Mt. Katadyn, Maine
Sitting before my computer I close my eyes, focus on the area of my heart, take a few deep even breaths, and step thousands of miles away. I am atop Mt. Katahdyn, in Maine. For over 6 months I awoke, and placed one-foot in front of the other, for 2172 miles. Now, I stand a few feet before the sign which marks the peak. This next step is my last. With a forceful exhalation I make that step. Emotions within me a complex swirl; even as I taste the satisfaction of achieving my goal, a bittersweetness arises, the taste of grief at the ending of this journey, apprehension at returning to so-called civilization, a fog of confusion arises with the inevitable question of what’s next. I turn my attention away from the sign. This sharp and rocky peak is wrapped, edges softened by a thick river of cloud, textures ever shifting as it rushes down-stream inexorably drawn by a rushing river of wind. A rift forms, jagged-edges of cloud are torn apart, the rift widens, a beam of sun, a well-tempered blade, cuts through, revealing blue sky. Exultation, previously hidden by the clouds in my emotional weather rises and spreads, as a piercing blue sky expands, below my feet the clouds flee before the sun and the vast pine-covered expanse of Baxter state park, riddled with lakes of gleaming-sapphire is revealed. My exultation expands to embrace the mountain, the clouds, the whole sky. I turn slowly, reveling in sight and sensation. Thirty seconds, a minute. Whooosh! The sun flees as the rifts in the clouds are seamlessly mended, the clouds close over me, the mountain, revealed, is hidden once more. The light within remains. Moments later I start my careful descent, picking my way down the sharp rocks and strewn boulders of this rugged trail, tenderly bringing the light down from the mountain.
June 2oth and 21st EarthMind Fellowship: Mind-Body-Initiation.
For more details go to Events.
What is EarthMind Fellowship?
Nature, Tradition, Kinship
EarthMind Fellowship is a nature based enterprise based in three locations in the UK. We will be offering:
1. Self-awareness and nature-awareness training (i.e.meditation and HeartMath) using an eco-psychological model to reduce stress and anxiety, build resilience and help individuals to understand themselves emotionally and psychologically.
2. Outdoor skills including woodland knowledge, shelter building and fire by friction. These survival skills are intended to enhance confidence and skill-sets and to reflect on the relevance of these activities working as a community.
3. Working with nature based traditional mythology to explore personal lives in a group setting. This will be a therapeutic exercise intended to enable experiences of personal growth and self-expression.
4. Health and Wellness consultations, workshops, classes, and retreats incorporating natural and integrative approaches to healing including herbal medicine and nutrition, stress-management and resilience building (for example HeartMath and meditation), and counselling.
EarthMind Fellowship is founded upon the principles of growth, self-development and personal and cultural transformation and incorporates three inter-related realms; Nature (Inner as well as Outer), Tradition (Culture) and Kinship (with one’s self and others, both human and non-human).
How will I benefit?
EarthMind Fellowship programs are much more than a day to two of fun in nature. We believe that the drawing together of different elements (Nature, Bushcraft, Psychotherapy and HeartMath) creates a powerful and unique vehicle for catalyzing your personal goals and aspiration be it healing, well-being, stress-management, self-knowledge, deeper sense of connection, increased creativity or confidence, communications and leadership skills, growth and personal-development. Ultimately the responsibility lies in your hands; the more open you are to new perspectives and to change, and the more intention and energy you put into the work, the more you’ll get out of it. Nature always gives back more than we give.
Origin and Vision of EarthMind
Our vision is to reconnect individuals and organizations to the beauty, joy and wonder evoked by nature and re-open them to a sense of connection and gratitude, for the life continually provided by our planet in settings both remote and wild, and mundane and developed. It is oft said that Nature is the greatest healer. In bringing people into contact with the natural world in a therapeutic context, we are creating an optimal environment or container for the safe exploration and healing of psychological wounds, depression, anxiety, addiction, and trauma. Nature is also a great source of inspiration. By bringing people into contact with Nature and creating an inspirational context, we are catalyzing people’s creativity, nurturing their dreams, and supporting them in achieving their highest potentials. The journey into Nature encompasses both the outer world and the inner world which are ultimately inter-meshed and inter-dependent (coherently coupled in the words of Matura and Varela). During this journey you may find yourself bush-whacking through psychological realms, plunging into the deep waters of your soul, or climbing to the peaks of Spirit, in an adventure that facilitates both healing and wholing.
