In 2013 we ran a pilot Ecovillage Immersion Internship Program with three participants. This blog post shares several short articles that the Program Director and several of the participants wrote about their experience. We will have a similar program in 2014 entitled the Permaculture, Ecovillage & Arts Community Education (PEACE) Program.
Jess Owen, Mary Hall, and James Luttrell
Heathcote's First Ecovillage Immersion Program
By Mary Hall, Program Director
“In this time of uncertainty and change in the world, its going to take more than our old modes of activism to turn the tides, its going to take our own personal transformation in learning to live from our wild and loving heart. Experience your own wild heart in this month long Immersion program, with roots in permaculture, re-wilding and personal liberation work. “
This quote was on the marketing materials for our new program at Heathcote. We had three participants, two of whom finished the course, living, working and playing with us for all of June 2013. The beauty of this program was in using resources that Heathcote already had in terms of the teachers for many of the classes. Most Heathcoter's led some aspect of the program, and many participated in the courses with the Immersion participants. Another piece of how it worked was that the participants and myself met every morning to learn a bit of social permaculture and practiced something we had learned in terms of personal liberation work and communication. They also had 20 hours a week of some kind of hands on work project, including cooking, fermenting food, woodworking, gardening and cleaning chores. We were able to go very deep with one another, clearing old patterns and having a clearer view of ourselves in the world. We brought in a few outside facilitators for things such as Permaculture, Yoga, Non-violent Communication, Native Awareness skills, Heart of Now and ZEGG Forum. Heathcoters seemed to enjoy it as much as the participants, and overall I'd say it was highly successful. We are hoping to have the program multiple times next year, with up to ten people in each program.
My experience with Heathcote’s Ecovillage Immersion Program
By James Luttrell
Heathcote’s Ecovillage Immersion Program changed my life. I know that’s a lofty claim, that any experience can seem life-changing in retrospect. But throughout the program, I learned an incredible amount about myself, gardening and permaculture, native skills, methods for personal transformation, and intentional-community living. The program’s facilitators and other participants helped develop a safe container--a space in which we could explore ourselves in vulnerable yet necessary ways practicing with tools for spiritual growth and being supportive of one another. Personal problems I thought I had resolved or didn’t know existed emerged and became clear, and various tools for solving them were offered by the program mentors, workshops, and Heathcote members. And I met so many wonderful people who I view not only as friends, but as teachers.
The program’s most influential parts highlighted the edges inhibiting my growth and new paths to realizing my “higher self”. By edges, I mean those aspects of myself which maintain my ego, cause me suffering and prevent me from internalizing certain truths, connecting with the natural world on a spiritual level, and breaking negative habits. And by “higher self”, I mean my potential to be the most selfless, compassionate, and well-rounded person I can be--or, as I like to frame it, to realize “Buddha-hood”. Prior to the program, I considered myself a spiritual person, and wanted to realize my higher self. But because of my conditioning and circumstances, I never encountered many of the mentors’ tools, which I embraced and hope to harness and share with the world, including nonviolent communication, withholds, introductory re-evaluation counseling, and zegg forum (I encourage all of you to research these practices on your own time).
I shared and experienced parts of my life and self I didn’t expect I could or would even after I signed up for the program, including my emotions, secrets, and fears. I highly enjoyed the practice of integrative breathing, a form of intensive breath-work through which one engages in normal or fast paced circular breathing as well as mindfulness of one’s body and breath. And I especially enjoyed an experience titled “Overnight Birth Rite: Getting a taste of your native humanness”. For one night, the program’s participants and one of our mentors endeavored to sleep out in the woods with as little as possible. It was the first time I slept under the sky without a sleeping bag or tent, the second time I and the other participant made a fire via the bow-drill technique, and was one of the most powerful experiences of the program.
While I still have much to realize and internalize during my remaining time on this Earth, the program positively challenged myself. I learned how to grow personally and experience the world in new and unconventional ways without impaling myself on the edge of growth. I wish I could share every experience I had during the program and my appreciations for each person who helped with the program in greater detail. But I am crunched for time and hope I will be able to share more in another edition of the Green Revolution--perhaps after I help out with next year’s program. I am forever grateful to everyone who helped make the program possible and that I was fortunate enough to be part of it. I thank you for taking the time to read this, and hope you experience peace, love and happiness in all of your endeavors!
My Heathcote Ecovillage Immersion Program Experience
By Jess Owen
This experience would be just exactly what I needed- That's something that I surely could foresee.
I just didn't know how much of "just exactly what i needed" It could ever have turned out to really be.
I've long time existed separate fragments of a whole-
"inter-dimensional color changing lizard" "karma chameleon soul".
The deep sea of spirit I'd been swimming in back home-
had my body disconnected- empty on the earth to roam.
And with the emotional puddles I'd been diving in too-
I'd wandered far too far away from home to know what else to do.
. . all combined with the clouds of my foggy sky mind-
so it was time to reach out to see what i could find. . . .
I arrive at the door with my hunger and thirst- not sure what to expect at first from being "immersed".
Welcomed in with open hearts- right away I felt so free-
to simply be myself- and right at home where i should be-
surrounded in the energy of true love and connection-
and soon to be container of safety and protection.
It's never been so easy to take down all the walls-
on all my separate stalls and long and narrow winding halls.
We always speak of open windows and the opening of doors-
but the taking down of walls allows for clear and open floors.
And all the wide open space- allows for seeing every body's face-
in true light and transparency- in this beautiful brilliant place-
where I've learned how to accept myself- and to take care of my needs -
Instead of feeding like mosquitoes, or scurrying like centipedes-
In the hot nourishing sunshine, making friends with all the weeds-
and with Mary Mary quite contrary- and her hand sewn magic flower seeds.
germinating in the soil and sprouting little eager sprouts-
fearlessly unfolding through all uncertainty and doubts-
trusting each little step to go all in a row-
to bloom and to spread and to help each other grow-
unblocking subconscious and freeing energies flow-
from a hundred million bees buzzing wings beneath my skin-
that say you can't look out if your eyes are always looking in
to all the bubbles of your troubles that reflect in water like shimmering jewels-
to counter-act the poison- while we're building with new power tools
and with soft focused breaths blowing out from my heart-
now in the palm of my hand, i can make fire start!
Second contact with earth- second contact with water-
and i can finally give birth to my mother and daughter-
Half awake against the ground- safe sound beneath the pine-
with his sharp roots digging hot and deep into my spine-
and the moon protecting everything- reflecting that I'm fine
i let divine shine through this earthly body of mine.
We learn of living with he seasons, and all the many reasons to recognize our role-
among the elements of time and space- each vital piece belonging to the whole-
We learn to intertwine the fibers and drill a hole right through a stone-
and to observe with curiosity- and question the unknown.
I learn that everything's my choice and my emotions are my own-
I learn to recognize my voice- and to step outside my comfort zone-
To expose myself for what i am- because it's only fair-
to put to use the wisdom and the love i have to share-
I learn to hold myself accountable for honoring my duty-
of letting people see me and appreciate my beauty-
We learn the principles of permiculture and sustainability-
and the cycles of succession in relation to humanity-
And then we nourish all our bodies and clean up together after-
and we end our day with dance and play and sing-along and laughter.
This time i feared would be so long-it now seems far too short-
to be so full of gratitude for so much kindness and support-
to witness this profound degree of true self liberation-
and to experience the magic of such expansive transformation-
I feel so deeply blessed to have had this opportunity-
to be immersed in this incredibly extraordinary community.
Note: These articles were published in Green Revolution, Volume 70, No. 3, 2013.