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Meet Deb Matlock | Nature-based Spiritual Arts Mentor & Guide

We are thrilled to be connecting with Deb Matlock again. Deb is a Nature-based Spiritual Arts Mentor & Guide and is also a content partner. Content partners help Voyage in so many ways from spreading the word about the work that we do, sponsoring our mission and collaborating with us on content like this. Check out our conversation with Deb below.

Hi Deb, so great to have you join us again. For folks who might have missed our earlier conversations, can you please take a minute to briefly introduce yourself?
I grew up in the mountains of Colorado and am deeply committed to nurturing the connection between people, animals, earth, and spirit. I have spent twenty-five years working as a professional environmental and humane educator and naturalist. Additionally, through my business Wild Rhythms, I am a shamanic-style practitioner, spiritual life coach, and animal communicator, and assist people and animals through spiritual mentoring, animal communication, and shamanic-style journey work. I am passionate about helping people find connection and deep spiritual meaning where they live. To this end, I have created a body of worked call Nature-Based Spiritual Arts. I am experienced teaching indoors and out, offering workshops and presentations, and designing programs for groups and organizations. I also enjoy the academic realm and holds a Master of Arts in Environmental Education from Prescott College and am pursuing my doctoral degree in environmental studies from Antioch University New England.

What is nature connection?
Nature connection is a bit of an anomaly actually. We are always connected to nature. As ecological beings, every sip of water, breath of air, or bite of food demonstrates the continual reality that we are nature and are intimately woven into a vast ecological framework. That being said, we can easily perceive ourselves as disconnected from the natural world. We can become off-center when we spend too much time indoors, in front of computers, etc. Nature connection work, to me, is the conscious awareness we have of our deep and sacred relationship with all life and the development, nurturing, and deepening of this relationship.

What is the relationship with spirituality and nature connection?
I love this question! I think it is such an important one to consider. This quote from Fritjof Capra sums it up: “When the concept of human spirit is understood as the mode of consciousness in which the individual feels connected to the Cosmos as a whole, it becomes clear that ecological awareness is spiritual in its deepest sense.” Fritjof Capra Nature connection – being in a deep and dynamic relationship with the world around me, and spirituality – dancing with the mystery of all that is, are so deeply related in my mind that they often feel like one and the same. The beauty of life and the mystery of how everything works together is so readily apparent to me when I spend focused time outdoors. The dead tree becomes a home for birds and wildlife. The creek bed reveals rocks sculpted by eternal forces which now provide roofs to many smaller creatures. Hummingbirds can suspend their nests with spider web strands, so they gently swing in the breeze. The list of nature amazingness goes on and on. The miracles and marvels so ever present in the natural world bring me to my knees. I am constantly amazed and humbled to be a part of this incredible earth. And, as an ecological being myself, I cannot escape that I am indeed a part of life…all life. With every breath I take, every sip of water, or bite of food, I am entwining myself with the world around me, securing my non-negotiable place as an animal living in this wonderous web of life. And…this is where the spiritual components come in for me. This web of life is the stage on which the dance of the larger mystery plays out. Seeing myself as part of this intricate web; as a player with not only a role, but a deep and sacred responsibility; is where I am most able to grapple with life decisions and the overall meaning and purpose of being here on earth. With this larger ecological worldview, it becomes nearly impossible to live just for myself and my own interests. Instead, when I espouse an ecological perspective, I can begin to see each action I take tied to the larger whole.

I understand you are working on a research project exploring inter-species communication with wild nature. What is this project and why is it important?
I am working on my doctoral dissertation exploring people’s experiences of inter-species communication with wild nature. This project includes gathering stories and experiences from folks and looking for common themes and contexts that might inform the fields of environmental and humane education. I am inspired to explore this work as I know from my own experiences as well as hearing and reading accounts of others that communication between species can take many forms, have many meanings, and needs to be part of our mainstream considerations and understandings. We live in a many-voiced world and honoring all voices is key to moving into a future of living together in harmony. This goes for listening to the varied human voices on this earth as well as the voices of the more-than-humans we share this planet with. My hope in doing this research is to honor the stories and experiences people have had…and have often kept in the quiet corners of their lives and, at the same time, inform the fields of environmental and humane education in effort to increase the opportunities to have the voices of many species in the conversations we have about how to live on this earth.

What is the value of living in deep and sacred connection with the land and animals we live with on this earth?
I think the answer to this question is two-fold at least. First, if we live in deep relationship with all forms of life on this planet, if we get to know our wild neighbors and respect their needs, might we live on this earth in a more compassionate, respectful, and sustainable way? I don’t know, but it makes sense to me! Second, I think nurturing deep and sacred relationships with the land and the animals we live with allows us to understand what it means to be human. Since childhood I have experienced a deep, personal, and communicative connection with the earth, the world of spirit, and the animals I encounter. As a child, I spent endless days exploring the natural world and my first best friend was a dog named Jenny. Since then my life has been formed and enriched by my relationship with all life around me. Whether it was playing with my dog, watching grasshoppers, saving earthworms, or marveling at the fact that I could plant a seed in the ground and watch it grow into a gorgeous flower, my understanding of who I was came through experiences such as these. It is these relationships and experiences that have formed my sense of self and have guided my life. I know this is true for many of us. All it takes is one deep relationship with a river to make it such that we need to be near water to feel whole. One faithful friendship with an animal companion can lead us into a life of companionship…adopting and offering a home to so many. Spending childhood time in our grandmother’s greenhouse, watching her trim, water, and talk to her plants, can make it impossible for us as an adult to leave the last remaining plant on the shelf at the garden center. These experiences add to our sense of who we are as human beings. Perhaps, they even make us human.

Thank you so much again for sharing all of this with us. Before we go, can you share with our readers how they can connect with you, learn more or show support?
I love hearing from folks and chatting further about living in sacred connection with earth, animals, and the world of spirit. People can find me through my Wild Rhythms website, I also host a Facebook group called Sacred Connection: Earth, Animals, Spirit and folks are welcome to join. We share articles, inspirations, etc. about fostering a life in deep connection.

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Image Credits
David Matlock Doug Hill Deb Matlock

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