to the Inner Wilds
Get out of your head and into your soul
Or Wander Around First
My writings, digital garden, and all the other breadcrumbs I've scattered throughout the internet.
About Me & My Work
My name is River Kenna, I'm a somatic-imaginal guide. If you want to know a little more about who I am and what I do, look no further.
Not sure where to start?
Interested in Supporting This Work?
And about the somatic-imaginal
The long and short of it is that I'm just some guy meditation wasn't working for. All the usual instructions kept me in my head, and being in my head was the problem I was trying to solve. By luck, I discovered somatic meditation, which entirely bypassed the usual focus on thoughts, thinking, and the head, in favor of touching in directly with the wisdom of the body. That changed everything for me.After awhile, I was having increasingly strange experiences by attending to the body: images and narratives overtook me, after seeming to disentangle themselves from areas of the body; intense flows of energy passed through me unpredictably; intuitions came quite firmly, which I can only describe as "hearing the voice of the archetypes."Throughout these years, I was living and traveling around East and Southeast Asia, practicing and reading as much as possible. I happened to re-engage with Carl Jung and Jungian offshoots at the right time, which was precisely the key to working with all the strange imaginal material coming up through the body. I learned that these images, narratives, and intuitions wanted to be heard, courted, and befriended. Jung said that the gods are still with us, but they have become symptoms--in this framing, the key became following those symptoms back to their divinity. When approached this way, all the strange things started to make sense, and to unfold in unexpected and enlivening ways.These days, I'm continuing to work deeper into this stream where meditation, the body, the archetypal, and aliveness mingle and flow together. My workshops and writings are aimed at helping people move through key bottlenecks around the body, the imaginal, and unlearning contemplative advice that doesn't work for them.If any of this sounds familiar, or is calling to you, don't hesitate to contact me.
"Somatic-Imaginal" is a purely descriptive term I use for the field that I work in—the way I use it would also cover people like Rosa Lewis, Rob Burbea, even Peter Levine. It is not a specific modality or technique. What I'm pointing at with the term is what I alluded to above: when we move deeply into the body, we find psychic content there: images, impressions, memories, dreams, intuitions. There's no real line we can draw between the somatic and the imaginal, so we must work with them together. Which is actually an amazing thing to realize, because when we do work with them together, everything moves much more quickly and robustly with both.My specific corner of Somatic-Imaginal work (at least the work I do with other people) is concerned with bottlenecks. There are maybe a dozen common bottlenecks that result naturally from the type of culture we live in, the life histories most people in our age tend to have—and most people will get caught on some mix of 5-10 of these bottlenecks. My job is to point some of these out to people, encourage them to be careful, and guide them through the eye of the needle whenever possible, in whatever way is uniquely suited to them.One example of an early bottleneck is simply the ability to feel your body in a way that goes beyond noticing if you've stepped on something sharp or put your hand on a stove. The idea that the body can be approached as a dear friend and as a rich field of experience is foreign to a lot of people, and simply finding ways for them to take the idea seriously can be the big push that gets the ball rolling.There are many other aspects of the somatic-imaginal, ranging from jhana practice to artistry to soul making to trauma care to a dozen other things—If you have any questions or specific concerns, feel free to contact me directly.If you believe like I do that this field is special, vital, and necessary, and would like to support its development and reach, please check out my Floating Grant Proposal for ways you can help.
Take the Plunge
Commit to your journey with a workshop, course, or drop-in event
Forest of Doorways
In a few months, the fully-formed imaginal course will be available,For now, you can check out the notes from my old workshops if you want an imaginal jumping-off point.
A 5-week dive into the darker sides of yourself, through a somatic-imaginal lens. Together, we'll encounter the inner mythic, the hidden, the denied, the ridiculous, and the senseless.Coming soon, fill out the form to be updated when it becomes available
1:1 Inner Wilds Field Guide
Every path into the somatic-imaginal is individual and unique, there are no one-size-fits-all approaches, no method or technique that gives the same results for everyone.1:1 work is best thought of as a combination of exploration and conversation. Not a conversation between me and you, but between you and the Deep Self (or the unconscious, the True Self, the Guardian Angel—whatever framing gives you access to the wisdom we're trying to connect with).We explore to learn more about you, find your patterns, your inner landmarks. And when we find something worth being in conversation with, we sit down and have a conversation with it. My role is to mediate the conversation between you and the Deep Self, to help both of you clarify your 'speaking' and your 'listening.'This is how we find the Way. This is Waymaking.
