Institute of Global Education
With Nature Personal Healing and Balance Course
nature course for healing depression, mood disorders and fatigue.
P. O. Box 1605, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
360-378-6313 www.ecopsych.com firstname.lastname@example.org
course for healing depression, mood disorders and fatigue while
strengthening relationships with self, society and nature.
A ten-week, distance learning
- Get back on track by getting
back to nature:
- Learn how
to think and feel in synch with the balancing energies of the
Web of Life.
- Tap into the
regenerative powers of nature's healing ways.
- Let your love
of nature increase your self-esteem
This ten-week stress-management
and mood improvement course uses nature as a teacher, a counselor
and a friend. It encourages us to slow down and re-orient ourselves
to the grace and wisdom of nature's creative and nurturing healing
process. Course members read assigned material, do NatureConnect
activities and share their experiences with others in their group
through email exchanges.
The course helps us establish
personal well-being, increases connectedness with nature and
with others, and enhances education, counseling and leadership
skills. Discover how to cooperatively reconnect your reasoning
and senses to their nurturing origins in nature's restorative
vigor, intelligence and peace.
"Here's good advice
for practice: go into partnership with nature; she does more
than half the work and asks none of the fee."
--Martin H. Fischer (1879-1962)
Help yourself restore some
balance and harmony back into your life through nature's grace
The exceptional process of
this course in balanced thinking helps you strengthen your connection
to the recuperative and regenerative healing powers of nature.
They are powers that serve us individually in our yearning for
meaning and connection; they also serve our communal need for
both global and local cooperation and consensus. These are powers
that we are born knowing, but all too easily learn to forget
as our indoor lives rob us of our outdoor affinities and affirmations.
"The major opportunity
for the intensification of consciousness lies in nature....Once
we lose touch with nature, our society loses its values, its
--Daniel Luten, Sierra
Club Bulletin, 1964
HOW THIS WORK DEVELOPED
From his many years of experience
as a nature-connected educator, counselor, and passionate innovator,
Michael J. Cohen, Ed.D.
has developed an organic way of using the electronic Web to regain
what technology so effectively deprives us of--our natural lives
in the natural world. By sharing online with four to six like-minded
others for ten weeks of reflection, nature experience, sharing
and responding, his powerful nature-connecting tool helps you
restore your senses (all 53 of them), including your common sense
and your inherent sense of well-being. These ten weeks include
structured reading and online activity as well as contact-with-nature
"homework" outside your home.
This online course is facilitated
by the co-authors of The Web of Life Imperative, and graduates
of the eco-psychology training courses that Cohen originated
20 years ago and continues to administer through Project NatureConnect
at the Institute of Global Education, a special NGO consultant
to the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
In his more than 50 years of
experience--academic and otherwise--Cohen has developed creative
and effective ways to link people to themselves, to others, and
to nature through the webstrings of natural attraction.
Webstrings are actual fact--even if they are not always visible--and
they encompass far more than our well-recited five senses. For
example: thirst is a webstring, so is hunger, and so are belonging,
community and trust. They link our awareness to hidden aspects
of ourselves and to each other, even as they link us to nature.
They weave us into the fabric of life; they work continuously
to create the future--for us and all other species of plant,
animal and mineral life.
We are born into the web. Yet much of our lives is spent breaking,
injuring, ignoring and discounting the webstrings of creativity
inherent in all of life. And as we injure the web of this world,
we injure ourselves. A psychological emptiness sets in and we
begin to look further and further astray to find meaning.
Our "time" becomes meaningless if not filled with attaining
As we get more and more disconnected
from our natural webstring attractions, we get more and more
obsessed with unnatural, often-destructive attractions. We become
addicted to acquiring more and bigger of everything--which results
in a damaged environment, an exploited humanity and a greater
and greater sense of meaninglessness. As Cohen writes in "The
Web of Life Imperative:" "We want, emotionally
and materially, and when we want, there is never enough. We become
greedy, stressed and reckless as we try to gain substitutes for
webstring fulfillment. This places Earth, others and ourselves
not simplify his approach with a "back to nature" flourish.
He advocates that we grow up and move forward--with Nature as
a teacher and a co-creating partner. He sees in nature's regenerative
and waste-less grace a model of health and healing for humanity.
A model that satisfies our spiritual yearnings as well as our
earthly needs--without exploiting either people or planet.
way to be rich is to not want anything."
