Born into a family of conservationists and trackers in South Africa, Boyd Varty (https://boydvarty.com/) began learning the art of tracking lions at a young age. Not for hunting, but rather as a devotion. And, eventually, as a scout for guides to bring guests into the wilderness in search of seeing animals, most often lions, in a protected environment. Through the process, learning to connect deeply with the land and natural environment, he discovered how to see and follow threads that often took hours, if not days, to lead to a majestic and wild end. But, when it came to his own life, he found himself shut down after trauma, operating on autopilot until a chance encounter with Martha Beck changed everything and opened his eyes to the possibility of using his skills as a tracker to find his way back into a life of meaning, joy and connection. Now, a storyteller, coach, tracker, activist, founder of the Good Work Foundation and the author of The Lion Tracker's Guide to Life (https://amzn.to/2Ov4jnJ), he's on a mission to help others find their own paths to healing, wholeness and wildness or, in his words, to “Track Your Life.”
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
My guest had a boycott. It was born in south africa, begin to learn. That was only for many generations by his family and the very early days as a place for hunting and in more modern incarnations as a place of conservation and renewal. He
and learning the art of tracking lions at a very young age, not for hunting but for as a devotion and also
finally as a scout for guides to bring us into the wilderness in
Of seeing animals most often lions in this beautiful protected environment, a through that process learning to connect deeply with the land and the natural environment, he discovered how to see and follow threads that often,
hours, if not days, to be to their majestic and hand while, but when
came to his own life. He found himself deeply shut down after trauma operating
auto pilot until a chance encounter with a sort of world acclaimed coach, changed everything and opened his eyes to the possibility of using his skills as a tracker to first find his way back into a life of meaning,
enjoying connection and then eventually turn around and, while still devoting himself to the lander to tracking
use that same skill set to help other people individually in groups and at scale
now a storyteller coach, tracker activist and founder of the good work foundation and the author of a new book called the lion trackers guide to live.
He is on a bit of a mission to help others find their own past healing into wholeness and two wildness and in his words, to track your life so excited to share his journey with you. I'm Jonathan fields- and this is good life project-
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over the united states and then south africa, cali, pulsing in and and refueling. I'm really curious on take a big step back in time. But I'm curious just in the way that you're sort of spending time now add a friend of mine, that, in the late seventies, went to india and grew up in new york city and and considers india the place that he goes to kind of touchstone. To refute, like that as the mother for him juve. A similar feeling.
I am in absolutely there's something about. You know having a generation long connection with a piece of land that has been in my family for for generations, and then I witnessed my
I, my father and my uncle and my mother create this incredible transition on the land, taking it from a bankrupt cattle farm actually starting to work on restoring the land and bringing it back to life, and so I sort of I grew up inside of that sense of restoration, and I grew up watching how that land and came
at last, and so you live in nature. You get into the rhythms of a place. You know the particular intangible feeling of certain areas of it. You know certain trees, you know and the movements of certain animals and- and you feel yourself
as a part of that. So if you're feeling a little bit more of the backstory here, you mentioned this land where you grow up, and so this and we're talking about south africa, tell me a bit more about the area and
because there is a real lineage to this land too. Well, the story begins like many great stories, with the intake of large quantities of gin yeah and it kicks off in nineteen twenty six, when my great grandfather was at a tennis party and him and a friend were playing tennis and drinking gin, and they heard about these bankrupt cattle farms adjacent to the Kruger national park in the wild pot of wild eastern part of south africa and the farms were bankrupt for two reasons: one. It was very heartland. Low rainfall and two lions were eating a lot of the cattle and something inside of my great grandfather, and this has become something that I'm really interested in something in him just knew that he had to go there and he he went there originally to hunt lions, and so
they went there for the first time in june of nineteen twenty six. They bribed a train driver to stop a train well, south of the property I got off and they just walked into this wild terrain and they landed at the spot and which is now the london londolozi camper. I grew up and then
for three generations. My family would go in the winter months to hunt
It was very ramshackle. They had three mud huts and I'm told
Occasionally, when it rained people would go stand outside for shelter with us
very rudimentary type set up, and then in nineteen sixty nine, then there are a few defining moments in the journey, but the first one was nineteen. Sixty nine, my grandfather died very suddenly. My father was fifteen and my uncle was seventeen and in the wake of that last they gathered in johannesburg and all the family adviser said will first things. First, you gotta get rid of that place. We used to
and lions a hunting lions is a bad idea. It's dangerous that places in the middle of nowhere. It's never going to work, so you gotta get rid of it, and this was also at the time.
sixty nine where there is it the same, serve social fields.
about hunting than that that there has emerged over the last couple of decades, and also there was nothing going on in south africa. Was you know in the midst of her?
terrible ideology under the apartheid regime in winter, but my fifteen year old father stood up and he said to the family advisers again, guided by something deep inside of him. We gonna keep it.
And the family by the civil. How do you plan young man to look after your widowed, mother and day tasted and moving like that
against the genius of youth, and they said we will make it pay and that's how my family got into the safari business and to my grand
now others credit and again the wisdom of the feminine. She she looked at us, her sons and said I trust you go dirt so that they hit it off to this bankrupt piece of land where there was nothing going on
and they started to get going, was incredibly rudimentary. Add one broken landrover that didn't really work. There was a trickling of people here,
down there. There was almost there was game there, but you didn't see it could have been hunted. Sir. Everything was trying to get away from you. There was thick scrabble over the land, I high scrub and into the story, and this is
was sort of the next defining moment. Came a man by the name of candy and kin was a fascinating guy. He had, he had dropped out of high school, but he'd been admitted to a biological sciences. Degree at a university because he drew a picture of a moth with such intricate detail that the dean of the faculty said timur came in and after he, after he graduated, he went and lived for a year by himself in Mozambique.
