FAST WISDOM™ NEWSLETTER
By Lonner Holden
CURIOSITY: AWAKENING THE INNER TRACKER
“Black Bear.” I tallied the tracker’s answer at the Track and Sign Evaluation held in the Mono Lake Basin this last weekend.
The morning sun burned on my neck while the cool basalt stone I sat on drew my excess body heat down into the primeval earth. White Pine needles pricked my arm. The high desert silence of the Mono basin rolled in my ears. I could feel my body connecting Heaven with Earth and my kinship with all life which shared the same tension between the source of energy and solid matter. I was beginning to feel connected. I wondered how similar or differently I felt from my - and your - African Bushman ancestors; still among the greatest living trackers.
Yes, you and I and all people share DNA with Bushman. No other tribe has universal commonality. Which means that we all have a tracker living inside of us.
I pondered the question, “How does animal tracking relate to my work of connecting modern urban people - who often don’t relate to nature or animal tracking - to their own sense of living and the professional leaders I want to influence with nature connection?”
In working with others for their personal health and well-being and vision for their professional life through sensory awareness experience in nature, that language must be authenticated from my own connection experience. If I am to play a role in awakening the tracker in you on your path of connecting to your most authentic life, I have to know the tracker’s way.
As hunter-gatherers we evolved with the sensory awareness of trackers and, no matter what we do, we are still always applying those ancient, neuro-hardwired innate skills to all of our modern choices. That is how we survive today, even immersed - if not drowning - in the technological milieu we have created. This ancient urge involves a deeper sense of belonging which fuels our motivation and how we relate to our world. We identify major and subtle threat/safety changes in our environment on a multitude of levels with such speed and constancy we don’t even know we are doing it. Our tracker essence is on unconscious auto pilot.
Our inner tracker is awakened by curiosity. Peering into a track, or at anything, with wonder and curiosity opens the doors of perception and gently connects us with the environment and others with a sense of purpose and meaning.
Recall for yourself a recent situation where you were perhaps preoccupied with some practicality, like paying bills, and a sound, change of light in the window, or movement in your peripheral vision caught your attention. Maybe you got up and looked outside, could hear the bird, but could not see it, but being curious your senses and awareness woke up. You strained slightly to make out what it was, but no answer, just a few moments of strong connection to the questioning. You were tracking. After you left the moment of inquiry did you feel lighter, a bit more refreshed, maybe even the mundane task - or even the argument with someone - went more easily? Maybe you had a sudden insight into a question you had been holding for a while.
Curiosity, especially sustained curiosity, catalyzes kinship with what we are curious about. The cascade of wonder into response, empathy, relationship, receptivity, reciprocity, gratitude and generosity into deeper connection with our environment and others and sense of service and creativity is nearly unavoidable. Have you ever experienced watching a butterfly and feeling some kind of care for it?
This is who we became by staying alive in this way and who we are today. We got and stayed curious and found new ways of being together and doing things - of adapting to our environment and adapting our environment to us. Connection to the environment and each other kept us alive and thriving.
What’s the difference between hiking through nature and tracking? Hiking is nourishing to us in so many ways as we de-stress and renew. Yet, tracking adds another dimension - a quality of presence as we move more slowly with conscious intentionality, cultivating curiosity. We move as a porous sensory mirror allowing the sounds, images, smells, textures, shapes and colors to saturate our being, becoming the place.
After the scores were tallied, the leaders called us into a circle. They honored the efforts of the trackers to endure long days in the heat, move across sometimes challenging terrain, travel between test site habitats and of how the earnest and sustained curiosity of a simple animal sign brought that animal into us, making that creature part of who we are, making us more whole as trackers and as humans.
The humility, love and happiness that radiated from the group was palpable. Not because we were special, but because we had become more of who we are - connectors of life, and to life, connected to ourselves, each other and to nature - a harmonious community.
The dignity of belonging can be as available as curiously listening to a sound you hear all the time. That sound might even be your own voice.
Jin Shin Jyutsu:
Restorative Nature Practice:
- Occasionally bring your attention to the position your hands are in on your body. Don't move or adjust them in any way. Simply be the inquiring observer of the involuntary and spontaneous gesture they have come to rest in. You do not need to "know" how they got there or what they are "doing". Just be curious. Trust that they are performing the function to relieve some kind of stress you may or may not be aware of.
- Journal your process.
- Take one opportunity a day to observe an animal, wild or domesticated, for a minimum of one minute.
- Observe its particular movements.
- Develop questions about it like: What are its tracks like? Did it leave anything behind? Where does it live? Does it have a family? What does it eat? Is it prey or predator? Go for broke - come up with as many questions as you can in one minute.
- Journal your process.
- When you are shopping for groceries, become curious about one food - packaged or bulk/produce. Develop questions about where it came from, who's hands brought it to you, what was the soil or environment it was grown/raised in? Come up with as many questions as you can in one minute.
- Journal your process.
NEXT MONTH: Mentoring: Art of Becoming Connected
PICK OF THE MONTH: Michael Mead's Huffington Post Essay: Political Poison and Collective Trauma