Tag Archives: the wilderness within

The Wilderness Within (Final: Reflections)

Last weekend felt like a healing retreat. It catalyzed some deeper process that’s happening to me right now. Maybe this is the step from one phase of the lifecycle to another. Transitions sure feel like deaths. A part is dying, the part that was up to this point, “everything” to me. Does it hurt a snake or crustacean to shed its exterior? Does it hurt for a caterpillar to turn into organic soup before it re-forms back into a butterfly? This was briefly brought up in the lifecycle talk (I think). These psychological transformations we go through are complete paradigm shifts. “Molting” is changing, yes, but there isn’t any real change besides growing larger into whatever was there.

I feel like I’ve been molting quite often, mistaking that for true transformation. (For something to radically change forms?) Would it need its whole self for the true transformation process? All the pieces go into the pan and BAM, alchemy happens and something new pops out.


In the past and now still, I don’t accept all parts of myself. Even if they aren’t glamorized or accepted in our culture, Ecopsychology is helping me see that all pieces matter.

The Wilderness Within (Part 6: North)

I am cared for.
I care for you.
I care for all.

Not going to lie, North seems slightly boring compared to the rest of the directions of the psyche. Yet, it also seems like it’s so present in my life. North helps me out when I’m swinging upside down from a tree. North is trying to help me out through this current personal winter before Earth winter has yet to come.


In my notes I wrote:

Inner Critic –> meanest EVER, seriously so evil and smart

Later I wrote:

Thanks for looking out for me, inner self.

…and this was the “mean” inner self. It makes me feel whole to learn that even my fragmented parts still want me to be “whole.” Their view on the world is different though, which is why it’s so easy to judge them and think they are failures. The Loyal Soldiers really are incredible. They are serving my life in such an adorably immature way.

I don’t have much to reflect on about North here…I think I explored that (fragmented North) a lot in the October 2nd entry above.

The Wilderness Within (Part 5: West)

Oh, Wild West…
You leave me facing myself.
You terrify me!
You astound me!
You simply let me see my Self.

To be honest, I was extremely nervous for the West Walk…specifically the part about finding darkness and talking to it. I just had a feeling going into the night that it was going to power transformation in some way.

In a way, the West walk started before we even left when I made my rhythm instrument. I used to have a buffalo drum. I was so in love with playing it but was living out of my car last year and didn’t have space so it went to a friend. I didn’t have anything that I could think of at home. A few days before this, I had some things brought up to me from my parents’ house in Gilbert. Along with a bunch of warmer clothing, I also had a craft supplies box. As I was unpacking this care package from home, I noticed that I had a box of plastic jewels. These are the type of jewels that are flat on one side, jewel-y on the other, and sparkling like a mermaid’s tail. Bingo! They rattled so nicely in their little box. All I needed was a little tape to seal them in and I was all set. This little task ended up being me decorating the outside of the jewel box with multiple colors of tape. It may seem like a childish, pointless part of the process, but it actually was the first intentional step to the West Walk.

Fast forward to the start of the rhythm circle. I’ve always felt drawn to drumming. Back when I played soccer, sometimes we’d practice at a high school during the same time that the drum line was rehearsing. As I got older, I started listening to Hardstyle music (a sub-genre of techno) and felt drawn to the faster paced rhythmic 150 beats per minute found here.

Drumming with other people seems like one of the best ways to connect with someone else. Yet at the same time, we all tap into something new. The music becomes our connection point rather than playing directly with the people next to use. I actually tried to do this but it made me lose my rhythm. I very easily started to sink in and release. I used a hand drum and the jewel box rattle that I made intermittently, though sometimes at the same time.

While in the rhythm circle, I started to feel my body dissolving away. Everything still worked fine, but focus shifted from the physical to predominantly just awareness. My physical boundaries felt transient and subtler.

Before I knew it I was leaving. I never thought to leave; I was just standing up, turning around, and making my way up the hill to the path to carry on with my night. I played as I walked away from the circle, keeping up with the rhythm as long as I could hear. I walked south into the darkness. It was a welcoming, safe darkness though. My intention was to walk about 10-15 minutes down the path and then migrate up to a hill to get a better view of the night sky. This plan was quickly cut off though. A few minutes into my walk I noticed a cluster of younger ponderosas off the path. Basically…DARKNESS. I looked away and went back to searching for my perfect stargazing spot.


Nope. That wasn’t the overall goal of the night. I laughed at the irony and turned left towards Darkness to immediately be greeted with a perfect rock to sit on. The welcoming was too obvious. I sat down and introduced myself. It was a shallow conversation at first until I really sunk into the spot.

Darkness is always there to hear whatever I have to say or ask, and whatever I choose to withhold. I kept on imagining the terrible things that could happen to me: someone jumping out of the darkness and attacking me, something lashing out at my face…

I quickly became aware that I was the source of any harm that I perceived. I would non-visually hallucinate things jumping out at me. Sometimes my face flinched by the realness of it. I was left in a void. I projected insecurities and threats into that space. Is this the fragmented West making itself known?

