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  • Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche – Bill Plotkin

    Wild Mind by Bill Plotkin
    Wild Mind

    What does it take to crack the shell of prolonged inactivity when it comes to blogging? The mind has been at work for the last two years reading, changing, looking but somehow the importance of tapping at the keyboard and exposing my soul has been missing. Time has been taken up with other things.

    A couple of months ago an invitation arrived to review Bill Plotkin’s new book Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche. The publishers had seen that I’d made mention of SoulCraft in Sacred Sorrow: Powerlessness 2. It was enough to break the chains of slavery to the routine that had drowned the inspiration to blog.

    That and an innovative approach to publicising the book…… http://bit.ly/wildmindtrailer and an interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqT2AQ3Yvfs with this man who has thirty years experience in the human potential arena focusing on his clients’ relationship to nature. This symbiotic relationship provides a path to the fullest expression of their humanity.

    Field Guides generally assist readers in identifying the flora and fauna; provide maps; and describe points of interest relevant to a particular region. Wild Mind is no different – it allows us to recognize the aspects of the psyche that will direct our passage through life to create a naturally enhancing & sustaining personal and global culture.

    What Plotkin has done is create a map for seekers who wish to experience a life that embodies the fullest expression of our humanity. When he embeds a personal story from someone who has used the map the terrain of his idea becomes more visible.

    The major landmarks of this map use the Medicine Wheel and the directions (North, South, East & West) as a template for an engaging exploration of the facets required to fully express ourselves and to carry that into our communities and nations to bring about transformation that spirals out into global consciousness.

    The Facets are:

    • North: Nurturing Generative Adult – compassionate and competent
    • South: Wild Indigenous One – sensuous, emotive, instinctual, playful
    • East: Innocent/Sage – pure, simple, clear, lighthearted, wise, perceptive
    • West: Muse/Inner Beloved – adventurous, visionary, symbolic, mythic, poetic

    One of the directions will be our preferred way of being in the world. Its polar opposite points towards our weakness. Our weak facets may be the horizon from which our symptoms, our addictions, and our dysfunction arise. Those weaknesses are the sub-personalities formed in early childhood by an immature ego creating a sense of safety for allowing us to co-exist in a world that appears to be maleficent to our under-developed ego. By acknowledging and assimilating the strengths the other directions hold we come into harmony within ourselves allowing us to then radiate this harmony out into the world.

    Plotkin writes:

    “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. “We must reclaim and embody our original wholeness, our indigenous human nature granted to us by nature itself. And the key to reclaiming our original wholeness is not merely to suppress psychological symptoms, recover from addictions and trauma, manage stress, or refurbish dysfunctional relationships, but rather to fully flesh out our multifaceted, wild psyches, committing ourselves to the largest story we’re capable of living, serving something bigger than ourselves.”

    In order to attain this Original Wholeness Plotkin offers some ideas around managing the process. One of these tools is “the four steps of emotional assimilation”

    1. thoroughly experience the raw emotion itself without interpretation, censoring or sanitizing (south)
    2. explore (a compassionate self-examination) what this arising of the emotion tells us about ourselves (expectations, values, needs, desires, attitudes) (west)
    3. expression in a kind hearted and non-violent way (north)
    4. review entire emotional process, see how how fits into our life story, have a good laugh (east)

    Another idea that opens us up to inspired living is that of a three dimensional ego – an ego that has matured to the point that it is “blessed with some degree of conscious communion and integration with the Self, Soul, and Spirit“. When we are anchored in this 3D-Ego we may “experience ourselves not only in service to Soul & Spirit but also as Soul and as Spirit.”

    Towards the end of the book he offers … healthy, mature cultures emerge from and have always emerged from nature from the depths of our individual and collective psyches from the Earth’s imagination acting through us, from the mythic realm of dreams or the Dreamtime, from Soul, from the soul of the world, from Mystery….emerge and evolve naturally and organically through the coordinated activities of mature humans, humans who have learned again what it means to dream the impossible and to romance the world. Mature cultures are self organising. They can only be dreamed into existence.

    Has the South Asian kingdom of Bhutan embraced their Wild Mind and provided a key to our discovering a template for a mature society? Instead of a Gross National Product they have a Gross National Happiness indicator. This is used in their five year planning and is supported by four pillars: Promoting sustainable development, preserving and promoting cultural values, conserving the natural environment, and establishing and maintaining good governance.


