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The nature-connecting green school and green life process, described below, is a significant breakthrough:
an ecologically conscious online course and remedy for the excessive disconnection of our psyche from nature's restorative flow, a green business and green living remedy that we hold in common with nature. It is a sensory science that consists of go green ideas, a funded online degree program that produces green jobs and careers. The ecopsychology of its educating, counseling and healing with nature process follows nature's path to Earth and humanity in peaceful balance. 

You may learn how to use this organic psychology tool to improve health wellness and counseling. It is an ecological consciousnessthat helps an individual's thinking and feeling safely tap into the truths of nature's balance and beauty. Participants master alternative therapist, coaching and holistic spirituality that enables their clients to meet special needs and wants.


Educating Counseling and Healing With Nature

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Project NatureConnect offers you a key to green business success, a nature-centered, distant learning process and strategy that establishes green life and green jobs.  It enables you to daily add the benefits of nature-connecting methods to your degree program and/or your skills, interests and hobbies.

Our green school program and go green ideas honor your critical thinking, prior education and life experience in most areas of interest by providing grants and equivalent life education credit .

You may find and take accredited or professional CEU coursework for a certificate or degree in most green living disciplines or personal interests. A partial subject list is located at the bottom of this page.

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Pathways to Ecological Consciousness: Returning to our Senses

 - Diana Elsmore

Today the network of relationships linking the human race to itself and to the rest of the biosphere is so complex that all aspects affect all others to an extraordinary degree. Someone should be studying the whole system, however crudely that has to be done, because no gluing together of partial studies of a complex nonlinear system can give a good idea of the behavior of the whole.  (Murray Gell-Mann, American Physicist and Nobel Prize winner)

I have always been a bit of a 'greeney' but when I studied economics and marketing I became so appalled at how ecologically unfriendly the socio-economic systems were, that I wanted to tell everyone about it.  I was so horrified when I understood the workings of the economic systems that I decided to do my economics dissertation on The Unsustainability of the Current Economic System.  That was at a time before such works as You Can't Eat GNP: Economics As If Ecology Mattered made clear the high technology driving our economy and propelling us further from the ecological system that physically supports us will fail if the ecosystem is not carefully managed (Davidson, 2001).  To his credit, my economics lecturer passed me, whilst enduring my tirades about polluting environments, destroying habits and the stupidity of an economic model that did not include the environment in its feedback loop. 

      After leaving the corporate world, I designed a series of workshops called Walking Lightly.  The idea behind the workshops was to help people understand the machinations of the various social systems and how we can, through understanding and knowledge, begin to make choices that will eventually eliminate the harm we are causing the earth.  I covered everything from personal hair care products to motor cars and top-soil destruction.  We looked at short-term solutions and their consequences in ecological time (e.g. building dams is a short term solution for solving water shortages, in ecological time, dams are disastrous) and ways of improving design science by mimicking nature. 
The workshops were not successful.  People were just not interested in changing the status quo.  Theoretically, I understood all the psychological reasons for their repression and I addressed them as best I could but at heart I knew there was a missing link.   I realized that I was somehow connected more deeply to nature than the people who attended the workshops and I did not know how to help them make the crucial reconnection.  I knew that without a deep connection to nature, no-one was going to want to change the way they lived their lives.  People could be moved to tears and horrified at some of the facts we discussed on the workshops but they would go home and carry on their lives as usual.  I wanted them to be transformed; I wanted them to care enough about the earth to start changing the way they lived, however, it simply did not happen.  In a troubled world, motivating people to take action to live sustainably is a difficult task.  Could it be as suggested by Vucetich and Nelson (2009), that hoping people will change is not only not enough, but part of the problem?

During the ensuing two years the ideas that prompted the workshops have been slowly integrating and assimilating within me although I have had no idea how I was going to implement them.  If hoping to avoid an environmental catastrophe isn't sufficient motive enough to live sustainably, what is?  The original aims of the workshop were:
i)    to raise awareness about what we are doing to the earth
ii)    to facilitate an understanding of the socio-economic influences that control us
iii)    to get each participant to commit to changing at least one thing in their lives that will lighten the load on the earth.

