Learning the Language of Nature
Explore an ancient pathway of awareness that brings powerful insights to our modern experience.
Holistic Tracking is the original mindfulness training. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors relied upon their senses each moment to survive and thrive; the need for awareness helped us to become who we are as a species. We are adapted to practice awareness and mindfulness!
Our brains and bodies are still those of hunter-gatherers, in the midst of the modern digital experience. Deep within all of us is a primal need to unplug (regularly!) from the digital web and reconnect with the vibrant life-web of Nature.
Tracking nature's patterns resonates something within the human connection system, activating neural pathways and sensory abilities that bring us fully to life.
As you learn to read Nature's tracks, signs, and signals, this awareness will stay with you wherever you go, bringing a deep sense of participation and personal relationship with nature that grows further every day.
If you've ever walked in the woods and wondered about the stories of the elusive animals that live there, or heard a bird calling and wished you could have a glimpse into what it might be saying, or just want some effective techniques to get grounded and inspired, Shikari Tracker Training may be calling to you.
Developed by 8 Shields founder Jon Young with input from Ingwe and Tom Brown, Jr., the Shikari training is designed to build layers of awareness as you discover your connections to the animals and landscape with your mind, heart, senses, and entire being.
Through mentoring, you'll be supported to integrate your experiences for realization of deeper meaning and patterns arising in your journey. Mentoring jumpstarts the skills, habits, and inner resources that you'll continue to draw upon as you step further on your path. By experiencing mentoring yourself, you'll develop an embodied knowledge-base that you can access to help others experience deep nature connection, too.
This is why Jon Young often says that tracking and mentoring are tied together: mentoring expands and enables deep tracking skills, and the experience and awareness that comes from tracking feed back in when the tracker in turn becomes a mentor for others. This creates a positive cycle of connection and empowerment that uplifts both the individual and the community.
The Shikari Pathway can especially help:
Meet Shikari Mentor, Josh Lane
"Sometimes I meet people who secretly wish to go on a journey into Nature - maybe they are a busy parent, a business owner, or an executive - but they feel daunted, like they missed the boat and the mysteries of Nature are out of reach, too far from the shores of modern life. I like to remind them of something one of my mentors shared with me: We are nature!
The things that help us connect with that realization are actually very simple. Half of the process is just getting out there and allowing space for our awareness to open to what's present. Just making that commitment for yourself is a game-changer...
Get out for a few quality minutes every day to walk slowly, soak it all in, and then find a spot to sit and be still, in your senses. Let go of your worries. Notice the sunset. Hear the birds sing. Smell the grass and the leaves. Feel the wind on your skin. Notice how your heart opens, your body comes alive. Your mind is refreshed.
Nature Connection can quickly come alive for you even if it seems like a totally new experience.
I'm living proof. I was that kid that grew up in the suburbs who didn't quite fit in, longing to see through "the wall of green", to know the plants and trees and the unseen animals, and how to track and blend into the woods... as a teenager, fueled by this deep desire and determination, I somehow found mentors who could teach me these skills. I was amazed to find that there were actually people who knew these ways that I desperately wanted to learn. Thus began the next leg of my journey.
It was a real "learn by doing" experience, and often I found myself thrust into situations where I was called upon to teach, sharing earth connection with people of all ages and different walks of life. Over 20 years, this quest has led me to travel far and wide, learning not only earth connection skills but also the mentoring frameworks that enable this knowledge to move across time.
Now I stand on the edge of the modern and the "wild" (which I define simply as the unknown, that mystery which calls us forward into greater discovery and aliveness), inviting those who feel called to journey with me to peer beyond the wall of green and revel in the mystery of Nature. And at this time more than ever before, we need to remember that we are that mysterious Nature." - Josh
I'm looking for a few highly-motivated explorers for a special intensive distance mentoring opportunity. Read on if you're called to experience the arts of tracking, bird language and earth connection with weekly one-on-one guidance.
Through 8 weekly one-on-one training calls spread over ten weeks, I will guide you through the key foundational methods of the Shikari Tracker Training Program. This isn't just about tracking animals - it's a transformational journey into perception and relationship with the nature of your local bioregion, including an inner journey into your own awareness and being. This connection process starts with you at at your sit spot, and then extends to every place you explore.
I'm looking for those people who:
A burning desire to connect with the earth. Passion is what drives results.
You have follow-through. Once resolved, you find a way.
Are Ready to Invest in Lifetime Skills
This is your life. You value and invest in that which brings results. What's worth your focus and energy?
Will Make the Time
An hour a day at least a few times a week (15-30 minutes in morning, and 30 minutes in the evening or during lunch break), plus extended adventure time (3 hours) on the weekend. It takes getting out there consistently to create the results.
Oh yeah.. you have to like exploring outdoors, drawing tracks, researching in field guides, and stretching your senses in fun and often challenging ways. Field time + research + mentoring = awesome.
Both beginning and more experienced folks are welcome to apply.
