We are now accepting applications for the 2019 Forest Monk programs.
Live and train with your fellow Forest Monks for four months in the vast wilderness of northern Wisconsin. Your teachers will be the towering pines, the eternity of sparkling night skies, and the elusive wolves, as well as three human guides — Kenton Whitman, Brett Harris, and Rebecca Whitman.
Today, I will build my body stronger and my mind more resilient.
Today, I will act to bring peace to every discord I encounter.
Today, I will meet every situation with strength born of love.
Today, I will serve to enrich the world in my every word, my every thought, my every action.
You’ll live in a yurt, tent, or natural-made shelter as you adventure in the wilderness, develop ancestral skills, learn martial arts, explore deeper connections with nature, fish and forage for your food, learn herbalism, delve into spiritual Awakening, and more.
Becoming a Forest Monk is a journey into nature, Self, and spirit. This is a holistic journey — a strengthening of body, mind, and emotions, as well as deepening our connection with the world. This is not an ascetic monkhood, but instead a journey into passion — living as our most authentic, powerful selves.
Brett Harris brings the perspective of someone who spent eleven months in a Solo Forest Monk Program, much of it living alone in the woodlands of Wisconsin. He shares his knowledge of field and forest, his guidance in emotional awareness, and his explorations into Zen-style Awakening.
Rebecca Whitman brings the power of yoga and heart-based personal exploration.
All three are gentle, loving, yet challenging guides who excel at helping others venture into their deepest evolution, and who are genuinely passionate about helping you to grow as fully as possible while you are here.
Forest Monks are immersed in a skill-sharing environment where much of the learning is in an “unschooling” style, streamlined into every-day living. In addition, students will have the option to take part in more structured skill-sharing. Each program is different, depending on student interests, but there are many things to choose from.
Martial Arts — From developing strength and power, to physical and mental conditioning, you’ll have a wide range of martial arts elements available to you, from learning how to punch and kick to Aikido-style blend-and-flow, to Chinese Chin Na, to modern MMA and Jujitsu skills. Depending on the group temperament, our martial arts gatherings can involve anything from “just for fun” gladiator games to serious discussions about the application of martial elements in daily life.
Homesteading Skills — From soapmaking to fermenting foods to planting gardens to building, there are numerous opportunities to learn skills that will allow you to live more independently of modern civilization.
Rewilding Your Mind — Using techniques to unleash your innate mental and emotional health, you’ll learn to turn judgment into curiosity, to recognize and dissolve resistance-based emotions such as anxiety, frustration, and stress, and how to use meditative practices to still your mind and awaken your natural appreciation for life. You will also learn how to enhance your senses, become less vision-dependent, and develop an all-encompassing awareness.
Awakening — Using different approaches, from Zen practices to exploring vulnerability and release, you will journey into the depths of your sense of Self and begin to uncover the true nature of ego. For some, over time, this can lead to a profound awakening experience where the world as we know it transforms completely.
Ancestral Skills — You’ll track wolves, learn friction fire, tan hides, and learn to make many of your everyday items from stone, clay, bone, or fibers. You’ll forage for mushrooms, berries, and wild plants, and learn to use these skills to foster a deeper connection with nature.
Herbalism and Healing — Using herbs, mushrooms, and energetic healing practices, you’ll discover different methods to bring health to bodies that are being challenged by injury or disease.
Primal Fitness — By learning new movement paradigms, we can begin to have fun with developing new habits of movement that enhance our strength, balance, flexibility, agility, and endurance. You’ll learn to see the world as your playground, and how to move in joyful ways that will give you a lifetime of physical fitness.
Wild Spirituality — Without guides imposing any dogma, you will be free to explore a deeper connection with nature, Self, and the Divine through nature entrainment and learning to sense things that many consider to be “beyond the senses”. Whatever your current belief-set, you will be given tools to explore those beliefs more deeply, and to have more opportunities to encounter your spirituality in a direct, rather than simply conceptual, manner.