My starting assumption is that Your Path is right under your feet, waiting to be recognized. Every path is individual, but there are some very common approaches and territories. Working with me, we'll often find our way into things that look a lot like shadow work, emotional alchemy, dream return, memory reconsolidation, and soul retrieval (IFS, if that's more familiar).Reasons people tend to approach me for 1:1 work include
recovering a sense of purpose & Mission
feeling called to imaginal practice, unsure where to start
re-cultivating aliveness and vibrancy after having lost it in the course of life
sensing that somatic-imaginal approaches are the missing piece in meditation practice
feeling the pain of the unlived life wanting to be lived through them—often after having suppressed that life for much of their adult life
recognizing a need to progressively un-numb their somatic and imaginal faculties before moving forward
Prices for 1:1 work fluctuate, depending on my schedule, your needs, how much financial aid I have available, and a few other factors, but here's the gist:The standard price for one month of guidance (weekly-plus sessions, usually 5-6 in a month) is $717. If you have the ability to pay that, I would appreciate you doing so.If you can't afford that rate, contact me and we can work something out. Please note that my ability to accept may fluctuate if my schedule is full or if I'm in a financial pinch myself, but I do my best to take on any clients with a sincere desire to do the work.
UnderWorlding is a 5-week dive into the darker sides of yourself, through a somatic-imaginal lens. Together, we'll encounter the inner mythic, the hidden, the denied, the ridiculous, and the senseless.More information should be available by December; in the meantime, sign up below if you're interested.UnderWorlding will be limited to 7 participants, priority goes to early sign-ups.
Note: I may be attending a residency program in Berlin between October and December. If so, this will delay the UnderWorlding schedule.
If you'd like more community around your spiritual practice: hey, me too! Let's be friends. And also, you should stop in at the semi-weekly sit & chat sessions I'll be starting up soon. Definitely soon. —No you're procrastinating!I also host a Discord based around somatic-imaginal practice. At the moment, it's mainly for workshop cohorts to compare notes with each other, but I'll be making alterations soon to make it better-suited for community discussion. Contact me for an invite.
|Somatic Practice||Wednesdays||6pm CEST||Discord|
Wander the Trails
My output is equal measures prolific and scattered. If you'd like to get a feel for who I am and what my work is like by ambling through what I've put out into the world, there are articles, podcasts, tweets, manifestos and even comics.The breadcrumbs below are organized in a loose order from most centralized and helpful, to most scattered and impressionistic. Have fun.
For now, I'm gathering the threads I like to weave with in one place here. Soon, I'll start filling in more of the weaving, bit by bit. I expect this to be an ongoing project, so be patient while it grows.
Floating Grant Proposal
If you believe in my work and the field I represent, I'd be very grateful if you could help me go farther, faster—either with financial aid or by lending me your skills.
These days, I'm gambling on my strongest beliefs:
I believe that people tend to suppress their awareness of the body and of the Root Self that wants to grow through them.
I believe that our so-called Metacrisis is downstream of this fact.
I believe that an increasing swell of people want to stop suppressing their awareness, but are unsure how to navigate the emotional, cognitive, and somatic bottlenecks caused by backlogs and blockages.
