The Power of Holistic Tracking

For thousands of years people depended on their heightened senses and intuition to survive, hunt, heal and communicate with the natural world. Through lifelong relationships with the plants and animals and mentoring routines passed down over generations, people built powerful invisible “ropes of connection” with the community of life. Like the San Bushmen in Botswana who live amongst lions everyday, people on every continent had a connection with the natural world built into their physiological and neurological systems and their abilities to communicate with plants and animals came from their bodies ancient blueprint for connection.

These powerful intuitive abilities have, on a widespread level, become dormant in most people but are available to everyone. After being mentored from a young age by indigenous elders, these abilities were awakened in Jon Young as a young man, and ever since, he has been working on a scalable culture repair model to awaken these abilities in everyone.

Over the last 30 years, 8 Shields has translated ancient practices passed down over countless generations that awaken people’s unique gifts, creativity and intuitive abilities into a modern context. These simple nature connection core routines and cultural mentoring practices like the practice of listening to bird language and tracking animals through a landscape, or dancing animal forms can reignite the human body’s ability to experience connection with the natural world in a way that is difficult for modern humans to believe is possible. Having connection with nature in this way awakens people’s’ unique genius and allows them to access their full potential in their work, their relationships and their gifts to the world.

Check out this clip from “The Animal Communicator” Documentary of Jon Young and Anna Breytenbach using these ancient communication abilities often referred to as “spirit tracking” in Africa.

Join us for a unique opportunity to learn from Jon Young personally at this upcoming workshop in Felton California.

Share This Page:

“The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”


In his compelling research on human health and development, author of The Nature Principle, Richard Louv, articulates one of the most important truths of our time — humans need nature for optimal wellbeing. As most of humanity lives in a society that perpetuates disconnection from both each other and nature, many are beginning to rediscover that which until recently, humans have long understood: that our unique brilliance and gifts come from our connection with nature.

Through engaging in simple nature connection practices and consciously interacting in and building a culture of connection in our communities, we awaken each person’s untapped potential. The role of the healthy connected community as a whole is to strengthen and support each individual on their journey of stepping into their fully actualized self. Jon Young, author of What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World and Coyote’s Guide To Connecting with Nature, calls this “deep nature connection mentoring”.

In Jon Young’s travels around the world, he discovered that such practices historically made up the foundation of training for the most skilled individuals who protected, provided for, inspired hope and held essential roles within their communities. These practices have also been used for centuries in the training of elite warriors and ninjas, healers and doctors, scouts and hunters, and leaders and visionaries. It is easy to sense and recognize when you are in the presence of a person who has been raised with these practices as part of an intact culture where deep nature connection mentoring was built into their way of life. Their eyes are bright and they have a vitality that is contagious. Their senses are highly-tuned, they exude a childlike wonder and awe for the world, they carry gratitude for life, and they are joyful and forgiving. These connected people have a vast awareness of the landscape and they are in constant communication with the natural world. The neurological systems of their body are optimized in relationship with nature, which gives them greater creativity, power and happiness. Each of us too has the capacity to embody these attributes, by utilizing our biology and neurology the way it was meant to be used– through deeply interacting with and learning from nature as part of a supportive community. This is in fact, our birthright as human beings.

As more and more research and evidence surfaces linking these practices to healthy brain and body development, we know we want nature connection for our children. But here’s the catch: supporting young people in discovering their full potential requires adults getting nature connected themselves. By healing the blocks in us that hold us back from the laughter-filled curiosity of being fully alive and connected with the natural world, we empower our full potential and bring that power into the workplace, into our schools, into our board rooms and home to the dinner table.

Optimizing the human operating system in this way takes practice. As Jon Young often says, “we can’t build muscles by reading a book about them”. Understanding muscles on an intellectual level obviously won’t help them develop. The growth takes place in the actual doing, and in the practice of doing so on a regular basis.

The number one thing we hear as a block to connecting with nature is that there isn’t enough time. However, we have found that spending even just 5 minutes a day with these practices in our own backyards can impact us a life-changing way.

We have decided to focus on supporting anyone who wants to engage in these nature-based practices in the same way mentors did for us. We hope to build on the 200 communities across the world that use these practices and the 8 Shields cultural repair map to transform mainstream cultures. We have created a program to strategically support people in connecting with nature to awaken their deepest gifts and unique genius.

