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1. As you read the article below:

Identify what, if any, parts of it you find attractive and make a note of them.

2. Repeat this process as you visit the IGE website and its links.

3. Write an essay of 300 words or less that encapsulates the things you found attractive in 1 and 2 above, and on your Degree Program or CCP Application Form, identify what to you are the most attractive aspects of the article and web site and why you find them attractive.





The Stairway to Personal and Global Sanity
Institute of Global Education
Special NGO consultant to United Nations Economic and Social Council

....Wellness Through Wholeness
....Produce personal, social and environmental integrity.


...in cooperation with
...Portland State University Extended Studies
...Greenwich University
...International University of Professional Studies





Sorry to be abrupt but as you will see, this message is urgent.

As a contemporary person, you are no doubt aware of what an informal poll has disclosed. People have an increasing fear and sadness due to their pervasive mistrust of our society's crime, social injustice, abuse, deceit, violence, war, pollution, stress, addiction, arrogance, desensitization, loneliness, environmental deterioration, work demands, ad nauseum. We are not on a hopeful course for the future. People don't feel safe.

The normal process by which you, I and our society thinks and relates has dug us into a hole, today's polluted, aggravating hole that we call "real life." You are no doubt aware that with respect to being fair and caring, our thinking is too often bogus. It irresponsibly pits people against each other and the environment on local and international levels. Life increasingly becomes more like an injurious football game than a joy.

Because contemporary life is corrupt, few of us fully trust it or each other. The more adept we become at contemporary thinking, the deeper becomes the hole we are in.

Our situation today demands that we embrace the message in the short article below. It shows we can improve our situation by adding a sane component to how we have learned to think, reason, and relate, a component that has been researched and is time tested. It helps you improve your every relationship and professional standing. It is available. Are you?




The Natural Systems Thinking Process: attraction energies in Nature are intelligent and healing; they help us sustain and enjoy responsible personal, social and environmental relationships.


"Nurture your felt love for nature; never deny it for you are part of Nature. In our Nature separated and conquering society that love is what remains of your inherent connection with nature's wise, unifying, essence. Throughout the eons that love has peacefully organized, preserved and regenerated Nature's billions of beautiful, diverse ways of life in a supportive balance. Today its loss destructively stresses us, our relationships, our thinking. We must now learn to help that love restore itself and us."

- Michael J. Cohen


Bogus intelligence?
Consider the intelligence test question below regarding mathematical aptitude. It is a type of question that helps determine who is successful, who gets the greatest economic and social rewards in contemporary society:

QUESTION: "If you count a dog's tail as one of its legs, how many legs does a dog have?"

"Five," of course, is the answer. Intelligent people say "five" because it is valid in mathematical systems and thinking and we are rewarded accordingly (1). However, our sense of reason only recognizes five as correct until we additionally validate what we know from our, or other people's, contact with a real dog (2). Then, many of our multitude of inborn natural senses come into play: senses of sight, touch, motion, color, texture, language, sound, smell, consciousness, community, trust, contrast, and love. Each of these senses helps our sense of reason make more sense. We sensibly recognize that a tail looks, feels and acts differently than a leg; a normal dog has four legs, not five.

OUR CHALLENGE: In contemporary society, on average, over 95% of our time and 99.9% of our thinking is sensuously disconnected from authentic nature.

Consider this historical 5-leg example:

"Aristotle thought there were eight legs on a fly and wrote it down. For centuries scholars were content to quote his authority. Apparently, not one of them was curious enough to impale a fly and count its six legs."
- Stuart Chase

The examples above suggest that we are often rewarded for thinking incorrectly. The rewards bond and attach us to inappropriate relationships so that we can't easily change. For this reason, if we want to change, to think clearly and resolve our most challenging personal or global problems, we must thoughtfully address our attachment bonds. This short article helps you do that.

Natural attachments:
Most people recognize that our arm "loves" to be attached to our body. If you don't believe that, just try to detach it. Similarly all people are biologically, psychologically and spiritually part of, and thereby attached to Nature for survival. We hold strong, inborn love bonds to nature's gifts, to sunshine, food, water, soil, air and community, in common with each other and all of nature. As it says in the article "Who is the Boss of You? " (suggested reading for applicants)

"Through self-evidence, and by definition, from sub-atomic particles to solar systems, all intact relationships, physical or otherwise, are held together by unifying natural attraction energies.

Attraction energy is a unifying force, a major healing, recycling and regenerative power that pervades and purifies Nature, including people. When intact, this power reconnects detached attractions, dissolves destructive associations, transforms garbage and pollution, and enables Nature to sustain the perfection of its wellness, balance and beauty.

