A 6 Month Distance Mentoring experience,
Guiding you step-by-step into the mysteries of Nature
Join us for our exciting Nature Immersion Distance Training. Most people these days don’t have the time to disappear into the woods, away from jobs and family for a months-long nature connection training, even if they want to reach a deeper level of connection with the outdoors.
However, you can enjoy an amazing relationship with nature through regular explorations in your backyard and local parks.
Combined with the guidance of a mentor and the right resources, these “mini-immersions” quickly become life-changing.
After many years of in-person mentoring work, our team has gathered together many of the “best practices” that have helped our workshop participants to create deep and meaningful connections with nature. These practices support you to access more peace, joy, aliveness, and a tangible feeling of direct relationship with the earth.
Many of these core routines have been shared over the past ten years in the book, Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature, and have since helped tens of thousands around the world to discover the mysteries of nature in their own neighborhoods. If you consistently put the routines from Coyote’s Guide into practice in your life, your nature connection will deepen.
Not everyone likes learning from a book, though. The challenge with a book is that you have to get over the hurdle of taking the concepts and putting them to consistent action.
You might try an idea here or there, but then lose steam. You might even implement regularly if you are an outdoor teacher building the material into your curriculum, but it can be easy to stop there. To develop your own regular personal nature connection practice can be more daunting.
Where to start? What to do? What’s essential, what’s not? What’s needed to get to a deeper level of understanding? How do you get over plateaus and blocks in your path?
To help address these issues, over the past few years, we've designed a set of online trainings that guide participants in the core routines, through audio, video, daily practices, reflections, and email feedback.
This online format has helped us guide hundreds of participants around the world even further into their relationship with nature, beyond what we could ever cover in the pages of a book. Of course, we will continue to utilize books and courses and other formats to share these tools.
The next best-practice is to find a “nature buddy.” This is someone who you trade your observations with regularly, and with whom you can explore outdoors together. You might both go through an online course and compare notes, or use Coyote’s Guide together, and have at least a monthly time to get outside and explore.
You might even have a potluck campfire once a month or so and get a few nature friends together to share stories of your discoveries. Then, you are developing a small community that supports your nature exploration. These are great practices that will help you on your journey.
However, there is an even deeper layer of training that can be experienced, and this comes from the one-on-one guidance of a mentor. This is the way deep nature connection has been passed down for thousands of years, from person to person.
There is simply no substitute for the customized guidance of a mentor who is there to support your interests, build on your strengths, and help you grow beyond the edges of your awareness.
We have found that the most powerful way to offer distance training at this time is to combine online training with the personal guidance of a dedicated mentor that walks you through each step and helps you integrate your experience.
If you’re not sure how to get started, the mentor shines a light forward to get you on your way efficiently towards your goal. Feeling stuck or uncertain? A mentor can help you clarify what’s really going on, and help you get back on track.
Perhaps most valuably, a mentor asks questions that help you shine light on things you didn’t even know were possible. Questions provide a guiding light that help you direct and fuel your awareness.
"As mentors, we work with the Art of Questioning in a deep way to help participants realize new and meaningful aspects of their experiences in nature; the power of a question can unveil that which was hidden, and make obvious something that was previously overlooked or ignored.
My goal as a nature mentor is to ask questions that will help you challenge your assumptions and stretch your senses.
This process adds up in amazing ways. Each question literally causes your brain to make new connections as it reaches out to ‘make sense’ of the world around you.
Mentoring participants learn through role modeling to empower their own question-asking, which expands their sensory connections with their favorite places in nature. This leads to deeper experiences imbued with personal meaning.
Discovering the power of mentoring is a life-changing experience.
But, you have to put in the time each week to get outside, explore, and bring back stories that we can dig into together. There’s just no substitute for experience, and that’s your side of the commitment process as a mentoring participant.
I’ve helped busy parents, lifelong learners, business owners, healers and doctors, CEO's, and clients from many other professions to find creative ways to bring Nature into their daily lives.
My commitment is to role model presence and support, and to be a vehicle for the questions and stories that can best support your journey. If you do the practices, you will get results.”
- Josh Lane,
8 Shields Deep Nature Connection Guide
Over six months, you’ll be guided through a personal journey of deep nature connection with 8 Shields lead mentor, Josh Lane. Through a combination of online course training and one-on-one mentoring calls, you’ll experience practices that engage your senses and help you connect with the nature of your place.
The mentor's role is to inspire, offer tools, and give the mentoring that deepens the experience. Your role as a participant is to get outside each week, explore, and put the tools to practice.
This Mentoring Journey Is For You If:
Outdoor Enthusiasts, Parents, Teachers, Therapists, and Life-long Learners and others have all benefited from this journey and are welcome to apply.
