I came across fresh tracks of several elk, including one bull. The morning was bright and sunny with a slight wind in my face, assuring me of getting a reasonably close approach to my quarry.
After perhaps an hour of slow and careful tracking, I came out on a long glade, fifty yards wide. If the elk were nearby they would detect my crossing the snowy and slushy meadow. It remained for me to be completely still and pay complete attention to the opposite hillside. I felt now their presence and somehow knew that they felt mine.
As I stood there, the sense of time remarkably changed. What seemed like minutes I found later to be over an hour. At the same moment an intense feeling of the clarity of the scene swept over me. All my senses seemed to sharpen to an exquisite razor’s edge.
I heard the tiniest sounds of distant streams and rustling leaves as if magnified in a celestial amplifier. Everything seemed closer to me and I felt, amazingly, a sort of merger of myself with everything, a sense of belonging.
I was connected with everything in that panorama, the grass, trees, rocks, insects, birds, the elk that I knew were quietly moving uphill, out of my sight. I felt a great rush of emotion, a joy of being alive, the chance to exist along with everything else. I will never forget that day.”
Extract from Carl Von Essen – Ecomysticism: The Profound Experience of Nature as Spiritual Guide
According to Carl’s book…this mystical experience has a lot in common with the Zen practice of Shikan-taza. The mind is brought to a new, crystallised and heightened state of awareness of the connectivity of self, nature and the universe. By intensively being involved in the object of its attention, the hunter becomes completely ground of her being and at the same time, connected and detached from her surroundings.