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Continued from Taproot Release


Journal of the Coalition for Education in the Outdoors
June 2005 Volume 12, No 2.



Strengthening Natural Senses

By Michael J. Cohen

"Us" is the united wholeness, wisdom and spirit of the natural world and our true inner nature. Acknowledgement of Us results in living more harmoniously with the living land, waters and life-spirit within and about us... we enjoy peace with the whole of nature found in ourselves, others and the landscape

"It was one thing to read the instruction book on how to operate an automobile; it was something else to actually drive one. It took months of repetition to make the new knowledge and physical coordination necessary for driving to become familiar and comfortable. After I finally did it, I read the instruction manual again. It almost seemed irrelevant. My repeated hands-on practice with a supportive instructor made me a competent driver; the written instructions alone did not and could not do this."

I discover and enjoy experiences with Us because I learned how to do so. Our misguided society, institutions and leaders never taught this to me, so I was seldom misguided in this respect.

Without having somebody place "clockwise" or "counterclockwise" or religious labels on the relationships I revered, I learned to place my own words and labels on them. My labels matched and supported my inner child's non-verbal callings and experiences. They were not the war-torn preachings of others.

Creating my own labels allowed me to verbally reinforce and validate attractions that I actually felt. Many of them were attractions to the natural world. Personalized labels let me more fully enjoy the oneness of nature within and about me.

The following eight activities empower divided into five days empower participants and enable them to experience "Us."

SEVMRATC: Sense-Enjoy-Validate/-Match-Resonate-Appreciate-Trust-Celebrate in a natural area that attracts you to it.(To better remember the activities, their acronym is SEVMRATC- pronounced sev-mer-rat-see).

Instructions: Sense, Enjoy, and Validate may be done in sequence as a single visit in a natural area. Match, Resonate, Appreciate, Trust and Celebrate work best as separated individual visits spaced at least a day apart so your dreams can help you integrate them.

Sense: Go to a natural place(s) that attracts you at this moment. For 15 seconds or more, make your mind blank, erase you dependencies on language, reasoning, and thinking. Do this in order to make space for yourself to simply feel the attractiveness of this place or thing. Just sense it.

Enjoy: Activate your reasoning, language and consciousness senses. Ask them to recognize and acknowledge that sensing this natural attraction is enjoyable; it feels good.

Validate: Acknowledge that:

- you are a person who finds this natural place or thing attractive and enjoys it. 

- connecting with and through natural attractions catalyzes good feelings.

- you deserve to have good feelings because they indicate ongoing survival.

- good feelings arise from the survival process, from the natural environment touching your inner child and flowing through you.

- natural attractions awaken the part of your inner child which is them in you.

- your sensations and feelings in this natural area are facts as real as any other facts.

- the natural world produces at least 53 different attractive energies which connect your sense of consciousness with your inner child in order that you may continue to be. Seeing a bird in flight may awaken senses of motion, freedom, awe, distance, place, and beauty. The color orange might awaken memories of other survival experiences like dawn, autumn leaves, fire, or orange juice.

- Apply to this natural attraction the processes you ordinarily use to establish that something is a fact. For example: is this attraction an experience, repeatable, universal, culturally acceptable, validated by others, quantifiable, qualifiable, real, true, believable, logical, trustable, universal, proven, can you can feel it? Isn't it phenomenological evidence?

Activities for the following 5 days: For each activity, go to a natural area that attracts you.

Match: Match this or some other natural attraction here. Physically assume its shape and/or motion. For example: To match the radiating shape of a leaf, posture yourself with your body and arms spread like the leaf and wave as it does in the wind. Note what you sense while doing this. Try to remember if or when you have felt this sensation(s) before, indoors or outdoors. For example, when you once sat in a rocking chair, climbed a tree on a windy day, or stood on a swing.

Engage your sense of language in matching your inner nature with the natural world. In writing, respond to the following: My favorite plant, animal, mineral or sensation while doing this activity is (1). I like it because it (2) (Complete this sentence fully, state why you like it). 

Now place the phrase I like myself because in front of (2) the "because it" clause you just wrote. You can identify part of your inner nature by doing this. Does the changed sentence I like myself because (2) describe an aspect of your inner child or yourself? Does reading the sentence make you feel more comfortable or uncomfortable? If the latter, be sure to read Chapter 27 entitled Fulfillment.

Resonate: The attraction in this place has a certain quality to it which gives you a special feeling. Connect with this attraction through your other senses. For example, connect through your sense of music. Experimentally hum or sing a few musical notes until you find one which you feel resonates with (best represents or registers) this attraction. Once you make this connection, you have learned to know the attraction more fully by resonating with it through your sense of music. 

