Cultivating Wholeness (Part 1)

· Wild Heart,Conscious Living

Wholeness is the condition of living fully from all possible dimensions of our selves. Cultivating wholeness entails identifying and developing the facets of ourselves that are under-developed, while continuing to engage in practices for the facets that we're good at.

Cultivating wholeness is easier when starting with a model, which summarizes important elements and simplifies the complexities of the human experience. Without a model, everyone would start from scratch with their own research and it would be difficult to make progress within one’s lifetime and from generation to generation (to evolve consciousness). Passing on the wisdom of our elders and ancestors through education is indeed an important collective human practice.

In selecting a model, it’s important to consider:

  • that it is as complete as it could be
  • that it is informed by mother nature
  • that it is consistent with itself
  • it leverages inspiration from indigenous traditions
  • it uses what we’ve learned collectively from our predecessors in Western depth psychology

Bill Plotkin’s model defined in the book Wild Mind - Field Guide to the Human Psyche meets these criterial and seems to be useful and effective.

One approach to cultivating wholeness is to read/study Wild Mind, to attend a Wild Mind Intensive or join an online workshop series that explores the material and encourages the nature wanders (e.g. such as “Wild Heart”) for determining the facets of the self that are most accessible and the ones that are most difficult.

A simpler and complimentary approach to get started, is to focus on various practices corresponding to the four windows of knowing for each of the cardinal directions of the model. Here’s my lists of suggested practices for each:

East: Full-Presence Sensing

  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation and Contemplation
  • Focusing on having a “Beginner’s Mind”
  • Playing with Children
  • Telling Jokes, participating in Improv groups
  • Sunrise Praise Walks


South: Embodied Feeling

  • Yoga
  • Massage
  • Soaking in a Hotspring or hot-tub
  • Sunbathing
  • Walking or Dancing Barefoot (or naked)
  • Ecstatic Dance
  • Drumming
  • Sex
  • Foraging
  • Howling and dancing in the moonlight
  • anything that enhances Nature Connection (hiking, gardening, camping, etc.)


West: Deep Imagination

  • Creating art or music
  • Composing and reciting poetry
  • Journaling your dreams
  • Guided dreamwork
  • Deep Imaginal ("Shamanic") journeys
  • Holotropic breathwork
  • Plant medicine journeys with experienced guides, therapists


North: Heart-Centered Thinking

  • Learning Nonviolent Communication (NVC)
  • Becoming skilled in Restorative Justice or mediating conflict
  • participating in Empathy Circles
  • Collaborative leadership training
  • Volunteering
  • Parenting
  • Cooking
  • Creating life-sustaining systems and structures
  • Protecting nature and the environment
  • Speaking up and taking some action when witnessing injustice



What is missing from this approach is an in-depth study and embodiment of the various archetypes of wholeness, as described in the Wild Mind book. This essay defined Wholeness as living fully from all facets of oneself, and listed some practices for cultivating wholeness for each of the windows of knowing.

To explore further, I suggest registering for my 10-week online offering “Wild Heart - Cultivating wholeness for the self you always wanted” or enroll in any of the in-person Animas Valley Institute offerings.