The questions and stories a mentor shares are designed to deepen your own personal experience.
When you arrive on a mentoring call with a story or mystery from your time in nature, be prepared to dive deep. You won't be given the answers, but the questions you'll explore will help reveal whole new layers of your experience. You'll also be primed to explore in new ways, with an expanded perspective the next time you get outside. You'll learn how to find the answers for yourself, and how to use questions to guide your way forward.
There's a Secondary Effect of Mentoring. When you experience mentoring for yourself, you also begin to gain a reference point for how to mentor others.
Alumni often remark that when they share nature connection with friends, family, or in their own programs, that they find themselves remembering what they experienced in this journey and then applying it themselves as a mentor. This is an amazing “secondary effect” of being mentored.
I feel that some of your awesome mentoring skills just rubbed off on me.
I am really noticing (and am still amazed by this), that in other situations where I listen to others' stories and ask questions, how the questions just come to me instead of having to forcedly think about a question that will help the other person in their process.
The main message I'm taking home from this is to follow my curiosity and really trust my instinct, and to express my enthusiasm that drives that curiosity!
- Sam Koenig,
Josh Lane is a lead mentor with the 8 Shields Institute, offering personalized mentoring in wildlife tracking, heart-mind-body awareness, and connection with the natural world. For over 20 years, Josh has shared mentoring skills that support transformational journeys for individuals and groups, as passed down through the ancient arts of holistic tracking, bird language, Qi Gong, and other primal awareness skills.
A storyteller and author, Josh’s work has appeared in various online trainings, including Awakening the Senses in Nature and Backyard Bird Language. In addition, he’s contributed to books and articles on bird language and holistic tracking, including What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World.
A Lineage of Mentoring
“Josh is one of the few people I’ve had the luxury and time to mentor deeply over a number of years in the way that the tracker Tom Brown mentored me. This personal mentoring journey represents the highest level of training that 8 Shields offers.”
- Jon Young, 8 Shields Founder
Experience 8 one-on-one, one hour long personal mentoring calls with Josh. On these calls, you’ll receive guidance and orientation on how to work with the online course components, and experience the 8 Shields Transformative Mentoring approach. These conversations provide space for you to share the stories arising through your nature connection practices, and to deepen these connections through skillful application of the Art of Questioning.
Each call is designed to help you integrate what you are experiencing, and also to stretch your relationship with nature to new levels. Josh’s approach also utilizes awareness practices drawn from his training in Qi Gong, intuitive tracking, neurolinguistic programming (NLP), and other connective pathways.
Included in the training, you'll receive long-term access to a core bundle of our premier 8 Shields digital training resources:
Additional Required Books (not included):
- A wildlife tracking field guide to your area (recommendations will be given)
- Reader's Digest Guide to North American Wildlife (or a general guide to the plants and animals of your region)
Months 1 & 2 -
Introduction to the Core Routines of Deep Nature Connection
Here we set the foundation for your nature connection journey. You’ll experience fun sensory practices that build your relationship with the nature of your local place.
Learn routines to de-stress, expand your senses and engage your curiosity, and begin to relate more deeply to the stories of the land and animals.
Month 1 (November) offers you daily practices and reflections that will get you outside each day with a fun new challenge from our Connecting with Nature and Activating the Storyteller’s Mind online courses. You’ll also have your first two mentoring calls, helping you orient to the program, locate and set up personal routines in your local nature exploration area, and explore your unique goals and vision for your nature journey.
In Month 2 (December), you’ll gain more foundational naturalist skills with our Kamana 1: Exploring Natural Mystery guidebook and Jon Young’s Seeing Through Native Eyes: A Journey of Connection audio set. These resources will give you additional daily activities that continue to build sensory awareness in nature, and also introduce you to making the most of field guides and other learning resources.
(You will need to additionally purchase the Reader’s Digest Guide to North American Wildlife for this section of the course, or a similar introductory field guide to the plants and animals of your area). Your third mentoring call will help you integrate your learnings thus far and deepen your observational skills.
Months 3 & 4 - Introduction to Animal Tracking
Months 3 and 4 offer a chance for you to develop your own inquiry-based animal tracking project.
By now you will have a wide variety of engaging nature connection practices in your toolkit, and a strong personal nature connection routine underway. The Project is a chance to now deepen your observations and studies by selecting a local animal that you are curious about to connect with more thoroughly.
Wildlife Tracking is one of the most ancient human skills. The awareness that arises through tracking is linked to our species’ development of both scientific and artistic skill.
When we track, our perception expands to recognize formerly unseen connections.
Because tracking involves asking skillful questions, it also is foundational to how we approach learning and mentoring.
