METTA EARTH institute

A Center for Contemplative Ecology

802. 453. 8111

Wilderness and Ecopsychology- Programs

Wilderness and Ecopsychology

Re-wild self & society

2020 Dates TBA

Wilderness and Ecopsychology

In this leadership training, participants are immersed in the beauty of mountains, fields, and forest to explore the deep knowing that we are not separate from nature…we are nature.

Ecopsychology suggests that our psyches are not healthy until we recognize that our lives are embedded within and integrally connected to all the systems of life.  Wilderness takes on new meaning as we realize the interconnection of everything.

During this training, we will explore philosophies and practices of ecopsychology and wilderness experience. We will delve deeply into the theories behind ecopsychology, discussing how our culture has become separated from nature, as well as ways to renew this connection within our communities. Afternoons place an emphasis on sustainable practices to reconnect our daily lives to the natural world, including food provisioning, natural medicines, and more. Evenings are a time to develop tangible leadership skills in order to return to our communities empowered to lead people through reconnecting to nature.

Metta Earth Institute Wilderness

We will also participate in a 5-day Wild Quest in the nature sanctuaries of Metta Earth and the surrounding wild lands, including the option for a 2-day solo and fast. With an ecological, systems perspective, we explore the inner landscape of body, mind, and heart in relation to the outer landscape of Earth. We use our backpack as a way to define what we really need in order to survive and thrive. We practice skills for living in the natural world in order to form an encampment, which can inform the development and design of ecologically sustainable villages.

Program Information

15 days: $1500 (including $500 deposit)

Tuition Includes:

  • Program, meals, and accommodations
  • Three thirty minute life/leadership coaching consults after the training to help participants sustain change.
  • Financial assistance may be available to those in need.
  • Credit with your university or college is usually available as independent study. We will offer assistance, as needed, for this process.

Scholarship Opportunities: 

Metta Earth is committed to making our program accessible to low-income individuals who normally would be unable to attend such a program. We have a limited number of full and partial scholarships available based on need. We prioritize scholarships for those from minority groups and inner-city backgrounds.
After having submitted a general application, please fill out a scholarship application by clicking the button below. Don’t hesitate to contact us if would like to receive additional self-fundraising advice and coaching.

This program is available for credit:

  • 15 days, 150 hours, 3 credits

Metta Earth is nestled in the quietude of the mountains, the stunning headwaters of the New Haven river with abundant waterfalls and pools for swimming, wilderness trails to walk or bike, and 158 acres of Metta Earth land to explore.

Meals are vegetarian and lovingly prepared with seasonal, local and organic foods, much of our food comes from our own 3⁄4 acre organic garden and farmstead. Participants assist and have the opportunity to learn about harvesting, cooking, putting food by, and other aspects of organic, local food.

Options for sleeping accommodations include shared peaceful rooms in the main Metta Earth house, shared space in one of the yurts, or space to set up your own tent.

The Metta Earth main house provides bathrooms, laundry, phones, wireless internet, library, kitchen and dining facilities, and teaching, study, and practice space.

6:00 – 7:00am
Yoga (self guided practice)

7:00 – 7:30am
Sitting Meditation

7:30 – 8:30am

Experiential Learning Activities

12:30 – 1:30pm
Lunch Community Meeting

1:30 – 2:30
Open Time

Experiential Learning Activities

5:00 – 6:15pm
Metta Earth Yoga Class

6:30 – 7:30pm

7:30 – 9:30pm
Evening Program

  • Metta Earth Yoga: Contemplative Ecological Practices for a Sustainable Future by Russell Comstock
  • Quantum Community ~ The Archetype of Communion & Community, An Interdisciplinary Inquiry by Gillian Kapteyn Comstock
  • Kripalu Yoga: A Guide to Practice on and Off the Mat by Richard Faulds
  • Ecovillage Living: Restoring the Earth and Her People by Hildur Jackson
  • Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate: At Work in the Wild and Cultivated World by Wendy Johnson
  • Moving Like a Gardener by Deb Soule
  • Radical Simplicity by Jim Merkel
  • The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Radical Ecology by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • The Soul of Nature: Visions of a Living Earth by Michael Tobias
  • The Way of Council by Jack Zimmerman

Program Topics

Finding The Wild On The Farm

Each morning after breakfast, we will begin our day with attunement to the natural rhythms and the needs of the farm. We will learn how to bring a deep ecology perspective to these daily tasks. These needs might include picking berries, harvesting wild herbs, weeding a garden bend, tending to farm animal needs, and more.

Ecopsychology Principles & Practices

Each morning program will include an Earth Contemplation Practice, allowing time for solitude, expressive arts, journaling and sharing. This is a practice of meditation in nature, which includes Sense of Place exercises to develop ecological perception and enhanced awareness with the theme of the day applied to this inquiry.

At Metta Earth, we have come up with an interdisciplinary worldview integrating theories and practices such as wilderness therapy, quantum physics, contemplative practice, deep ecology, and ecofeminism.  We delve into the concepts of these principles in a highly interactive way with nature, engaging in the creative arts, contemplative practice, and other experiential processes. In this way we create a lived experience of these principles.

  • Sanctuary
  • Feeling
  • Interconnection
  • Embodiment
  • Chaos
  • Nothingness/Emptiness
  • Synergy
  • Community

Wilderness & Ecopsychology Lifeways for Ecological Sustainability

Wilderness and Ecopsychology Skills

Our modern cultural conveniences have created a schism between the daily practices that sustain us and the natural world. The afternoon session provides knowledge and hands-on skills to rekindle a healing daily existence with the earth, examining our relationship with food, medicine, and backcountry living.

