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EDUCATION AND COUNSELING WITH NATURE:
A GREENING OF PSYCHOTHERAPY
Michael J. Cohen
trains us to mediate our lives. It addicts us to an abstract
language-reason way of knowing and being that is foreign to every other
species and mineral. This disconnects us from nature and our sentient
inner nature (inner child). It makes it difficult for us to fully
experience and express natural cognitive therapy feelings.
and unfulfilled, our inner nature feels stress and lackluster causing
us to excessively crave natural sensations or depend upon artificial,
excessive and often irresponsible substitutes for them. When we want,
there is never enough and this creates runaway greed and unfulfillment
sensory nature-connecting activitiy process has shown to help reverse
our disconnection from nature and its adverse personal and
environmental effects. In therapist schools, the process offers safe,
natural sensory fulfillments. When used in conjunction with counseling,
education and occupational therapy, the process reconnects
participants to the
self-regulating wisdom of nature's vitality and spirit. This helps our
problems solve themselves.
Authors note: During the period that
editors reviewed the Counseling and Nature psychotherapy article in
this greening document,
microoorganism studies, published in Science News and Newsweek, gave
credence to part of the article, and these studies are briefly
mentioned in it.
understand the significance of microorganisms, consider the following:
People's relationship to Planet Earth is like our leg's relationship to
our body. We are ecologically a green product and likeness of nature,
"one breath" with all species.
each immediate moment of our lives exists the unadulterated creation
process of the natural world. It is part of our personal biology, our
natural origins and sensitivities including our mental health faculty
sensations, feelings and spirit. We are human and "Human" has its roots
in "humus," a fertile forest soil. This is not a coincidence,
biologically, we are like humus. One teaspoon of humus consists of
water, minerals and hundreds of other microorganism species: five
million bacteria, twenty million fungi, one million protozoa and two
hundred thousand algae, all living cooperatively in balance. This
coincides with our bodies containing water, minerals and ten times as
many cells of non-human microorganism species as human cells, all
living cooperatively in balance. Over half our body weight consists of
the weight of "foreign" microorganism species in balance with us and
each other. They are vital, inextricable parts of every cell in our
body. Over 115 different species live on our skin alone. All these
relationships organize, sustain and balance themselves via natural
attraction energies, some of which people can sense.
As it does
with humus, the natural world constantly flows around and through us.
Researchers find that every 5-7 years every molecule in our body is
replaced, particle by particle, by new molecules attracted in from the
environment and vice-versa. The natural environment continually becomes
us and we become it; we are to nature and creation as an embryo is to
its womb; we are one because we are each other. Keep this in mind as
you read the greening article. It helps explain the potent effects of
our connections with nature.
VOLUME 2, ISSUE 4
THE INTERPSYCH NEWSLETTER
(As updated in Chapter 4 The Web of Life
GREENING OF PSYCHOTHERAPY
Michael J. Cohen
Portland State University
study identifies the natural world as a exceptional resource for
learning how to therapeutically build responsible relationships and it
offers sensory activities that let nature teach its wise and balanced
ways. Once psychotherapy participants identify and differentiate their
"natural-sensory" and cognitive "language-reasoning" ways of knowing, a
coloring task challenges them to express in words their natural sensory
knowledge. The task induces stress which disappears when language is
introduced that validates their sensory way of knowing. This paper
observes the dynamics of this transaction and examines its stress
management and mental health implications, It offers unique nature
connecting activities and home study training programs that reduce
stress and reports their mental health and environmental effects.