If you are interested in getting involved and learning these practices, click here to learn more about this unique opportunity, available until December 8th!


Share This Page:

8 Shields Podcast #2: Attributes of Connection

Download Link (you might need to right-click and select “Save as”)

We’re excited to share with you the second of what we hope to be many episodes of our podcast. In this episode Jon discusses what a connecting experience feels like and gives an overview of the 8 Attributes of Connection. We can use these to help us tell how we are doing getting our recommended daily allowance of connection experiences.

We would love to hear your feedback. If you’ve got ideas for future episodes or questions you would like us to answer, please feel free to send us an e-mail at [email protected] – we’ll read them all and hopefully can incorporate them into future podcasts.

This 29 minute recording features a conversation with Jon Young about the attributes of connection. Thanks for listening!

If you’re interested in more, check out the following:

Download the Recording of Jon and Sal’s free call

Request Download Jon’s recording of Listening and Communication to Support Connection

More information on Village Talk

8 Shields Podcast #1: Connecting Containers

Share This Page:

For more teachings on this topic, join our FREE Teleseminar on “Stories of Healing & Transformation” with Jon Young & Josh Lane:

Share This Page:

Connections Podcast #1: Connecting Containers

Download Link (you might need to right-click and select “Save as”)

We’re excited to share with you the first of what we hope to be many episodes of our podcast. We’re still experimenting with formatting and presentation, so please excuse the rough edges. We would love to hear your feedback. If you’ve got ideas for future episodes or questions you would like us to answer, please feel free to send us an e-mail at [email protected] – we’ll read them all and hopefully can incorporate them into future podcasts.

This features a conversation with Jon Young about connecting containers, what they are, and why they are important. Thanks for listening!

Share This Page:

In this interview, Jon shares about his own personal challenges and successes with Village Building, as well as examples where it’s happening now – and his ultimate vision for how this topic will change the world.



Jon Young


Devin Slavin


To download, right click this link and select “save-as”

NOTE: If you have trouble downloading, try an alternative web browser. You may also want to double-check that the file name get’s saved as “.mp3” – for Mac in particular.

Get the Village Builder’s Toolkit:


Learn more about Jon Young’s 1-on-1 Village Builders Mentoring:


Share This Page:

An excerpt from Exploring the Art of Mentoring with Jon Young

Want more on this topic?

Join us for Music, Nature & Storytelling – a Weekend Workshop in Santa Cruz, California on June 11-14, 2015

Can’t make the workshop?

Get the recordings of the whole Exploring the Art of Mentoring Online Series here.

Share your thoughts on music & nature, and your answer to Jon’s question “Why are people song catchers?” here on Facebook:


Share This Page:


This teleseminar has already taken place. Sign up below to download your recording.



What’s behind every healthy culture or community?

A person or small group of people who had a vision, commitment, and the key tools and traits to bring about healthy community.

We call these key individuals “Village Builders.”

Join us for a free teleseminar with Jon Young  on Wednesday, March 18 at 11AM Pacific Time to learn:

  • What key qualities these community catalysts have in common
  • What it takes to become a Village Builder and successfully generate community
  • Tried-and-true village building patterns that have emerged from working with individuals to kickstart nature-connected communities all over the world

To register, please enter your name and email below.


A recording of this teleseminar will be emailed out to everyone who signs up here.



Share This Page:

JonHi everyone,

This week, I’ve decided to share part 2 with you as a recording. (Please see the link below.) 

I hope you enjoy it & put it into practice!

All the best,

Jon Young

To download: Right-click (or press Command + click for Mac) and select “Save as.” NOTE: Safari browser may not download. Please try another.

 Top 2 “Power Tools” for Activating Your Genius (Part 2)

Learn the rare art of bird language – join us at the California Bird Language Intensive!



For course details and registration:more-info-button-green

Share This Page:

JonFor more than half of my life, I’ve been studying, experimenting with, and practicing the things that help people achieve the greatest connection with nature, themselves, and other people in the shortest possible amount of time.

The reason I do this is, I know deep within my bones that we are in dire need for the people of the world to be reconnected with nature. The good news is, we can do it – and when we do, not only will we take good care of this planet for the future generations but it will also bring out these fantastic qualities of life within us. These qualities are what we call the 8 Attributes of ConnectionAnother way to think about them is as our natural genius. We all have them lying dormant inside of us, and this dormant potential is far greater than most of us could ever imagine.