And he connected profoundly with the landscape and it's like he could feel the rivers inside of his own body, and he could feel the way the moisture moved across the landscape and how that inform the flora and fauna- and he was deeply connected- is almost whose almost in a kind of a union with landscape
so he rolled up and he met these young boys and then my mother, who were trying to get the safari operation going on this piece of land that had not much going on in it and he said to them. If you want this place to work, you must partner with the land. You must begin to think of the animals as your kin and you must make sure that the local people who live here participate in the prot protection of these wild areas. So I sent him a partner with the land. What do you mean he said? Come I'll show you and he took them out to where all the where the cattle graze the land and what happens when the land gets Gray's bay. It starts to send up scrub. So you get this thick scrub and it's a way of defending itself. The later landscape is like a person. If you
If you too harsh on it, it will create defences and he showed them how you cleared the scrub and you packed it into these deep erosive. Far as we are losing the moisture and and when they started to do that, they started to work with people to actually restore the land system,
credible sensation of the land coming back to life, suddenly occurring would appear where they had been high thorn scrub
onto that hearing. You would see water back and Volta beast and in serbia and in
greener- and there was this feeling that, as they worked with the land, the land was coming back to life and and then in
the midst of that, and this was a kind of another defining moment. One afternoon they were driving home and
just my father and my uncle in a land rather and in the late
afternoon light after day spent working on the land, a female leopard stepped onto the road and she stopped and she looked at them, and I was like unheard of because up until that point, if you saw earlier, but it was trying to get away
for me. It was running for its life. They had been hunted, but for a moment in a single look. She created a moment of contact.
They drive home together in silence, and then they stopped the vehicle and my uncle who who again is kind of a wild man, but in touch with something in himself. He turned to my father and he said whatever just happened. That's my future and
for the next twelve years. He went out with a shotgun track up a man by the name of aluminum shoulder his rainy us from the books brother, and they tracked this leopard and they built a relationship with this one. Wild, leopard and she years and years started to allow himself to be seen, and then she had cubs and the cubs grew up modeling their mothers trust,
me, you could drive a land rather up to this wild animal and she would. She was ok because she knew of two years and years that they maintain at home, and so she be-
I'm cold, the mother leopard, because for two reasons, one she was the mother of all of these cubs and too
because word got out all over the world, that there was a place in the middle of nowhere in south africa where you could go
and see a wild leopard and that had like a kind of allure in the psyche of it, of people and people from all over started to come towards this restoration and said that and that's what I grew up into and so something about that feeling and actually seeing a piece of land that wasn't conscious
but was actively supported in restoration and seeing how the land-
stored and then what it started to give us through that connection to it. When we started to think of the land and the animals as our kin and started to feel that connection with it. A kind of tremendous sense of belonging and connection and purpose and love flowed into us from the land and the sense of custodians
and not of ownership of being custodians of something wild and magical, and just that was sort of the context into which my sense of what I wanted to do in the world was those are some of the foundation.
though it when you're when you come into the family. This is
we all in progress. This is all in progress. It's it's
to be well established, in fact, all through the author, the eighties and nine,
is it was getting really well established. Pete, more and more people were coming and
the animals and the landscape was just going from strength to strength to strength and yeah. I was, I was witness to a kind of healing you know yeah yeah,
when, as as a young child, maybe I'm imagining growing out there
it's almost say it's gotta be almost like the ultimate playground innocent
credible sense of it.
learning to be learning the language of nature, it's a nonverbal
god. It's a language of presents the animals, don't have a verbal mind, so they don't they're, not thinking about the future
the past, you don't see lions lying around thinking, dammit women,
that kill yesterday or hope we get there just present, and yet there is a language to it, and so once you learn that language and I would have created more
rather than trying to rationally understand
In your mind, you feel the you feel the terrain. You feel the presence of a tree feel the way an animal communicates to you using it's body, language. So there's a lot of communication happening, but it's it's all in the feeling- and I would say that was my first language. The the the feeling of presence with these wild creatures that has become a big part of is that greats and frances. I think of ST francis- is kind of like a nature. Mister because he just went rogue and went and lived in nature, but wherever you go preach, the gospel when absolutely necessary use words- and I don't have a particularly
religious line, but I understand that he understood presence, hmm yeah, that's beautiful. So all the things that you're describing sound amazing was is something that you just kind of stumbled
Was it something that you are we take?
the wing of parents or or friends of the family, and taught that this is the way
it works in this natural world as a young child, or was it through observation or some blend of these things, while it was through observation, largely getting in touch with the feeling and then
from the time I was very young, I was exposed to men who had hunted.
Gathered on that land, particularly two brothers from the jungle family, who was younger and trackers, who had literally grown up hunting and gathering
and so I was expert I watched their way on the land and how ensuring they were with it and what they can do as trackers, so that it was a sort of went in there. But I didn't fully make sense of what it meant and tell my early twenties and then what had happened is when I was ten. I've gone to boarding school, which was to be ranged from this. Incredibly your natural, while
place and then put into a rigid kind of old english. Although in south africa boarding school with a bell rings and you it was, it was a big transition and I felt that and then I had had two experiences in my late teens. The one was I had to myself and my sister and my mother and now teach at the time were attacked in johannesburg. This was during a time when there was a lot of violent crime in south africa during just after the transition, and so we went through this sort of three hour extremely strange experience of being tied up and held at gunpoint. In this sort of thing,
and then a few months after that I got attacked by a crocodile. I was sitting in the on the bank of a river, and it was my entirely my fault. I thought I had good visibility in the water around me and but there was a little place with a bank fell away and this crock came out and bit me and tried
Pull me into the water, that's a it was a whole. This is when you're an eighteen when I was around eighteen and so in the in the wake of those I was. I had you know the kind of trauma that comes from that is just like I was sort of. I was in a kind of shock and I was very shut down and and very and and that feeling that I grew up with, I just closed it down. So there was something about you know. They say that trauma is it's a kind of freezing and
and I definitely put up a certain amount of defences and I was living with this very shut down very unfeeling. I didn't want to go there. I was frozen in some ways and I was working as safari, guide and sort of into the story, and it's just sort of one of those magical things in the heroes.