People are biologically and psychologically part of Nature. When attractions within our mentality are consciously connected to their attraction origins in Nature, our thinking benefits from the full healing power of natural attraction energies."

The root of our unsolvable problems and discontents is that we live extremely Nature disconnected lives. This is clearly demonstrated as these problems "magically" subside when people genuinely reconnect their thinking with Nature, and because we find these problems absent in Nature connected people(s).

Contemporary society is like a cluster of frog eggs that were washed into a deep well where they hatched. A small, isolated frog colony was born and survived in its isolation. Because it was disconnected from the whole of Nature, things could not normally recycle and it became became a stressed, polluted hole that provided the rewards of survival and was therefore loved and called "homeland." To each of its members, the sky looked like a plate, a small, round, circle above them. That reality made perfect sense from their point of view. If we in contemporary society were similarly confined in a well, we, too, would believe the sky is a plate and this would corrupt much of our thinking and relationships. For example:

- The real sky would be an unknown.

- Our explanation for how water and air were produced would be incorrect.

- The value of the wind, land and ocean would be foreign to us.

- Thoughts or dreams of the Sun, Earth and Nature's balance and beauty might be considered a form of insanity.

- The goal of our society might be to train slaves to be strong enough to throw enough garbage out of the well so the slave owners could own more toys.

- A frog that escaped from the well and returned to tell of the "heaven" that existed in Nature above was considered psychotic and treated accordingly. Some wanted to jail or crucify her.


This analogy is scientifically valid with respect to ourselves and Nature's true nature. There are often profound effects upon organisms that live in nature-separated places. Limited sensory stimulation there de-energizes many natural growth and relationship sensitivities. For example: animals in caves lose the ability to produce eyes or pigment in their skin. Children brought up in a closet often die when removed from it. Healthy young people subjected to sensory deprivation develop hallucinations and delusions and lose their sense of who they are after a few hours. People living in canyons have distorted long distance perception. How Patty Hearst changed from a normal student to active militant within two months after being kidnapped further exemplifies the impact of an isolating environment.


Bewildering detachment
Be concerned. We seldom realize that, like the frogs, most of us live out our lives in an isolated, desensitizing psychological and spiritual hole that corrupts us. Our hole consists of ways of thinking and relating that injuriously condition and separate our thinking from the natural world. On average, over 95% of our time and 99.9% of our thinking is sensuously disconnected from authentic Nature. This profound biological disconnection distorts our psyche, reasoning and soul. Bewildered (meaning separated from wilderness, 4-leg, intelligence) we destructively think our way into our most difficult problems including the insanity of knowledgeably destroying our own life support system unthoughtful moment by moment, purchase by purchase, win after win.

The sickness of the well
Because our hole provides us with the powerful, immediate rewards of survival from water, food, air and money, we addictively call our sensory dismemberment from Nature along with its problems and suffering "normal," "progress," and "excellence in education" rather than "desensitizing psychological and spiritual dismemberment." Similar to the "Truman Effect"
very few of us believe we are in the hole we are in. From the warped, bonded, viewpoint of the hole, we think we are God's gift to Earth and are in denial about what we know to be true with respect to our destructive impact on people, Earth and our long term effects. As Upton Sinclair observed "It is difficult to get people to understand something when their salary depends upon them not understanding it."

Personally and globally, our unsolvable problems persist because our thinking is disconnected from and unaware of what causes them. We are so disconnected that we seldom recognize or acknowledge things or processes that have shown to resolve these problems. We call them alternatives or hippie and they have lain idle for half a century.

As may be seen by the absence of our major problems in natural systems and nature connected cultures, our additive disconnection from our sensory origins in Nature is our major trouble. Genuine reconnection is its solution, not the suggestions from people who are as, or more, disconnected, than us. No matter what nature-disconnected people say, the solution we seek is readily available and has proven itself. It is only our false, bonded, belief that we must stay disconnected to survive that impedes us from improving our situation.

The proof in the pudding.  
Our destructive disconnection from Nature subsides when we choose to use a unique nature reconnecting tool. The tool enables us to to raise our awareness and thinking out of the hole we are in. It lets us take a breath of pure, fresh air in the colorful brilliance of the sun upon the vibrant, green landscape. The tool helps us consciously make thoughtful, sensory contact with Nature's attraction essence. We genuinely experience register and enjoy the peace and balanced attraction energies of Nature's eons that operate the same today as forever. As the diverse love and integrity of attraction energies in the wind, hills and stars touch us, Nature's unique ability to recycle and nurture our disconnected psyche and inner nature comes into play. We become stronger, less vulnerable to the polluted hole we have dug ourselves into, more capable of helping others use the tool and thereby get out of the hole we are in.

