Would love to hear people's thoughts on how the differences between Vegetarian and Paleo diets impact their yogic path. Specifically I am interested in their experience and research they have come across that deals with how certain kinds of food facilitates various states of consciousness.
this may be 'out there for some'...no problem, feel free to delete. but for those who are interested in such things, I am interested in your thoughts.
first, it is clear that various peoples who eat paleo have developed spiritual states in themselves. this shamanic tradition is important to note. And it seems that the practice of vegitarianism may facilitate what the yogic traditions call a 'sattvic' state of consciouseness: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sattvic_diet
...do people find that they have accessed this on a continual basis as a yogic practitioner (not just postures, but meditative states that carry through off their mat or cushion).
On another note, I came across this a few years ago: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/220/testosterone
it tells a story of a guy who lost all of his testosterone and it sounds very much like a state of Samadhi or Kensho experience. ...makes me wonder if having the privilidge of being able to sit in a cave or in a monastery for a decade...not having to live a paleo way...may lower testosterone and facilitate this kind of 'sattvic' state.
anyway...here is to the paleo-yoga geeks to hash out together!
There might be a paleo question buried in there, but it's not totally apparent. What I think you're asking is...do ascetic practices facilitate a clarity of mind? This is something that dovetails with paleo, with regards to intermittent fasting and lack of sugar highs.
However, multiple yogic states of consciousness is complicating a much more simple manner. As a semi-zen Buddhist atheist, I do realize that a pervasive sense of self can be made worse by diet and lifestyle. But the ritualistic crap associated with much of Buddhism gets in the way when seeing how it interfaces with paleo (in my opinion!).
I totally get what you are saying - it seems that traditionally yogis go for vegetarianism, for various reasons (maybe because it is the major diet of Indian/China) also because I do feel and have experienced more 'enlightened' states of being whilst eating totally veg/vegan food and the ultimate which is of course fasting.
Imho I associate paleo with earthiness, paganism, turn of the seasons, the blood and guts of real life than anything 'out there'. No one surviving totally on the land can fail to have a 'pagan' belief system, as they would see their dependence on the web of life and therefore have a respect for all of nature that this kind of survival brings with it. They would eat meat and plants and revere the animals and plants they ate.
It is a difficult argument to get into; many yogis would vouch for animal cruelty and that eating flesh disturbs the path to enlightenment, but I personally feel that enlightenment resides in our closeness to the earth, to a mother-based spirituality and in the survival on and with the land, a kind of state of being 99.9% of people today are totally cut off from, whether they eat vegetarian, paleo, vegan or fast food. What's so spiritual about a supermarket?
Shamanic practice in the past, according to Mircea Eliade or Michael Harner, would involve spates of fasting and preparation for 'journeying' by particular individuals on behalf of the tribe/village. Plant ingestion (such as Ayashuacha or Fly Agaric) would have been used for altered states of being in the otherworld to seek changes in the real world. Plants would have been a shaman's ally. But a typical hunter/gatherer would not have been on a 'yogic path' to seek enlightenment, they would never have been in a state of un-enlightenment anyway. They would have eaten whatever was available to them at the time in order to survive and probably been in a state of feast and famine as a normal process of the turning seasons, for celebrations and marking the passage of their lives.
The real world to them would have believed to have been a dream, such as the Aboriginal Dreamtime, woven together with stories and myths that would have given them the coordinates for life and survival, and that survival would never have been separated from the animal and plants around them. When survival is the key, then the yogic path, regardless of whatever one eats, seems insignificant and irrelevant.
So in summary, I do not think it is what we eat that determines our spiritual consciousness, although being part of and respecting the total web of life of earth (not being anything apart from it) through eating what nature provides us with, personally, brings me to place that is totally in keeping with my karma. And I think it is wrong to assume that vegetarians 'respect' the earth (or are enlightened) any more than paleos do/are.
In addition to the good answers and points already presented about the spirituality of non-veg*n cultures, my experience is that any meditative exercises are best supported by a diet that is easily digested and doesn't involve big ups and down in blood sugar. Paleo fits that requirement quite nicely.
Remember you can always do periodic vegetarian fasts during special times of the year. You don't have to be vegetarian forever to be involved with spiritualities that have it as part of an ascetic tradition.
I like what Louisa said "I do not think it is what we eat that determines our spiritual consciousness, although being part of and respecting the total web of life of earth (not being anything apart from it) through eating what nature provides us with, personally, brings me to place that is totally in keeping with my karma." Take the Tibetans for example. Nature provides them with almost nothing but animal products (milk, butter, meat) and they are some of the most peaceful and "spriritual" people on earth.
I think that Paleo has made people atheist more than spiritual. It helps you see the holes in spiritual traditions such as wheat in Abrahamic religions and vegetarianism in Hinduism. Also if you read about the oldest tribe in existence the Hadza you'll see that they are atheist. I believe that religion sprung up to deal with agriculture and the new heiarchy based society that was starting to grow.
Yes I do believe that vegetarianism makes more sedate and placid people.
...wanted to say thanks to folks who responded. As a newbie to the Paleo thing, I am coming with my own set of questions and attempting to bring critical thinking to my own past ways of understanding things and as I dive into this whole scene, attempt to get a better handle on it and seek an integration when that is possible.
I also just came across this today: http://www.thelivinlowcarbshow.com/shownotes/3730/paleo-extravaganza-week-art-de-vany-episode-451/
and I found it interesting in that de Vany brought up the exponential increase in type II diabetes in India. Of course this has a lot to do with processed foods and not necessarily a high quality vegetarian diet, but I would love to look at those pieces of research and get under the surface of what is the current diet for the world's largest vegetarian culture. the question is it is not working for them now, but when did that shift happen?...was it prior to processed foods (high sugar, etc) or after that introduction.
anyway, thanks and onward! ~ Justin