It is always the arrival of the magical, help rate the ally here, the guy that I met this woman. She came on safari and is
Do you a back home now I was, and doing so was that colonel is kind of you in this sort of shut down state. But I was working taking people out
Things should examine like how sir I just like
holding a lot of emotion that I didn't know what to do with so just kind of locked down like I couldn't process really what had happened with the the armed robbery couldn't process and
just couldn't. Process are a lot of stuff says I am on the sounds like there was some poor like ptsd erika. I would say that a dilemma ptsd that had brought on a kind of depression, and did you were able to talk to you about
we just kind of like took it. Let's see like that was part of the process is like in in south africa. It wasn't like you know, there's sort of that macho culture and we had an operating. We had a kind of we you know coming from. A hunting
background and coming from a south african battery, we just had our approach to things like we were bush people who, just like you, keep going. You know you don't so we didn't. We didn't, have the means and to work out how to work with that man and
and yet one day this woman arrived on my land.
Name was Martha back and I felt an immediate connection with her
You have any idea who this Martha Beck was. I had no idea what had happened was a friend that had met her year before a guide, and he had said to me. You know this woman is really interesting and she did one
the martial arts with me- and I find it really interesting- and I was a passionate, martial arts, sir
I went into the ranges room wait guides got allocated to get to a coming in on safari, and I read someone else's name
and I put my name on because I thought I could talk about my
it'll be interesting and absolutely changed. My life almost like something came through that made me do that and met her
a really interesting connection and energy with her, but but I know this taking my safari
the client apply, and we were having like a really interesting conversation, and I could sense there was an
alive now suddenly energy to her and then kind of two things happen. One I took her tracking took an attraction.
No and she said to me, you know: you're not do a very similar thing, like the process that I just watched, you use this ancient art form and the yeah the process to it
In the end, the mentality that you just used to follow this animal and unknown terrain and find it I do the same thing, but with people I help people find their purpose and meaning I helped them track. What's actually calling to them. I was I was sort of that struck me
and then the next thing that happened was eventually, unlike the third or fourth day of me,
her guide she said to me like what's going on
what do you mean, sir? She sense that some shoot off. She was just ass and then she said I can see and it's a scam.
It's an amazing thing. When someone sees you said I can see. What's what's going on inside of you, I can see what you're carrying and you need to, let it out and like it when someone hits a truth like that, you know it's just like
I'm standing next to my landrover holding my rifle, and I just felt like myself, totally burst, open and
The kind of ever since we had moment reads like myself. Client is hugging me in the car
fuck, and I'm just like crying like a baby and but from that moment and thus became this was what was formative about it. She helped me heal through the ptsd. She became a guide to me through how you find your way out of what is traumatized you, what is frozen? You, how you find your way out of a stuck place and how you find your way back to a life that enlivens you that feeds you that nourishes you and because I was a tracker. She kind of guided me like a tracker. She she framed it in there's something you're looking for, and that became incredibly informative, then to the sort of one you know. As a young south african, I was quite skeptical about life, coaching or anything like that, but
I healed. I realized it was possible and I became a believer when when something in me changed and that I wouldn't I wouldn't be so adamant about it. If I didn't believe it from the inside of my own life, how a person can transform when they start tracking from a different kind of center and and then so, you know now, it's like studying
Kind of weird vin diagram is starting to line up like grew up in a restoration. Had an encounter with a mentor that help me he'll and then the final piece was on the towards the back end of that trip her an hour.
invitation, and she said to me, I was sort of in my mind. I thought conservation would be my path, because that was my family's parliament and then she said to me: the restoration of the planet will come out of a shift in human consciousness and that comes out of a lot of people learning how to heal or get in touch with it
per self, and so those three things are suddenly lined up in there in front of me was very clearly my mission in. I just
restoring the land by helping people heel and restore and come back to a different place inside of themselves, and so all of my work now is is inside of the restoration inside of helping people track. What actually brings them to life? What actually nourishes them, because what I see is that a person who finds the place inside of them, that knows what its purpose and mission is an
I really touch that almost immediately there's like a certain set of characteristics that fire and the one is a return to simplicity. You start what you want is very simple. When you find that place, and you stop wanting stuff, you stop thinking that things stuff from the outside is going to give you what you're looking for there's an there's, a kind of a natural inclination and a pull towards nature and silence, and there is an allure towards experience over status and that just seems like a natural, buy and and people who find that a kind of activism to I think, because they are without going around being activists. They live their life and in fact they in some ways they give up fighting for change, and they just love towards that thing that
it is expensive that is nourishing that is joyful to them and in doing that they become a kind of living example of a different possibility, and so that's become. My mission now is to to take the ancient art form of tracking and give it to people and say you are a tracker and and and start the process of finding the the way to the track inside yourself of that wild at wild place in you,
knows why you hear that knows what you had to do in the way that a lion knows how to be a lion and trees know how to bloom and leopards know that they are solitary and and private and lions know they belong in the pride. You know that you gotta go under and one of the social conditioning and get get back in touch with that place.