The tool is real. It is a stairway out of our rut and into authentic Nature's sanity. Anyone can learn how to climb the stairway and reap the benefits. However, no surprise, our nature-disconnected thinking and denial prevents most of us from believing that the the tool or stairway exist or are accessible. The validation of personal reconnecting experiences becomes the best teacher to dispel this false belief.


The stairway:
For the past 32 years at the Institute of Global Education and his similar programs, Dr. Michael J. Cohen and his students have discovered and used the tool and stairway. They have lived, taught and researched in natural areas, sleeping outdoors year round. From this 4-leg contact with nature, unlike the norm, they have not learned to know nature
as something fearful to be conquered in the name of civilization, safety and economic growth. Instead, as they learn to treat Nature's peace with respect, they enjoy Nature as a powerful friend, teacher and therapist. It helps them increase their thoughtfulness and intelligence. This is quite different that the "normal" contemporary person. To our loss, we normal people seldom honor, no less celebrate, that even a short walk in Nature has the "secret power of attraction energies" to clear our head. Often we think the power is us, that we got away from our problems for a few moments. Seldom do we understand or respect the Nature of what we have moved into.

It is significant and worth repeating that the major problems we face seldom exist in intact natural systems or genuinely nature connected people. As a twig is bent, so grows the tree.


Dr, Cohen's years in natural systems show, and additional research agrees, that we inherit and contain not just five, as Aristotle said, but at least 53 inborn natural senses, 53 self-balancing natural attraction-energy loves we inherently register. Through these attractions the tool helps us help ourselves relate sensibly to the environment and each other. Since 1952 Cohen has researched, applied, and taught people how to bring the stairway tool, a Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP), into their personal and professional lives.

NSTP enables people to rejuvenate their 53 natural senses and restore them in their thinking and relationships. As they use and teach this skill it empowers people to make more sense of their lives. The documented results of each of several thousand attraction connections with Nature made by IGE participants shows a consistent increase in feelings of wellness, resiliency and belonging accompanied by a decrease in stress, conflict and depression. Their relationships improve in most areas of endeavor.


NSTP is part of several advanced, accredited, University training courses and degree programs. It has been researched by doctoral students and reviewed and published in professional science and technology, psychological and environmental education journals. NSTP is a social technology that helps us reattach our dismembered psyche to its origins in Nature in exactly the same way that a surgeon reattaches a dismembered arm to a person's body. The surgeon brings the arm and body together. This allows Nature to regenerate itself, to biologically heal the separation as only Nature can.


The history of NSTP.
In 1959, Dr. Cohen founded a camp and school program based on reconnecting with Nature. The National Audubon Society and many others called it the most revolutionary school in America. They said it was on the side of the angels. Participants traveled and thrived by camping out in 83 different natural habitats throughout the seasons. They learned to live out their commitment to have open, honest relationships with the natural environment, each other and with indigenous people(s), researchers, ecologists, the Amish, organic farmers, anthropologists, folk musicians, naturalists, shamans, administrators, historians and many others close to the land. The experience deeply reconnected their 53 sense inner nature to its origins and self in the whole of nature.

As a result of the participants' romance with educating themselves this way, in the school community:

Chemical dependencies, including alcohol and tobacco, disappeared as did destructive social relationships.

Personality and eating disorders subsided

Violence, crime and prejudice were unknown in the group.

Academics improved because they were applicable, hands-on and fun.

Loneliness, hostility and depression subsided. Group interactions allowed for stress release and management; each day was fulfilling and relatively peaceful.

Students using meditation found they no longer needed to use it. They learned how to sustain a nature-connected community that more effectively helped them improve their resiliency to stress and disease.

Participants knew each other better than they knew their families or best friends.

Participants felt safe. They risked expressing and acting from their deeper thoughts and feelings. A profound sense of social and environmental responsibility guided their decisions.

When vacation periods arrived, neither staff nor student wanted to go home. Each person enjoyably worked to build this supportive, balanced living and learning utopia. They were home.

Students sought and entered right livelihood professions.

All this occurred simply because every community member made sense of their lives by sustaining supportive, multisensory attraction relationships that helped them restore contact with the natural world within and around them.

