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 section.  

 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 Center. 

Tshisimane Healing Center

 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.

Inward Bound


©2022 Dr. David Cumes M.D.