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I made a really interesting, then diagram you described in part of my curiosity is also how do you
in that place of being shut down meeting
one person who sees something's wrong and from outside of the culture says what's going on here and then allows you to start to open that up and transform yourself too,
and ass. She sang so and then pointing out the similarities between what you're doing here between her approach to coaching and allowing cannot combat in themselves and your tracking
sort of like the yellow, very similar process, but just applied differently,
you go from from that place of awakening to this
then actually working with people in need of
level. I mean there's a what was your next step? I guess is what I'm asking, though I mean there was absolutely an arc and one of the things the one of the ways you say it. There's really important like one of the dynamics of healing is when you say
came and she saw you know that in the domestic traditions the shaman lived outside of the village you'll live in in the cultural social dynamic and he came from the outside to help you create awareness and he had to see from outside of you. So some of you know the way I was living in some ways. I was shut down
but I didn't have any labels for it. It's just how where I was. I didn't even know that, necessarily that there was something wrong because you're so close to it when you're in it and then when someone comes to you from the outside and says, listen, I can see what you're actually carrying day they help you realize, like, oh god, the stuff that I'm carrying it's just, not how it's meant to be, and I have to work on healing it. So from there the process became sort of, I would say twofold, the one as I started to think about tracking in a different way. So I started to think about. I just used to god and check it too. I think I thought I was finding animals, but then I started to think about the process. All the different parts of it and- and this this things within that, like one of the things that I realized is trackers, are incredibly uncomfortable, incredibly comfortable with the unknown,
In fact, the whole dynamic of tracking is to start without knowing you go out to find the lion without knowing exactly where it is, and trackers cultivate a relationship with the unknown and they use it to create a kind of aliveness and curiosity in them.
I was just trying to get away from the unknowns we trying to know exactly where it's going to go. And then I started talking to people, and so many people said to me. You know when I know exactly what the next steps are then I'll make moves and that's not that's not what I saw from the tracker. I saw the tracker going without knowing I saw the trackers use, what I call the first track, so in the infinite possibility in a huge wilderness of when animal might have gone, a lion could have walked anywhere
They would find a first track and then the next first track and then in its first track, and there was a way that they died down. All of that possibility into a moment of presence
and then another moment of presence and then another moment of presence, and so it became clear to me that if you want to set out on a transformative journey or one you have to go without knowing
and two you're not going to know all of the steps and that's part of what col Young called the left path. You know like you're, not going to know you get you get you get a little bit and knowing of what you need to do and then another step towards something you know to do and then another little step towards something. You know what to do, and you have to work moment to moment towards what feels
well better or what feels a little cold too. Maybe going off on a bit of a tangent here, but on target you have to teach yourself to see your tracked tractors call this track awareness. Remember once I was walking along with some folks in up, I was hiking and they will walk
down the path, and I was walking the other way and I knew that a leopard had walked down the path and they had no idea. And it's just this idea that as a tracker, there was information on this path. We were on because I taught myself to see tracks. I was tuned in to that level and they weren't, and so the idea and this this idea became really big for me when I started working with people, the idea that there is information, but you have to teach yourself to see it, you know there's information for you towards this thing. That brings you to life towards what nourishes you, but you've got to start tuning into it. One of the ways you have to tune into it is you have to be more in touch with your body, it's much less rationally what you should do and much more the feeling in your body like when you with certain people who energizes you what activities make you feel expensive. It's not like this! This is what I should do, because those rationales of what you should do
It only takes us so far, but towards this other way of living, and we need a different set of metrics and the energy in the body becomes absolutely critical to talking to us there. So all of this was happening as I was. As I was sort of working out. I wanted to work in this field. I was looking at tracking and seeing like if you broke it down this process, trackers lose the track all the time you know and and when they lose the track, they either go back to where they were last had a clear track or they go. They just keep moving forward and trying things, and you know: they'll check, open game paths, they'll check any open ground and they'll move in big zigzags and they're totally free within not knowing where the track is, and they just trust that if they keep using their idea of general sense where the animal was going, they'll cut back onto it, which is totally opposite to. When I worked with people who said that they had, they felt lost, they felt stuck. It was this absolute frozen sense and a crippling sense of I have to
the next thing I have to do has to be right right. You know like like I have to make the right choice and it's, like you know, give yourself a little space to try some things and get some feedback, but I mean it's it's interesting also that on that particular point, because I think when, when we do the
human beings. We generally do it in a social context. Where there are people there are. There are parents. There are colleagues, there are friends, there are people who are watching us,
and whereas, if we were kind of doing more in solitude, you're more like tracking and animal, what do you do it in it with this big social contacts with all his eyeballs?
there's all this and there's a sense of okay. So if I try this and then that's not my right and if I got little bit this way in this,
ran up, I go little, but this way and that's not right here
it was just me in solitude. Okay, so that's interesting information. It house me start to narrow things out, but if I'm doing it, while people are watching than theirs is like layers of judgment and expectation and shame, you have that that comes into the picture.