In this section, we’ll explore some of the core routines of tracking that you can apply right in your backyard and favorite outdoor spots. These fun skills will connect you through your senses and Storyteller’s Mind with the animals and the land in amazing ways.
Through observation and journaling, field guide research, mapping, and other tools, you’ll be guided to gain a deep view into the life of this animal. You’ll learn some basic (and fun!) tracking skills and apply them right away in the field.
This section of the course includes our Embodying Nature Online Series, in which Jon Young and Josh Lane share tools and practices for expanding awareness through tracking and other nature skills.
Months 5 & 6 - Learning Bird Language
How do animals know when humans approach? There is a universal language in nature, an early warning system that alerts animals to danger.
The birds broadcast warning signals that tell of sneaking cats, hawks on the wing, and even distant people. We can learn to decode some of these mysterious signals to know the location of animals and people, too. We can even learn to avoid triggering alarms by blending into nature’s flow.
Hunter-gatherers have long known this art, and this awareness remains alive in certain pockets of culture around the world to this day. This is the art of Bird Language, and this section of the training will help you build a foundation in this forgotten skill that will continue to grow for the rest of your life. Through our Backyard Bird Language online course, you’ll be introduced to daily practices that you can use at your sit spot to begin understanding nature’s language.
This isn’t just for birders, by the way. The deep sensory skills we’ll explore here
are a powerful mindfulness practice, and awaken empathy and curiosity. Once you learn bird language, your experience of nature will be forever changed.
My time with Josh has been so valuable - gratitude connection, sensory meditation, bird language, flora/fauna ID and tracking have all enhanced my abilities as a naturalist and human. If you’ve ever seen the natural world as a "big green wall" or all the birds as "little brown birds”, and you want to move beyond, try mentoring.
- Matthew Wheat,
I really appreciate that the distance format is available. Having a guide, ongoing assignments, accountability, and trust in the process allowed me to be in the moment and take one step at a time.
My heart re-opened to the wholeness and comfort of being at home in nature. I have regained feelings from my childhood of wonder, lightness, adventure, vitality, mystery, and surprise. Vigorous sprouts that will no doubt continue to grow and blossom!
~In Gratitude, Sarah
- Sarah Fontaine,
My mentoring experience with Josh helped me build my relationship with nature and explore things much more deeply...
I learned and experienced so much in a very short period of time - I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Josh!
- Karla Jordan,
A limited number of spaces are available. This season's session begins in mid November, and runs through May. Tuition is $3500 US (save $300 off by applying before November 1st).
Apply by clicking the link below and completing the online application form. You'll be guided through a series of questions that will help determine if this program will be the best fit for your particular training needs.
After your application is reviewed and accepted, the next step is a 45 minute Discovery Session with Josh to discuss in depth your unique vision and goals, and how this mentoring journey can support your path forward. Then, a program registration link will be provided. Serious inquiries only, please.
Many of the practices revolve around your Sit Spot. On the average day, you'll visit your Sit Area - perhaps in the backyard or nearby park - for at least 15 minutes. When you have time, stay longer (a half hour to 45 minutes is really good!). Aim to get out at least three times a week, as the "minimum dose" of Nature recommended for this experience.
Wandering and exploration is also a core practice. When you can, you'll take your time getting there and back, as each moment is an opportunity to enjoy the growing set of outdoor awareness tools that you'll experience throughout the course.
Our online course portal is there to offer you inspiring stories and fun practices throughout the training. You'll also often find questions there to reflect with, and our course responder, Ruth Cory, will look forward to receiving your reflections as you complete each module. Plan to spend a little time every day, or every other day, to log in and get your daily inspiration and practice. Many participants choose to download course materials and listen on their way to work.
Working with Josh one-on-one, you'll have time periodically to reflect and integrate all of your experiences, through sharing your stories and digging deep with the Art of Questioning. Though you won't be given answers, you will be guided with questions and stories towards a new level of discovery, and pointed towards the resources and practices that can help you to reach another level of understanding in your connection with the natural world. These calls light a fire of inspiration; the conversations open a path to the next layer of practices and insights that are waiting for you on your journey!
Calls with Josh are held either via conference call (for U.S. residents) or Zoom audio meeting (for international participants). Regular long distance charges apply for conference calling.
A recording of each call is provided to you afterwards, should you wish to revisit the stories or learnings again in the future (many participants have found this to be invaluable!).
Bring a notebook to have on hand for the calls, and ensure that you have a quiet space where you will not be interrupted. You may also want to have any relevant field guides on hand. Sharing stories, asking questions, field guide research, and guided meditations are all possible experiences during calls, and the more you can focus during these special times, the better.