In my study of thousands of people’s nature experiences, there are two things that brought out these Attributes of Connection the fastest. These are what I like to think of as the “Power Tools of Nature Connection.” They’re both relatively simple things to do, but sometimes we overlook the simplest things in our search for solutions, don’t we?

One of these two is a common practice around the world that essentially picks up where our childhood propensity to imitate things leaves off. Think of it like this –  young children will spend endless hours pretending to be various things. If they been watching a lot of television, they’ll probably imitate things that they’ve seen on television. If they been out in nature lot and they been to connect with the local animals and plants of their ecosystem, their imitation will be more in alignment with their original design. Now maybe they’re going to see a rabbit and then they start to imitate it. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard from parents about their children after a day at summer camp – how they come home and spend hours pretending the rabbits hopping around the house and their blanket forts become bushes that they hide inside of instead of simply blanket forts. Why do kids do this?

We are born with this innate desire to imitate animals, birds, plants rivers, wind – all of it. The most powerful nature connection communities in the world all have this practice at their root. We call them Animal Forms.

Animal Forms open up our connections because they activate all of our sensory powers in our minds eye – or, what I like to call the Storyteller’s Mind. The Storyteller’s Mind is that part of our consciousness that allows us to synthesize all of our sensory experience, going beyond just thinking about a sound or something we saw but actually reliving it with all of our being. Our body naturally moves into this full expression where we use every muscle every nerve in our body to tell the story. This is a very ancient and powerful pattern. When we’re doing animal forms, in certain ways our brain experiences us actually becoming the animal. And through this, we learn things that could not be understood by reading a book, or simply studying an animal.

You may not have realized it before, but there are many ways people are practicing this ancient art – and we see it almost everywhere: It’s the world of of movies, acting, creative expression, storytelling, stage performance and other types of media. This is probably why humans love watching TV shows so much or going to see a play so much, right? They love to see and feel others imitating with their full-body expression. You can apply this full body expression by getting into character and becoming that animal you see at your sit spot. Even with just the motions of your hand and arm imitating the animal, you’re tapping into this ancient power of animal forms.

Here’s how you can do it:

  • To start this off you can simply pick an animal that you see regularly just outside your door at your sit spot and you could begin to imitate it in different ways. (Let’s say you see a squirrel.)
  • Watch the squirrel move for a few minutes and then close your eyes. Imagine yourself being the squirrel moving right now and just making subtle micro-movements with your shoulders, your arms, your hips your legs – becoming the squirrel even just in small gestures. Let your mirror neurons do the work.
  • Try it with a tree next. Let your whole body’s ability to read, and see, and feel a tree swaying help you feel and express the tree swaying. Hear the sounds of the wind and the leaves. Feel the movement of the tree in the trunk of your body as it sways in the wind. Smell the smells of the leaves and in the air bring all your senses to the air.
  • Be the squirrel. Be the tree. You can even become… Your cat. Imitating pets is a really fun place to start.


Give it a try, but don’t get too serious!

When I was a boy my mentor, Tom Brown Jr., had me do a lot of imitation. He had to spend endless hours in the in the dark of of my little martial arts studio down in my basement – having music playing  to get my mind off of things and to just go into a freestyle kind of dance form where I was actually imitating the animals of my sit spot or the animals that we were focusing on this week.

Start to play and remember this is something that you do from a very childlike place it’s not something you do from a no adult serious mind kind of a place. It’s something that you want to do in a playful way where you really allow that child inside of you to remember how fun it was to imitate things. This activates all your nervous system; it activates all your connection processes at the deepest level, and begins to open up a powerful relationship with the nature connection.

Let me know how it goes on Facebook here:


Click here to join the discussion on Facebook


Come activate your natural genius with us!

If you love this kind of stuff and want to completely amp up your connection and nature communication abilities while going out tracking with us and having fun telling our stories around the fire (and eating delicious organic food cooked for you), please join us for The Language Older Than Words: The Deep Connective Power of Holistic Tracking Workshop, starting soon on March 12, near Santa Cruz, CA.



Next week, I’ll give you the second “power tool” that I find to be the fastest, most potent way for connecting people to nature.

Share This Page: