While visionaries such as E.O. Wilson and M.C. Davis are acting to rewild our environment, a movement is forming that seeks to apply the same rewilding principles to human beings. Currently, our culture delivers the message that we are all flawed and that various products will fix our lives. We are subjected to advertising for foods, vehicles, prescription drugs, and an endless barrage of commercial offerings that we’re told will fix our lives. In all of this advertising, there is a common theme —
You are physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually incomplete. Our product will fix you.
You are physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually amazing. The answer to your problems is available to you within your own innate wisdom.
Like our environment, which is forever altered due to human intervention, human nature has also been irrevocably shifted. Rewilding isn’t about trying to go back to living as hunter-gatherers. Rather, it is about examining our cultural paradigms, seeing how they affect our physical, mental, and emotional health, and reclaiming our birthright as human beings.
ReWild University seeks to empower individuals and communities to recognize their full potential through classes, ad-free YouTube videos, articles, and a Facebook page. By dissolving the barriers between ourselves and nature, we discover gifts that have been waiting for us all our lives. Our paradigm-shifting tools include —
Primal Fitness — Your body has its own wisdom, and as we learn to listen to our body, we can discover a new way of getting into rockin’ fit shape. It’s called play. And once you unleash it, you’ll never look at “working out” in the same way again!
ReWilding Your Mind — Inside each of us is a wild woman, a wild man, or a wild child. That “inner nature” includes a mindset that is characterized by curiosity instead of fear, awareness instead of distraction, and passion instead of apathy. This is your natural birthright, unlearned through social conditioning. Helping you to reclaim that birthright is the largest part of ReWildU’s mission.
Wilderness “Survival” — Better called “Wilderness Living Skills”, learning to live comfortably in the wilds brings us to an entirely new way of viewing life. Instead of trying to fight our way through each day, nature asks us to discover what waits beyond tolerance, beyond adaptability, and into our true nature as human beings. These skills make us feel less dependent upon society, and allow us to step outside of human dramas and see things from a broader perspective. At ReWildU, we teach everything from basic survival skills to full immersion wilderness living, without society-created equipment of any kind.
ReWilding Your Health — Instead of giving you our version of what you should eat, we help you to rewild your tastebuds and access your “nourish sense”. This is your body’s natural ability to know what is good for you to eat. And instead of relying on prescription drugs to solve chronic health issues, we help you discover how wild foods, herbal and mushroom-based medicines, and a profound shift in attitude can bring a new way of living in vibrant health.
Ancestral Skills — Today most of us purchase the things we use, and most of life’s necessities come at the push of a button. But when we do something as basic as provide heat by making fire with our own hands, we connect with life in a way that can never be approximated in our button-pushing culture. By learning to knap stone into tools, to tan hides into leather, or to create cordage from “weeds”, we remind ourselves of a relationship with nature and self that was more intimate, and that celebrated human ingenuity and capability.
Nature Entrainment — Whether you feel that nature is the result of evolution, is God’s creation, or is an expression of the entire universe, the fact remains that we humans can learn to communicate with nature on a deeper level. As our senses expand and our preconceptions fall away, we discover a new peace, sense of adventure, and companionship with the wild. Through meditation and nature immersion, you’ll discover just how entwined with nature you are.
Martial Arts — Inside all of us is a natural ability to deal with conflict, whether that conflict is verbal or physical in nature. At ReWild University, we’ll open a gateway into your own naturally-emerging martial art, and explore how martial arts practice can create new confidence, a shift in our perception of conflict, and ultimately, a path into our most natural and effective state of being.
Like many animals, humans can be domesticated. And we live in a culture where domestication is the norm. From the moment we’re born, our parents begin a process of domestication (it’s not their fault – no one ever told them there was any other way of doing things) that has been repeated for many generations (though we’ve been wild for 99% of human history). This domestication process requires us to suppress the things that make us most human. Our innate awareness, our boundless passion and joy, our desire to live every moment of life fully and completely.
In our essence, we’re truly wild. There are millions of years of hunter-gatherer instincts inside each of us, and our natural wildness yearns to break free. For many of us, this is terribly confusing. Forces all around us – family, friends, co-workers, the media – all of these forces conspire to keep us domesticated. But once we have a taste of rewilding, we can’t go back.
Is This About Living In Caves?
Rewilding is about integration. We don’t have to demonize our culture, or attempt to hide from it. But we can, with awareness, learn what aspects of our culture rob us of our basic humanity. Using that awareness, we can learn to live in our culture while still feeling fully alive in every moment — and as we transform personally, we will being to transform our culture (since culture is composed only of each of us and the attitudes/ideals/beliefs that we hold in life).
By rewilding, and learning to live consciously in the world, we not only live more fulfilling, vibrant lives, but we literally change the world we’re living in.
ReWild University’s Approach
Through our small group programs and one-on-one mentoring, we take everyday people into the forests and give them tools that include ancestral skills, mindfulness, and new ways to access their physical strength and mental potential. As people learn how to provide for their own, immediate needs, a long-dormant seed begins to ripen within them. Through adventure, adversity, and scenario training, students begin to embrace courage, creativity, and self-empowerment. Every student’s journey is different, but everyone leaves with a new ability to look at life with a sense of wonder and adventure. When they transition back into their regular life, they can take those tools with them and live a “rewilded” life even in the midst of their regular lives.
Nature and ReWilding
There is no doubt that nature is an essential ingredient in the human rewilding process. We’ve never met a person who, with increased exposure to nature, doesn’t begin to get ‘addicted’. This ‘addiction’ is really a sort of remembering – a connection with our most essential nature – and it is accompanied by increased awareness of our emotions, our mind activity, our instinctual selves, and of the world around us. Getting out into nature is by far the most powerful tool we have in our rewilding toolkit. But what if you’re living in a city? Do we have to abandon civilization completely if we want to rewild?
Even Civilized Places Can Be Wild
The truth is that rewilding is more about inner change than outer change. True, it’s probably impossible to go through meaningful rewilding if you are completely immersed in civilized life. (Meaning moving from a desk job to driving in your car to sitting down at home to a frozen packaged meal in front of the television, then sleeping inside all night and repeating that pattern every day). However, if we combine time in nature with conscious living in civilization, we can begin to see many civilized things through wild eyes. Consider that bats, undoubtedly wild animals, frequently make their homes in human houses. Some species of spiders seem to prefer a human home as their dwelling place. Foxes, raccoons, squirrels, coyotes, and crows often live in cities. These creatures are all wild. They live in the midst of civilization yet retain their wildness.
Rewilding can take many outward forms. Yes, you can do it even in the midst of a city, like the people at ReWild Portland are doing. The more you rewild, the more the seductions of civilization will start to look pale and boring. Some of us will take rewilding only a little way, discovering how rich life can become as we encounter a bit more of our wild nature. Others may reach a crossover point where we live our lives primarily in nature, “coming in” to civilization for means of communication. (For us, living in our yurt at the time of this writing, it feels like we spend most of our time amidst crow calls and wind, and we “come in” to civilization to blog and communicate with students and friends.) Still others might take things “all the way”, leaving civilization completely and living truly rewilded lives. ReWild University is for all of these people, helping nudge us along on our journey toward increasing wildness in our lives. Any amount of rewilding will increase your appreciation for life and will help you become a more conscious member of the Earth’s community.
Wild humans are often viewed with fear. We have an idea of the “caveman” who is superstitious, violent, immoral, and selfish. But wild humans aren’t like this. In fact, it’s only after we’re domesticated that we become capable of the rampant superstition, violence, immorality and selfishness that characterizes modern society.
Feel the Re-wild Difference
Innately, we are all wild animals. When you domesticate a wild animal, distinctly unnatural behaviors can develop. In humans, these behaviors are striking. The further we are from our natural behaviors, the more we begin to demonstrate the consequences of domestication. You’ve probably experienced many of them yourself —
Feeling clenched and fearful.
Exhibiting self-violence (“I’m worthless, I’m not worthy, I should be more ______ or less ______.”)
Exhibiting violence toward others (anger, rage, frustration, lawsuits, wars).
Always preoccupied with past and future, obsessed with “getting somewhere”.
Feeling like your life will be worthwhile when you achieve goal A, B, or C.
Plagued by dis-ease.
Unsure of the “meaning of it all.”
Haunted by the feeling that our entire culture is verging on insanity or blindness.
Feeling like you’re totally alone, like no one else thinks as you do.
These feelings are not natural. They’re what happens to us during the domestication process. Conversely, re-wilded humans tend to be –
Open and immersed in life.
Deeply compassionate toward self and others.
Immersed in the Now.
Completely satisfied with life while still able to joyfully pursue goals.
Vibrant and healthy.
Clear as to the purpose and meaning of life.
Happy to help others discover the joys of re-wilding.
Always in good company, whether surrounded by people or nature.
The domestication process robs us of our natural birthright, and re-wilding, to whatever extent we pursue it, helps us regain the passion, adventure, curiosity, and abundant joy that is natural in all human beings.