 Only by thoroughly understanding what influences us can we be entirely conscious and conscientious; only then can we begin to make the needed difference.  Could it be that as Vucetich and Nelson (2009, p. 35) suggest, that our preoccupation with the future is what drives us to live at the expense of the present.  Are we not sacrificing the natural world in the delusional hope of some future miracle?  Since when is maintaining hope, a strategy for pressing problems requiring virtues more like sharing and caring. We do not need more GDP falling into the greedy hands of the already super-wealthy.  Digging more holes in the Earth will do that but only caring enough to share will redistribute wealth in a world where the haves grow richer daily, while the have-nots continue in utter despair even as their numbers swell.  
In urban areas, the effects of the industrialized society are particularly prevalent.  Clever marketing campaigns convince everyone that they are 'not good enough' and that they need more stuff; this is one of the cruelest aspects of industrialized society.  The effects of feeling 'not good enough' are devastating for those who have everything and for those who have been marginalized and sit on the fringes with nothing.  This is an extract from an overview I wrote for one of the Walking Lightly workshops:

We have to understand the dynamics which allow us to tacitly comply with social structures that create enormous wealth for a few with devastating consequences for the rest of humanity and the planet. We must understand that, the structures on which we rely are at the root of the serious problems we are facing today. If we do not understand the dynamics of these structures we will not be able to see their workings in ourselves in our daily lives nor will we be able create structures that are sustainable and restorative. By understanding the workings of these social constructs, we develop the facility to receive feedback from our environment that will enable us to adjust our actions and create a sustainable way of life for all. As we begin to develop insight we are also less likely to feel antipathy towards others and their involvement in these systems i.e. waste energy in the 'blame game.
This work is both cognitive and experiential. It is not prescriptive in that it does not give a list of instructions as to what should be done rather; the work helps the individual develop insight. As a result of this understanding and insight, compassion and empathy begin to arise and this is what drives any action taken. This is not a call to do your duty; it is a call to see, feel and hear again and to respond accordingly.

Reading this again after having just completed the Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) and it Orientation Course, the final sentence strikes me as particularly significant; “It is a call to see, feel and hear again and to respond accordingly.”  These were just three senses I expected people to use to become objectively conscious.  Imagine what could be done with fifty-three senses! 

Reflecting now on my work as being both “cognitive and experiential,” I was trying, as Greenway describes in his excellent article, The Multiple Approaches to Ecopsychology: One View, to create something with “less talk and more walk,” whilst “grounding that experience in language that was philosophically coherent and consistent (2000, Sections IV & VI) .”  This is exactly what NTSP does; it shows us how to unite the experiential (sensory four leg thinking) with the cognitive (five leg thinking) into a composted organic synthesis (nine leg thinking) which restores our “subdued natural intelligences back into our awareness and relationships (Cohen, 2003, backcover).”  

      NSTP, for me, is a clear pathway to ecological consciousness; it is the missing link. During the Orientation Course I experienced validation and support, not only when doing the nature activities but in my interactions with the other people in my group.  I developed a deeper understanding of myself and how Nature has interacted with me throughout my life.  It feels as if I can suddenly understand a new language; with NSTP, instead of just fumbling my way around in the dark, now I can see! I can now envision being able to share this new understanding with others.  Eventually, I would like to dust off and re-design the Walking Lightly Workshops to incorporate Dr. Michael Cohen's nature connecting activities so that participants could reconnect to nature by returning to their senses, firmly planted on their path to responsible ecological consciousness. 
-Cohen, M. J. (2003). The Web of Life Imperative ( ed.). Victoria, Canada: Trafford Publishing.

-Davidson, E. A. (2001). You can't eat GNP: Economics as if ecology mattered. Boston, MA: Perseus Books Group.

