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Humans are tuned for relationships – David Abram

A spider's web depicting how humans are tuned for relationships - Boyd Varty

“Humans are tuned for relationships. The eyes, the skin, the tongue, ears, and nostrils—all are gates where our body receives the nourishment of otherness. This landscape of shadowed voices, these feathered bodies, and antlers and tumbling streams— these breathing shapes are our family, the beings with whom we are engaged, with whom we struggle and suffer and celebrate.

For the largest part of our species’ existence, humans have negotiated relationships with every aspect of the sensuous surroundings, exchanging possibilities with every flapping form, with each textured surface, a shivering entity that we happened to focus upon. All could speak, articulating in gesture and whistle and sigh a shifting web of meanings that we felt on our skin or inhaled through our nostrils or focused with our listening ears, and to which we replied—whether with sounds, or through movements, or minute shifts of mood.

The color of sky, the rush of waves—every aspect of the earthly sensuous could draw us into a relationship fed with curiosity and spiced with danger. Every sound was a voice, every scrape or blunder was a meeting—with Thunder, with Oak, with Dragonfly. And from all of these relationships, our collective sensibilities were nourished”

~ David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous

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Curiosity and The Discipline of Being Whimsical

A dazzle of zebras look curiously on at Londolozi Game Reserve

Curiosity is the mechanism by which you pull a destiny better than what you could imagine for yourself towards you.

To remain curious is one of the primary disciplines of a tracker. It takes cultivation and awareness to become a curious person. You need to wake up daily in your own life and be willing to find the unanswered wonder, and then wonder toward it with intention.

This is the paradox: to be disciplined about being whimsical. To learn to follow what brings you to life.

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The Trail of the Un-rushed is a Path of Presence.

Sunrise over a river on Londolozi Game Reserve

One of the things I have always felt in the presence of masters is this deep sense that there is more than enough time.

I remember sitting with my guru, when I was young, in a garden in Delhi. It was the first time I had met him in person and although our encounter was only a few minutes it felt like hours. When you were with him, despite his intense schedule, he always felt relaxed and unhurried. You felt spoiled by the abundance of time you were getting when in fact it was not time but rather presence you were receiving.

To be more present is to make more life.

It is to be the sort of person who can bend time.

It seems to me that to be unrushed is a lost art form.

Presence and rushing have never met.

In pursuit of knowledge, every day something is added.

In the practice of the Tao, every day something is dropped.

Less and less do you need to force things, until finally you arrive at non-action.

When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.

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The Way of the Tracker: The Elephant Track

When you look at the image above, what do you see?

Perhaps you see a man standing in an odd position (I’m hiding a beer behind my back). Maybe you see the tree on the left of the frame that has had its head cut off or the odd shadow below it.

When I showed this image to my tracker friends and asked them what they saw they all answered as if I was asking a stupid question.

“The elephant track”

The first thing they notice is the twig in the front left-hand corner of the frame and the impression of itself it has left in the powdery soil as an elephant has compressed it to the ground. They see the wrinkled edges of the elephant’s foot.

They see it because they have trained themselves to see it. This is the development of track consciousness. It’s the development of searching images in the filing system of the brain so that you begin to see through the eyes of a tracker. You begin to notice what you’re looking for.

Life is full of tracks.  You have to train yourself to see what brings you to yourself and what dissipates you.

You have to learn to see the track. You have to become the sort of person who might notice the subtle signs of destiny if you walked across its path.

That is the way of the tracker.

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Podcast: What Being Stung by a Swarm of Bees Taught Me About Humanity

What if bees might be holding the key to an algorithm that could teach humanity how to create vast shifts in our collective consciousness? What if they are holding the key to how an individual can create waves of change through complex social structures. What if they teach us more than any creature about how deeply relational all life is. Well I learnt all of this…and then respect. Listen to my story on how being stung by hundreds of bees taught me all of this and more!

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Growling As a Way to Maintain Harmony

The monkeys in the camp are cheeky. They like to sit on the paths between the rooms and scare the guest as they walk past.  Mostly, it’s a game of intimidation- they advance on you and see if they can make you run away.

Many of the people around the camp have actually become afraid of them. Yet there are certain people the monkeys do not mess with.It can be quite interesting to notice when you walk in a group down the path who the monkeys choose as their mark.

I remember another time when I worked for a period with big cats in a sanctuary that they would immediately select a person in the group that was interacting with them as the one to try and cut from the herd. It was fascinating to see the speed of the selection. Luckily these were cubs we were raising, so there was never any danger, but still the process was interesting.