Repeat the above resonating experience by selecting other senses by which you want to sense this attraction. Through them, you can more fully resonate with it at will and thereby strengthen it. For example: You can be attracted to the sound of a flowing stream and attempt to resonate with that sound through the senses of community, taste, trust, smell, compassion and belonging, etc. 

Each time we resonate with a natural attraction through a different sense, we get to know the attraction and ourselves in a new, more fulfilling and holistic way. This holds true for the natural attractions we sense in people as well as in places.

Appreciate: By immersing yourself in a natural place, you have no doubt experienced good feelings. In a sentence, thank the place for the gifts it's given you. Honor it for sharing its attractiveness with you as well as for sustaining the flow of the global life community through you. Honor it for filling your natural wants so that you don't excessively want.

Trust: Do a reality check. Determine if you really trust your experience with the natural place. Trust the state of mid and feeling that you obtained from SEVMRATC; It is your natural intelligence expressing itself.

Celebrate: In your notebook write a Haiku verse or short poem which expresses your thoughts and feelings about connecting with this attraction. It helps language connect with and strengthen your senses and vice versa. For example, for connecting with orange autumn leaves you might write:

Orange sunrise leaves,
Awaken deep within me,
The dawn of being.

Upon completing the Haiku, assume a posture and/or dance motion which you feel states your good feelings with regard to this SEVMRATC event. Hold your position/motions for at least 30 seconds. If necessary, defend yourself from criticism coming from within or around you. Your habitual closeted thinking may demean you for participating in this celebration. It may label you as "touchy-feely" "childish" "unscientific" "fuzzy thinking" "far out" or "spiritual." Declare your independence. Protect your pursuit of happiness, your good feeling connections with Us, if you want them to flourish, satisfy and fulfill you. Nobody else can do this for you. Do your dance. 

Activity Result:

"I was out along a river working; the breeze was blowing the trees and willows gently, the sun
shining in a bright blue sky and the temperature very pleasant. There is a lot of green along the river and walking in the shade provided by the trees was enjoyable. I sent my thoughts into the area seeking acceptance to do the activity. I was answered by bird song which I took as a positive response and continued with the activity by first looking for the songbird. It was a Tananger which is a migratory bird that comes through our area every year. They are very pretty brightly colored birds that love fruit. I used to live in an upstairs studio apartment that had a plum tree outside one window. My view was of the top of the tree and I would stand and watch the Tanangers eating the plums. The bird that welcomed me was as curious as I and we exchanged whistles and chirps for a few moments before
parting ways.

There was not enough open space for me to mimic the flowing water and so I stood and swayed with the wind with the willow and alder. I noticed how uncomfortable I felt swaying and waving my arms with the trees. I was fairly exposed to passing traffic and thought about someone coming by and ridiculing me for flailing around on the river bank. I quieted my thoughts and swayed with the wind. I was conscious of the temperature, wind, the feeling of the wind on my skin, shade, the trees, bird song and more. I felt connected to the trees and the wind and my discomfort dissipated. It began to feel as if I was dancing with the wind and trees instead of mimicking their movements, which when I thought about it was exactly what I was doing.

I have a sense of belonging when I am out like this (in-community) and know I am supported and accepted. Doing this activity brought me into close communion with the trees and willows along the river and I saw them dancing with me. The interconnectedness of the wind, the trees, willows, me, the sun, the blue sky and the river was evident to my inner sight and senses. For that moment we all came together as a collective and shared our essences as one body. I came away from the activity feeling relaxed and peaceful. It was hard for me to go back to work I just wanted to stay by the river, under the trees and take a nap.

Three things I learned:
I still worry about what people think of me
I like dancing with Nature
Nature likes dancing with me

Statements that feel true:
I am the wind
I am the trees
I am the river

Being me without nature connections would be like a tree without roots, unable to draw sustenance from the Earth, destined to wither and die.

Again the demanding authority educated by this activity is me. I see how I can act on behalf of my inner critic committee when there is no one around to do it for me. I realize how deeply ingrained some of my inhibitions are and how they are held in place by stories, false stories from someone else's pain."

Project NatureConnect Student

For additional results of Dr. Cohen's activities visit the survey of participants and its links. You may react to them via an online BLOG


Dr. Cohen can be contacted at 360-378-6313, nature@interisland.net






















































































































Special NGO consultant United Nations Economic and Social Council

Readily available, online, natural science tools
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P.O. Box 1605, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
360-378-6313 <email> www.ecopsych.com

The Natural Systems Thinking Process

Dr. Michael J. Cohen, Director

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