Hilltending Ecotherapeutic Practices and Integration

Hilltending Ecotherapeutic Practices and Integration

In our Hilltending sessions, we can engage in several different practices. We will discover together which practices resonate the most with you.

Below is a list and brief summaries of some practice categories to give an idea of the types of practices I facilitate.

Earth-Based Practices

These practices are a means of entering into a state of open intentionality. They open a pathway into the archetypal experience of the interaction between psyche and nature. Approaching the world as ensouled, these practices allow the world to come to meet us through images in our field of experience. They nurture a symbolic way of knowing in which the world speaks through the rustle of leaves, the flight of birds, the flow of streams. All of nature carries images to us that speak to the deeper psyche and these practices allow us to respond and re-inhabit our place in nature. Ancient and indigenous cultures around the world rely on this symbolic knowing through ritual, vision quests, and other similar practices. Other than inspiration taken from these, Hilltending does not attempt to replace or recreate specific practices but to autonomously discover ones that are meaningful to you. Proceeding from this inspiration, Hilltending engages in practices that might be known as contemplative nature walks, medicine walks, rituals, or spirit wheel work.

Nature Based Dreamwork

Dreamwork is an imaginal, symbolic, and embodied continuation and broadening of a dream. It is an intentional act in service with the natural world to the dream’s statement of essence and purpose. I typically begin dreamwork with what I call “narrative association” in an attempt to begin to understand what the dream is saying. From there, we might engage other cultural expressions such as mythology that present similar images and a broader understanding of the dream’s essence. With layer upon layer of imagery, emotional charge, and possible meaning though, dreams will almost always resist our attempts at certitude. Through the conscious tending of dream images with the natural world through a method known as animation, Hilltending opens a new type of relationship with the dream. The landscape becomes a dreamscape of which we are but one part, coming into conscious awareness of many other beings who are sharing the same larger dream. Approaching the dream from a simple posture of openness to the dream of the world allows the autonomous statement of our experienced dream to be made, rather than our ego’s limited statement about the dream. Engaging the World’s Dream in this way brings us into a broader ecological consciousness that nurtures a more meaningful relationship between the personal and collective layers of the world.

Earth Story and Alchemical Econarrative

Our relationship to the natural world is forever moving, always on the threshold—the growing edge between past and future. The econarrative serves to uncover the actual relationship one has to nature and can represent the starting point of a broader healing and tending to this relationship. Alchemical econarrative is a process of transformation that begins with the recounting and working with one’s personal story of experiences in and with the natural world. This personal earth story includes memories, both positive and negative, of how nature influences one’s life; it is a spade digging up the roots of ecopsychological attitudes. As an expression of psyche, econarrative is often experienced as a tension between opposing attitudes moving autonomously between conscious awareness and the unconscious. Engaging this process through an alchemical lens provides a useful metaphor for working with these opposites and contributes to a deeper understanding of and ability to consciously re-inhabit one’s relationship to the natural world. Econarrative takes the relationship to nature as the primary material and subjects it to a number of “alchemical” operations to uncover and engage archetypal patterns and processes of the relationship we all have to our habitat. Working alchemically with the econarrative process is a powerful method to transform the way we are in the world.

Archetypal Cosmology

Humans have always been in awe of the universe, but in the scientific era, this awe has been replaced by scientific description that is incapable of fulfilling our archetypal need for wonder. In Hilltending, engage practices to deeply experience this inherent aspect of our relationship to the earth as a part of the creative unfolding of the universe.

Archetypal Function Stack Development

Working deeply with the different functions of personality type (i.e., INTP or ESFJ) in the natural world can help us develop all of our psychological functions and become more present to nature, enhancing the relationship. We can also work with different personality types of landscapes to better understand our relationships to different types of landscape.

Ecosomatics and Bodywork

Through different forms of ecosomatics and bodywork practices, Hilltending can nurture a form of deep listening to the movements of body and earth, an awareness that is at once psychological, spiritual, and embodied. This opens the way for psyche and body to be more parts of each other, and more naturally a part of the world, moving with it rather than in and through it. Depending on your situation and needs, we identify specific ecosomatic practices that nurture modes of consciousness that can be deeply experienced in the categories of imaginal, sensory, and movement awareness to provide a solid foundation for healing and for other Hilltending practices.

More important than any of the practices in Hilltending is the integration of the experiences—what meaning do they carry to us from soul and world and from us to soul and world.

Whether in retreats/workshops or in individualized guidance, Hilltending is about integrating psyche and world into a new, larger whole and living life from the resulting deeper and broader relationship to Self. It is a means to heal and tend to relationships between psyche and world in way that is beneficial to human and earth health. The above practices are the first step into this process. In the integration, we work deeply with the experience, exploring the meaning it carries to us, and the meaning psyche carries back into the world.

Practice and integration is a dance that sometimes moves slowly and sometimes quickly. Hilltending does not force interpretations but provides a facilitation of the discovery and awareness of resonance with psyche. This facilitation occurs throughout the Hilltending sessions in different levels and in all of the practices. It is about learning to see differently, like trees perhaps, so we can find our way back “home” in the dialogue between psyche and world. This is where healing occurs as we come to live in harmony as a part of this relationship rather than directing or controlling.