Rob Wood has overcome many obstacles in his life. Since climbing crags in the English Lake Country as a young boy, the adventurer who now lives on Maurelle Island, has been drawn to challenging himself in the outdoors.
In his new book The Zone: Rediscovering Our Natural Self, Wood described ascending the face of Yosemite’s El Capitan with a fellow Brit at at a time when few had conquered the granite wall, as well as a months long trip exploring the peaks of Baffin Island.
As a mountaineering guide in Strathcona Provincial Park, and elsewhere, Wood has taught mindfulness as a tool to strengthen focus and stay in the present while surrounded by wilderness.
While penning his latest novel, Wood writes of using mindfulness while facing his most significant challenge to date: a battle with Parkinson’s Disease.
“When I am tired and not paying attention I stoop, drag my right foot and don’t swing my arms: the classic Parkinson’s shuffle,” he wrote. “By paying conscious attention, I can walk quite normally. This requires a huge amount of mental effort and discipline.”
He put his mental faculties to the test for the filming of a documentary to accompany his latest book.
A camera crew followed him as he attempted a summit of Mount van der Est, an 1,800-metre peak on the B.C. mainland. While the top of the mountain remained out of reach on the trip in question, Wood was able to hike for eight hours on rough trail-less terrain by remaining in the zone.
”I had to keep my mind from wandering somewhere other than where I was putting my feet,” he wrote. “There was no way I could converse, admire the views or otherwise multi-task, so the breaks were welcomed for mental as much as physical relaxation, giving me time to chat and take in the spectacular view down the forested valley, out over the Discovery Archipelago to our Maurelle Island home and the mountains of Vancouver Island’s Strathcona Park beyond.”
To further explain the zone, Wood writes about everything from Quantum Physics, to indigenous knowledge, to daring ocean crossings in a home-made boat, to designing homes which accent the land they occupy.
In an email interview with The Mirror, the author discussed what he would like readers to take away from the book.
Woods wrote he’d like to dispel ‘culturally conditioned popular myths’ that the human brain is the sole prerogative of consciousness which makes us separate and superior to the rest of the world, thereby giving us the right to control it for our own self interest.
“Meaningful happiness and realization of our true self can be much more easily and far less harmfully be attained by connecting with and tuning into the spontaneous flow of universal consciousness in the natural environment…. being in The Zone,” he wrote.
Woods said the process of writing the book was a challenge in of itself.
“Since the development of of Parkinsons’s Disease, hand writing and computer keyboard operation have become very challenging,” he wrote. “But by practice of conscious attention (being in the Zone), I can mediate the physical symptoms somewhat.”
Although some readers might deduce a swami-like dedication to mindfulness is necessary to get into the zone, Woods argues it is different for everyone.
“It ‘s all relative and it may take a something extreme like mountaineering to rattle one’s cage – especially for young men – but once we have experienced it, it can be very easy; just letting the dog take you for a walk in the park….with an open mind,” he wrote.
Readers can find out where to buy The Zone: Rediscovering Our Natural Self at rmbooks.com/book/the-zone.