ON ALL NINE LEGS
instinctive brain, with its synapses all set for survival, has
insured our development as a species for millions of years. It
linked us inextricably to nature--for our food, the means of
shelter and transportation as well as to the resources for communication,
celebration and meaning-making. Nothing whatsoever happened without
nature's involvement. The more recently evolved part of our brain,
on the other hand, has been stringently trained to be the creator
of everything that's artificial--from computers to cars to all
the other conveniences and luxuries of these times. It relies
only upon itself; and is actually rewarded not to rely
us with a huge and challenging rift in our consciousness. Our
ancient connectedness to nature is undermined by the conditioning
of our new brain and its sophisticated, insular, indoor prowess.
Even as we go outside to nature for much-needed recreation and
restoration, the new brain remains active and often keeps us
separated from nature's fullness. We rarely bring our old brain
with us back indoors to help us with our life challenges and
experiences. We literally check nature at the door, in effect,
closing ourselves off to that which has served us with the deepest
of meaning--our instinctual sense of belonging. We spend more
than ninety-nine percent of our lives defined by indoor,
disconnected thinking. And our healing processes, too, are closed
off from the inspiring, invigorating and inexhaustible grace
of nature. Our new brain is useful--it knows new things. But
it is our old brain that feels and recognizes the webstrings
that attach us to deep belonging and interdependence with all
of life. A balance between the two is nature's path.
illustrates this with a simple, not-so-simple story. We are asked
to answer the following mathematical apptitude question: If a
tail of a normal dog is counted as one of its legs, how many
legs does a dog have? Our excellently trained new brain mathematically
responds quickly and accurately, "Five, of course."
However, our old brain, well versed in it's old wisdom has to
struggle to be heard: "Ridiculous, a dog only has four legs
no matter what." Both answers are right. Yet because of
the conditioned dominance of the new brain in defining our worldly
experiences, the old brain's perceptions--of that which is organically
true--get lost within the hypothetical and abstract. Useful,
perhaps, in developing mathematicians and internet technology,
but not so useful in creating fundamental, grounded well-being
and ontological trust in the nature of all things.
is an ever-present power of recuperation."
in a 1915 Journal of Geography.
brought us vast knowledge and ever-increasing anxiety. Depression,
suicide rates among our young people, drug use (licit and otherwise),
alcoholism, anxiety disorders and immune distress are
at an all-time high. There is an epidemic of consumer-based behavior
that emphasizes self-worth based on material worth. Yet satisfying
the craving for consumption with more consumption brings greater
and greater dis-ease. Only by re-connecting to our old brain's
recognition of the inherent nature-based webstrings of belonging
do we find the ever-renewing deep sense of security that leads
to a deep sense of peace. It's instinctive. Yet because of our
excessive indoor lives, indoor values, indoor thinking and indoor
sensibilities, we fall prey to the limited perceptions of the
indoor-mind. Only by restoring our relationship to our old nature-based
instincts and interdependence can we bring a natural nurturing
balance to our experience.
is an endless strength when we lie back upon nature and hush
Yes, when a
dog's tail is counted as a leg, a dog has five legs. Yes, a dog
only has four legs. When we use nine-legged thinking and combine
both sources of knowledge we cherish both realities in healthy
balance. This is what Project NatureConnect's Personal Balance
Course is all about. It helps restore fundamental well-being
and brings natural solutions to the unnatural difficulties we
face in our lives. It respects, nurtures and celebrates the wisdom
of old thinking and the innovation of new thinking. It partners
progress--individual and societal--with the inherent meaningfulness
and the restorative powers found in our organic and biological
THE WAY IT WORKS
This personal course in self-healing
and self-awareness is designed to help regain the vital web-link
to the richness of inner nature as well as to the beauty of our
interdependence on outer nature. It is a course in which nature's
beauty, fairness and wisdom do the teaching. There are no wrong
answers and no "constructive criticism." It is a course
that reflects the way nature works--through nurturing interdependence,
awareness, and appreciation of one another as part of nature.
It reinforces our natural creativity, our uniqueness, our connectedness,
and our deepest capabilities to heal the stress right out of
our lives. It gives us the tools to become our own best therapist.
And if we are in the healing professions, it has a dramatic and
strengthening impact on the counseling process.
"Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her."
Each week is structured with
nature-connect activities, reflective time, personal writing,
shared writing and responsive writing. This is not
a course about "good writing;" it's about honest exchanges
based on the attractions that each person feels as they do the
exercises and exchange nature experiences with one another. Each
week has a theme and participants agree on the schedule that
best supports each group.
