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The Importance of Relaxation in Nature Observation

by Tom Brown Jr.

Total physical and mental relaxation is so important to nature observation. They go hand in hand. A person that carries the tension of civilization with him into the woods (his mind fluctuating around almost uncontrollably, or is taken over by thoughts of the future or of the past, or thoughts of problems at home) is not going to see very much. If a person, upon entering the wilderness, has all these things going on in his body and his mind, he is not really entering the wilderness, but bringing a piece of civilization into a place that is sacred.

I suggest very strongly, before you go out into a nature experience, that you relax your body and your mind with some simple meditations. There are many fine books on the market today that will enable you to learn how to meditate simply and easily. I suggest picking up one of these books and reading through it and practicing some of the simple meditation techniques. If you can learn to free your nody and your mind of tension and concentrate only on the natural world while you are out there, you are going to see more, feel more, and experience so much more than if you went in with all the garbage going on in your body and mind.

I often hear students say, "I went to the woods for the weekend and it took me two days to slow down and start to enjoy my camp". This slowing down process could happen a lot quicker if a person would do a simple meditation or relaxation technique before going into the woods. One of the simplest ones I find -- one I teach to all of my classes -- is to have the person lay back or sit in a comfortable position, and relax his body, starting with his feet and working upwards to the head. After the body is relaxed, count backwards from 100 to 1. This focuses the mind. It concentrates the effort on just the set of numbers. It does not allow any other thought to enter the head -- any other thought that can cause tension that is radiated and magnified into the body. By doing this before you enter the woods, you will find that your body and mind are one with the flow of the pure and natural. I suggest you look into some of these meditation techniques.

From The Tracker magazine, August 1982, published by the Tracker School.
For more articles from The Tracker magazine, visit the Tracker Trail website.