a moment to look at the story in your head…
Pay attention to what you tell yourself on a daily basis. Notice how your beliefs have been shaped by everything that’s ever happened to you. Recognize how your self-perception has been molded by other people’s opinions of you.
Examine your default thoughts and emotions.
What’s their impact? Where do they come from? Are they thoughts and emotions you would choose to have? Does anything in your life need to change?
When you do this, you’re taking responsibility for who you actually are.
5. Let Others Have Their Own Perspective
What would your life look like if you had your own perspective and others had their own perspective?
Ask your friends, family, and neighbors about their perspectives. Be interested and understanding in what they have to say. Don’t put them down with shame, judgments, or comparison.
What’s true for you may not be true for another. By knowing and accepting this, you’re taking responsibility for your relationships and making your tribe stronger.
6. You Are the Creator of Your Life
Responsibility takes you out of victim mentality, allowing you to take control and be the creator of your own life.
Get this: There is a direct correlation between responsibility and power.
If you’re struggling with something in your life, take a look at who holds that responsibility. The more responsibility you hold, the more personal power you will have. Personal power is the currency we’re all looking for.
Take a moment and imagine a world full of responsible people...
And before that voice in your head says “wouldn’t that be nice”, remember the perception of this world starts with you.
7. Take Action
Now it’s time to take action…
Make your bed.
Drink water first thing in the morning.
Chew your food—slowly.
Go for a walk.
Do work that lights you up.
Smile at the sun.
Be a person of integrity and hold yourself accountable. Do what 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. Remember you’re doing the best that you can. Life is a step-by-step process.
To being better,
As a doctor of Physical Therapy, Senior Wellness Expert, and co-founder of NativePath, Dr. Walding has helped millions of people improve their quality of life from the inside out—by speaking, writing, and educating others on how to live life a little more #OnThePath.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.