The two books used, Reconnecting
With Nature and The Web of Life Imperative, complement
each other and serve two different purposes. Reconnecting
With Nature is a reflection of our natural attractions; it's
narrative style informs us as it inspires us. The Web of Life
Imperative is a workbook; it presents a scientific model
for us, first of all, to think about-and second of all, to apply
to our thinking/sensing relationships in our lives. Weekly on-line
instructions and supplementary material give in-depth direction
to group members. It is a process that reinforces healthy, sustaining
and creative relationship with self and other and is based on
many years of successful and effective use in Project NatureConnect's
academic course material. (Click here
to read testimony from NatureConnect participants.)
"Nature resolves everything into its component elements,
but annihilates nothing."
--Lucretius (c.100-c. 55 B.C.)
Once the group of 4-6
people has been established, it takes on a nature name and each
person receives the names & email addresses of the members.
Four roles are assigned to participants to insure an effective
and supportive group process: Group Consciousness Supporter,
Participation Supporter, Agenda Supporter and Coordination Supporter.
These roles can be assigned to individuals or shared.
There are also two course co-facilitators from Project NatureConnect
who observe the unfolding process and occasionally comment and
Confidentiality is essential
and participants are asked to keep the process private within
the group and not to share email addresses.
The course self-organizes itself
the way nature does-through natural webstring attractions. Everything,
therefore, depends upon all group members having their needs
met as the group develops and explores its own nature.
The course takes ten weeks
and each week focuses on a particular area. There's emphasis
on sleep and dreams as well as on writing and activities. There
is a suggested schedule for each week and this can be adjusted
accordingly to satisfy individual needs. There is, however, a
carefully thought out and time-proven protocol for interacting
within the group.
The exchange of emails is a
foundation of the course. They convey the spirit and sustenance
that each member experiences through nature. This safe sharing
bonds the group, creates trust, and becomes a reflection of the
interdependence we have with one another and with all of nature.
It reinforces nature-connected thinking and the webstrings of
relationship that optimize learning and belonging.
(The logic and logistics of the online process is carefully detailed
in Appendix C, The Online Course Instruction in the Web of
"The course made a difference
in the quality of my life, a huge difference. I am enjoying inexplicable
peace which bubbles over to others (without much explanation!)
Every day is a new dawn for me to see nature, to Attach, Connect
and Express or just be an example to others. This course is needed
for all humans to get globally reconnected. It empowers a person
to assist in their own mental and physical healing capabilities."-Teresa
that I will never be able to deny my need to reconnect with nature
again. I can feel that the shift in my perception -from nature
as someplace I would like to be if I could find the time - to
nature as a critical part of who I am- has changed the course
the rest of my life will take." -Larry D.
See additional Testimonials
and Outcomes of the course to better understand
"The greatest beauty
is organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine
beauty of the universe."
$290 includes the two books,
Project NatureConnect and The Web of Life Imperative,
supplementary email material and all aspects of the guided ten-week
Project NatureConnect Personal Balance Course. If you decide
to continue on with academic, professional or personal training
in this work, you can apply $200 of the course fee to study in
the Certification Level One
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Related Articles and Letters
Nature's Grace Provides a Loving Answer
to Hopes, Prayers and Dreams.
The lack of peace, sustainable
economics, trust, social justice and personal and environmental
wellness alarmed me. I sought and finally found a tool that transformed
my depressing stress and anxiety into responsible stability.
I thought I was stressed because the more I became aware of the
destructive things happening to Earth and to people and places
I loved, including myself, the greater became my lack of hope
and feeling either mad, sad or depression. This divorced me from
both my spirit and partner. I felt anger with God and beauty,
a fear and disrespect of God for letting so much war, suffering
and environmental deterioration occur that I was powerless to
change. In time, I became aware that I was in denial. I denied
that I, like many others, had an addiction to immediate rewards
from my dysfunctions. The robbed me of the resilience to tolerate
what I could not change. In fear, I came upon the description,
on this page, of an amazing book and course. In depression, I
only paid attention to it because it received super positive
reviews from many conferences, spiritualities and publications
that I respected, especially Psychology Today, Humanistic Psychology
and the Journal of Environmental Education. In retrospect, it
was a love answer from nature's grace and beauty to my hopes,
prayers and dreams.
Mr. Editor, Does this make
sense to you? Isn't it something your readers can benefit from?