I think that's where my sense has always been that cause. I agree with you. I think that's a really great and an organic process that we all need to go through, because nobody knows exactly what what path is right in the beginning, but we have so much shame or expectation or fear of judging
then came from the social context. We don't want to look like somebody who's. Just oh they're just lost
just like going at all these different directions, and they don't know which way is rather than no actually answer
intentionally experimenting totally. I mean what you're describing is straight on end and in fact you know one of the one of the ways that Martha taught me was to say that inside of you is a wild self or what you might call what she called the essential self overlaying. The essential self is your social self and your social self. We needed we lit with social creatures. We need it, but in most of us that social self gets so over developed into the judgment. The shame what we should do, what we told the successful not wanting to be seen as a less a culture that is up
test with being busy a culture that is obsessed with knowing you know from the time, you're a kid in school: it's like you, get it right or wrong, you know, and so that socialization starts to be rarely crushing, whereas the tracker lives in discovery, the tracker let themselves tuning they let themselves discover, and there comes a point in the journey towards something that feels like a more essential expression of yourself, where you are going to be confronted by what you should do and have to do by that social self that socialized other. You know those eyes upon you and that's where this becomes a path of of being really courageous, because you have to step towards the part of you that knows, otherwise, you will be held in a life. That is not yours by what you believe. Other people are thinking about you, and you know that it is true that in this culture- and I think it is Joanna macy who
as in in a society where the individual self is disconnected from the greater whole. So in that to me that great a whole is like the natural ecosystem, the search for meaning is then reduced to. How am I doing in comparison? So it's a very competitive dynamic we live in, and so, if you want to go, if you want to get out of that you're going to have to face how much you feel held by being good in the eyes of other and you're going to have to cut yourself free of that and go wild get in touch with that place and and then just go, and you will be criticized. This is not an easy path. You will be criticized, you will be judged and people will sell you their fears about why it's
impossible, but you have to know from deep inside yourself if you're cold to or not, if you, if you feel that there is a more alive place for you, then you're going to have to go and offend some people and scare yourself and confront your own shame. You know so this whole, like you, know the the sort of this world of of self help or personal discovery or transformation. Like you know, I'm I'm pretty clear like this is not this is not nice slogans. You know when you actually start to do inner work. It's not like live your best life, you know is the instagram version of this, like you're, going to
and things you're going to have to move through them and inner work is his real work and it and is deeply confronting. But but what happens is that, as you continue to question those limiting beliefs, those judgments, those reasons to be ashamed? Is you start to get free, as you start to move through them and, as you start to get free, people start to feel it on you and- and the weird thing is too is, as you start to get free
nothing sticks to you. You like, when someone says the thing to you that you secretly believe about yourself, like I secretly believe I'm a bit aimless. So someone comes up and says: will you just aimlessly trying all these different thing, but there's no purpose to it.
I believe, deep down that I am a bit aimless. It sticks in it, but if I am understanding that this is part of my journey to discovery and I'm
Lee and ashamed of being aimless. Unlike you know, it is pretty.
right now, but I trust that something will come out of it in the energy around its totally different. So it doesn't sound.
In the same way as it is not only makes you more comfortable in your own skin, but also disarms the what people say, because, because I think a lot of what people say
sometimes it's well intended, but sometimes also intended to get a reaction when it doesn't like. Ok that didn't work should let me just
rob had even one step further. When you get really free people, don't even say that they have to use because they can.
Illidan right now what your are on, I just want to yeah it's like. I know some of that, and so you know that so I was cataloging tracking and then just to kind of roll back to this was this was through my twenties. I was really like. I was I'd, seen the land heal I had healed. I'd met this incredible mentor and I wanted to be involved in the restoration through people healing through land healing through, but you know,
no one wants to hear from you in that space when you're in your twenties- and understandably so, it's like that, and so I I just traveled- I spent a lot of time with Martha as she worked with people I apprenticed I learned I started and I had another teacher who took me into ceremonial spaces, a man who is a traditional healer. He started to take me into ceremonial spaces and started to show me how you cultivate an atmosphere of healing how you start to create awareness for someone around a pattern at first they get aware of what they've been doing this. You know what they are
Second, then they continue to do that with awareness, and this is how ceremonial spaces do it now you're doing this thing that but you're doing it with awareness, then you start to provide them with different tools to create a different outcome to to what they're stuck in in a set like they are very ashamed. The pattern is with a shame pattern. It's normally like in the ceremony, because everything that's happening in your life will play out in the ceremony. The shame comes up. They want to isolate so they'll go and isolate themself, so the first time you work with them, instead of them notice how you isolate yourself when you become
and in the next ceremony their country, they get ashamed and they I select, but they realize what they're doing right. It's not honour pilots. Now they want to add that I am, I got there's the impulse to then they'll. Do that a few times into this set of them. You know if you're, a good guy. What you say is you know? Why? Don't you try something different? Well, I don't know what to try what would feel a little, but what we feel good, what we feel safer
try connection a case of now share your shame with someone tell them what's coming up for you and, of course,
when'd. You share your shame you
Most of you realize it's not something to be ashamed of, because everyone has got a version of it and you're going to connection. So I learned like the dynamics of how you create healing you, don't do it all at once. You create a space for it. You create safety, you create awareness around patterns, you shape awareness, you you provide tools, you provide different outcomes. You provide people with a context to create meaning of what happened to them, as though I was you know, I was just endless. I was without tracking. I was traveling around apprenticing. I was sitting in groups for hours and hours and hours. I mean hundreds of groups. I sat in and watching people go through kind of a catalog of the trauma of our time. You know, and some of that trauma is there's so much more abuse physical, emotional, sexual abuse than you could possibly imagine you know, and this violent abuse people who grow up in violent situations, people
is this abandonment is so there's almost like these things that you would call trauma. You know and the things that happened, that shouldn't have happened, but then there's a whole lot of things that should have happened that didn't and in a way, they're much more dangerous because they're just built into the culture in a way there's a certain kind of isolation that we grow up with. There's a certain kind of disconnection, a comparative environment in which you can never just be and belong. You know just be yourself an incredible amount of programming around ideals that are constantly put on you on how you should be what what you should be to be happy what you should want, what it means to be a good man, what it means to be a good woman, what a good family, as you know what it means to be successful. It's it's given to you from the from the external constantly
