Facilitating a Dialog between Psyche and Nature
Ecopsychology & Ecotherapy
The newly emerging field of ecopsychology offers a news lens through which we may view the human psyche in an interconnected/interdependent relationship to all of nature, all beings, (human or otherwise), and place our experience in the vast fields of natural patterns and archetypes. It is a new way of understanding the human psyche in the intricate context in which we all co-exist. It is a novel approach to healing psychological wounding as it expands the understanding of the individual to the broad eco/cultural context in which we are all embedded.
Applied ecopsychology, sometimes called “ecotherapy” is a practice that aligns our human selves with the natural world. It is a path of re-connecting the human with an essential, rooted connection to place, a restoration of comfort in nature as well as a remembrance of our inherent (“in the bones”) wisdom. It is a facilitation of restoring human nature to a grounded, soul-full connection to our-selves and all of our relations.
Regenerative Ecopsychology and Applied Permaculture: Inspiring Community Resilience
Workshop with Anna Swisher, Spencer Neilson, and Sarah Scheld
Saturday, March 25, 10:00 am to Sunday, March 26, 12:00 pm.
The Spring Equinox has always been a time of birth and beginnings, and this year we gather to plant seeds for new ways of living that nourish soil and soul, human and earth community. This workshop and celebration aims to offer participants a direct experience of regenerative ecopsychology and applied permaculture, by exploring core routines and practices that help us exercise our capacity for deeper connection with ourselves, with each other, and with the living earth. Taking lessons from nature herself, we immerse ourselves in the living process of designing human and ecological systems for a regenerative future.
We will engage the lens of permaculture to learn from the inherent genius of nature, observing how plants and animals build relationships and exist in mutually supportive communities, and will apply these teachings to designing community, tending our inner lives, social dynamics, and connections with the natural world. We’ll engage hands-on work in the garden and on the land, as well as discussion and inquiry, to invite a grounded understanding of how permaculture principles work to restore and regenerate ecosystems and relationships. All our work will be held in the framework of The Great Turning, as we employ practices from Joanna Macy’s Work That Reconnects, to awaken our deep longings and activist selves.
In a time that is calling for radical creativity, compassion, courage, and resilience, the intention of this day is to nourish and inspire individuals to be able to sow seeds of restorative cultural change, born of each individual’s unique relationship to human and natural communities. Holding each of us as a precious seed for our communities, we will practice tending our individual landscapes, stoking our fire and increasing our capacity to become more effective community builders and cultural creatives.
This is a day of experiential learning, nourishing connection and transformative practice. It is also a seasonal celebration of new beginnings, complete with music, dance, fires and storytelling. This day will also serve as an introduction to a year-long program with similar intentions, that is scheduled to begin in the fall.
Practices will include:
- Permaculture design for garden and community resilience
- Seed sowing and bed preparation
- Awareness practices to support nature connection
- Solo time in the wildlands
- Body-centered practices for grounding and connecting to ourselves and each other
- Land-based meditations that nourish our embeddedness in the natural world
- Applying principles of permaculture to restoring landscape, psyche, and social relationships
- Learning how to apply basic practices and principles of ecopsychology to our lives, our work, and community-building
- Work That Reconnects practices for building community and healing
- Council as a way of sharing authentically and witnessing one another
- Sharing music and song around the fire
- Equinox ceremony
LOGISTICS: We will share a picnic style lunch, potlcuk dinner, and breakfast on site. Coffee and tea will be provided. Please bring food for yourself for lunch and breakfast, and something to share for dinner.
Camping is available on site at no extra charge. Please contact us if you have questions about sleeping arrangements.
DETAILS: CORE ELEMENTS AND PRACTICES
Deep Nature Connection: “The future is in the hands of the nature-smart.” To create regenerative solutions, we must be firmly rooted in the ecological self. To foster both our ecological awareness and our felt sense of belonging to this Earth, we bring in practices from ecopsychology, permaculture, indigenous and earth-based traditions, and the Work That Reconnects (from Joanna Macy). We will awaken the sensory self, in direct sensual connection with the natural world, and work to restore core routines of deep nature connection that support the creation and adoption of life-affirming and life-sustaining actions. We’ll learn and explore methods of observation and connection, and learn tangible skills for tending both the inner and outer landscape, weaving ourselves more fully and skillfully into the ecological story of the moment.
Permaculture: How do we go forth and design resilient lives? We will engage the lens of permaculture to learn this from nature, using ecological design as our approach to designing community life. Through permaculture, we observe how plants and animals build relationships and exist in mutually supportive communities. Permaculture teaches us how to participate within a system in a way that is not exhausting resources. Permaculture is both a tangible method, as well as a philosophical system, which guides us in learning from the inherent genius of nature to design resilient communities, tending our inner lives and our social dynamics at the same time. We’ll engage both hands-on work in the garden, as well as discussion and inquiry, to invite a grounded understanding of how permaculture principles work to restore and regenerate ecosystems and relationships.