Organic Personal Growth and Self-Improvement
The Organic Psychology Revolution:
A Sensory Education and Counseling Tool Strengthens Holistic
Health, Sanity and Sustainability
Contemporary society has taught
us to be experts in conquering nature, including the balanced
ways of our natural self and its love of nature. The result:
because we don't protect what we don't love, nature, our collective
sustainability and our personal wellness suffer. To stop this
insanity Organic Psychology makes readily available the means
to genuinely connect our thinking and feeling to Mother Nature's
recuperative powers, perfection and love of us as her children.
Using the Internet as a learning tool, we tap our psyche into
nature's beautiful sane and balanced web of life that produces
an optimum of diversity and benefits without producing garbage,
a web some people call God (www.ecopsych.com).
Although we are part of nature,
we are normally educated to spend, on average, over 95 percent
of our time and 99 percent of our lives thinking and feeling
while separated from nature's grace, beauty, and restorative
powers. Our mentality's profound loss of nature divorces us into
apathy through denial. We deny that we are rewarded for fearing
and exploiting, rather than embracing, the supportive ways of
our planetary mother and her kingdoms. We deny that we are psychologically
addicted to nature-disconnected thinking that creates our personal,
social and environmental dysfunctions.
Through easily learned, nature-connected
Organic Psychology methods and materials, the Internet makes
it possible for any individual, or 600 million people, to think
in ways that invigorate resiliency and spirit and that reduce
our addictive trespasses, denial and apathy. By genuinely reconnecting
our thinking to natural systems we rejuvenate and trust more
than forty-five natural senses that have been numbed out of our
consciousness by our extreme disconnection from nature. The renewal
of these senses increases our sensitivity, sensibility and love
energies. This ecopsychology helps unbalanced parts of our minds
and hearts benefit from nature's ability to rejuvenate and balance
itself, including us, for we are part of nature. We reduce our
stress, depression and abusiveness. We transform our apathy into
constructive participation. Backyard to back country,-we strengthen
our life, our organizations and global society.
The Great Challenge
"Our body, mind, spirit
and ability to love come into the world through nature. They
are part of nature's beautiful perfection, wisdom and restorative
powers. However, the extreme disconnection of our thinking from
nature injures these attributes. Like tearing a leg from a live
rabbit, we wound and damage our ability to think clearly. Its
dysfunction deteriorates our wellness, our destiny and the environment.
Our bonding and denial present
us with great challenges. To replace our lost gratifications
from nature, our socialization rewards our disturbed psyche to
attach or addict to contemporary ways along with their destructive
side effects. Our greatest challenge is that we learn to deny
that the means is available to reconnect our thinking with nature's
regenerative powers and thereby co-create ourselves and the world
in a peaceful balance that eliminates these side effects."
- Michael J. Cohen
Mood Disorders: Are You Suffering from
Denial of Your Separation from Nature?
1. Contemporary society
and its citizens are in denial. We are aware that we are part
of nature and that although we are disconnected from nature,
we deny that this separation bears ill effects upon our physical
or mental health. We are also in denial if we know our separation
from nature is producing destructive personal, social and environmental
disorders but we don't use readily available nature-reconnecting
tools to help us treat these disorders.
from nature produces the discomforts of fatigue, apathy, stress,
anxiety, depression, hopelessness, anger, mood swings, mistrust,
loneliness, broken relationships, destructive dependencies and
sleep, eating, learning and attention disorders
2. Because we are members of
a nature-disconnected society in denial, we are psychologically
bonded to our society's ways and we each suffer from and perpetuate
the dysfunctions, insanity and discontents of our society.
3. Many people display mood
disorder symptoms or other discontents that are not normally
found in nature-connected people. These individuals are usually
in denial that they suffer because they are, or have been, excessively
separated from nature and its regenerative healing and restorative
powers. The symptoms these individuals endure include the discomforts
of fatigue, apathy, stress, anxiety, depression, hopelessness,
anger, mood swings, mistrust, loneliness, broken relationships,
destructive dependencies and sleep, eating, learning and attention
4. Contemporary society consciously
and subconsciously socializes us to believe that nature is an
enemy to overcome, conquer or develop.
||- We are in denial
that we mistakenly consider it progress and economically sound
to subdue natural systems within and around us and thereby lose
the resilience and immunity provided by the recuperative powers
of these systems.
- We deny that if disconnection from nature produces discontents,
that authentic reconnecting with nature enables nature's renewing
powers to help us transform our discontents into happier, more
reasonable, ways of being and relating.