My homework to myself is to be more curious and accepting of Darkness. On a day-to-day level, this is found when I walk past a dark room in my house at nighttime and consciously avoid looking in that area. When I notice I do that, I stand in place for a few breaths, slowly turn to face the dark room and look into it for a little bit, then I slowly turn back around and make my way to where I was originally going.

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” Mark Twain

This quote speaks to me about the relationship between fragmented and whole West psyche. If my fragmented West is taking over, I see things trying to attack me (similar to what I was experiencing during the West walk). When my whole West is present, I see the truth and inner beauty through the lens of curiosity. It is an esoteric path that is terrifying and terrific, awful and awesome. Maybe not exactly these words…but the West shakes up my logic.





The Wilderness Within (Part 4: South)

Ahhh sweet, wild, primal South!
You make me feel,
or maybe just…because of you
I can truly feel.

My South walk consisted of me playing aerialist on the rope swing that was on the hill behind the cabin. I wanted to get a taste of the rope swing at some point, and it just perfectly worked out that it was this walk.


Is this swing even safe? Many people probably have used it before… Did a certified arborist check it out? Does the branch look sturdy? If I fall, will I hurt myself? What if I fall when I’m out THIS far…will I die if I land upside down?

Was this fragmented North trying to protect me? Or whole North? Aww, thanks, bud! I’m going to play anyway. I’m used to swinging on hanging things. I feel supported by my own physical strength and body awareness. But would the tree say the same?

I tested out the answer to all those questions by swinging on the swing. I started slow. I felt in my body. I felt the bounciness of the rope. I started picking up speed. I’d walk-jump to the other side. How does it feel? How do I feel? THIS FEELS LIKE I WANNA GO ALL OUT! Alrighty, South, hold on a sec. Let’s work our way up to that, said Whole North.

It wasn’t long before I became more comfortable in my body. I experimented with different types of twists while swinging from one side of the tree to the other. I could twist in either direction before landing (not on the same swing though…there were just options on how I wanted to get to the other side). Sometimes I’d jump so far away from the tree that I was able to lean backward and look at the world from upside down. This was the perfect chance for the inner dialogue to say “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?! DO YOU SEE THE GROUND UNDERNEATH YOU? DO YOU WANT YOUR HEAD TO LAND THERE?!?!?!” Dear Inner Critic, I DGAF at the moment and want to continue having fun. I loved swinging back and forth on there. Towards the end, I was able to do two spins before landing on the other side. Though, I did kindly/gently smash into the trunk of the tree during the experimentation phase.

It was a dance to be swinging back and forth on the tree. In a way, I felt like the tree and I were dancing together. At times there was even music! Yes, real music. Someone was playing the flute at the bottom of the hill. The wind carried most of the music to me and I acted it out in girl-on-rope-swing form.

I struggle with expressing all emotions and feelings (if they are even the same?). Ever since November 2015 (when my friend was in the hospital for a perceived suicide attempt), I have been trying to be conscious about being open and honest when people ask me about how I am doing. Most of the time “Good” is not a completely accurate way to describe the rich inner world and experience of life. Who wants to hear a novel when they might have just been asking a generic question? (Why should I care…)

South has taught or reminded me to be a raw, expressive self.



The Wilderness Within (Part 3: East)

“You are me and I am you
I’ll always be with you
You are sun, the rain, and the moonbeams
You are the Divine Goddess of my dreams”
– Shpongle –


East is the direction or aspect of psyche that I have the hardest time understanding, defining, or explaining.

I definitely resonate with the escapist or addict or even blisshead. I’ve abused drugs regularly in the past, I can latch on to any new spiritual ideology that invites me to leave my worries and problems where they are and transcend them, and I avoid having certain types of interpersonal conversations that I feel vulnerable about. These are all actions my fragmented East takes to bring me closer to the divine. Thanks? Actually…Thanks. You are trying your best with what you have.

What is whole East like? Is it the feeling of walking in a meadow in pitch black night while looking at the stars and getting slightly dizzy at the abundance of stars and perceiving the curvature of the Earth? Is it the feeling of looking into the distance in a forest and feeling “tripped out” by the 3D-ness of the surroundings? Is it the epiphany that anxiety can be felt in different parts of the body at various times?


East is elusive and ethereal to me. Maybe it can’t be picked apart into pieces because it would then lack wholeness and unity, its essence.

I have in my notes:

Spiritual love / humbling love:
-brings you to knees in humility
-dissolves defenses
-cuts thru bullshit

When I started writing October 2nd’s entry above, the opening could have said:

I just got off the bus and walked to this spot in the forest. Up until now, I was feeling on edge, about to crack. I hadn’t done my morning meditation yet, so I decided to do it here. I sit down, I start the stopwatch, and immediately tears start rolling down my face. I let it all out now. I’m embraced by the soft, pokey pine needles, the crazy wind, and the sunlight kissing my face and wiping my tears away. This sure feels like the spiritual love that makes me surrender.