  • Natural First Aid and Plant Medicine
  • Tool Sharpening and Use
  • Cordage and Natural Fiber Crafting
  • Knots, Tarps, & Wild Encampments
  • Herbal Tea Harvest and Preparation
  • Dairy, Kefir, Yogurt, & Cheese
  • Bow Drill Firemaking
  • Food Preservation for the Backcountry

Metta Earth Yoga

These classes integrate the daily learning of philosophies, principles, and practices with an emphasis on supporting participants in the methodology/pedagogy required to create a whole systems educational experience.

  • Bonds & Boundaries
  • Heart of Yoga
  • Partnering with Nature
  • Our Body, Earth Body
  • Authentic Movement
  • Meditation in Motion
  • Group Flow
  • Community Yoga

Wilderness & Ecopsychology Leadership Essentials

Wilderness awareness, environmental conservation, and ecological education are deeply intertwined with social justice concerns.  These issues arise from the impact of our existing social, political, and economic systems on wild lands.  Understanding leadership and communication processes, along with theories of oppression provide important tools in working with this complicated interface of the environment and society. In addition, forms of activism enrich the possible dimensions for the expression of change.

  • Co-Listening, NVC, and Conscious Communication
  • Unconscious Communication
  • Power, Privilege, Oppression, & Rank
  • Models of Activism
  • Facilitation & Leadership Models
  • Wilderness Ethics
  • Community & Leader Ethics

Wild Questing

This session will revolve around the Wild Quest as an opportunity to source authentic leadership originating from the mysteries of nature.  This Wild Quest is composed of options for solitude, fasting, and silence. Participants learn about the questing theory and process.  A careful focus is given to the preparation that comes before a wilderness experience, as well as to the ongoing process of integration, which gives the Wild Quest purpose and promise for further environmental and social change.  After the 2-day solo experience, we will reconvene to share our experiences through art, story, and Way of Council, providing tools for an active reincorporation. As a group, we will support each other in defining the pathway from this personal journey to the practical application of leadership back in one’s own community.

  • Local & Wildcrafted Food Preparation
  • Creating a Wild Encampment
  • Questing Theory
  • Practice of Presence: Silent Night Walk
  • Wild Quest Solo
  • Natural Art & Earth Offerings
  • Way of Council: Wild Quest Images & Stories
  • Restorative Practices for Camp Closing
  • Reincorporation: Bringing Your Gift to Community


Gillian Kapteyn Comstock


Gillian Kapteyn Comstock, MA, is the founding co-director of Metta Earth Institute and the Metta Earth project, which integrates regenerative farming, contemplative practices, community living, and sustainability education. Gillian offers mentoring, program facilitation, and leadership trainings.

As a holistic psychotherapist, certified permaculture designer, and advanced yoga guide, she synthesizes disciplines to support cultural renewal. She is dedicated to creating sanctuaries for others to experience vibrant presence.

With a passion for discovering the wild in mind, body, and earth, she has led yoga retreats, wilderness quests, and trainings in nature sanctuaries around the world.

For the last dozen years Gillian has intertwined this work with grounding in regenerative agriculture and focalizes this in the care of gardens and greenhouses, carbon farming and grazing processes with Icelandic sheep, Milking Shorthorn cows, and heritage breed chickens, as well as the growing and wildcrafting of herbal teas and medicines.

For more than two decades she has been a participant in the Assisi Institute community, which engages in a highly dynamic interdisciplinary investigation of Jungian psychology, creative process, mythology, and the new sciences.

A mother of three adult children and grandmother of five, Gillian has lived a life immersed in cooperative community, the gift economy, and innovative social processes resonate with natural systems and wild nature.

Russell Comstock

Russell Comstock

Russell Comstock, Co-Director of Metta Earth Institute, Inc., has given his life to living, learning, and loving. As stepfather for thirty years, Russell is dedicated to fathering, family, and community life. Always moved by the soul of earth, he holds an MA in Contemplative and Ecological Leadership and a BA in Human Ecology.

A practitioner of yoga for more than twenty years, he is certified in both Interdisciplinary and Jivamukti Yoga, and brings to all his teaching a spirit of embodied devotion. Russell is a founding member of the Green Yoga Association and serves on the Green Yoga Council. With extensive experience directing programs in wilderness, adventure, and experiential education, Russell integrates a steady intention to help humans connect more compassionately with earth and with each other.

He has trained as a quest and wilderness guide with Earth Rise Foundation, School of Lost Borders, and Outdoor Leadership Training Seminars. He has been a nationally certified Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) for many years, and now maintains a Wilderness First Responder certification. He has recently completed a handbook called: Metta Earth Yoga – Contemplative Ecological Practices for a Sustainable Future.

“This leadership program went so far beyond my expectations. The land and the team provides so much sanctuary for participants that personal transformations arise naturally. Russell and Gillian offer two extremely powerful and unique perspectives on living and learning, complementing each other and the training group with extraordinary flow. Transparency in leadership qualities and a cornucopia of giving experiences create fertile ground to grow. They are gently and persistently pushing the boundaries to a whole new level that this planet desperately needs.”

– Wilderness & Ecopsychology participant, 2015

“I found the Wilderness & Ecopsychology Training to be a life changing experience, shaping not only my personal values, but helping me understand what I have to contribute to the world.”

– Wilderness & Ecopsychology participant, 2015

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