Continued from Taproot
Journal of the Coalition for Education
in the Outdoors
June 2005 Volume 12, No 2.
THE PRACTIONER'S CORNER
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
The following eight activities
empower divided into five days empower participants and enable
them to experience "Us."
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
- 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
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
"I was out along a river
working; the breeze was blowing the trees and willows gently,
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
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."
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
can be contacted at 360-378-6313, firstname.lastname@example.org