What is "Wild Heart"?

· Wild Heart,Conscious Living,Nature

Wild Heart is the name of the offerings that extend Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication (NVC) with Bill Plotkin’s “Wild Mind - Field Guide to the Human Psyche.”

It’s “wild” out of the assumption that we’re born with the natural capacities/inner-resources for growing and maturing into our wholeness. Sadly, due to industrialization and colonization, most of Western Culture has lost, suppressed or repressed some of those natural capacities. Because of those losses, we require the cultivation of the capacities that are weak, along with self-healing that’s needed for maturation into adulthood. The process of recovering our life-essential resources often called cultivating wholeness, can also be seen as a kind of “re-wilding” back to our true nature.

The remainder of this essay deepens the meaning while defining the context of recovering our wild hearts through a process of rewilding. Let's start with a few commonly accepted definitions.


What is "Wild"?

Here's a definition from Oxford Languages:

adjective: wild; comparative adjective: wilder; superlative adjective: wildest

(of an animal or plant) living or growing in the natural environment; not domesticated or cultivated.E.g. "a herd of wild goats"

Similar: untamed, undomesticated, feral, unbroken, fierce, ferocious, savage, uncultivated, natural, native, indigenous, agrestal

Opposite: tame, cultivated, hothouse

produced from wild animals or plants without cultivation. For example: "wild honey"


What does “Wild” mean in a person?

This paragraph from Vocabulary.com is instructive: "If a person is wild, he might be unrestrained, crazy, or even enthusiastic — like someone who's wild about cabaret music. The term 'to run wild' means to grow unrestrained, undisciplined, like a wild animal or an imagination that isn't held back by rules."


What is "Rewilding"?

The term rewilding was coined by members of the grassroots network Earth First!, first appearing in print in 1990.[4] It was refined and grounded in a scientific context in a paper published in 1998 by conservation biologists Michael Soulé and Reed Noss.[5] 

Rewilding is comprehensive, often large-scale, conservation effort focused on restoring sustainable biodiversity and ecosystem health by protecting core wild/wilderness areas, providing connectivity between such areas, and protecting or reintroducing apex predators and highly interactive species (keystone species).

Rewilding.org: on the aim of rewilding

The aim [of rewilding] is to create resilient, self-regulating and self-sustaining ecosystems.

Wikipedia.org: on Rewilding

Rewilding, a positive reframing for nature conservation, involves holistic solutions to remove barriers and reestablish vibrant wildlife populations and intact, functional, and resilient ecosystems that effectively integrate people. Rewilding means the mass recovery of ecosystems and the life-supporting function they provide.

rewild.org: Rewilding also means changing the way we think

Rewilding also means changing the way we think. Humans are part of the wild. We are one species among many, bound together in an intricate web of life that ties us to the atmosphere, the weather, the tide, the soils, the freshwater, the oceans, and all living creatures on the planet. The Earth is our home. Together, we can protect and restore it.


“Rewilding” is an appropriate descriptor for the inner-work of “Wild Heart” because humans evolved from the wildness of nature, and are part of the ecology of the planet. Our inner ecology has many parts; a rewilding is needed to liberate the parts that have been repressed by the culture.

Our species has great power to affect the environment, and thus requires each one of us to take personal responsibility for the interconnected impact we have on each other and what David Abram calls the “more-than-human” world.

As each individual takes responsibility for healing and cultivating their own innate resources, all beings and the surrounding environment simultaneously benefit — and we’ll make choices that are more in harmony with our planet.


What is the Heart?

NIH.org: The heart is an organ about the size of your fist that pumps blood through your body. It is made up of multiple layers of tissue.


What is the Heart as a Metaphor?

"The use of ‘heart’ as a metaphor is found in the earliest known writings in ancient languages of independent origin and the meanings relating to emotion and reason attributed to it were widely shared. This suggests that it most likely arose from the universal experience of cardiac activity in response to emotion, exercise, and mental activity due to its autonomic regulation by the brain.

The Oxford English Dictionary has an entry of 15 000 words for the word heart, most of which relate to its use as a metaphor for emotional states, reasoning and other meanings such as the centre of places and things or the central point in an argument." From “The Heart, a constant and universal metaphor” by Desmond Sheridan, MD PhD


What is the Context of “Heart” in “Wild Heart”?


When considering Plotkin's intrapersonal map of the Self, the following metaphors can be seen as associated with each of the directions and corresponding windows of knowing:

  • The North's Heart-Centered Thinking is associated with the Mind
  • The South's Full-bodied Feeling is associated with the Body
  • The East's Present-Centered Sensing is associated with Spirit
  • The West's Deep Imagination is associated with Soul

It’s important to acknowledge the contributions of all the beings that have molded the metaphors attached to each of the words "mind," "body," "spirit" and "soul" as describing different aspects of the human condition— allowing for the meanings attributed to the words to be bigger than what each word by itself implies — (that there’re only one meaning). Each Venn Diagram circle highlights visibly the richness and history of each word.

Acknowledging that these words have been used in many contexts, their meanings have been overloaded at different times in many places, which is why the Venn diagram of meaning best allows for flexibility through a circle for each word.

When looking at the intersection of these words, we find a home for the word most often used to be at the energetic center of our human experience — the Heart.

Does the Heart then have it’s own circle? In the general case, yes — there are historical meanings that intersect with the other words.

However, my diagram does not give the heart its own circle to more clearly constrain the meaning I ascribe to it — which is the energy representing the intersection of the other four.

When we are living from the Heart, we are living from our wholeness, having simultaneous connection to the others which have been cultivated over time — which may start with conscious competence that eventually morphs into unconscious competence — when it becomes second nature, like the wisdom of the mythic Wild Inscendent Nurturing Generative Sage, we just are, we just know, we move into action, accessing a Psyche-inspired emergent intuition.

When creating a Venn Diagram of these metaphorical associations in their corresponding cardinal directions, we can ascribe the intersection that is common to all four circles as the center of the Psyche, which can appropriately be called the Heart, as shown in the picture below. Therefore, the Heart can be seen as the center of our being, like the Chinese Dantian is the energy center, or "seat of life force energy" in the body. Here is the resulting Venn Diagram of the wholistic metaphors that make up a two-dimensional view of the human psyche [1]:

broken image

This is the context of "heart" in the "Wild Heart" offerings, in which Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication is extended through Plotkin's Wild Mind. The individual offerings are shown in the context of the extended NVC Tree of Life below, enabling the combination of the two bodies of work to become a new paradigm of Collaborative Empathic Discovery.

broken image



[1] The map is not the territory. The value of this model is that it makes the concepts more accessible than Plotkin's more-elaborate 3-D model.

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