-Greenway, R. (2000, May). The multiple approaches to ecology: One view. Gatherings: Seeking Ecopsychology. Retrieved from http://www.ecopsychology.org/journal/gatherings2/index.htm

-Nelson, M. P., & Vucetich, J. A. (2009, March). Abandon hope. Ecologist, 32-35. Retrieved from http://www.conservationethics.org/CEG/res_hope_files/Hope_essay.pdf

A passage from the journal of a student who is doing Educating, Counseling and Healing With Nature activities:

Four or five times a day I get the urge to go to a natural, unspoiled, remote, area, usually while I'm indoors, taking a break, or totally unable to go (busy with work, things, or it's too late).  It's a survival mechanism, I'm sure, a check-up reminder, developed and conditioned the many reinvigorating, fulfilling ( and life-saving) experiences I've had in those settings.  I appreciate and honor this nature calling, built-in reflex as a reason to establish an equilibrium and peace with and for the days "outside" of nature.  Yet, it's not always possible to go as often as my sense of well being wants, the integration is always hard to maintain.
But today, I had the day off, and I heeded to the call.

My Steps for Sensing & Feeling Web-strings:  

Step 1 - I woke up in time to get ready to go hang out with my friend Earth.  I took care of some business at home, canceled my appointments, made sure I didn't have any pressing issues or loose ends that would distract me from my immersion into nature, and packed up for the coast ( Oregon ). Freedom.  I drove safely, slowly opening up my awareness and senses to the broader world, waiting for me, soon to come.  I wanted to hurry, but what was the hurry?  I felt as though nature would not be there when I arrived, or it would disappear, run out, or the sun would suddenly set earlier than usual, or something would stop me from getting there, throwing me off coarse...It's hard to leave the vacuum of the city and the gravitational force of traffic and thinking.

Step 2 - Relaxed, clear headed, open and sensitive, I find a spot on the beach.  Composition is important to me, as well as privacy.  I found a spot flanked by tall dunes, and weighted on the bottom by a pile of drift wood.  The sand was soft at this spot, just outside the high tide zone, and I was out of the way of the paths of other beach walkers.  The sun was lightly diffused by a hazy cloud of cool ocean air.  I took off my shoes and dug my feet into the sand, and finished eating my sandwich.

Step 3 - Content and ready I sat, and listened and smelled and felt and looked and tried not to think.  I am attracted to the word "attraction" so I used it loosely, quietly whispering it to myself, underneath all the other sensory functions going on, careful not to disturb the delicate rising.  Immediately, I tuned all senses onto the waves.  I wanted to go into them, but the waters here are unbearably cold, so I stayed a safe distance, dry, but still consumed and surrounded by waves, as the long shoreline commanded my attention, albeit passively.

Step 4 - I started to fully enter the water with my mind, kept warm by the suns rays, and anchored by the smell of wet sand, and carried by the brisk breeze.  Then, to my dismay, a lady on a cell phone came along and sat on a piece of driftwood next to me.  This made me slightly uneasy.  ( should I move to another spot, I thought?).  I was mostly critical of this situation, because of the involvement of a cell phone.  But, I stopped my judgement there and managed to ask myself, "Why does this annoy me?".."Does it have to?"... Of coarse, I thought, since she's preoccupied with a phone conversation, her sensory sensitivities and intuitive process was inhibited as to the current environment around her,   i.e. my privacy and compromising my sense of safety.  But, since I am within earshot of what she is saying on the phone, and within eyeshot of her body gestures, I concluded that she was genuinely, desperately, trying to help someone out on the other line with advices for a dilemma, so I gained an understanding and respect, tapping into compassion, that eased my mind and took it away from that potential distracting element, tempered by separateness, and back to my total, "unspoiled", now deeper than expected, sensory experience with all things present.  I took a deep breath and looked into the sun reflecting on the waves, resumed my web-stringing, and I said thank you to all of it.

Step 5 - "My experience in nature shows me that I am a person who gets good feelings when I am able to let go and let it be, all one, and not what it seems otherwise".  Being connected to nature does not mean excluding those things which seem "unnatural".  The lady on the cell phone ( and other annoyances in these unnaturally, technological days ), was at first, seen as a threat, as an enemy to the natural setting I was trying to participate in, and keep pure, and it made me irritated, taking away my energy and focus with the task at hand, which was, amongst other things, about harnessing peace and connectivity.  Did I think I was going to be able to go to a natural "unspoiled" area and not encounter a human, doing human things?  ( I often have this problem when trying to "escape")  No, I must accept, and see, think, feel, hear another way.  A connection was made, via my attempt to hear the other side, to empathize, and there, within the cell phone conversation and the invisible air waves and radiation currents, I saw another side to the pre-fab story I had all worked out in my head (bias and judgment), I saw the web-strings, connecting the lady to another being, she was reaching out to a friend in a time of need, giving comfort and council.  It is how we communicate and connect with each other, now possible anywhere...The cell phone is a web-string.  Her "call" wasn't much different than say, the sometimes annoying calls and screeches of seagulls, communicating and connecting to a distant, mysterious force.