and so some of that work becomes are not saying it's all bad, but you know people are living with a tremendous amount of external expectation and trying to base their life on where they are within that kind of pyramid of what was put on them, and they don't even know it and, and so some of that work then becomes defining for yourself. What actually feels good? What actually feels connected? What actually feels nourishing what actually feels like success? What actually feels so you gotta get all of that stuff out of you and start to self define into self defined, that's inner work. You have to start going inward and saying you know this is what I taught was told select for me the other day I wrote this success list you know and for me,
Success is having a lot of time to go tracking, and if I was you know, if I went to be the sea or something that's going on,
or, if you there's a lot of things that can take you away from success, it's time to write, successes and connected relationships. Success is having financial successes. I I want enough in a to be able to do what I want to do. That's I, like the simplicity of that and so successes being able to put on my calendar that next year I want to go, spend forty days alone in a treehouse in the bush and being able to do that in very much like for me. It's it's totally different to what it would be for someone else, but itself defined in a way. So all through my twenties, I was doing that work and then and following that path and then the natural expression of that it just became to start to share those spaces. So you know I don't. I would never consider myself a teacher of any sort. I create spaces now for people to have experiences in
that creates spaces for people to go tracking create ceremonial spaces are create. Coaching circles are create, as has as its just what is natural to me now, and then it seems a there. These Emmy, you describe it as a tracking spaces ceremonial spaces, coaching spaces, others
different in name is there and their different their different in contextual activity ready, but rarely
all of them result in the same thing, all of it. All of that work will make you more present it's about being together in a more connected way. In our view, if you, if you facilitating you, create that space well
connection. That happened. I call it the village consciousness like there's a more natural away. We learn to be together, which is more real, which is more
We don't sit around sharing social niceties, it's connected. You know. If you watch people who've been in ceremonial groups with each other, a language emerges and it's not a language of verbal language. It's a vet language of connection. They are much more naturally warm with each other. They know how to hold a safe space for each other
it's kind of natural physicality to it and which is not. We had in any way just like more natural connected, immeasurable re measures, also a lot of what you see with animals, exactly what I see people get
natural with each other in the web pride of lines are natural with each other by people bump up against each other.
on each other. It's just a connectivity,
while ago I was in a ceremony, there was a seventy year old woman in the group, and you know in the cultural context, there's not a lot of context for her to be touched. You know this, but she comes to the group and she discovered in the group her status as an elder. She discovers that she has she's holding an archetype of energy for the group. She has wisdom, she has lived and she can provide guidance to the younger people and because of the eldest as she can touch. Anyone and anyone can touch her. You know- and it's this rarely beautiful thing to see and that's how we awaken a different way of being with each other, sir, and I really believe that I want my work is still connected to healing landscapes. I feel like the age of restoration is upon us. We must rebuild our connection with nature and we
reclaim. I think, like the movement that I think should start is we need to start I d into fine wild places and reclaiming them and living and bringing them back to their natural state. Do something so phenomenon for the psyche in for the spread of humanity. If we enter off of the backing of this age of in this information into an age of restoration and everywhere, we start to see people reclaiming little pieces of wildness and then the other part,
if that is reclaiming that wildness and also write our own life aliveness totally right, because it starts on that level and then ripples out yeah and people who find that, as I was saying earlier, they start to live differently than I feel like. People who live differently can drive a kind of cultural change like people who are a lot of people who are living really simply with less stuff less in a less impact lists, usage and closer to the earth closer to their own water, closer to the garden. You know things like that and understanding their food source connected to their community with a with a lang.
A feeling- those people who are going to start to pull other people towards them and when I think, that's part of the change right now I mean as your share in that the person who immediately came to mind
gonna turn bird, this you alex sixteen year old climate
and activist who, when she came here, she didn't fly, she cheat
took a boat and took two weeks to come here and the way she lives
yes she's so authentic, to which he feels and what she would she talks about that
genuine a real and it comes from such a visceral place. You can tell
it's just the way you're saying like so many people before her have tried and shared nearly identical quote information, but there's
something about her and the way she
and the way she interacts with others that all of a sudden,
like millions of people are responding to and rising up and in reaction to that, it's it's phenomenal and you know I get. I get a call a couple of times a year from from parents, and you know they'll say to me: can you talk to our son? Can you talk to her daughter and I get on the coal with these kids and made seventeen eighteen standing at the doorway of their adult life and they're? Looking out at what's being offered and they're like.
You know that, like I want to do this, that I don't know what the apparent say they do not motivated they depressed they lack lustre is
I can get on with it and I'm like well, you know when you, if you looked into to this culture right now, what do you want to sign yourself up? For you know it's it's it's difficult and the
I say to them. I totally understand I get it, but are you willing to to fight
your piece in it and go and live your life inside of it. Then it puts the responsibility it gives the responsibility back to them and says: there's a different way. Go inward find what you call too and do that and then and those kids become so incredibly authentic, like you can just feel it on greater there's something I kind of feel. Sometimes I feel like she is like a gift to the earth from the earth. It's like she is. You can feel that there's something as I think there were at the right. What is authentic and you can feel that authenticity pulling and I feel like we need a lot of people getting in touch with that place inside of them
miles and a kind of like firing, the algorithm through humanity, of a different way of living, their cell gray, and I should like on you know it's interesting as ache
the finesse. Why? Why don't we do that? Yeah and we've talked about a whole bunch of the reasons. The same time here and and in the example you just described with seventeen eighteen year old, I think people very often through their twenties, as well as because they're still looking
for this to listen to choose among the dozens, the other twelve options,
there are already defined in that than proscribed lie. The people like immediately around them who they look to formally to tell me what is right
and then just turning inward and saying that giving millions of of expressions that are are right for me. Let me figure it out, but he and that that requires you going to a place of being comfortable taking action in
is of stained- sometimes high stakes- uncertainty for a really long time which were horrible at. But I wonder if also part of what's going on there is that
we, don't necessarily believe finding that thing,
that will allow us that feeling of alive less is possible and it
I think for so many people. They just feel like that that, like it's, it's it's actually not out there like. I I this is just what being a grown up is, and I know people in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, who have all shared that feeling with me. You know it's interesting you're in your in your book, you in the early part of the book you describe being in south africa with this too.