  • New Position

    Banks Peninsula
    Banks Peninsula

    It has been five weeks now since I began at YMCA Wainui Park in the position of Catering Manager. My son drove me out there the day before I was due to start. As fate would have it we ran into a little difficulty on the way. An accident on the hill to Banks Peninsula meant traffic would be held up for two hours. We decided to take a back road. Though I later discovered the accident had had tragic consequences the choice to take this road less travelled seemed an inspired choice. The day was clear and we had views all round for miles stretching to the south and west.

    Looking South from Southern Bays Road
    Looking South from Southern Bays Road

    Since then it has been full on. With groups requiring catering almost back to back. It has only been the last two or three weekends that I’ve been able to take a some time for myself . There have been moments of grace though. The quiet time first thing in the morning when I’m able to connect with the beauty of nature that surrounds me. The silence punctuated by bird song and the wind through the trees. I had a couple of friends visit yesterday and as I showed them around they commented that everywhere they looked both at Wainui and on their trip from Christchurch seemed picture perfect.

    That is the way of nature. There is perfection as we look not only closely at the plants but also at the panoramas of the bigger picture. What is it within us that seems imperfect? Creation takes time on the physical plane. Each second, each minute, each hour, each day is a step towards a perfect life. And each moment can be perfect within itself if we are both mindful and heartful in whatever it is we are doing.

    Rhythm is important. During those first five weeks the tempo was intense. And now, the season over, I am finding it difficult to find a new step. Last week it felt like a pause between songs. It was like coming away from The Who concert. From the raw power of the music to ordinary life outside the stadium. That inner space that had been moved by the intensity of the music had to rediscover the pace of the everyday. And the concert was only 2 hours long. I’ve been working with that intensity 9+ hours most days for 5 weeks with the odd days respite here and there.

    I’m finding a new rhythm this week. Making to time to work on my blog. Allowing work in the kitchen to develop a new pace. In the past I discovered that coming in to a new environment required time to tune into the tempo of the place then once that happened the work began to flow and more of who I am came to the fore. This change from being super busy has had a similar effect.

    Talk of rhythm and tempo brings to mind the oral traditions in the times before we had written language. I imagine that the bards, the keepers of the histories, had a highly developed sense of the musicality of words which enabled them to commit large amounts of their history to memory. And I’m sure that once they got into the flow of communicating to their fellow men what was simply information in lyric form the rhythm and tempo would take them beyond the mundane to flights of fancy and into a mystical realm where they would begin to add a mythological context to the histories.

    In essence the mystical experience enabled the bards to experience their God-Self. The God within. I acknowledge we all carry the seed of the Divine within us. What is it that brings us closer to experience ourselves as divine? The ancients first attributed divinity to elements of nature, to their external reality. Over time the attributes became internalised governing aspects of themselves that are seen today as forms of intelligence and yet they were seen as being somehow governed by these “god” manifestations.

    Howard Gardner describes seven attributes of multiple intelligence: linguistic, logic-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily kinesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal. These can be seen manifest in the characteristics of gods described not only by ancient cultures but also in the important personages of the Common Era – masters, saints, mystics, philosophers. Their inspiration derived from experience in nature, or by seeking the silence within.

    It is this space that I feel close to as I look upon the view from the deck surrounded by nature’s beauty, experiencing the silence early in the morning or late at night and allowing that to nurture my soul. Although this encounter is more immediate in rural and wilderness areas I’ve found a deeper appreciation for those green areas within the city when I’ve visited on different occasions.

    I’d love to share the photos I’ve taken over the past weeks as I’ve explored my surroundings and those I’ve snapped on visits to Christchurch. Unfortunately each time I go to load photos into the post the program closes. Its frustrating and rather than seeing the beauty that I bring to the page I hope you’ll take the time to encounter the divine beauty that is waiting for you wherever you are.


  • Working with Aspects of the Soul: Neutrality

    The day seemed to be almost perfect when I consider neutrality. I wasn’t caught up in negativity and allowed the day to flow. The painting of the house continued. The rear of the house is almost complete. There’s a little around the windows to do and when I stood back and took it all in from a vantage point behind the trees in the garden there was a beauty to what we had a achieved. There was a moment touched by perfection where not only the new paint was the focus, but all that I was conscious of as I opened my perspective to include the garden created a sense of wonder.


