Domesticated animals and pets will have a different relationship to a wilderness environment compared to a wild mammal. Even house cats who spend the majority of time outdoors, usually don’t venture too far from the ones who feed them. Dogs of the leach, you may notice, run for a frantic sniffing adventure, with scattered and erratic patterns from smells to smells. In contrast, a wild mammal will behave more controlled and in full body awareness on a wider level, soaking in the surroundings, listening to the subtle voices of nature, whispering the actions and movements of those around them.
We can still learn a lot from observing our pets. The longer they are in an area, the more centered they become. You may start to notice their awareness becomes aligned with the rhythm of the unseen, and sometimes unnoticed, natural world. Once a rampage of sniffing is over, a dog will shift towards a stillness, focusing where primary movements are created for investigation only. Cats will move slowly and deliberately touching the earth with each paw before shifting their body weight to a committed step. Rotating ears with quick movements in all directions, only to stop on the most interesting and potentially dangerous sounds. They will take in the smells slowly and absorb the information within it.
Now it’s your turn … How do you feel about entering a childlike mind set? Seeing your surrounding as if it was new and never before explored. Dropping all the preconceived beliefs and nature lessons you may have picked up in the education system or on the media. How comfortable are you being the person in the park acting like an animal? What would that even look like?
Let’s take it step by step.
Dress code is first: Let’s find your favorite and comfortable earth tone clothes that allow you to feel the wind and environment you’re exploring. Maybe consider shoes that are easily removed for some barefoot time on the trail. Smells are important for the natural world so reduce the perfumes and deodorant. You don’t want to give yourself too much attention to an unnatural sent.
Location: Make sure it’s a place you want to explore. Look at habitats and trail maps before you go. Preparing for an adventure is the most important part. Bring anything you may need for the time you plan to spend. Consider weather during this process.
Arrival: This is where the fun begins for me. Find a place away from the parking but not too far down the trail. Do a relaxing excise to release tension and allow the drama of life to fade before your adventure begins. There are many nature dramas you will find along the trip; no need to bring any with you. Now open your senses, one at a time, focusing on each one uniquely. Attempt to expand the distance as well as pinpoint focus for each. Put them all together and experience them all at once. Now you’re ready to go. If you do this every time you enter nature’s world it becomes second nature to you.
Mind Chatter: Allow yourself this time to explore without a destination. Let your curiosity of nature be your guide, and travel where it chooses to lead you. The quickest way to drop the mind chatter is to adopt a sense of gratitude and look for beauty along your journey. The right brain will try to sneak in with judgments and evaluations, with its lists and time limits. Look with artistic and musicial eyes and ears allows the left brain to fire up. Keep returning to your senses, don’t give up. It takes practice to tune in to the movements of nature’s symphony.
Movement: Become aware of the sounds you are making and reduce the unnecessary movement and noise. Pause like a cat would when you hear a sound. Listen to the birds and notice if they are talking about the story you can’t see. Lean against a tree for a few mins to blend into the surroundings. Imagine you’re a deer, rabbit or a bobcat and walk like they would. Go where they would explore or hide.
You may find that you will only go a few yards down a trail, remember it’s the journey not the length of travel that makes an adventure.
Ok this is a good start for an adventure. There are many more skills you can learn to enhance your experience. Let’s take a walk together and I’ll share more.
“The elemental simplicities of wilderness travel were thrills not only because of their novelty, but because they represented complete freedom to make mistakes … Perhaps every youth needs an occasional wilderness trip, in order to learn the meaning of this particular freedom.” — Aldo Leopold