• Thomas

How are survival skills relevant today?

Can you remember when you were a child and you played out doors and it was the best thing ever, only returning when you were starving hungry. How do we regain our childlike wonder and excitement with life when we are living in such troubling times? Is the key way simpler that we think and is it bound up with our connection to nature and our ancestor’s skills of survival?


Survival skills seem to be a throwback to a long forgotten age, a form of historical re-enactment or experimental archaeology at best. On the other hand they are often engaged with by those on the fringes called ‘peppers’ who hold a vision of the imminent collapse of our society and are engaged with as a sort of insurance policy for when the revolution comes.


Though we as a species have changed our outer circumstances dramatically, over the past thousand years, accelerating that change in the last few hundred years through the industrial revolution. Scientists understand that the human brain takes millennia to change. So we are intrinsically far more like our ancient ancestors than we would like to admit. Even the simple act of sitting by the fire has not changed since our first ancestor sat in a pristine wilderness under the same stars. Children still play hide and seek and when we are introduced to the skills of stalking and bird language we can regain our childlike delight as we become as adept at merging with the natural world as the ancient Apache scouts. Discovering in the process how becoming invisible is bound up with experiencing oneness with the energy of all things.

This nature connection is enhanced by our capacity to unravel the mysteries of the natural world. Tracking is the art that gives us the capacity to ask the right questions that reveal what is happening around us. Our questioning of what is around and within us, a form of reflective inquiry that deepens our awareness, which is the door way to spirit.

The realisation that our ecosystem is on the brink of collapse seems to either cause a catastrophic denial, or a sense of profound powerlessness and grief. This crisis means we are losing faith in our governments to implement policies that protect people and the environment, rather than supporting corporate and personal greed. When introduced to the skills of the caretaker we become able to have a direct conversation with nature and encounter tools and methods that help us give back to the Earth. A recent article in the Guardian suggests some simple methods to bring back our wild woods.

It becomes clear that any small act of repair, like a concentric ring, flows out to affect the whole and thus we discover a sense of purpose and hope. We experience the transformation of over whelm to purpose and from there in to skilful action.

Our education does not lead the way in helping with these issues it merely adds more pressure to perform in very limiting ways. While we are schooled in competing with each other and our striving for individual choice seems to create more and more isolating situations. Add to this the prevalence of technological means of communication that filter out or our capacity for intimacy and real connection and replace it with the addictive and narcissistic alternatives of social media. We are becoming increasingly disconnected and our sense of separation is almost epidemic. In a recent article in Adventure Journal several studies show that children that spend more time in nature become happier adults.

When we reconnect with the Earth we can feel at home for the first time on our planet, just by building a simple shelter. When we develop a relationship with the flora and fauna we never feel alone, we can feel like we are surrounded by our relatives. We fall in love with our home and want to protect it. We recognise we are all born of this Earth and we are all in this together.

Reclaiming our sense of the sacred is essential for our survival. If nothing is sacred and everything is reduced to a commodity we can consume it all, destroy it all. If we recognise how the Earth is giving us life through all its elements and we feel gratitude for this we step closer to the sacred.

I would suggest that isolation, disconnection, separation and fear are major players in our current urban experience. That is disconnection from self, others and Nature. This leads to mental health issues, depression, loneliness and social isolation.

When we are introduced to the skills of survival and nature connection it is like a healing takes place, we experience multiple perspective shifts. Discovering weeds to be medicine, finding simple ways to distress and feel part of rather than apart from nature. Finding we can read the surface of the earth like a book, meet all of our needs from the environment. We feel like we are coming home to the Earth and are reintroduced to the wonder and relevance of our personal connection to Nature, a fascination we most likely had as a child. A simple sanity flows from this connection a feeling of peace and gentleness towards our-selves and others, a genuine appreciation of all that supports our life here on Earth.

By connecting to nature, which in its essence is mirror like, we are reflected back to ourselves. The benign quality that nature embodies can then reaffirm our sense of trust and allowing us to overcome our isolation and repair our connection with others.

Thomas Schorr-kon Author of TRUE NATURE has been running his survival school Trackways for 23 years teaching theses skills Trackways 7 month Nature immersion course is designed to help us come home to the Earth.

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