Healing and wholing

Embracing practices that support our healing and wholing is an integral part of our approach to change - and sits at the heart of inner-led change.

Somewhat miraculously us humans were each born with inherent wholeness - a 360 degree kaleidoscopic relationship with the world. And within this we were each endowed with a cacophony of innate inner resources that support psychological wellness. Contrary to the emphasis so much of the world puts on our wounding, a 'wholing' approach places the emphasis on cultivating what Bill Plotkin, founder of Animas Valley Institute, calls our four facets of self or of human wholeness.

For inner-led change to be supportive of deep cultural transformation it needs to prioritise practices and aproaches that support us to reclaim these inherent strengths, capabilities and sensibilities.

Four facets of human wholeness

North - the nurturing generative adult

This is something like our inner-parent, the one in us that is emotionally grounded enough to take care of our young wounded parts - the exiled and frightened ones who experience themselves as victims. It is also the one in us who is a collaborative leader - who has developed the relational skills to work well with others and who has honed a diversity of 'ways of knowing' so that our leadership is sourced from our thinking, feeling, sensing, deep imagining and intuiting, in reciprocal relationship with the whole earth community. It is the one in us that feels a deep commitment towards compassion, forgiveness and living more and more towards unconditional love. 

The nurturing generative adult is the gateway to our rescuer and our people pleaser (the one that wants to rescue and please people in our fear of otherwise feeling the pain of being rejected). It is also the gateway to our inner tyrannt/persecutor/oppressor (the one who is conditioned into acting out our power-over model of relating - both in relation to others and ourselves (known as the inner critic). It is also home to our army of loyal soldiers. These are the parts of us who are intent on keeping us safe through a range of 'survival strategies' they developed when we were young - and which as adults are often at the heart of behaviors that keep us small, prevent intimacy and more generally inhibit our inherent transformative power. 

As we cultivate more of these four facets of wholeness these loyal soldiers start to become willing to reflect on whether their strategies are actually still needed and helpful now that we are emotionally healthy adults. 

East - the Innocent /Sage

This is the one in us that has cultivated enough embodied safety in their system to exeperience a quiet mind and be deeply present to what is happening in each moment by sourcing from both the 'beginners eyes' of an innocent new born baby, and the sage-like wisdom and breadth of horizon that comes from having lived a full, embodied and examined life. 
This aspect of us is most connected with the divine and spirit realm and is most concerned with leading us up into the upper non-dual realms of pure consciousness, beyond distinctions and strivings. It is the part of us that can connect with life's inherent emptiness - from where the messy, embodied everythingness is sourced.

Our innocent/sage is the gateway to our inner escapists - those addictive and escapist parts of us that find any number of ingenius ways to avoid feeling the pain of the world. The underbelly of our inner escapist is the dissociative state that comes from trauma, which then latches on to anything from food, alcohol or other substance addiction through to spiritual bypassing, consumerism or simply getting lost in our thoughts, stories or screens.

South - the wild indigenous one

This is the one in us that is deeply immersed and in connection with our embodied self and all the emotions, feelings and sensations that accompany that. This one 'lets the soft animal of their body love what it loves' in wild and ecstacic pleasure and play and ever deepening reciprocal relationship with and as the indigeneity of wherever it is they currently call home. It is this one that holds the key to our sense of belonging in sensuous and polymorphous erotic communion with the whole earth community.

Our wild indigenous one is also the gateway to revealing and lovingly relating with our young wounded, exiled and orphaned ones. Our inner victims - the ones who are in so much pain, grief, sorrow and sadness.

West - the muse beloved

This part of us that longs for the depths of myth and the underworld. The enchantress in us who knows how to court and romance everything and eveyone. It is our inner poet and storyteller whose words are whispered from the depths of the rich textures emanating from the underworld mysteries. 
The dark muse beloved is also the gateway to our shadow selves and to the transformation and alchemy that unravels when we reveal and relate with both our golden and sinister shadow energies, parts and selves.

For an in depth dive into cultivating these four facets of wholeness have a read of Wild Mind: a field guide to the human psyche, by Bill Plotkin.

Our sub-personalities as gateways

You may have noticed that within each of these four facets of wholeness we mentioned a gateway to less favourable aspects of our-self: our inner rescuers, tyrants, persectors, oppressors, addicts and escapists; our wounded, orphaned and exiled victims; and our shadow selves.

We all developed 'sub-personalities' like these, and plenty more, as 'survival strategies' when we were young.

This is because as children very few of us had parents, caretakers or teachers who were able to support us to relate with our emotions in healthy ways that felt safe and generative. We therefore developed an impressive array of 'survival strategies' to avoid having to experience those feelings that felt too overwhelming and/or that made us feel like our very survival was at stake.

Coming into relationship with these subpersonalities is a vital aspect of the process of healing and wholing.

Cultivating compassion

Cultivating compassion for these parts and respecting their inherent wisdom in terms of keeping us safe when we were very young and vulnerable - is an essential part of the healing and wholing process.

As we start to come into relationship with these parts we begin the vital process of radical inclusivity and love.

Reclaiming our wholeness

The process of reclaiming our wholeness involves engaging in practices that support the cultivation of, and relationships between, these facets of wholeness. As we develop more of each of these dimensions of our-self, we become more and more able to relate with the 'sub-personalities'.


Healing and wholing is an integral part of the process of Soulcraft a term coined by Bill Plotkin, founder of Animas Valley Insititute (Animas).

We highly recommend checking out Animas' Wild Mind and soulcraft programmes here.