Body-centered Practice: For an approach to healing and restorative design that engages our full humanness in connection with one another and the natural world, we must engage the body. The body is the home of the ecological unconscious, both personal and collective. Our bodies hold centuries of evolutionary wisdom, as well as trauma, that must inform our way forward. Our body is also our most direct and sensual connection to nature and the world around us, and is the vessel we use to create. The connection between the inner and outer world is essential to understand; our inner dimensions, held within the body, are the blueprints we carry for creating. If we don’t feel at home in ourselves, we cannot create communities of belonging around us. We bring in embodied practice in an explicit way, so that we may more effectively learn and evolve our own blueprints for existing, moving, and creating in the world. We weave practices from Somatic Eco-psychology, dance, qi gong, yoga, and other movement arts, throughout our time together on the land, to more fully understand and anchor our experiences into our lives.
Work that Reconnects: We carry the work of Joanna Macy and her colleagues into our time together so that we can engage our deepest longings. In order to build a better way forward, we must turn towards the realities of pain and suffering that we face individually and collectively at this time. We will engage together in processes to honor our pain, welcome the medicine of grief and truth-telling, and connect to deep emotion and inspiration. From that place of deep feeling, we find both the longing to be different and the caring that allows us to persevere, and together we can recreate a social fabric that stimulates healing, creative inspiration and evolutionary shifts. We find our inner activist rooted in our own deepest (and sometimes hidden) yearnings, and we use our emotional intelligence to sustain an empowered devotion to life-sustaining actions in the world, rather than dwelling in a numb acceptance of the current industrial growth society and the social/environmental status quo. The Work that Reconnects activates change in a radical way.
Village Building & Cultural Regeneration: The time we spend together learning, exploring, and growing, is held by a larger intention of shifting the cultural frameworks of our time. It is our hope and deep longing to share what we have learned as an offering towards a better future; healthy communities full of nature-connected individuals who are supported and surrounded by networks of other vital and compassionate people. We hold the image in our hearts of people gathering around fires, of young ones being properly mentored, of food forests and creative energy solutions, of healthy bodies and a healing planet, of restorative justice and local, sustainable economies. We believe fully in the notion that each individual holds essential gifts necessary for the community, and that we need supportive community in order to offer our gifts. Knowing that we cannot “solve” the current social and ecological crisis in one day, but determined to do our part to find a better way forward, we offer this work humbly and passionately, intending that our seeds will germinate, sprout, and grow into thriving communities as unique and creative as the individuals who sowed them.
Saturday, March 25, 10:00 am to Sunday, March 26, 12:00 pm.
Anna Swisher (M.A. East-West Psychology,) guides Somatic Ecotherapy and Wilderness Quest work with individuals and groups. She is a nature-based mentor and rite-of-passage guide for youth and young adults, and weaves Ecopsychology, Permaculture, indigenous wisdom, and cultural mentoring into regenerative community building. She has many years experience facilitating conscious movement and ritual, inspired by years of studying spiritual and earth-based traditions from all over the world. She lives and works at Commonweal Garden, striving to foster people and communities who are connected to the natural world, and able to access and share their inherent gifts in a powerful and transformative way.
Spencer Nielson is a guide whose service path includes many realms: from leading youth nature connection programs, backpacking trips, and rites of passage including wilderness quests. He also works with adults in ecological leadership, permaculture, and quests. Spencer weaves his backgrounds in environmental education, ecology, and permaculture with eastern arts of yoga and qigong, utilizing Ayurveda and Daoist Medicine in his approach to restoration of landscapes and mindscapes. He is committed to reconnecting people with inner and outer nature for the sake of personal, cultural, and natural healing.
Sarah Walker Scheld is an eco-somatic counselor, helping people explore the depths of their inner worlds, to collaborate with the wisdom of their unconscious, and to embody their potential for wholeness and self-empowerment. During her graduate work at CIIS, Sarah focused on the creative synthesis of entheogenic shamanic practice with Western psychotherapy, as well as ecotherapy, spiritual counseling, somatic psychotherapies, shamanic healing practices, and depth and transpersonal psychology. Additionally, she is trained in and informed by Hakomi, Western astrology, the Work that Reconnects, and the indigenous healing traditions of the Mexican Mazatec.
* Any cancellation greater than two weeks before the event is fully refundable minus a $30 handling fee
* Any cancellation in less that one week (7 Days) is non-refundable UNLESS the event is full and your place may be filled by someone on the waitlist. In this case your fee will be refunded minus a $30 handling fee.
The instructors are committed to inclusivity, diversity and social justice. We are committed to creating a courageous, authentic space that welcomes a diverse group of participants, across lines of race, class, gender, sexual orientation and socio-economic status.
If you have financial challenges that prevent you from participating in the program, there are a limited number of work exchange scholarships available. If you would like to discuss any of this further, please email us.