Earth and Spirit: Engaging with Nature as a Pathway to Insight

April 21st, 2004Burke Miller, M.A.Founder, Spirit River Institute, Boulder, COSandy McCarthy, M.A.Founding Partner, Spirit River Institute, Boulder, COHost: Arlene Brownell, Ph.D.

About the Presentation

Throughout the ages, people all over the world have gone alone into nature to see themselves, their lives and their relation to Spirit more clearly. In many cultures, from the Celts to the Australian Aboriginals to Native North Americans, this time alone has been an important part of spiritual practice. Most of the leading figures of the world’s great religions had their most significant moments of revelation or enlightenment in the arms of nature. Think Moses on the mountain, Jesus fasting in the desert and Buddha under the tree.

In this experiential and interactive presentation, participants will learn some of the theories and tools for connecting to self and Spirit through connecting to nature. We will bring elements of nature indoors for creative interaction that evokes self-awareness or spiritual insight. Participants can expect to learn how natural settings can be utilized by themselves or others (like clients and parishioners) when faced with a transition or decision, when seeking more clarity or a new perspective around an issue, or when seeking to understand or deepen their spirituality.

About the Presenters

Burke Miller, M.A., is the founder of Spirit River Institute. He is an executive coach, leadership consultant, relationship coach and wilderness quest guide. Burke leads clients to a deep awareness of their life purpose and helps them draw wisdom from their innate connection to nature. He has taught leadership seminars, coached executives and facilitated retreats at major corporations, and guided wilderness quests for seven years. Burke holds a masters degree in Environmental Philosophy and spent fifteen years as a professional naturalist and environmental educator. He trained as a wilderness quest guide with Steven Foster and Meredith Little.

Sandy McCarthy, M.A., is a founding partner in Spirit River Institute. Sandy is a personal, professional and executive coach, mediator and facilitator. It was Sandy’s wilderness quest in Colorado’s canyon lands that brought her “home” to her deep passion for working with people and organizations in transitions. Sandy brings 25 years of leadership, facilitation, mediation and coaching experience to her work, including 16 years in the public sector directing transportation and human services divisions. Sandy holds degrees in Psychology, English, and Geography. She is a graduate of four nationally recognized coaches training organizations and the Denver Community Leadership Forum.

Additional Resources

Spirit River Institute offers coaching, leadership seminars, retreats and wilderness quests to individuals and organizations. For more information view the website:

See July 27, 2003 Daily Camera Article: “Wilderness walks help guide people through self-discovery”

Additional Reading:

The Roaring of the Sacred River: The Wilderness Quest for Vision and Self-Healing
By Steven Foster and Meredith Little

Earth and Spirit: The Spiritual Dimension of the Environmental Crisis
Edited by Fritz Hull

Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind
Edited by Roszak, Gomes and Kanner

The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology
By Theodore Roszak

Worldviews and Ecology: Religion, Philosophy, and the Environment
Edited by Tucker and Grim

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