I recently had the pleasure of joining a world renowned animal communicator on what’s considered by most African wilderness guides and game wardens an experience far too dangerous to be considered a sane option.
Myself, a small crew of 6 other people, along with 2 wilderness guides and Anna the animal communicator, gathered at the end of the South African winter to trek, on foot, carrying only sleeping mats, sleeping bag, and the food we’d need for our adventure.
Before we even started on the journey, however, we had to come to an agreement that we were about to enter one of the most predator rich areas in the World… on foot. And to recognize this place is home to thousands of different creatures.
This is where the first of the Wild Wisdom Principles was shared: Spaciousness & Respect.
We were not allowed to enter the wilderness until we were clear that we were entering with the same respect and awareness we’d have entering a stranger’s home. Our Zulu guide shared that wild animals all have spaciousness agreements with each other, they know and respect each other’s space.
Initially, we entered carrying all of our own ‘inner baggage’—a dialogue that is ceaseless and mostly disconnected from our immediate surrounding and experience. This inner noise is heard by all sentient beings in the wilderness as though we were blasting hip hop on an old school boom box.
We also entered with our own unique fingerprint, our undeniable presence. Not the persona we project out into the world, but the TRUE being we are inside. In fact, one cannot hide out here. Every fear, every judgement, every everything is instantaneously transmitted out loud and clear.
This is why it’s essential to walk in silence (no talking), but to also silence our inner talk.
As each day progressed, I grew more and more still… and miraculously the life around me reflected back to me my very state of being.
Birds flew right up to me, curious and unafraid, a white rhino mother and her baby came within 20 feet of our group, giraffes, elephants, buffalo, all grew more and more relaxed and accepting of our presence in their home.
Observing how the animals danced with each other was remarkable. So many different species co-existing peacefully, all living with the honor code of spaciousness and respect.
Too bad humans haven’t figured that out yet.
As the days progressed, I noticed that I didn’t need as much sleep or food. I felt enlivened by the bush itself, as though I was finally dialed into its life-giving current.
And I loved my night watches. We’d all take turned watching by a little fire, every 10 minutes making the rounds with a flashlight and keeping time by the movement of the stars (since no one had a phone or watch).
I loved these moments alone, under the stars, listening to the deep calls of lions and the higher-pitched yips of the hyenas.
I felt at home here, even though it was potentially one of the most dangerous places I’d ever been (we just slept under the stars, no tents, no lodges, just our mats and the freshness of the night).
My main challenge, to be honest, was the complete change to my diet. By the 3rd night, I had a headache growing and normally, if allowed to go without a neck massage and/or headache medication, I’d have a full blown headache that meant a sleepless night.
But this time, instead of getting stressed about my headache, I just touched my body and said to her in full certainty: I trust you to figure this out and come back into balance.
I woke up exceptionally refreshed and headache free!
This is when I realized the 2nd wild wisdom principle: TRUST your body.
We say we trust our body, but we don’t, not really.
We get angry or annoyed when she doesn’t behave in the ways we want her to. We attempt to listen and then coerce her into getting better, but the underlying message is that we actually feel betrayed or let-down by her imbalanced state.
Yet I found the genuine TRUST in my body not only alleviated the imbalance, but it also made me healthier and stronger than before!
What a gift!
We all have an magnificent body, all she needs is to feel her immediate connection to the fabric of life and our unshakeable trust in her ability to thrive in this world.
This brings me to the 3rd wild wisdom principle: We are intimately connected with life.
That sounds a bit cheesy, but the truth of it changed me in profound ways.
For one, I can never actually be alone. Not possible. I’m literally being INFUSED by life itself in every moment of my existence.
And I’m not an island! I’m intimately linked to every sentient being on this planet, whether I like it or not, every creature FEELS and responds to me, not the personality me, but the real me. The person I am when I think no one is looking or listening.
I loved and love this intimacy, this exquisite knowing that we are in each other and how precious that is and how much respect that requires.
I had a very special moment on the trek, where I put out a gentle request, if it were pleasing to the elephant, that she/he allow us to see them.
And then, the elephant came. To our camp. And I had a moment where he looked directly at me and our eyes locked as I felt my heart sing an ancient song.
Anna, the animal communicator, said she had wondered what he had been looking at since the rest of the group had been down by the river swimming, yet his gaze was on the bank, where I was having a private moment alone.
Another wild wisdom principle that became exceptionally obvious was: Stop, Look, Respond.
This may sound pretty basic, yet for most of us, when someone oversteps into our space (disrespects our spaciousness), we almost instantaneously react.
But animals don’t react instantly.
Instead, they stop what they are doing and tune in. Then they look around for a visual confirmation to what they are sensing. And then they respond. This means that even if a lion is near the impala, the impala may not run just because it’s a lion. They will only run if they sense it’s a hungry, hunting lion.
Our true intentions are always known by those sentient beings all around us.
In fact, we had a moment where our guide and anna had whispered the IDEA of moving in a certain direction and suddenly the birds from that direction flew up and sent out a warning call that woke up the rhino we’d come across.
Because we were so still, the rhino was confused about the birds’ warning and did not move away, but remained alert.
We silently and peacefully left him to his space.
The 5th wild wisdom principle: nothing that appears in our life is haphazard.
This one I learned within the first moments of beginning our trek into the wilderness.
I felt drawn to a tree like a bee to honey. I touched its bark and thanked her for her beauty and asked permission to enter the realm of the wild.
Our guide, Peter, took note of that occurrence.
Later in our hike, I noticed him pulling leaves off another similar looking tree.
In the evening, he shared with me that the tree I went to is renowned for healing any belly issues, constipation, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, etc. and that he thought it curious since I had mentioned earlier on that I had stomach sensitivities and needed some help.
He boiled some water and we steeped the leaves and scraped some of the bark into the water. We drank this delicious tea which resulted in my belly purring with happiness.
I was amazed at the gentleness of the medicine and at the fact that my body knew exactly where to go for it, even though my cognitive mind didn’t know it at the time.
So the bush felt and feels like home and when we left, I experienced profound grief. It’s known as Code Red (Re-Entery Depression) and is common amongst the wilderness guides.
My relief was knowing that no matter where I am in the world, the pulse of wildness still thrives, even if all I can see are a few stars in the night sky or a little weed pushing its way through the concrete.
My heart sang when domesticated animals and small children also ‘saw’ me. They would smile or wag their tail in knowing that I ‘saw’ them too. The intimacy I longed for was still very much alive, if I was willing to keep my heart open.
Weeks later, with too many hours of flying and adjusting back into ‘civilization’, when I relax enough to feel through the numbness that naturally wants to creep back in, I am gifted a smile from a stranger, one that says ‘I see you & thank you for seeing me’.
If recognizing your own intimate connection with life inspires you, I recommend starting with your own body, returning home to her. My book, The Emergence of the Sensual Woman is a great place to start.
I’d love to hear from you, which of the 5 wild wisdom principles resonates with you and how you apply it to your daily life, so please leave me your insights and inspirations below in the comments section.