Discover the Heart Through Permaculture: A Deeper Exploration Connecting the Psyche with the Earth


Written by Dr. Margret Rueffler – Founding Director of Lagu Damai Foundation & Jiwa Damai Agro-Permaculture Retreat in Bali, Affiliate of The NewEarth University’s School of Socio-Economics & Ecology

After so many years working on international projects with prevention of collective violence as a psychotherapist and facilitator, I was searching for deeper connections to the earth.

Our collective unconscious and conscious belief systems create the world we live in. This world contains both: the incredible awe-inspiring beauty when connecting to the creativity of our life giving earth. And then, the violence and life denial lived through individual and collective daily actions. This ranges from polluting the earth aura to polluting ourselves ingesting unhealthy foods. Not to mention the pharmaceutical and recreational drugs… and much more. All these prevent our direct contact to the earth as our life-giving planet.

Looking and searching for an appropriate means to be able to return my deep love for the earth, my hands yearned to touch soil and plants. Then, Permaculture caught my attention a number of years ago, when searching for a system to develop the Jiwa Damai Retreat Center gardens in Bali. The book, Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual by Bill Mollison touched me deeply. I came to respect permaculture’s inherently intelligent and wise approach to regeneration as a way to return to a healthy balance with the earth as a living being.

Permaculture provides a design system, which allows us to move deeply into our abused eco-system and release its inherent potential. Ethics of earth-care, people-care and sharing surplus are one of its unique contributions in our world today. They actually point the way to a new paradigm, from survival and lack of, to abundance and sharing.

How do we combine the psychological inner personal growth work – its organic expansion being to raise group consciousness- with a direct hands-on approach? 

For the past 10 years, I immersed myself into Bill Mollison’s design concept, translating it by learning through doing… into our beautiful Jiwa Damai garden. Over time, inviting known teachers, participating in various trainings, and delving deeper in its principles and methods, I introduced permaculture training, trying to complement our HeartSelf-Intelligence TM seminars, into Jiwa Damai’s/Lagu Damai foundation educational offerings as well.

With time it became more apparent to find a way to deepen and expand on the permaculture ethics. As a trans-personal psychologist who has worked over the past thirty five years through empowerment and raising self-esteem in individuals and groups in various international contexts, I faced the question of how to deepen the attitude towards its ethics by integrating a transpersonal psychological HeartSelf-Intelligence Approach, with hands-on design methods.

Thus, Discover the Heart Through Permaculture began to unfold. One way was to have class participants work directly in the garden and use the time they spent doing compost as a context for meditation. However, in several classes I witnessed participants refraining from getting their hands into the earth and connecting with its living multitude of beings. After much reflection, I developed a training system I call, Discover Permaculture Through the Heart, a way of integrating Self-awareness and personal growth with the rich permaculture content. Its purpose is to enable the Permaculture ethics to become alive, first by unfolding one’s heart energy. This is the vibrancy of learning to love myself and then extending it to other beings (human and energetic), soil, garden plants, animals and earth – as living beings. Thus, the wise and intelligent permaculture approach became more vibrant by touching when working hands-on with the soil, as well as when designing.

Learning how to love oneself and allow this love to flow into the earth while practicing permaculture techniques has now been integrated into Jiwa Damai’s permaculture curriculum. The goal is to honor and respect oneself and, as a consequence, to honor and love flora and fauna and the life-giving earth one works with.


The curriculum has been well researched and documented. It includes information on how plants react to sound, emotions, rejection, anger, and love by retracting their energy field or extending it. Plants do, indeed, interact and one must become aware of their intricate interaction with the environment and of the powerful influence one’s own state of mind and emotions exerts on everything around one. Our own vibrations can contribute loving energy that amplifies the effects on plants, animals, and soil. The frequency of one’s own personal vibrations influences all interaction, enhances plant growth, and contributes to the compost-making as well.

Thus, we work with nature and earth in alignment with the heart, honoring both: the physical dimensions as well as their energetic sources.

Dr. Margret Rueffler is the founder of Lagu Damai Bali Foundation and Jiwa Damai agro-permaculture gardens and retreat center. Margret is an acupuncturist, transpersonal psychologist, therapist and has authored several books translated into several languages. Dr. Rueffler has worked internationally for more than 35 years with PsychoPolitical Action projects, collective traumata, prevention of collective violence and the collective unconscious. She discovered Permaculture ten years ago and is a permaculture designer and consultant facilitating programs at tranquil Jiwa Damai in Bali, Indonesia.

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