The Wilderness Way to Inner Peace
by Rita Kennen
Tom Brown Jr.'s success doesn't depend on climbing the corporate ladder or counting stock options.
While others search the outside world for personal fulfillment, Brown looks inward, toward the serenity and peace he gets from a close relationship with nature and Mother Earth.
As the author of 16 books about wilderness survival and head of the famous New Jersey Tracker School, Brown, 50, is dedicated to helping people become familiar with forgotten frontier survival skills. His own training started at age 7 with his apprenticeship to the 83-year-old Apache tracker named Stalking Wolf.
"He was like a wilderness God to me," explains Brown. "He said the four most important things in life to people are all internal: peace, love, joy and purpose. Modern day life has led us to seek these things from outside sources rather than from inside. The purity of being in the wilderness brings these out in people."
Brown loves the ultimate freedom of living entirely off the land. A freedom he teaches his students. "People who graduate to high levels of my course can go into the woods, and sit for a month by themselves if they want. Most of them live so well, they gain two pounds."
In the weeklong beginner wilderness classes, newbies start by making a fire without matches, building a simple shelter, finding food and water and developing a few tools. Brown guides his students through a series of courses on a slow and gentle journey back into nature. As students advance, their skills increase and sense of adventure grows. Slowly they bring less and less with them out into the woods.
"As a society we worship safety, security and comfort, but when people think of the greatest times in their lives, many times they were walking on the edge," says Brown. "By going out into the wilderness, you're actually going back into yourself."
Think of the experience as a physical, emotional and spiritual workout, says Brown. One that sharpens the senses and offers a different life perspective for those stuck in a modern day rut. Then you're back in touch with what's really important.
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