A number of influences, elements, skills, and modalities have come together into a synergistic whole in creating EarthMind Fellowship journeys/programs. A summary of these will be discussed here. Please see our individual bios for more details on our unique contributions to and perspectives on EarthMind.
For all of us the idea of tapping more deliberately into the healing and transformative power of nature had been percolating for a long time. During their study of psychotherapy Stone and Owen were exploring the idea of eventually developing a wilderness therapy program. On an errand to the library Owen, with a few minutes to spare, fortuitously discovered Soulcraft, a book by Bill Plotkin, for £1 at the library book sale. Upon reading the introduction we instantly recognized that this was the appropriate angle for our endeavor and we delved into Plotkin’s work. Plotkin provides two indispensable frameworks, one a nature-based model for the human psyche (Wild Mind) and the other a nature-based model for human development (Nature and the Human Soul) along with a host of methods for exploring human soul, psyche and spirit in Nature. Most importantly Plotkin’s models are highly actionable, not just theoretical. Skills and activities and perspectives from Bushcraft, HeartMath®, Herbal lore, Psychotherapy, Mythology and Storytelling integrated naturally and seamlessly with Plotkin’s models.
What does EarthMind Fellowship mean?
The name brings together many facets of our work.
First, a correlation between our name and three foundational aspects of our philosophy:
Earth — Nature
Mind — Culture
Fellowship — Kinship
We wish to cultivate a sense of Fellowship (kinship) between Earth (Nature) and Culture (Humanity).
Second, is the nature-based model of the human psyche. EarthMind echoes Plotkin’s concept of Wild Mind, and eco-psychologist and philosopher’s David Abram and his poetic invocation of how the human psyche is enmeshed and immersed in its environment. Furthermore there is value in the working assumption (acting “as if”) that the Earth has a mind, however different this may be from our own.
Thirdly, individual health can not be understand out-side of its environmental context. We and the Earth are “coherently coupled” – where I leave off and my environment begins is a sometimes useful, but ultimately arbitrary distinction. Familiar with the glib saying “you are what you eat”? Consider for a moment a humble tomato and cheese sandwich: the bread and tomato grown in soil, the leaves in each plant breathing in carbon dioxide and using the energy of sunlight to transform it into carbs, as well as fats and proteins, the roots pulling up water and minerals. After you’ve absentmindedly consume this sandwich while glued to this fascinating website your body will ingest the carbs, fat and protein and either burn them for energy or incorporate them into your expanding waist-line, the Ca and Mg will be used in metabolic process and also become bone, the Fe will be used in the Oxygen carrying hemoglobin of your red blood cells. We and the Earth are one Body, and my actions and existence affect the environment as it also affects me.
Fourth, unifies the second and third point. The mind and the body (Earth) are one. They have never been separated in Eastern psychology and medicine and our now being re-unified by the theories of Western medicine and science (as can be seen in both quantum physics and the field of mind-body medicine and the research such as that of the Institute of HeartMath).
Five, coherent communication and collaboration is key to health, vitality, wellness, growth and ultimately survival. Fellowship between Humans and the more-than-human community (our ecosystems and the plants and animals within them), fellowship between humans, fellowship between body and mind (working together coherently).
Outside. On mountain, in forest or dell, by the ocean… anywhere where Nature either reigns or wildness infiltrates through the pavement cracks. Our primary centers of operation are Kent, Moray, Scotland, and Whales but we are enthusiastic about discovering new places to run our programs.
Workshops and Programs
One day workshops
In addition to our introductory Connecting with Nature workshop we will be partnering with a diversity of talented individuals and creating a number of workshops for specific clients. Any suggestions? We are more than happy to develop a custom one tailored to your needs. A few examples are:
Therapeutic workshops for people with health conditions, obesity, addictions, depression, hospice patients, at-risk teens.
Corporate and Organizational workshops on Leadership, Team-building, Performance, and Employee Wellness.
Stress-management and Resilience building workshops.