Step 6 -  Now I am alone, no one is around, it is getting dark.  I can't smell anything.  Just then, a dog comes running up to me, sniffing the ground, aiming for something, and usually, this too, would slightly irritate me, ( am I beginning to sound like a begrudging salty old man..?  I promise you, I am not...Yet, if I'm not careful, someday I could be...) but this "intrusion" doesn't affect me, this time, because I have attained a new found peace and tranquility.  An acceptance of anything which may come my way or go away.  I am pleased and amused that the dog found a little scrap of sandwich covered in the sand..."Amazing", I think to myself, and reply with a genuine, groundbreaking kindness, "It's okay, no worries", to the dog's owner who is profusely apologizing to me and screaming to his dog to "come back!!!".   ( it's really okay, the dog was just being a dog, it only was made "intrusive" by the over-reactive human, scolding his for not being less of a dog )

Step 7 -
Statements from others:

1.  My nature experience shows me that I am a person who gets good feelings when spending the night alone at a high-mountain lake. It is then that I most easily shed the false boundary between myself and the surrounding world. And it is then that I recognize at last that we are all one. It is then too that life takes on a new dimension: half of my body uniting with the warm earth, the other half facing the night sky. I suddenly feel as if I am transformed into starlight reflected in water.
( I've experienced this challenge to my body and soul split, though I wasn't able to reconcile as such ).  I discovered that I am a person who gets good feelings always by being close to larger trees. Physically contacting a large tree, by holding or leaning against its trunk, causes me to sense a timeless rootedness with a strong life force. This energy within me always creates tranquility. Since then, when I seek strength and need a deep connectedness, I seek out large trees for guidance and support. I also found strength as I looked at a lowly dandelion. The round flaming yellow flower, the swaying white globe. It's the sun and the moon! Why haven't I seen this before? I was too preoccupied to see nature. I love when these self-discovered, profound, serendipitous "ah-ha!" moments happen - can't ever learn them from a book, ect... )

For an extensive collection of Journal quotes from students doing natural attraction activities:
Visit http://www.ecopsych.com/survey.html

Contact: Michael J. Cohen, Ph.D.
Telephone 360-378-6313
Read the Ecopsychology Journal interview with Dr. Cohen: http://www.ecopsych.com/ecopsychologyjournal.html

Email: nature@interisland.net.
Website: www.ecopsych.com 
Personal page: http://www.ecopsych.com/mjcohen.html

You may read or distribute a press release about this webpage


Overview Article<http://www.ecopsych.com/hallucinatearticle.html>
Process Synopsis<http://www.ecopsych.com/transformation.html>
Fundamentals <http://www.ecopsych.com/mjcohen22.html>


Achieve a Degree or Certificate to strengthen your professional interests, or your hobbies or pastimes, by connecting them with nature. Implement your strongest hopes as you increase personal and global well being.

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"Human behavior is rooted most deeply in nature's intentions and desire. The rhythms of nature underlie all of human interaction: religious traditions, economic systems, cultural and political organization. When these human forms betray the natural psychic pulse, people and societies get sick, nature is exploited and entire species are threatened."

-Stephen Aizenstat


In industrial society our excessively nature-separated lives mold us to betray the natural psychic pulse. We learn to block from our thinking over 98 percent of the wise sensory callings and fulfillments we normally share with natural systems and their eons of experience. Our subconscious hurt and frustration from the severed disconnection of these senses underlies our greatest troubles.

-Michael J. Cohen


Benefit from learning to enhance the natural psychic pulse within and around us. Add the sensory ecoscience of Organic Psychology to your life and livelihood.





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