If a mountain lion lurked in every school yard, people would instantly be more engaged with their senses. If you began today, to act as if a mountain lion was right outside your door (Which in many areas is actually a reality, see this link .); Would you know to look up at the trees, or ledge, or behind the hedge, and pause, then scan, for a tawny hued 8 foot long, muscle bound 140 pound predator, flitting it’s tail like an amused house cat?
Bird Language expert, Jon Young tells how an elder he knew frequently states: “The problem with children these days is the lack of large predators.”
Would your sensory systems respond and alert you to the birds right outside the door alarming and creating concentric disturbance, radiated by the cougar in the tree? Would you be present enough to tune in, when the young child gripping your hand and whining incessantly, expressed an unconscious but internal discomfort to the environmental cues assaulting her sensory system? Might you notice the agitation of the birds, the unfamiliar musk scent on the breeze, the unusual absence of small mammals on the ground?
Likely, in the above scenario, the concentric rings of disturbance would go unnoticed because as children in our modern culture grow, they are routinely encouraged to ignore these innate synapses that fire when the natural environment alerts them, thereby atrophying the vital mechanisms that allowed us to survive for millennia. These very systems that have been primarily responsible for our historical neurological development are still present in humans today. They are the systems responsible for our survival as a species, we must remember how to engage these systems for optimal development or suffer long term, catastrophic consequences to human development.
It is no coincidence that as we lose our attunement to the systems of the natural world, we witness learning and developmental disorders, and childhood depression increase on an scale that could only be described as obscene; 1 in 6 children today carry a diagnosis. Polio was declared an epidemic when it was 1 in 2700.
As we lose our attunement to the sights, sounds, patterns and nuances of the earth we inhabit, we also become, as a whole species, less physically and cognitively able. We are losing our senses. Losing our senses means that we are losing the body’s motivational director of development.
There is a solution; and it’s right outside the door. Humans have an opportunity, right now, to reconnect to our original design of development by returning to our senses. Literally. By adding a few key practices to one’s day, children can be instantly more engaged in the active and necessary development of their neurological systems. We have before us an opportunity to create the most powerful version of a human being that ever existed.
Remember the large predators I wished were in the school yard? Jon Young, in his book “What The Robin Knows” states: “If we learn to read the birds- and their behaviors and vocalizations-through them we can read the world at large.” Some say that the birds are here to lift the hearts and minds of the people. In neurological terms though, birds do so much more than just lift our hearts. They facilitate development and survival. The bird’s are like the newscasters of all things seen and unseen by the human eyes. Their vocalizations are also theorized to be a primary developer of our current auditory processing systems.
Learn to listen and feel what the birds right outside your door are discussing. When you listen, is there peace in your body or agitation? How is your nervous system responding? Can you tell the Robins voice from the Wren? Are the ground dwelling birds feeding calmly or are they absent?
We must relearn how to engage the systems responsible for our development over millennia. Those systems are directly tied with reading the language of the landscape and it’s inhabitants. The landscape afforded the continual recalibration of our senses: balance, body awareness, hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, smelling, feeling. We are loosing our ability to sense and in doing that, loosing critical developmental opportunities and leading to poorly developed and integrated humans.
Begin today to act as if your life depended on what you do the moment you step outside your door. Stop, breathe, smell the air, feel the direction of the wind, listen to the “neighborhood of bird language”. Are the birds calm, excited, quiet, busy? Each one of these expressions are big clues to what is right outside your door, right under your nose.
What will you do today when you step: right outside your door?
Kathleen is an Occupational Therapist and the founder of Foundations INature, Co-founder of the Central Coast Village Center: Outside Now! local non-profit organization. She has worked with Jon Young and the 8 Shields Institute for the last 12 years, studied with Rosemary Gladstar (World renowned herbalist) and raised two beautiful young women. Kathleen has spent the last 20 years collecting the best and most valid scientific evidence to support the development of a meaningful, functional model of practice: Foundations In Nature Programming. This model supports people across the lifespan using ancient techniques for health and well being, because: Nature, it's what's outside!