Get Lost!

Why is it some of us seem to know instinctively where to go and others wander around without a clue? Some researchers believe the answer lies deep within the brain, embodied by an actual “sense” of direction that can be resurrected and trained.

For instance, in 1981, R. Robin Baker, Ph.D., a biologist at the University of Manchester, England, reported that blindfolded subjects, when transported to a distant site, could indicate the direction home. Based on his studies, Baker theorized that humans possess a magnetic navigation system that works similarly to the way some birds and fish use Earth’s magnetic fields to find their way during migration, a feat known as magnetoreception.

Although other biologists have been unable to duplicate Baker’s results, it’s undeniable that some people have extraordinary abilities to find their way.

In animals, much of the directional mechanism is inherited, but a lot of it is learned. We humans are likely born with this innate sense of direction, and then either develop it as we age or lose it from lack of use.

To improve your sense of direction, you need to get out and test it from time to time. No matter how prone you are to get lost, you don’t have to go through life with a GPS in your hand.

Today we’ll talk about some strategies to help you find your way. It’s best to start out on your home turf.

Study the topography maps of your home town to get the lay of the land. Concentrate on imagining what the valleys, streams, and mountains will look like in relation to one another, and store these images in your memory.

Allow plenty of rest time before and during trips. Studies show the brain is more adept at receiving and storing spatial relationships when well rested.

Practice learning where north, south, east, and west are in relation to your surroundings.

Learn constellations, particularly the North Star, so you can locate true north no matter where you are. It won’t necessarily help you hone an internal sense of direction, but it may help you keep your bearings.

Remember, we’re all in this together,

Derek Paulson

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