Brian Stafford left his 20-year career as a psychiatrist to become a wilderness guide and agent of human and cultural transformation. He completed the intensive training as a psycho-spiritual wilderness guide with the Animas Valley Institute, and now guides individuals to the place they most long and fear to go – their soul place and purpose. He now guides primarily in Ojai, California. In this episode he shares:

  • How he made the dramatic transformation from psychiatrist to wilderness guide
  • How his wife reacted to his shift in values, focus and lifestyle
  • How our ego can grow to support our soul’s embodiment in our lives, according to Bill Plotkin
  • The power of rites of passage

Saint Animal. 
by Chase Twichell

Suddenly it was clear to me –
I was something I hadn’t been before. 
It was as if the animal part of my being

had reached some kind of maturity that gave it
authority, and it had begun to use it.

I thought about death for two years.
My animal flailed and tore at its cage
till I let it go. I watched it

drift out into the easy eddies of twilight
and then veer off, not knowing me.

I’m not a bird but I’m inhabited by a spirit
that’s uplifting me. It’s my animal, my saint,
my soldier, my flame of yearning,

come back to tell me
what it was like to be without me.


  • Learn more about Brian and his journeys into the wilderness at and

  • Connect with Brian on Facebook