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Alex Douglas-Kane shares her experiences and understanding of Discover Nature Awareness

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Blindfold Tag Game

Hi Folks

I trust that you are all well and looking forward to the New Year, I have been very busy of late and not had a great deal of time to write on here, I hope this will change in the coming year. I thought I would share with you a game I played with a group of young boys in a residential school I once worked in.

The game requires one person to be blindfolded and I would normally start this off as it serves several functions.

1. I get to pay and practise my own skills instead of teaching all the time.
2. The boys get to see how the game will work for them when it is their turn to be blindfolded.
3. It presents them with a chance of out witting me which they love to do, its great fun for them. 4. Over a period of time they learn to slow down and to tune in to their environment if they do not want to be caught.
5. It teaches them to be silent without you having to drum it into them, not that you or I would do that.

OK, first you need to find yourself a suitable location, I used a woodland with a slope on it and with a track running through the woods. I then sat on the edge of the track looking across it towards the wooded slope. I then place two members of staff one either side of me, they were my observers.

The observers job was to get the boys who were caught by me to return to the start point some 20 - 30 metres away from the track, you will need to judge what the best distance is for your group and for the environment that you are in.

The aim for the boys was to move down the slope and to stalk up on me without me sensing where they where and to touch me on the foot, this meant that they had achieved their goal. I also put in out of bounds areas so that they did not wander of too far or even out of sight from the staff. The staff were not aloud to give their positions away to me.

My role was to sit blindfolded in peripheral vision and when I sensed where someone was I would point in that direction, the staff member either side of me would decide if I had caught someone or not. At first this was easy to do as the boys would be making lots of noise because they were eager to tag me, but they soon realised that they were getting caught a lot, as a result of this they were forced to slow down, thus allowing me also to slow down and get in tune with my senses.

After an hour of this a few began to succeed in tagging me, moving up behind me, approaching from the side even a direct approach from the front. And on the way back to school it was all they talked about, how they were able to get up close and tag me and the ones who did not manage it would do it in the future because they would have learnt from their mistakes and from observing the boys who did tag me.

I believe that they were successful because they tapped into the hunter inside every man and this memory allowed them to move and be in such a way that it does not require them to sit and learn from behind a desk, all it needed was for them to get in touch with themselves in nature and the rest came naturally.

This is a great game, you can have hours of fun, modify the rules of the game as you go along but importantly for them their confidence grew, and grew and for me, well I got to play as well...

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Food for thought…

Sometime ago I was sharing with a work colleague some of my experiences around food and how my body seems to let me know what it is I really need in the moment to meet my needs...


So what do I mean by that, well here are some examples:


Yew Berries: (Taxus baccata): All parts of the Yew except the fully ripe fruit (which is toxin free) are highly poisonous. I have eaten them on many an occasion and for me they are sweet to taste with the texture of jam. I love these and when I attended a course with Marcus Harrison from Wild Food Wisdom he was telling me that if you need a sugar rush especially if you’re diabetic then eat yew berries but you will only need 3-4 berries. Well here is the thing when I eat them I have only ever eaten 3-4 berries and recently I found that I am borderline diabetic.


Mussels: While was on the Island of Islay staying in a cave there for a week with Jeremy Hastings from Islay Bushcraft, we went forging and collected some mussels amongst other things. We cooked them over our fire near to a rock pool. What I can tell you is this I ate only one mussel and that was all I needed my body felt like it had come alive, I felt completely energised. I know for sure if I had bought a bag of them in a shop I would not have had the same experience, perhaps because they were not as fresh as the one I ate. Either way the feeling I experience was unparalleled.


Apples: These are something I rarely eat even though I do enjoy them. Two years ago I found myself binging on bags of apples for several weeks, which for me was most unusual. I was sharing this experience of eating so many apples with my friend Phil who is into eating raw food and he informed me that a good detox for people with diabetes is to eat apples. Shortly after binging on them I was diagnosed diabetic.


Oats: Several years ago I went to see my doctor I cannot remember what for now, but he said to me that I was to eat plenty of oats this would help with the issue I had. Yes you guessed it the week before I had started to have porridge for breakfast having not eaten it for years.


I know that there are many more examples of a similar experience, and my point here is this. I am not particularly into the medicinal side of food although I do have some basic knowledge, and yet for some reason I am aware that my body tells me what I need and I just go and eat that food source without giving it too much thought. So how do I know this?


I feel very sure that are body cells contain memory and the experiences of our ancestors who lived in nature and who were very much connected to and in tune with their environment learnt and experienced the wisdom of their wild food. This memory contained in our DNA is handed down to us and when we need it to help us it comes to the surface even when we do not understand it, we just know and feel it is the right thing to do against all the logic that the modern world tells us is true.


Here is another example of what I am taking about


Clover: "Mate that was the best sleep I have had in six months..." that's what he told me after he woke up five hours later having been on a plant meditation with me. He was from Australia and I had given him the clover as his plant to work with during a plant meditation. I am often guided to give certain people certain plants, after giving someone a plant, I would then I end up going back and exchanging it for a different one, only to discover at the end of the session that was exactly the plant they needed.


Sometime after the session the senior nurse in the rehab I was working in said to me, “What did you do to him”. I said what do you mean? She told me that he had become very emotional, and that he was shocked that such a small plant could have such an effect on him. Later when she went to see him in his room where he had gone to lay down, she was unable to wake him.


I went immediately to his room to see if he was ok, and he was still out for the count. He seemed ok so I did one more check on him some time later, this time he was awake. I asked him if he was ok, he responded by saying "Mate that was the best sleep I have had in over six months, I feel great". I was completely unaware that he was an insomniac and he had not been sleeping at all since being in rehab, and guess what, Clover induces sleep.


There are many other examples of even animals knowing what to do to stay healthy allow me to share with you the following tale. While I was in the USA recently my friend Pam shared a story with about a bear that did some self-healing using plants and on my return I have since found a book on the subject. I have always believed that animals have a higher level of awareness that many people believe is not possible. The story below I feel shows that animals do indeed have a higher level of awareness as do we when it comes to tuning into nature.


The story goes as follows. Two herbalists were hiking one day when they came across a blood trail which they decided to follow, sometime later they found a bear who had a horrible wound in his side. He had packed his wound full of Osha (Ligusticum porteri). It seems that for this particular bear it was too late perhaps the wound was too server as he was dead when they found him.


In Native American language osha is referred to as bear root or bear medicine, the plants are typically eaten by bears, for what appears to be for medicinal purposes. Often Native Americans would observe the bears seeking out stands of this plant in order to consume its roots, usually after becoming wounded or sick and even after emerging from hibernation. The Native Americans also learned of Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) by observing elk seeking out these plants to consume them when they were sick or wounded this plant became known to the Native Americans as elk root.


Here is another extract from Cindy Engels book called 'Lessons in natural wellness from the animal kingdom Wild Health'.


"The dog taken by fever seeks rest in a quiet corner, but is found eating herbs when his stomach is upset. Nobody taught him what herbs to eat, but he will instinctively seek those that make him vomit or improve his condition in some other way".

Henry Sigerist, American Physician, 1951


"When the kunkis [tame elephants] are sick, the mahouts take them to the forest where the elephants pick the herbs or plants they need. Somehow they are able to prescribe their own medicine".

Dinesh Choudhury, Indian elephant hunter, 2000


So as you can see there is much more going on in around our relationship with our food and the plants that we depend on for our survival. There is I believe a connectedness that goes back thousands of years and which has been handed down to us either through direct communication from our ancestors be that in written form or whatever but also handed down to us in memory.