friends, like dear friends of yours and trackers and waking up really early in the morning and your job is, is essentially to try and
where lions are so that people who are going out on safari late in the day you can report back to their guides and they had some sense of where to bring them. So they see these beautiful animals but starts out
with real early in the morning, one of you actually hears
life somewhere around the distance? You have some sense of where it is, but the difference to me and in it
then you spend the next day. Seven. Eight nine hours like slowly going through the the way finding process of tracking knelt these the difference. I I think in that versus the tracking there,
We do in our lives. Is you know,
Looking for a liar, you know,
when it sounds like an you know, with certainty that it out there. I think when it comes,
in the context of our own lives. We often don't know what that thing is we
I know what it sounds or looks or feels like, and we often don't even believe it's out there, yeah, absolutely and And- and there would probably be times where
I would have believed that too now I think, we've all been, we've all been there and part of being a. I think. It's also important to know that part of being human is that you will forget, you will forget what it means to be a human. You will forget what was meaningful, like all cultures knew that you will arrive at places in your life, where you feel stuck and nihilistic and lost, like that's a part of being a person, but I've watched enough
if people arrive at that point, be stuck in it sometimes for years and then realize that part of what was happening is they. They are stuck in a socialized belief system and they keep trying to be good within that context, and they keep. You know thinking that if they just get to this level, then it'll appeal
and some as something has to change, and that's that that's the beginning of inner work and a new right party, what makes it so wrecking difficult as we don't know that and that's where we're Campbell says you know, people are not looking for them
the meaning of life looking for the feeling of being alive and most most of the people who I first meet her at that juncture, that they are looking for the thing out there like looking for the next thing and when I start doing that, then I'll be happy, I'm like well
you know, there's probably that'll. Probably contributors at the beginning of a work is stumbling around, not knowing what you're looking for but paying attention and then suddenly, like a tracker, you know, one thing emerges just one thing that makes you feel a little bit better and these and these things are quite outrageous, and this is what time I mean. I've had a few,
sessions of the last and allow what but the native people called your medicine way select. The emergence
something very unique. That brings you to life and that you have to offer, and it's not it's. It's sometimes very strange things like someone starts to find that inside of gardening, they go into a kind of time
presence. One guy told me a high level. Ceo, the other day told me that you know he's been looking around. He finds when he's crafting knife making has become this like central thing, and I know it's kind of weird and for other people it's like they have to start to share. They have to start to care, it's different for everyone and that's part of the process you stumble around, but you stumble around with presence. Then you start to notice how your body talks and you just pay attention to what feels a little bit more expensive. You start to notice what grabs your
engine notice what you noticing now you're becoming a tracker. Now you start to take some steps towards bringing more of that in your life and then here comes a thought, while our conscious do that conscious do the things that make me feel good. I have responsibilities. I have all these things I have to do and then that becomes like the first place you run into your socialization asean like yes, you do that
and of life. Do you wanna? Have? How willing are you to start to design with that and yeah? Maybe you can't do it
once, but at least you start to feel the pull, and then what I do believe is that there is something in new that knows how to do it. In
well, your body knows how to heal, but it's so outside of our context of you do this. Then you do this, then you do this, then just then boom you happy! That's how this is def, and this is why tracking is the metaphor, because it's much more subtle, you're finding your way to the part of you that knows party. That knows how to heal the part of you. That knows how to love, but you got to be courageous. You gotta follow you're going to be an uncertain terrain and that's why, when I started taking people tracking and saying we're going to go track on one level, but on another level, you know start to think about this process as the process by which you find your way in and and then and then I just didn't, have to work so hard at facilitating because it was all there once people started to, I don't know it's dynamic. It changes
if I have to get present, and so it was just all day and that's the metaphor became so powerful from your work out: playlists, tea or social media feed. Personally, the way to go and a first now leads to an affordable price even better. With his fate farm, personal price plan,
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The m billina you have to set in the beginning is certainly the invitation to be present
everything else kind of reveals itself, both in their internal environment and the actual environment, and what is going to teach you, but that first step is so hard for so many people, especially in this day and age, when we are like reading
in a world which is defined almost entirely by invitations for destruction and to not be present
Use the phrase when you become present,
what europe present, when you noticed what you're noticing wits in this related situations. I've been
and annual we might come. Meadow awareness are met. Our attention and awareness aware your awareness in place, and that is that one,
such an astonishing unlock key for everything in life gave change, but it's so rarely
in any sort of meaningful or
deliberate way. Yeah and that's why I mean it's almost magical and I'm I'm. You know I'm careful with that language, but we always say that the first movement of being a tracker is wanting to track and there's something about cause. That's you arrive at this point where it's like, okay, you know
you achieved the ideal of the culture, and you hear the highest success as by culturally to finally realise that, wasn't it or you don't and you're feeling in a terrible about it, and you know, that is something else for you. This is not right. Sir, you arrive at a point we like I'm. I can feel it I long for it. I have a sense of something that is more for me in some way. I have something to offer that is not being expressed. Its very you know it's the in some ways. Now the first intention I want. I want to find it. I want to be attractive and that becomes where you start to notice what you putting your attention and just that we when people started say I'm looking for it now and when I wake up to morrow morning, I'm gonna start tracking it mister
paying attention to it without paying attention you're right, it's kind of magical, because suddenly things start to sharp. There's a dislike things start to emerge into that kind of actually actually think of intention intention as a kind of refining of what you're. Looking for it's like you, when you set an intention, you cut out all the path of not hear you like you looking for
for it to come through to you, and you start to put your attention on what brings you to life? You will start to.