    Neutrality is a state of openness. The word Chaos originally meant an opening. From that opening the world was created. As I allow myself to be in that state I am being present to my creative essence. As I feel the creative essence within I become open to life’s calling. What is it I wish to create?

    The breath is a perfect tool for bringing me back to the state of neutrality when I find my thoughts becoming chaotic. Most of us tend to breathe in a shallow manner not inflating the lungs fully. Diaphragmatic breathing brings us a fuller experience of our lungs and draws the breath to lower regions of the lungs. Following the breath is also a method for inducing a meditative state. Meditation itself is a neutral space where we can watch the flow of our thoughts and not become attached. And as the thoughts die away we experience the ultimate neutral space. Into this place we may send questions wait in neutral and receive answers. The answer may not come immediately but arrive later as we continue with our daily lives. We may feel ourselves drawn to take a certain route. Pick up a particular book. Call a person who appears in our mind. Follow these inspirations.

    A perfect example of this happened on Monday when I arrived to paint the house. My friend mentioned that she’d found a poster for a talk on Gnosticism. I have an ongoing interest in Gnosis. Their tenet of self knowledge and an immanent divinity has a soundness to it when compared to the dogma of various religions. And all I have had is what I have been able to read about online or in books. This was an opportunity to see and work with real Gnostics. So I went along to a talk on the Kabbala last night. The presenters have been in New Zealand for almost a year and this was their first series of talks. It was interesting to develop a feel for what seems to be a complex subject – and yet it is pathway for connection to our divine self. Thank you.

    Neutrality is the perfect space to return to and cultivate the sense of gratitude when we’re feeling the challenges of our everyday lives. To see the gifts that life has given us along the way. What we may be perceiving now as negative is only temporary and by being grateful we invite more gifts to come into our consciousness.

    Blessings to all.

  • Design, Mine, Refine

    I have been struggling for a few days now with the next post for my blog. I realized what I was trying to do was paraphrase what some else had written. While their headings were universal themes, the experience written of was unique to them.  I was wasting my time trying to restate what was said. Instead, I began to use the headings to stimulate musings based on my personal experience. Also it became clear I needed to write and add this post before continuing.

    In the previous post I had given a series of headings about the soul on which I had offered my thoughts. Headings are great starting points as you begin to explore your inner self through journaling 

    A previous experience I had with journaling was quite illuminating. I was following the writings of Judith Wright in her book The One Decision. By following the different themes and journaling as prescribed I arrived at a better understanding of myself in regards to living my One Decision which was to live more soulfully.

    From this it became clear that the process could not only be used for Judith’s themes but also for other themes I thought worthwhile. In my experience of shamanic journeying there was a similar process at work. Prior to journeying I’d create an intention then enter the meditative state for the journey. I’d meet with guides who in some way would fulfil my intention. Judith’s themes were also intentions for each day. Intention evolves into inspiration. What am I inspired to experience? This is the Design.

    The journaling process becomes a morning meditation after which I write down my inspiration for the day. I allow the day to unfold allowing myself to just be, however it plays out. I then journal again in the evening. As I write down my current reality, you may sense negativity in the days experience. (Over the holiday period I’m encountering a financial slow down and I feel fear when I’m unsure how my bills are going to be paid). I continue to write knowing that writing is a peaceful activity for me.

    I am inspired to write at this time. At the end of the day I look back at how my day evolved. I Mine the day. What are my experiences? What emotion was brought up during the day? 

    Then I Refine. Is how the day played out in accord with my inspiration? Where is the Gold? Were there things I could have done better? Are there bits I’d prefer to leave behind tomorrow (the tailings)? 

    You needn’t meditate to come up with an inspiration or intention. The inspiration may come as you read, or listen to a piece of music, as you take a walk or while you ponder, or maybe create, a piece of art.

    Journaling is a creative process. Writing is just one starting point. Painting or drawing your experience is just as valuable. You might even choose to dance if you’re familiar with that expression. In the shamanic tradition when Creator gifted you a power animal one of the ways of honouring that would be to dance it.

    In matters of the soul allow your heart to be your guide. The Way of the Creative Mythologer may be evoked through inspiration. Inspiration speaks to the heart, the home of the soul in the body. If you aspire to become more soul conscious pay exquisite attention to your heart. Read mythology while being heart-centred. If you are inspired by what you read, journal the theme or themes and work with them.

    The next post is Characteristics of the Soul and lends itself to using a journaling practice with it.