The 4-leg secret to each participant's success was to learn how to learn through natural sensations and feelings that arose from their newly regrown sensory roots in ecosystems. This freed the participants' 53 senses from their bonding to questionable 5-leg stories and re-bonded them to the 4-leg sense of reason in congress with 47 other rejuvenated natural senses. Nine-leg critical thinking resulted.

From 30 years of travel and study in over 260 national parks, forests and subcultures, Cohen developed a repeatable learning process and psychology. It unleashes our 4-leg ability to grow and survive responsibly with the natural world. By documenting that it worked and could be taught, he earned his doctoral degree and the school became a nationally recognized graduate and undergraduate degree program.

From 1985-92, Cohen translated his nature-connected psychology program into the readily available Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) for public use via the internet or on site . Through NSTP, backyard or backcountry, people climb the stairway out of disconnection. They recover their natural senses from readings and sensory 4-leg reconnection activities in local natural areas at home, work or school.

The value of NSTP is exemplified by research regarding its application to a group of at-risk students in an alternative school. Three years of testing before and after NSTP application showed increases in environmental literacy, academic and social skills, psychological improvement and the lasting cessation of chemical dependencies (5). Research by other NSTP workers reports similar results from its use in education, mental health, healing, outdoor education and recreation. This research shows that only our attachment bonds to our destructive ways prevent us from taking a giant step into sanity at every level. Some people are ready to use the tool, to take this step. In them lies hope for they become part of our culture and help others learn how to use the tool.

We can't resolve our unsolvable problems using the same nature disconnected thinking that produces them . The critical contribution of NSTP is that it empowers individuals to create moments that let Earth teach. This helps us responsibly unify 5-leg and 4-leg thinking.


"Oh, what a catastrophe, what a maiming of love when it was
made personal, merely personal feeling. This is what is the matter
with us: we are bleeding at the roots because we are cut off from
the earth and sun and stars. Love has become a grinning mockery
because, poor blossom, we plucked it from its stem on the
Tree of Life and expected it to keep on blooming in our civilized
vase on the table."

- D. H. Lawrence


"We have repressed far more than our sexuality: our very organic nature is now unconscious to most of us, most of the time, and we have become shrunken into two dimensional social or cultural beings, aware of only five of the hundreds of senses that link us to the rich biological nature that underlies and nourishes these more symbolic and recent aspects of ourselves. "

- Norman 0. Brown


"To help restore the balanced intelligence of the Garden of Eden within and around us, reconnect with what remains of the Garden and let it help you learn how to think with it."

- Michael J. Cohen


* * *


Material that appears on this page and its links is drawn from articles by Dr. Cohen that have been professionally reviewed and published in The Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Journal of Environmental Education, Interpsych Journal of Mental Health, Greenwich University Journal of Science and Technology, Counselling Psychology Quarterly, Proceedings of the North American Association for Environmental Education, Journal of the Oregon Counseling Association, The Trumpeter, U.S. Department of Education Educational Resources Information Center, The Outdoor Communicator, Clearing Magazine, Nature Study, Between the Species, Cooperative Learning, International Journal of Humanities and Peace and others. For specifics, see MJCohen and website references).



Recipient of the 1994 Distinguished World Citizen Award, Michael J. Cohen is a director of the Institute of Global Education -a special NGO consultant to the United Nations Economic and Social Council- where he chairs the Integrated Ecology Department and Project NatureConnect. He also serves on the faculty of Greenwich University, Portland State University and the International University of Professional Studies. Dr. Cohen is the prize winning author of a number of books, including Reconnecting With Nature (Ecopress, 1997), and Einstein's World (Institute of Global Education Technical Bulletin, 2000). You are welcome to visit his personal homepage. The heart of his contribution to individual and global sanity is encapsulated in a short article on this website.



Further Information:

The best way to learn NSTP: an online practicum in connecting with Nature..

An update on the state of Planet Earth ..

Putting knowledge into practice...

Acting sensibly about a critical disconnection ....

The Results of Nature disconnected Consciousness ...

Nature connected degree programs and courses...

Applying Ecopsychology to deal with our denial 

Questions and responses from reviewed articles and research..

Who's the Boss of You? The destructive secret of mind pollution and how a nature-connected psychology helps people overcome their addictions to unreasonable thinking.

Journal Entries:Webstrings and The Natural Systems Thinking Process




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Institute of Global Education

Special NGO consultant United Nations Economic and Social Council



Readily available online tools for the health and peace of
person, planet and spirit

P.O. Box 1605 Friday Harbor, WA 98250 360-378-6313



The Natural Systems Thinking Process

Dr. Michael J. Cohen, Director

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