Ecotherapy & Reclaiming Our Wholeness: A Conversation with Beth Stephens about Holding Ourselves in All That it Means to Be Human [Episode 29]
I’d call it Beth Stephens superpower: creating spaces that help women cherish the messy, mucky, imperfect wholeness of themselves. As an Ecopyschologist, Beth guides women through journeys of deep self-inquiry, working with nature while remembering themselves as a part of nature. Our conversation beautifully weaves through questions such as, why are we humans the only species who seem to have forgotten their essential completeness and what does it mean to get out of our own way so that mystery can dream through us?
These inquiries were quite slippery, but I felt like Beth did a beautiful job allowing them the complexity and respect they required. Here are a few more highlights from our conversation:
- Beth grounds us in place at her home in Suffolk, a land of flat marshes, vast skies, salt-licked trees and raw coastline. One of the reasons she loves this place so much is because “it is a land that does not give up her stories easily.” Mystery and melancholy palpably linger in the many layers of battle history and suppressed sacred sites that live deep in the ground of Suffolk.
- Ecotherapy is “a journey that invites people to reconnect with their wholeness, exploring all that it means to be human and reclaiming any parts we may have banished in order to fit into Western culture.” Ecotherapy may involve eco-somatic practices, creative expression, dream work, conversations with other-than-humans, or working with archetypes and deep imagery.
- Returning to the muck and the mess of our earthly entanglements is a relief; we can finally relax into our lives as they are. What a relief to stop all of the striving and instead allow ourselves grace in the disordered complexity. Here there is a deep honoring of the authenticity of nature and of ourselves being a part of nature.
- When we court Mystery, we see everything as an expression of Earth’s dreaming. Perhaps we can practice getting out of our own way and allow Mystery to dream through us, the same way it dreams through Oak, Snake, Thrush, and all of the rest of life.
More about Beth Stephens:
Nature in Mind: Beth's website
Ecotherapy: 1-1 ecotherapy for all humans
Natural Academy: accredited training in Ecopsychology (and Beth's alma mater)
Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche by Bill Plotkin
Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche by Bill Plotkin
Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind edited by Theodore Roszak