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Conversations with the Inspiring Deb Matlock

Today we’d like to introduce you to Deb Matlock.

Deb, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My current work with Wild Rhythms includes sacred nature connection workshops, retreats, and presentations as well as shamanic-style spiritual guidance work and animal communication. This business was born out of my personal and professional experiences in nature and animal connection and spiritual work.

I have come to this work through my own amazing, challenging, inspiring, confusing, hopeful, painful, and surprising journey into a deeper connection with the world around me. My own personal journey to a sense of empowered, nature-connected spirituality is definitely a long and winding road… a road I still travel upon today. I have gone through times of difficult confusion and emptiness, times of deep grief and despair for the world around, as well as times of incredible peace, groundedness, and inspiration.

My passion is to walk/guide/assist others on their own unique journeys into their empowered spirituality. I grew up in Colorado and bring to my work a profound love and passion for Earth and every living being. Since childhood, I have experienced a deep, personal, and communicative connection with the earth and the animals I encounter. As a child, I spent endless days exploring the Rocky Mountains and my first best friend was a dog named Jenny. Since then my life has been formed and enriched by my relationship with all of the life around me. My work is based in not only my own spiritual journey, but also in my 20+ years as an environmental and humane educator, and my passion for research and academia.

My work has teeth as I take my own experiences and dig into them more deeply via conventional and non-conventional methods. I have spent the last several years working as a professional environmental educator and naturalist, a shamanic practitioner, and an animal communicator. I also mentor and teach graduate students at Prescott College. I am also dedicated to exploring my own spiritual connection to life and have mentored extensively with Chris Davidson of Ancientways. I have passionately refined my natural ability to experience shamanic – style journeys, communicate with animals and act as a spiritually-focused life coach.

My environmental and humane education work includes teaching in the field, offering professional trainings and presentations and conducting research on the connections of spirituality, animism, and empathy to environmental education. My research has been presented nationally and internationally and continues to be a strong focus on my work. I have vast experience designing programming and evaluating curriculum and was previously President of the Board of Directors for the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education. Additionally, I volunteer my educational and shamanic practitioner services with local animal rescues on a regular basis.

Has it been a smooth road?
This has definitely not been a smooth road, but it has all been worth it. From my late teens into my late 20’s, I was terrified to share my abilities to speak with the spirit world and do animal communication. I was afraid people would think I was either out of my mind or making it all up. It was a very deep, profound, transforming, and personal journey to get to the place where I realized that our ability to communicate with the worlds of nature and spirit are as old as humanity itself and have always been present in every culture in one way or another. It wasn’t until I was in graduate school in my late 20’s, studying the rhythmic connection between people and earth, that I stumbled across literature regarding shamanic experiences and journeys. It was then that I realized what I had been doing all of my life was actually quite normal and not unique to me. What a relief that was! My whole world opened up at that point.

My advice for others on their own journey is to trust your own experiences as personal experience is, by far, the best teacher. Also, dig into what interests you. Read about it. Watch documentaries. Talk to people. Follow your passions and let them take you down your own very unique road in life.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Wild Rhythms story. Tell us more about it.
I offer shamanic-style spiritual guidance, animal communication, workshops, presentations, and retreats. I also offer an intensive mentoring program for folks interested in developing their own abilities in the above-mentioned areas. I have been in business since 2003 and have really loved experiencing this work grow and develop as I do.

I focus my work on helping others honor their experiences, connect to the places where they live, and sense a deep, authentic, and empowered spirituality. My work emphasizes giving in service to the larger world in whatever way(s) may be appropriate for each individual.

Another very strong and important emphasis is in finding the sacredness in the places where we live. No need to take expensive trips to foreign places to find our spiritual connections… they are all around us. To serve this idea, I created a body of work called Place-based Spiritual Arts upon which I base my workshops, retreats, and individual mentoring.

What are Place-based Spiritual Arts?
The magic and beauty of the natural world is all around us no matter where we call home. So often, we feel we need to travel to remote wilderness areas or visit sacred places in other countries in order to find and nurture our own deep connection to nature and the world of spirit. While being deeply immersed in wilderness areas or exploring new lands can definitely be inspiring and life-changing, I have developed Place-based Spiritual Arts for the expressed purpose of enlivening, discovering, and nurturing our sacred connection with the wildly amazing earth, plants, animals, landscapes, and seasons that we live with each day. From the depths of a crowded and bustling city to the rural countryside, birds sing, insects pollinate, plants grow – even through cracks in the concrete. No matter where we are on the planet, wildlife and humans share the sun, breathe the same air, and gaze upon the same moon. Sacred places exist literally everywhere; if only we take the time to notice. The miracle of life is impossible to escape. Place-based Spiritual Arts practices enable us to remember our inherent way of being and relating to this earth. Whether explored individually or in a group, Place-based Spiritual Arts work allows us to take the journey of deeply and sacredly connecting to the places where we live and the life we share each moment with on a daily basis. Components of Place-based Spiritual Arts:

Sense – Using all senses available, experience the place on earth or in shamanic journey space. What sensations are drawing attention? What feelings?
Explore – Spending time with intention outdoors and in our shamanic journey space, we will spend time exploring our surroundings, deepening our sense of connection, and developing a sense of feeling at home in the place.
Dream – What inspires and what delights? What does the heart say? The soul? Our dreams will guide us to sacred action on behalf of the world. We will learn how to listen and work with our dreams in this regard.
Journey – We will explore shamanic journeys and also a journey through inspiring places in the outdoors where we feel called.
Live – We will discover a deep way of living with intention. How does this experience impact the way we live in our place, the decisions we make, the relationship we have with the living world around us? What do we do to honor our connections?
Serve – After we have integrated our experience personally, how do we let that experience inform our decisions to act on behalf of our world? What is our authentic service?

Additionally, I am pursuing my Ph.D. in Environmental Studies, specifically exploring the integration of the more-than-human voice into modern, Western culture. I feel that my rootedness in the academic world, as well as my life-long, organic experience in the world of spirit, sets me apart from many others.

Do you have a lesson or advice you’d like to share with young women just starting out?
Trust your experience, follow your passions, and know that if you don’t see examples of people around you living the life you want, that just means you need to forge the path.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
David Matlock, Deb Matlock, Doug Hill

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