We know it in our bones, as well as our brains – the enormity of the times we live in, the cultural and environmental challenges, the opportunity to re-vision a human culture living in harmony with our planet.
As we become aware of the scope of these challenges, we may move from asking “how can I and my family best survive” to “what is the best contribution I can make to these times and for future generations.”
That’s asking a lot from ourselves. Extraordinary times invite extraordinary contributions. It invites us to become our fullest self and from that place make our best contribution to these times of transition.
“The thing we most need to do well now in the early twenty-first century is to transform our Western and Westernized cultures from being life destroying, as they are now, to being not only life sustaining but actually life enhancing” writes Bill Plotkin, a depth psychologist, wilderness guide and founder of Animas Valley Institute. His new book Wild Mind, A Field Guide to the Human Psyche, offers a pathway to making our best contribution to these and future times.
Wild Mind introduces the Nature Based Map of the Psyche, developed through the decades since Animas Valley Institute began offering programs in 1980, drawing on the experience of program participants, fellow guides, and a wide range of other resources.
“At this time in our journey as a species, we’re being summoned by the world itself to make many urgent changes to the human project, but most central is a fundamental re-visioning and reshaping of ourselves, a shift in consciousness,” writes Plotkin,
Wild Mind guides us to reclaim our original wholeness, our indigenous human nature granted to us by nature itself. The key is not to merely suppress psychological symptoms, recover from addictions and trauma, or manage stress but rather to fully flesh out our multifaceted wild minds, committing ourselves to the largest story we’re capable of living, serving the greater Earth community… to shape ourselves into visionaries with the artistry to revitalize our enchanted and endangered world.
Wild Mind’s Nature Based Map of the Psyche is a trail guide to doing exactly that. It is a map of psychological wholeness rooted in nature’s own map of wholeness, a field guide to becoming fully human by cultivating our innate human resources.
The book introduces us to what Plotkin calls “the four facets of the Self,” based on the four directions (North, South, East and West) that are part of Wisdom traditions from around the world. Each of these aspects of wholeness also has a wounded or fragmented form.
Perhaps the most path breaking aspect of Plotkin’s approach is not pathologizing our wounded or fragmented parts, but rather befriending them, understanding them and realizing that often our most valuable gifts and treasures lie hidden within those parts of ourselves. We can learn to have a different relationship with our wounded and fragmented parts – to recognize, dialog with, learn from, and avoid being hijacked by them, to honor both their gifts and limitations,
“The nature based map of the psyche highlights our positive, life-enhancing resources and perspectives and extols them as foundational to our humanity,” writes Plotkin, “the accent is on our wholeness and potential magnificence, how we can enhance our personal fulfillment and participation in our more-than-human world, and how we can become fully human and visionary artisans of cultural renaissance.”
Wild Mind invites us to discover our mythopoetic identity, our unique soul purpose or image. Poet David Whyte revers to it as “the largest conversation you’re capable of having with the world” and “your own truth/ at the center of the image/ you were born with.” It’s a self-knowing much deeper than social-vocational role or personality. Our mythopoetic identity is what lies at the core of living our most fulfilling lives and offering our fullest selves to our world and these times.
“Deep and radical cultural renewal arises from true adults embodying their wild minds,” writes Plotkin.
His book is a wild read, rich and expansive, with experiential activities designed to take you deep within yourself, and there gather the treasures you have to share with our world.
Perhaps you are already dancing your wild dance of nature and psyche, offering your treasures to these times…or perhaps you are just now beginning to discover your unique steps and tune.
No matter where you are in your personal journey, these times invite and call on each of us to dance our unique treasures into these times of transition and transformation.
Watch the trailer for Wild Mind:
Dianne Monroe is Mentor, Facilitator and Inner Wilderness Guide with over 20 years experience creating and offering experiential and transformational programs and workshops. She blends creativity, Expressive Arts and deep nature connection to support others in the discovery and deep understanding of their soul purpose and how the threads of their personal story are interwoven with the big story of our world. Dianne offers programs and personal mentoring locally in Sonoma County, CA and long distance by phone and Skype.
— Dianne Monroe, Transition Voice