Image of the November 2011 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
November 2011 Issue
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Sit, Chill, Don’t Panic

The sit spot is one of the most undervalued and misunderstood outdoor skills

When I first tell people who attend my bushcraft courses they will be sitting still for 10 minutes or more two or three times a day they look at me as though I am wasting their time. “We didn’t come here to do nothing,” is a common response. But they couldn’t be further from the truth.

A sit spot is a place of your choosing where you will endeavor to go to every day for at least five minutes but preferably for one hour. It can be in your garden, in the local park, an inner city park, a reserve, the beach or the bush. Make it close to home (10-15min walk) so you can get there easily and often. Often is the key.      

Ideally it needs to be a nature space that allows you to observe the interactions between people, birds, animals, and their environment. It’s these interactions that will teach you so much about yourself and it will give you a greater understanding of how nature interacts with itself and with you.                

As I said, often is the key, go there in all seasons and sit in whatever weather is on offer. Night, day, morning, evening, how do things change at the different times? How do things change when you are angry or happy or tense? Ask these and any other questions and for best results write a journal about what you see and the answers you get.

Wilderness schools around the world have found that people who practise visiting a sit spot regularly, even those that do not have the hard skills considered necessary for the outdoors, are less likely to panic in an emergency, are more comfortable no matter what the weather is and will fare better in a survival situation.          

Add to this a greater understanding and appreciation of your environment and time sitting quietly alone, it should be one of the first skills we learn to deepen our connection with the outdoors.

Steve Porteous runs Human Bushcraft and Wild Living in the Otaki Gorge