Workshops for creativity (writing, music, dance).
Workshops focused on spiritual growth and transformation.
Workshops focused on psychotherapeutic work.
Workshops for inspiring and empowering activists.
Workshops for children.
4-5 Day Workshops
Our multi-day workshops will provide us with more time to explore the four directions of the human psyche (North, South, East, and West), to build and expand upon our skills and experience (using HeartMath, meditation, and various soulcraft activities) and to learn additional bushcraft techniques (such as tracking, foraging for wild foods, etc.). These may also be focused as in the examples above.
We are developing a one-year program involving seasonally appropriate exploration of the four directions(North-Winter, East-Spring, South-Summer, West-Autumn). This will be composed of 5 multi-day workshops (4-5 days): one for each direction/season and one final session for integration. This will be focused on “healing and wholing,” personal growth and transformation, self-discovery and exploration.
Additionally we hope to develop wilderness therapy intensives of one or two weeks duration to be conducted in remote locations.
Corporate Programs and Non-Profit Sponsorship
We provide business’ and opportunity to provide their employee’s with a unique experience. Our corporate program focuses on stress-management skills, employee wellness, creativity and performance, communication skills, team-development, and leadership development. EarthMind workshops provide you with an unique format that gets your employees out of the office and into the Wild where they will learn skills applicable in any work setting. This is not just another old employee development workshop! Your employees will be thrilled to be let out of the conference room and into the forest. Our corporate programs also provide you with an opportunity for supporting your community and corporate benefit. Each employee that attends our course allows us to provide our services to individuals and organizations in need. Contact us to create an employee and youth mentorship program for or sponsorship of an organization and its clients (such as a non-profit Hospice, Addiction centre, Cancer support centre, etc.).
My exploration of Nature began from day one and was nurtured by out-door loving parents. Hiking, sailing, canoeing, and playing in the woods were all par-for the course during my childhood and teenage years. After my B.A.in Biology, where I did research on leaf-cutter ants. I was sure I would continue to Grad school where I would study ants, their social systems, and their role in the ecology of the rainforest, but I decided to take a year off. Inspired by my grandfather, an avid walker, I set out to hike the 2172 mile Appalachian Trail which spans the East Coast of the USA from Georgia to Maine. This was a beautiful and transformative journey, and I sometimes say that I learned more during those 6 months than during my entire formal education. The year extended itself and following in my family footsteps and desiring to return to discover the place my my first few years in West Africa I joined Peace Corps. My passion for environmental issues and sustainable living was tempered by my experience living in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer. In Africa I did some environmental education and agroforestry projects and spent lots of time hiking and exploring the cliffs, rock formations, caves and waterfalls surrounding my village in the mountains of Guinea. I immersed myself fully in Nature’s healing and inspiring presence. Overtime I realized that a major weakness of the environmental movement and in international development, and a primary obstacle in the creation of a sustainable world for humanity in both the so-called developed world and in the under-developed world was the failure to take into account personal and cultural development when trying to affect a transformation to a sustainable future. Upon my return to the US and a few miscellaneous adventures I began my study in Herbal Medicine. Herbal Medicine provided a hub connecting many of my seemingly disparate interests: plants, botany, natural medicine, ecology, environment and sustainability, spirituality, and all things associated with healing including mythology, meditation, creativity, writing, music and so forth. However towards the end of my M.Sc. in Herbal Medicine I began to realize that their was a missing element in my studies. What are the psychological, emotional, and spiritual components that block and prevent healing, change, growth and transformation? It was growingly apparent to me that the health of the individual could not effectively addressed without taking into account their environment environmental (ecological, social, cultural, economic, etc). The discovery of Ken Wilber and his development of integral theory provided me with an incredible piece of the puzzle: the environmental crisis can not be “solved” without attention to individual transformation. My mission, and my role as a herbalist, became significantly clearer. Furthermore integral theory provided me with an excellent methodology and framework for comparing and synergistically integrating different ways of knowing, modalities of healing, and systems of medicine (for example East and West, Traditional and Modern). The discovery of Buddhist Psychology provided me with a perfect avenue for further exploration as it fully integrated psychological with physical health – in fact in Tibetan Medicine and Ayurvedic the distinction is seen as arbitrary. I move to the UK and began my study of Buddhist Psychology at the Tariki Trust. Though extra-ordinarily satisfied with the psychotherapeutic approach and my training in HeartMath something vital was still absent. I felt emptied, unfulfilled, and disconnected. I was weary of hours spent fixated upon a computer monitor. The central role and presence of Nature was absent from my work. It was time to take my self, and my work back outside where it had begun. This brings me to the present, my encounter with Stone our discovery of Plotkin’s work, and the creation of EarthMind Fellowship.