A small and unusual things and it won't be a halt.
in all at once. It won't be the hole that will be pieces of it, and then you start a string. Those pieces together, and that is the artform of the left hand, path the path towards following your bliss, and you know the young said of that party said you know you you follow
this is a good chance. You won't be respected for a while, but you will be living your life and its true that the left part is not easy use your your crafting something. But if you start to dynamically put those pieces together, other liveliness joy expansion, things that make you feel solid, lucky serving
You started, live from the energy in the body rather than just plain. Rational you'll need rationale along the way. If you start to be willing to try things without knowing you start to be willing to do things you care about, although they might not have financial gain. If you start to just follow, it will start to over time it starts to solidify there. It reveals what you need out of it. It reveals itself, and I and I've seen people do phenomenal things. Now. I've I've seen people change their lives radically. I've seen people heal
and and I'm a believer now air- and I wasn't when I started one other thing I wanted her to explore with you- is it because it's such a natural part of both
who you are where you grew up and where you keep returning to is the wrong.
If nature and returning to natural environments than the fact that it that it has on us in this process- and it's importance- I mean there's a few things that I think are fundamental about it. One is the this physiological changes you get yourself into a natural state and your nervous system starts to change your your entire physiology starts to shift as you connect with a natural space.
good chance if you're in a natural space that your attention is not being mined, you know we, we live in a time where our attention is constantly being taken from us. So you become your attention comes back to you. Then
The world is a non verbal environment, and so, as you go as you go into non verbal environment slowly or feel them a mantle of your verbal mind, slowing down and ass, it slows down towards nonverbal what naturally starts to happen. If you go into worthlessness, so there's a stone us and then, when you go into worthlessness, you go into a kind of connection with everything in it's, not it's not tree river rock, it's just you present there amongst at all, and when that happens immediately, you feel yourself as a part of something, and you feel it's a strange paradoxical for me. I feel very much myself
and very much a part of something else? It's a strange thing of feeling connected to something, much bigger and much more myself than I have felt before and a little while ago I stood next to maybe like a three hundred year old baobab tree, and the tree is hollow or thirty feet tall. It's been an elephant that took taken the bark of this beautiful hollow all the way up, maybe like another, thirty feet upwards, and it looks like this giant root. You know baobabs are called the upside down tree because they look like roots and the top of the tree. A swarm of bees have made a hive and as they're buzzing at the top of the tree, the vibration is traveling down this empty stem as being amplified almost
out of the slight hole in the side of the tree and ass. I stood next it I could feel it was. It was like getting boom box by thought, like a three hundred year old degree do and as they were, changing petra could feel the vibratory.
He'll changing in my own body and is just an incredible amount of information there, not rationally, not that I could rashly understand, but a kind of feeling of being that something very
what was happening and that between the tree and me in the bees and that silent place there was, I was understanding, something that I can put words too, and I think that's what happens. We there is information in every moment that is beyond in every time. We put our hand on the back of a tree when we stand next to a huge redwood. When we walk on a beach, a body is taken,
in an ancient information, the information of of union and belonging and harmony, and that that we need more of that for sure yeah. It's like there's been a transmission. That's the best word where something is transmitting in
and the more time you spend in nature, the more you will be able to amplify your ability to receive that and beware of it and the first, when the aware of it and feel feel yourself as a part of- and I think I said in a book so much of the anxiety and depression that we're dealing with now is just undiagnosed homesickness for connection with the natural world in a sack fundamental to us that we know ourselves in relation
to that river and that tree and these rocks and those plants on our window ledge and the way the season turns and that one bird that arrives every morning that we get to know that and we now selves then, as these as a part of an ass connected to relations rather than in comparison, and that is an absolute game. Changer yeah I saw a boo
you, and that there has always been my place yet like my mother land is nature, my that is
swear I go when I'm upset. When I'm stressed when I need to
be at my head and just like figure things out. I just gather there is something really powerful about reestablishing that connection yeah. It's like you're tapping a vein again and, and it's like she's infinitely abundant once you know how to go there like, I know, and it's the same as what you're saying I know I can take my sara can take my uncertainty. I can take it to nature and I will come back different there and it's, unlike god, just like I always have that to turn to, and that comes out of.
to be connected to it, that none of that- and this feels like a good place for us to start to come full circle as well so sitting here in this container of the good life project. If I offer up the phrase to live a good life, what comes up to live a good life and discover what makes you present find find your way into the people, the encounters, the activities anything that makes you present and when you spend time there you'll spend time connected to something much bigger than you'll. Spend time. Absolutely as yourself and as something more than yourself, and I think after all of my journeying, all I'm ever trying to do is to simply be present, and it's it's not always that easy, but it when I am
there's nothing I want for. No. Thank you. Thank you thanks for having me, thank you so much for listening, and thanks also to our fantastic sponsors who help make this show possible. You can check them out in the links we have included in today's show notes and while you're at it, if you've ever asked yourself watch
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Transcript generated on 2023-06-25.