There is a study that was done some years ago where known psychopaths would watch a 12 second video of people walking down a path. Without fail the psychopaths would select the same people as their victims based on a set of almost imperceptible cues.

We express very subtly to people how they can treat us.  Many people I work with need assertiveness training. They need to learn to stand up for themselves. I think of this as a kind of wildness. To know what you need and where you stand all the time. Like a wild animal, very honest and not at all harmless.

Finding this place inside yourself paradoxically makes you not dangerous but safe. People feel you are not the one to target. Being in touch with your truth says don’t inflict yourself on me or there will be consequences.

I see this all the time in nature. The animals let each other be, stay out of each other’s way and allow everyone to get on with it. Occasionally, when there is no other option, they unleash there teeth and claws and set a very clear boundary.

Trusting you can stand up for yourself according to the studies Brene brown did is the doorway to deeper compassion. She found that the people that were the most compassionate had the best boundaries.

Learn to growl as a way to maintain harmony.

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Podcast: Synchronicity

What if your life were being composed by an aspect of your consciousness that you are not aware of?  Is this not what happens when we dream? What if we left moments and symbols in the dream of life to help us wake up to a deeper reality than what meets the eye? These moments might be what you could call synchronicity.

Synchronicity is a deeply meaningful and yet unlikely occurrence in time and space that forces you to wonder what the fabric of life is made of.  As a tracker one must first notice a deeper harmony in life and then try and fall into step with that unfolding so your life gives way to life itself.

Take a listen to my 17 minute podcast in which I share with you some of my thoughts on the incredible occurrence of synchronicity…

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Walking through Wildness

Walking through wilderness I am struck by the profound honesty of each sentient creature.

The place opens itself to scrutiny with nothing but sheer confidence. Nature’s power lies in an uncompromising and unashamed truth. Nature has no shameful secrets it needs to hide. And yet it is full of mystery.

You can be wild anywhere. Wildness is not the sole possession of the wilderness.  If wildness is connected to landscape it is most certainly the landscape of the body. For in this life, the body is the home of the spirit and it is the spirit that is the true conduit through with our nature runs.

Wildness is deep listening…wildness is living more deeply in the aliveness of the senses. Wildness is refusing to give up your integrity to be good. Wildness is the power that comes when we are deeply in touch with our own inner guidance.

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Finding a True Yes

One of the simplest and most powerful ways to break out of social constraints and be wilder is to find a genuine yes and a genuine no.

It’s so simple and yet it will break you out of all sorts of compliance and obligation.

There is a reason why, in courtroom dramas, the lawyer always says, “it’s a yes or no question.” There is simplicity to these two words that establish a direction without the spinning of elaborate stories. Saying no when you mean no will bring you to your integrity. Saying yes from deep within, before all the reasons you shouldn’t, will open your life.

When I found a clear no it came with all sorts of side effects. I couldn’t act or try to manipulate situations. I couldn’t pretend to be confused or that I wanted to but couldn’t. Learning to say no made me so much more honest. It put me in touch with myself. Then, ironically, it made me less selfish. The more I learnt to say no, the more energy I had, the more I ended up having to give.

This is the paradox of boundaries.

Finding a true yes, one that arose from deep down, started to open me to the things I really wanted to be involved in. A true yes started to discern more elegantly the places I wanted my attention to go. And where your attention goes, your life goes.

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The Way of Discovery

The way of discovery is fluid. The way of knowing is rigid.

The way of discovery invites. The way of knowing tells.

A tracker lives in immediate feedback loops of discovery.  Often when tracking fast they will simply walk rapidly on the line of the animal in small zigzagging patterns.  A track here: warmer…  Nothing here: colder…

They respond to the signs on the earth (or the absence of signs) making quick course adjustments as they move in pursuit of their quarry.

They are learning as they go. Giving themselves the space to try things and work through a process of confirmation and elimination. Often if they lose the track they will amble ahead trying different game paths until they cut onto the track again.

So many people I work with tell me that they are stuck. They tell me that don’t have a signal clue what they want to do. They are often of the mindset that when they KNOW what they want to do then they will begin to make changes. This is the binary mind of culture.   A culture obsessed with knowing the answer from the moment a young mind enters a classroom.  The culture says you can get it right or wrong. The culture says be perfect or flawed. The culture says success or failure. These are the subtexts that the ideals of modern life present.

Life however is not binary.  It asks us to try things, take small chances and allow a vision to emerge out of these experiments.  A new identity comes from giving yourself the space to try things.  To have no clue and, like a tracker, walk on the trail of the discovery.