Monks live technology-free, on-site in one of our primitive encampments. These are beautiful natural areas where you are immersed in the wild. Loons or wolves will sing you to sleep, porcupines will watch you from trees, and playful movements of wind, stars, and rain will bring you into rhythm with the woodlands. Nature presents challenges as well, from ticks and mosquitoes (who can be among our best teachers) to the fears that many of us harbor when we are confronted by elements of nature such as bears or the night. Yet in the end, our environment is seen to nurture us in beautiful ways, giving us every-moment opportunities to transform ourselves into a sense of Being, rather than Doing.
Your home may be a yurt, a tipi, a tent, or a handmade shelter, depending on your desires and what structures are available, but in all cases you will be living very simply, without running water or electricity. Each day is an unfolding of opportunities for growth and evolution. The program is primarily a skill-sharing environment, where students, guides, and nature will share philosophies, challenges, and new ways to encounter life’s “problems”. Many days will have no structure at all, allowing you to be present in nature and to experience life with your fellow monks. Other days will have scheduled events, such as meditation sessions and talks, mushroom foraging, martial arts gatherings, or becoming familiar with the constellations.
On “Guide” days, you’ll have time with Brett, Kenton, or Rebecca, during which just about anything can happen. You might gather herbs and create a tincture with Rebecca, or learn to bake bread. You might go for a run with Brett, or play woods-games. Or Kenton might invite you for a “hypothermia challenge” swim in the stream.
Finally, you’ll face challenges over the four months that the guides craft with and for you. By gently exploring the places where you might be harboring your greatest fears or emotional blocks, we’ll co-create personal challenges that will give you a “rite of passage” experience that will forever change the way you encounter life, moving you from fear-based living to joy-based living.
Your tuition includes access to basic foodstuffs based loosely on a vegetarian diet. This diet includes whole grains, beans, and high-fat foods, and it is possible to subsist entirely on the food provided. However, most monks supplement this diet by purchasing their own foods during a once-per-month provisions trip into town where monks are free to buy meat, dairy, and other foodstuffs not included in their basic diet.
We highly encourage monks to cook together using a “base meal” approach. Together, a basic meal is created (for instance, a lentil-vegetable soup), and then individual monks are free to add personal foodstuffs into their bowls. One monk might dish out the soup into their bowl and then add some hot sauce. Another might cook chicken over the fire and add that to their bowl. Yet another might have gone fishing and add fish to their soup. In this way, monks can experience communal cooking while still being able to individualize their diet to their needs. For further details on food at ReWildU, visit our Forest Monk Food page.
We take great care in helping people develop “re-integration” skills so that culture shock is minimized when you return to civilization. What if you don’t want to return to civilization? You’ll have skills that will allow you to open many new doors in life — doors that might have seemed too improbable (or even impossible) to open before. We are also looking at possibilities for people who want to stay on as long-term Forest Monks at a greatly reduced tuition rate after they complete their four month training. For now, we’ll be offering a “Town Monk” option where people can find a place to live nearby, and still come to events at ReWildU on a regular basis.
We use an application process that begins with you filling out some questions. We’ll use phone conversations and perhaps Skype talks to further get to know each other. We want everybody involved, from prospective Monks to each of our guides, to feel like this is the right thing for everyone involved. Most Monks feel like they “know” Kenton before they even arrive. Make sure to also watch some of Kenton’s videos at youtube.com/rewilduniversity to get a feel for his teaching style.
We encourage but don’t require students to take part in the full four months of the program. Tuition for the full program is $10,000 per Forest Monk. For Forest Monks who wish to commit to three months only, we ask $8,500. Two months tuition is $6,000, and one month’s tuition is $3,500.
If these tuition prices are impossible for you, feel free to connect with Kenton and discuss your situation. We have operated for years on the basis of trusting that people will contribute as much as they can, with more financially able people helping support the ability of less financially able people to attend.
To Learn More
To learn more about this program, be sure to read the Forest Monk Handbook. If you still feel this program is for you, contact Kenton at rewildu (at) yahoo (dot) com to apply. He is happy to answer any questions you might have!