Topics will vary based on your individual goals, and can include sensory awareness techniques, animal track ID & movement interpretation studies, bird behavior and alarm patterns, naturalist skills, and blending with nature's rhythms. Sessions might also include mindfulness meditations, Storyteller's Mind training, and other heart-mind-body tools suited to your needs during the mentoring process.
Josh is an exceptional mentor, offering guidance for how to move into the core neurobiology that needs to be awakened in nature through the senses. Shikari Mentoring is for those seeking an authentic connection to tracking and nature connection at the deepest level 8 Shields can offer."
If you want in, do this:
1) Read this entire page. By the end, you'll know if this is for you. It's got all the key details, the why's & what's.
2) Fill out the entry form below. I'll review submissions and if I feel we would be a good fit, I'll email you to schedule an initial 30 minute Discovery Call where we'll connect further on your goals and get the rest of the pieces in place. If for some reason I review your application and it doesn't seem like a fit at this time, I'll email you with some resources that might be more in-line with your needs.
Note: This training is an investment in awareness skills that will stay with you for a lifetime and that will ripple out to all those around you.
Also, what you put into this is what you get out of it, on every level. I can give you as much technique as you can handle... but you have to do the "dirt time," as Tom Brown calls it.
I'm looking for folks who can make the time and investment and want to push the envelope with structured, personalized guidance each step of the way.
8 one hour Shikari mentoring calls over 10 weeks + Digital Shikari One training materials. Calls available via Skype or teleconference Monday-Friday 9am-430pm, scheduled in advance.
+ Access to our premier Backyard Bird Language & Awakening the Senses online trainings, for continued at-home learning
+ Access to the Online training courses
+ 6 months of Village Talk weekly group mentoring calls with Jon Young
I'll review your application and if it feels like we're a good fit to work together, I'll email you to book your free 30 minute Discovery Session. On the call, we'll discuss your goals and explore which package would be the best fit for your needs. Custom distance trainings are also available through 8 Shields for your staff or group.
*No worktrade or scholarships are currently available. If this is a major financial stretch for you at this time, please check out our webstore for other training options; tuition helps us keep the lights on at 8 Shields. Serious inquiries only, please. If you are interested in sponsoring someone in your community for this training, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I recommend mentoring with Josh to anyone looking to have amazing breakthroughs in advanced tracking skills and nature connection."
"I recommend this course to anyone who yearns to be close to mother-earth and her animals and to be able to read subtle signals that they offer."
Shikari Mentoring Participant
"My mentoring experience with Josh helped me build an amazing new level of relationship with the nature in my neighborhood. I recommend this for those who are seeking new ways to go deeper with their connection to nature, themselves and others. 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."
Shikari Mentoring Participant
“The personal mentoring experience with Josh has been well worth the investment for me. Through eight weekly conversations his gentle challenges and questions translated into an increased ability to conjure my own questions, to be more aware, and to feel more grounded and confident in the pursuit of tracking and naturalist studies. I also see being able to effectively mentor others as an offshoot of becoming more personally grounded and of having asked (and continuing to ask) a lot of my own questions. It’s provided a transformational template in a way that self-study or a one-off weekend program would not match.”
You'll need at least one good tracking field guide for your area. Having a few to cross-reference would be best. I'll share some favorite recommendations before we get started.
Also helpful to have on hand...
- Tape measure. Camera (your smart phone camera is perfect).
- A sit spot area you can get to daily (backyard or local park will work)
- A tracking study area you can get to at least once a week for a few hours or more often if possible (forest, beach, meadow... a place with some mud puddles, sand, or other opportunities for finding clear tracks. Tip: look on Google Maps to find a nearby open space.)
- Activate your senses and cultivate mindfulness as you learn to read the tracks, signs, and patterns of nature around you
- Learn to interpret the alarm system of the birds to detect hidden animals
- Open a whole new layer of relationship and meaning as you weave your story together with the story of the earth
Shikari Mentoring Participant
Mentoring with Josh helped me transition from gathering information to building relationship and connection.
Suddenly the so-called mundane, and often overlooked, beings were magical because connection was overtaking information.
Mentoring helped me to trust myself and my own unique nature connection journey, to make the process my own. It allowed me to directly experience a much older and tremendously more powerful way of learning than what I experienced growing up.
It helped me remember some of the childhood magic that got buried as I prepared for the "real" world. It is thrilling to continually expand my ability to recognize things that were literally invisible to me.
One has to experience it directly and learn from nature itself. In so many ways, it feels as though I have emerged from a lifelong sensory deprivation chamber and suddenly realized that the earth is inhabited by so much life that was just waiting for me to show up and be present.
Mentoring helped me to begin to see how everything is connected and responding to everything else, to realize the concentric rings I create and how the world around me changes when I change how I conduct my energy. The process helped me shed the weight of so much stuff that had been placed into my backpack as I grew up without me even realizing it.
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 20 years, Josh has practiced 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, author and presenter, 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.