In our fast-paced world, an increasing number of people are seeking stillness. Practices such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness have never been more popular. The human mind is rebelling against the rat race, and many of us seek to escape, at least occasionally.
While I’ve always appreciated the closeness with nature you experience, when hunting, I was taken by surprise when I discovered the art of stillness during my recent outing. To my surprise, I realized how each hunter must practice complete stillness to succeed, and the many hours of hunting I had clocked up over the years suddenly produced unexpected results.
The Surprising Discoveries of My Hunting Trip
Even the preparation is, in some way, a mindful process because your decisions are based on a variety of factors, including lunar phases, time of year, time of day, deer movements, and behavioral patterns, and much more beyond. The preparation is geared toward fully blending in with nature and completely becoming a part of it. Even your choice of clothing and equipment or the fact you don’t use a powerful cologne before hunting illustrates the efforts to completely unite with nature.
This time, we opted for an evening deer hunt simply because it was more convenient. We sought out the best vantage point and sat in wait, immersed in complete silence. The weather was mild, the wind soft, and the interplay between sunshine and shade in our chosen wood offered perfect visibility. It was a perfect day for hunting, and all we needed to do was practice patience and wait.
Except, for one reason or another that day, I couldn’t get myself into a complete state of stillness. I was restless, I couldn’t get myself into a comfortable position, I coughed several times for unexplainable reasons, and I kept fidgeting. How many deer I frightened off that day, I couldn’t tell you. All I can say is my restlessness and inability to blend in highlighted the absolute need for stillness like never before.
On our way home, I pondered my discovery and contemplated the hidden benefits of hunting.
The Hidden Benefits of Hunting
My inability to blend in that day led me off on an entirely new train of thoughts. Up to that point, I had enjoyed hunting and been grateful for the time spent in nature, as well as gifts of a successful hunt. I had never taken a step back and looked at the “stillness-aspect” of hunting. It had never dawned on me; how many similarities exist between “hunting-stillness” meditation and mindfulness.
Soon, I concluded that a hunter’s stillness and oneness with nature is comparable to meditation. You need to be still, remain silent, be present in the moment, become one with your surroundings. A hunter has mastered these skills but, I am sure, few would classify their ability to be still as spiritual know-how.
What Experts Say About the Benefits of Hunting
Health experts have described the well-known benefits of hunting like enjoying nature, spending time outdoors, physical activity and exercise, helping the environment, and bringing a feast home to your family. Some have, however, added little-mentioned positive aspects of hunting, including:
- Mental Discipline: Surprisingly, hunting is as much a mental activity as a physical one. Concentration skills, multi-tasking, observational skills, and problem-solving skills are key. Ninety percent of marksmen consider sport’s hunting primarily a mental activity.
- Mental Relaxation: Hunting also provides mental relaxation for busy minds because hunters leave all their usual worries behind and focus entirely on the task at hand. This is enormously beneficial when it comes to stress relief.
- Adrenaline Boost: Hunters experience plenty of adrenaline rushes. Though adrenaline is often associated with stress, many people deliberately seek out exciting pastimes precisely because of the adrenaline rush. Experts list a heightened state of mental awareness as the prime benefit of an adrenaline rush.
- Mindfulness: Health experts have been promoting mindfulness or “a state of awareness and clarity” as a stress-relief tool. Hunting requires a sharp awareness, and this element of hunting may expand into other areas of life.
Every Successful Hunter Has Mastered the Art of Stillness
Hunting is perhaps the one pastime demanding utter stillness. When you go out to lie in wait, you become fully aware of your surroundings and the rhythm of your breath and heartbeat. You are fully present in the moment and become part of your surroundings. To bring your hunt to a successful conclusion, you try to remain undetected.
You keep your breath still so the wind won’t spread your scent and frighten off your prey. Your mind is entirely focused on the interplay between your surroundings, the animal you are watching, and your body. The racing thoughts normally plaguing you have evaporated, and you become invisible. Undoubtedly, your hunting success is rooted in complete awareness and utter stillness.
How Hunting Stillness Can Spill Over into Your Life
Ever since that day, I practice hunting stillness even when surrounded by traffic. Whenever I feel stressed out, I close my eyes and imagine myself out hunting. I try to practice the same stillness, blend in with my surroundings, focus on the wind and my breath, and leave my racing thoughts behind. Sometimes, I reach a state of calm; other times, I don’t—but each time, I improve a little.
My daily stillness practice has made me a better hunter. Now that I am aware of the importance of mastering the art of stillness, I am better able to blend in and fully become part of nature.
Why Stillness Is Important
Nowadays, when our body and mind are in a constant state of overstimulation, the need for stillness is ever-increasing. The benefits are abundantly clear and may include:
- Reduced stress levels
- Improved quality of sleep
- Stronger immune system
- Better mental health
- Increased energy levels
I now try to set time aside each day to practice stillness and attempt to reach a state of complete calm. Though at times I struggle to calm my thoughts, I persevere. Whenever I do manage to calm my entire body and mind and maintain this stillness for a while, I relax.
Sometimes, this state of relaxation stays with me for the entire day and, on such days, I am far happier and better able to cope.
Hunting has taken on a whole new meaning for me now, and I enjoy and value my favorite pastime even more.
This guess post was written by Ross, the content manager at eKnives — who enjoys waxing green heads and eating venison jerky.