Registered member of the College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy, 2012.
Master of Science in Herbal Medicine, Tai Sophia Institute, 2011.
Foundation Certificate in Other-Centred Therapy, Tariki Trust, 2011. Currently studying for a diploma in Buddhist Psychotherapy with the Tariki Trust.
North East School of Botanical Medicine, 2004.
Bachelor of Arts in Biology (high honours),Oberlin College,1998.
Licensed 1:1 HeartMath® Provider and Group Trainer.
Advanced Tinnitus Management five-day course at Queen Margaret University.
Group facilitator: Tinnitus and Meniere’s Support Group with NESS in Elgin.
North-East Sensory Services: Sensory Awareness and Induction Volunteer Training.
Adult Support and Protection Module 1 with Moray Council.
CLAN’s Level 1 and 2 Volunteer Training: 5-day COSCA-certified training in counselling skills for supporting people affected by cancer.
Ocean, Mountains, Woods. The three natural environments I seem to have had most to do with in my life. In my early years I’d spend long days in caves and out on the rocks on the Kent coast, a blessing for a young man born and raised for the first 8 years of his life in North London. I began spending time in the woods with friends as a teenager, exploring the more-than-human environment and, just a as importantly, my inner world.
In my 29th year (some of you might recognize the significance of this) I left everything I had to move to South Korea, and lived there with my wife. During this time I spent many days in the mountains on my own and with companions, studying Eastern mysticisms (Buddhism, Daoism, Korean Shamanism) in preparation for academic study in this field when I returned. I have a lot to thank those mountains and their inhabitants for. On returning to England I studied Eastern religion (Hinduism, Buddhism) depth psychology (James, Jung, Hillman) and traditional cosmology and divination. Following this I wrote a thesis on transpersonal psychology and Tibetan Buddhism, an alchemical experience in itself.
Following all of this I found myself working with the most incredible people…
…at a factory. The last place you might expect? I was and still am moved by the depth of fellowship I felt in that pretty awful working environment. During this time I trained for three years in psychotherapy at Tariki Trust and now work in this capacity at a local hospice, Kent University and privately as a counsellor and mentor. It is these experiences, as well as my draw to nature and the Mystery that spurs me on to create and development a fellowship based in the natural world. Like Owen, my journeys around Asia, particularly in China, and time in factories (I have worked in three), opened my eyes to the positive and negative effects of global connectedness and the importance of “pressing out” what we are into the world. To truly “express” ourselves means to give generously all that we have acquired that is of worth to the community; human and beyond. Creating EarthMind Fellowship is my contribution alongside Owen and the community that is growing around it. I’m sure that Owen would agree, it is our hope that we create a space for individuals to step into the challenge of becoming whole and finding our place in the wilderness.
Religious Studies B.A. with honours (1st)
Certificate in Other-Centred Therapy
Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling & Psychotherapy – Tariki Trust
BACP Member 733396
Student & Staff Counsellor – University of Kent (Medway campus)
Counsellor & Psychotherapist -University of Kent at Canterbury
Volunteer Counsellor – Pilgrim’s Hospice, Margate, Kent
Hannah, Natural Pathways.
Interested in joining or arranging an EarthMind event?
Interested in our individual work?
Stone Fitzgerald: Counselling/Psychotherapy. An Other-Centred therapeutic approach influenced by person-centered, psychodrama, and transpersonal psychology.
Owen Okie: Herbal Medicine and Nutrition, HeartMath, and Integral
Stress-management. I do individual consultations as well as classes and workshops.
Hannah: Bushcraft workshops including fire-starting, shelter-building, tracking, wild foods, flintknapping, and more