Inward Bound Healing Journeys and
Tshisimane Indigenous Healing Center
Healing in Wilderness
Inward Bound’s activities have recently been suspended in lieu
of other priorities. However, adventurers interested in the
information that may be helpful to them on their own journeys
can see below or download the pdf of the book, Inner Passages
Outer Journeys or and refer to the appropriate texts in the Blog
Inward Bound’s intention was to explore the inner or healing
journey into wilderness. This implied using the polarities found
in nature as medicine. The itinerary for this trek differed vastly
from most other wilderness adventures. These journeys proved
to have profound restorative and healing effects. The groups
were intentionally small, highly compatible and the rich inward
experience was an added benefit to a superb African outward
adventure, combined with the extraordinary cultural and
spiritual depth that is Africa.
Based on the writings of wilderness psychologists, experiences
with the San Bushmen hunter-gatherers, and the inspiration of
ancient wisdom especially yoga, “Inward Bound” was formed in
1995. The inner journey into nature can create a special effect.
This unique effect Dave has called “Wilderness Rapture.” It is
similar to Maslow’s Peak Experience and other inner
empowerments or “oneness” experiences described in yoga
texts. These principles were also used at Tshisimane Healing
The following is a summary of some of its manifestations.
Being or feeling more like one’s true self.
An appreciation of awe, oneness, wonder, transcendence -
peak or oneness experience (unity consciousness.)
Humility and a realization that any control one thinks one has
over nature is an illusion.
Becoming more pleasant and affable with fellow trekkers.
A connection with and a sense of comfort in wilderness.
A sense of renewal, and aliveness, feeling less cluttered, more
mindful and focused.
An appreciation of alone time.
Major life style changes on the return.
Release from addictions
of the past from minor to major.
Before one ventures into the wild outdoors there may be a
sense of uneasiness which creates the need for much
preparation. Often a sense of duality is apparent. Luther
Standing Bear said;
“It was only when the white man came that wilderness existed.”
To the San Bushmen and Native Americans there was no such
duality. We, however, often feel that we are “here” and
wilderness is out “there.” Finally, on the journey, we enter and
imperceptibly become part of the wilderness and a sense of
balance and harmony supervenes.
The experience of "Wilderness Rapture" also leads to the
phenomenon of “re-entry depression,” which can be
considered a manifestation of how potent the inner effect of
the journey has been. Many participants experienced a sense of
loss when they returned home. Paradoxically, this depression
occurred in the face of a demonstrable restorative effect. The
re-entry depression seemed to be a result of having been in an
altered state of consciousness and upon the return there was a
dramatic shift as one was propelled back into a normal state of
awareness. The severity of the depression was directly related
to the inner effect of the journey coupled with the resignation
that one now returned to the frustrations of ordinary life. Often
the harder the home and work circumstances, the greater the
depression. The reentry was often difficult - the techniques
used on the trail facilitated an altered state of consciousness
that amplified the power of the wild. Methods to deal with the
challenge were discussed towards the end of the journey so
that participants were prepared to cope with the
consequences. Intensifying their spiritual practice combined
with patience was effective and the depression usually resolved
spontaneously after about three weeks.
If we analyze the mystical effect of the wilderness we see
similar principles described by Eastern philosophies, such as;
being in the present moment, unconditional positive regard for
one another, suspending judgment of our fellow travelers,
coming closer to one’s true sense of Self and being less
egocentric and more humble. The ultimate goal of these
philosophies was to leave the duality of everyday existence
behind and reach for the more profound state of “oneness.”
Even without any esoteric practices it is easy to appreciate a
sense of the interconnectedness of all beings and things when
one has been out in nature for some time. When we allow ego
to subordinate to the real Self, “Wilderness Rapture” or a
relaxed alpha state of consciousness can occur.
The following principles were utilized by Inward Bound to
facilitate the inner aspect of the wilderness journey. An
attempt was made to keep as little between the participants
and nature as feasible, bearing in mind safety and comfort. The
closer one gets to the earth mother, the more powerful the
healing. Nature being feminine. helped the participants to
embrace the more internal, intuitive and creative parts of their
psyches. Time restraints, survival situations and goals (bagging
peaks, running rivers) were avoided as far as practicable.
Cameras and other conditionings that could get in the way
were minimized. No wilderness skills were required. This was
provided by the staff. The energy normally required for daily
tasks could be utilized in more self-restorative ways. Time was
set aside for group interaction in the form of a “council circle”
where the multidimensional facets of the experience were
shared. This also helped harmonize the group.
The templates of the Hero/ine’s journey and the Four
Directions were used to allow the group to go more deeply into
the power of wild places. Other eclectic techniques for going
inward were utilized, including, hiking, meditation, silence,
alone time, special breathing techniques, yoga, and
ritual. Those wanting more information can refer to the pdf on
Inner Passages Outer Journeys or the appropriate blogs. Inward
Bound journeys are now only available by special request.