- We deny that nature-reconnecting tools are readily available
to us and that we that can use them to help ourselves reverse
5. An individual that only addresses their personal dysfunctions
without addressing the nature-disconnected roots of these dysfunctions
too often furthers their and our problems as time passes.
The Nature Of It All. How Do We Belong
"Ishi, (the last hunter-gather
Native American) was sure he knew the cause of our discontent.
It stemmed from an excessive amount of indoor time. 'It is not
a man's nature to be too much indoors.'"
- Theodora Kroeber
"It is quite clear to
me after several years in the environmental movement that all
physical problems of man's impact on the environment - pollution
of the air and waters, the desecration of the land, the contamination
of the food chain - all start within the environment of man's
- Maurice Strong,
Founder or the United Nations Environment Program,
Co--chair of the Commission on Global Governance,
Because we live in a nature-separated
society, we seldom learn that it is the personal and collective
relationship of our mind with nature that determines our sanity,
our future and the future of the earth. Much has been written
about how we need to help the planet regenerate itself. Too often
we overlook that restoring it is the lasting means to improve
the environment of our mind, our wellness and our destiny.
How conscious are we about
the interactions of our mentality with the natural world? How
do we passionately incorporate nature's intrinsic health and
recuperative powers into our sense of self, other and livelihood?
Do we acknowledge this deep and penetrating partnership in a
renewable path to sustainability that serves people, the environment
These are compelling questions
for us as our society is in denial of our mentality's relationship
with nature and we face a most precarious future.
We Lose What We Most Love
As nature's resources are diminished so is the quality of our
lives as part of nature. As the quality of our lives diminish,
we become desensitized and fearful. We further lose touch with
our natural ability to connect to the web of life within which
we are so intricately bound. It becomes a cycle of loss. The
nurturing link between our human lives and our earthly home gets
broken. We are driven to seek more and more satisfaction in the
material world, which means we consume more and more of the resources
we need to sustain natural world and our inborn love of it. We
get further and further away from our innate sense of meaning
and being. We lose what we most love-about ourselves, the world
to which we belong and our sense of the sacred in everyday life.
Nature's Saving Grace
In these difficult times, we are virtually on the edge of losing
our ability to save both ourselves-and our earthly home. Yet
the saving grace is simple: We will save what we love. And when
we learn how to stop long enough to genuinely reconnect to the
nurturing sustenance of nature, we emotionally reconnect to what
is most deeply satisfying in our human experience-belonging.
We re-learn to love the very essence of who we are as living
breathing perfect beings on a living breathing perfect planet.
It is a generative partnership that happens when we reawaken
and enliven all our senses with the awareness of nature's grace,
intelligence and sustenance. We find and feel that we, too, are
part of the very grace and intelligence we celebrate in nature.
We belong. Because this reconnecting process is often foreign
to contemporary life, an enabling tool has been devised to help
us engage in the process.
Restoring Our Sensory Connections
To Nature's Renewing Powers.
Project NatureConnect, a pioneering process in environmental
psychology and education, has developed an ecopsychology program
that is first of all committed to helping us-as individuals-restore
our connection to our place in nature's transcending grace. Then,
through its sensory nature-connecting, ecotherapy activities,
we learn how to genuinely unite our thinking to the web of life
that is always around us, always nurturing us, always waiting
to help us wake up. We help ourselves bond to living in awareness
and equilibrium with nature, in hope and in love. Living in that
organic awareness we create a lasting future for our loved ones
and for our extended human and ecological family.
The Organic Science of Nature's
Backyard or back country, the idea and goal of Project NatureConnect
is special because it is doable by choice. It offers a web of
possibilities-for everything from personal growth, stress management
and depression recovery to professional gain. It is based on
the NatureConnect work developed by Michael J. Cohen over a span
of 50 years of studying, teaching, writing about and experiencing
the regenerative power of our natural experience in the natural
world. His work is a science and an art, the result of decades
of practice working with communities of people in natural areas,
all culminating in a process that helps us recover what it is
we have forgotten, what it is we love, what it is we can save.
Healing Our Relationships
It is time for us to come out from behind the addictive socializing
and economic forces that keep the environment of our mind disconnected
from the Earth and each other. It is time to re-learn how to
let the wisdom and renewing energies of nature transform our
destructive patterns into balanced and loving relationships that
can help restore both personal worth and global harmony.
innocence and beneficence of Nature-of sun and wind and rain,
of summer and winter-such health, such cheer, they afford forever!"
-Henry David Thoreau, Walden
- by Janet