The Wilderness Within (Part 2)

October 2nd 2017 12:05 PM

I am sitting in a park near my house. Buffalo Park? McPhearson Park? I’m not sure. I’ve been having a really tough week emotionally. It has had its ups and downs. I’m doing well in school. I’m staying on top of my homework, usually finishing assignments the day before they are due, with the exception of this. I’m making huge progress with aerial silks. My body is getting so strong and graceful.

Yet, inside I feel this intense gloom. Am I just acknowledging it now? Has it finally reached a tipping point from “I can handle this” to “well…shoot. I can’t handle this handle more?” I feel like I’m walking through the world with a mask on, a façade to hide what I’m really thinking. Yay for social likeability; nay for personal truth.

The Mask

 Always a mask
Held in the slim hand whitely
Always she had a mask before her face–

 Truly the wrist
Holding it lightly
Fitted the task;
Sometimes however
Was there a shiver,
Fingertip quiver,
Ever so slightly–
Holding the mask?

 For years and years and years I wondered
But dared not ask
And then–
I blundered,
Looked behind the mask,
To find
She had no face.

 She had become
Merely a hand
Holding a mask
With grace.

–Author unknown


This poem was displayed during my scene during Dark Sky Aerial’s TILT production this summer at the Monte Vista. My character was the Oracle: a beautiful, 11-foot-tall woman in a gorgeous white dress. Rose petals and candles were all around me as I held a creepily elegant mask to my face. Yet, I didn’t have a face. I wore a nude stocking on my head to match the essence of the poem, and my own life. In the background, there was a recording of audience members’ confessions and answer to the question “What would you say if you were wearing a mask?” When people bought their tickets there was an opportunity for them to share their inner world. Later during my scene, it became their outer world when they could hear “me” speak their confessions out loud while wearing a mask (technically two…or three if I count my own).

This experience performing public art was powerful for me. I began to challenge my own interactions with other people. Do I really mean what I am saying right now? Is this ME interacting with them right now? I was faced with being exposed to my own conditioning in the world. There are SO many times in our lives that scripts are laid out for us. And almost as many times where we fall into the cycle of following along.

I’ve been thinking this week a lot about what depression is. Is it related to the inner critic? All I hear is judgments, anger, and disappointment. I noticed that I talk crap about myself through other people. For example, I recently got food on campus. I ordered a smoothie at Jamba Juice and went next door to get tacos while I was waiting for the smoothie to be done. When they call my number, I walk up with tacos in hand to grab my smoothie and the guy next to me looks down at me and says “Pig!” He never said a word, or even looked at me. This was all in myself. A part of me is using other people to put down my own self. Has this always been the case? I’m not sure. I’ve only noticed it in the last few months, maybe the last year. Perhaps a part of me is too “nice” to be so mean to myself so it projects it on to other people to make myself seem like the innocent victim.

The Wilderness Within (Part 1)

*This next series was actually an assignment that I submitted for a 1-credit Ecodepthpsychology class that I just took. Depth Psychology explores the subconscious. Ecodepthpsychology is the study of how humans can relate with Nature in such a way that exposes shadows and other aspects of the psyche. Basically, it was a badass weekend full of journaling, deep reflection, rhythm circles, sacred communication, being brave, and being vulnerable. The first parts will be journal entries on my overall experience. The later parts will be specific reflections on the East, South, West, and North aspects of my psyche.

General Impressions and the Rippling Into My Life So far

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017 11:22 AM

I’m sitting in the grass underneath the Shawn Skabelund installation art piece outside of the communication building. There is a twinkling sound up above me from the hanging miniature metal disks that dance in the wind.

Ponderosa Tremuloides by Shawn Skabelund


I’m growing more and more annoyed by the sound of cars, trucks, and buses driving up and down Knoles Dr. right behind me. I remember back in the forest this most recent time, how much I slowed down my life. Living this way, my senses are truly able to perceive the most from my surroundings. There is a depth, an intimacy that comes with that. Here, I get flashes of that but I am more drawn to the sounds that distract from this intimacy. It feels a little stressful, or maybe I just take it too personally.

I don’t give myself enough of these spiritual retreats. What I’m alluding to here it the opportunity to do some soul work away from my “daily routine.” There is always a feeling of refreshment, returning, recalibrating back to a purer version of my self. It’s like it cleans the windows that my human consciousness looks out of. And dang! I didn’t know it was so dirty!

I just looked around the tree that is directly in front of me and I saw a dead crow in the grass.

In the past, I have learned about the meaning of the four directions. Well, not really. I listened when they were mentioned, but I had no understanding of what they meant. It was just a passing interesting fact. Learning about the map to the psyche was mind-blowing. I was provided a blueprint for another way to understand my experiences of life.