And I believe that the missing piece in so much work aimed at this is somatic-imaginal in nature—or, to state it differently, that what's missing from almost every entryway to healing work is an emphasis on embodied mythopoetic cognition as a bridge to the archetypal arena where most of these knots originate, and where we can unblock the bottlenecks impeding our Root Self from growing, and thus unblock the Root World from its Becoming through and around us.Fancy words, cool. But what am I actually saying?What I'm saying is that we're living in the equivalent of astronomy before telescopes, and I'd like your help to build telescopes and get more people to look through them.* Part of the help I need is simply your presence: be a part of the conversation, take part in the testing grounds, offer your perspectives. —Another part of the help I'd appreciate is material:Before diving into specifics, I want to frame this the way I see it: at root, with everything else stripped away, what I'm asking for is time. Having certain small resources now (equipment, subscriptions, trainings) speeds up the timeline towards having larger resources later (experience, allies, reach). These larger resources are goals that could take either years or decades, depending on what I have access to today, next week, next month. I'd prefer not waiting a decade to get started on something that I could start tomorrow if I had the resources.So I'll be keeping a running proposal below, as an exposed surface to generosity and allies, arranged loosely on the basis of the urgency and size of the ask—smaller and more urgent asks at the top, larger and more long-term at the bottom. If you believe in my work and the field I represent, I'd be very grateful if you could help me go farther faster—either with financial aid or by lending me your skills.Thank you for clicking and reading this far—that alone shows a generosity I deeply appreciate. 🙏
There are some subscriptions and purchases I make to help with research, admin, and generally keeping things running—support in keeping these around would be very helpful. Examples include:
Things 3 ($46 for Mac version—I currently only have the phone version)(funded)
Capacities ($12/month, once their paid tier is available)
Other miscellaneous help I could use includes
Advice on website/design from experienced designers and copywriters
Advice on course design and creative course materials from people with experience in that area
Business advice from people who spent the past decade or so in the business world, rather than spending it studying spiritual traditions, meditating, and paying off student debt. (Turns out those pursuits don't translate into advanced business knowledge, who knew?)
Research budget: books and courses aren't cheap, and I could use an expanded budget in this area.
Starting October 10, I'll be participating in a 10-week residency program at Medley in Berlin. It's a great opportunity to do focused work on somatic-imaginal communication, and to collaborate with interesting people. It's a great opportunity, but also a big swing for me, financially. In an ideal version of the residency, I'd be able to:
Focus on the work while eating healthy food, exploring Berlin, attending events and generally connecting with the other residents.
Take a side-trip back to Albania to visit my brother
Take advantage of the higher availability of relevant books in Berlin. (I usually live in Albania, and the selection of books I need for research is nonexistent—Berlin would be a good opportunity to find titles I've been looking for.)
Especially as I’ve started making course material, it’s become clear that the courses would benefit from better equipment. So far I’ve bought myself an upgraded microphone and a computer stand to help with posture, but more is out of my current range, and I’m setting aside a budget to meet those needs. Every contribution is helpful, and helps open more possibilities more quickly.At the moment, particular pieces of equipment range from $100 to $1200; from a decent keyboard to better lighting equipment to an iPad & pen.
I'd like to become familiar with and competent in a wider range of techniques and frameworks, but formal trainings for these are often out of both my price range and my travel allowance.This isn't necessarily a money problem: in many cases, I'm not after formal training and official certifications—I'm just after the knowledge and training that comes with them. If you are, or if you know a competent practitioner of a related framework who'd be open to some kind of training/apprenticeship situation, that would be valuable to me.Frameworks of particular interest to me include:
Polyvagal, breathwork, & nervous system regulation
Additionally, I'd like to take part in more meditation retreats than have previously been possible for me, but this desire is often hampered by prices. I'd deeply appreciate any help either paying for retreats in Europe, or putting me in contact with groups here that might find space for me with lower prices.
Time / Space
For certain projects and studies it's helpful to be alone, just me and the work. I'm rarely able to carve out this situation for myself, only by occasionally renting out a nearby Airbnb for myself when a particularly knotty bit of work comes up.If you have access to a space that you can provide for me to take a brief sabbatical and focus directly on specific studies/projects, please let me know.
I know that some people like to fund specific projects with precise goals, outcomes, limitations, and so on. The above focuses mostly on what I need in a broad way, but I do have a docket of open projects, several of which would benefit from a focused, surgical nudge in the right place in the right way. If you're interested in being a part of a specific project, some examples include:
A course in The Imaginal & Mythopoetic Cognition ($3200)
A short book/pamphlet laying out the core of Telosim-work ($1200)
A 2-week co-working camp in Europe ($2100)
To anyone who made it this far down the page, thank you.Live urgently,
*I like the telescope metaphor because it's not at all dismissive of what came before—the ancients did really impressive stuff with astronomy, stuff that seriously boggles the mind. The things the ancients figured out about the movements of the heavens, with just their eyes and some moxy, should astound every single one of us to this day.
But also: the telescope opened up new worlds of possibility, and made a lot of the old stuff—stuff that previously had taken experts years to ken—so easy a child could do it.
That's the potential I sense for modern people in somatic-imaginal work. There's a potential to build things here that will both be revolutionary from today's perspective, and seem so obvious in hindsight that they'll wonder why it took us so long.