outdoor educators and therapists confirm my observation of a reduction
of social and psychological problems when our clients are in natural
areas. This reduction parallels the relative absence of psychological
problems and insanity found in nature-centered tribal communities. It
suggests that the purpose of modern psychology and psychotherapy is to
heal the sensory wounds inflicted by Western Civilization's excessive
disconnection from the natural ways and wisdom of the global life
community. My findings confirm this, for by teaching my clients to use
and own nature connected activities and reasoning, their problems wane
while their wellness, spirit and ability to learn increase (Cohen,
truly be measured by Western Civilization? Do we promote true sanity if
we teach our clients and assistant therapists to support and depend
upon an irresponsible
society? This paper describes a practical answer to this question, a
working model for responsibly creating personal, social and
environmental balance. Since 1959 I have constantly lived, learned and
taught throughout the seasons in natural areas, the places Thoreau
called "A civilization other than our own". That non-language
civilization taught me how to let its "magic" therapeutically counsel
people. I discovered and use counseling activities that let Earth
itself teach its integrity, a wisdom joy and beauty devoid of
pollution, war and insanity. This was not difficult to learn once I
recognized that as natural beings we are born with this ability. All I
had to do was let Earth nurture it, and that is how I help others learn
natural world produces no garbage. On a macro level, it values
everything from proton to planet. Nothing in nature is discarded or
unwanted, a way of relating that defines unconditional love in action.
Scientifically validating and connecting with nature's "unconditional
love" and its effects allows us to enjoy and benefit from it.
as part of life, inherit the natural world's integrity as our inner
nature, a profound globally shared creation blueprint which too often
demeaningly we call "The little child within us"(Cohen, 1993b). True
education includes learning to read that blueprint, to draw it out from
within and resonate with it, validate it and support its integrity.
Instead, to our cost, society often teaches us to conquer it within and
the blueprint connects us to our common origins, that we might start
anew to co-create a truly civilized society rather than become even
more personally and socially "bewildered" (nature-separated). In this
article, I offer critical thinking tools and activities for reading the
non-language blueprint. Appropriately, the tools come from modern
knowledge, from experience with today's science, problems and
relationships (Knapp, 1988), not from other times, environments and
cultures. The tools I use let familiar contact with natural systems
teach us how to enjoyably walk in balance. Counselors, educators and
interpreters increasingly use these tools to reverse apathy, stress and
seldom sustains itself by using "techno"-logic meaning: "A thinking
logic that creates artificial stories and techniques". Instead, the
natural world uses "bio" logic. In people, Bio logic consists of being
multisensory, of heeding each moment's natural attractions that call to
our inner nature through our more than 53 , not just 5, genetically
inherited, but culturally devalued, natural senses and feelings such as
thirst, smell or nurturing. These feelings are ancient, globally
evolved memory signals, multisensory ways of knowing and being for
harmonious survival. For example, not only is water a vital flowing
foundation of life, so, equally, is our natural survival sense and
feeling of thirst. Thirst is a biological memory that re-connects land
beings to water and survival. Thirst fluctuates to self-regulate our
water flow so we neither bloat, burst or dehydrate. The feeling of
thirst makes bio-logic sense as do each of our 52 other natural senses.
And although we seldom describe it as such, most counseling is
multisensory learning, a sensing or re-sensing (remembering) one or
more natural sensations along with their degree of integration,
fulfillment or frustration.
often, our techno-logic words and stories exclude our natural sensory
wisdom. Each word, story or moment that doesn't bring to awareness our
natural sensory interconnectedness further separates us from the
support of nature's multisensory integrity (Cohen 1994). However, an
account by Rodney Romney exemplifies how multisensory experiences with
the nature's web of life
sensibly modify human behavior: In Scotland, farmers were overturning
their hay bales to exterminate rats that lived beneath them. A trio of
rats tried to flee but, unlike the other fleeing rats, these three
stayed closely together which limited their ability to escape. Upon
investigation, the farmers found that the middle rat of the three was
blind; its companions were guiding it to safety. Deeply moved, the
farmers did not kill these rats.
farmers responded to many natural senses and feelings triggered by the
incident including consciousness, sight, nurturing, place, curiosity,
hunger, motion, trust, empathy, sound, compassion, community and
reason. We sometimes call this response human morality, values, ethics,
or being humane. However, these words separate us from a truth of
nature. They hide that natural senses are nature expressing itself, for
natural senses are solely of, by and from the natural world. Note that
the rats "morally" responded to the same group of senses and rats have
done so for millions of years before humanity evolved. We observe
similar animal and plant behavior throughout the natural world.
However, our culturally ingrained, prejudicial anti-nature stories
prevent us from saying the farmers acted naturally, like rats, pigs or
researchers validate that psychologically and physiologically, a human
being's inner nature consists of a variety of distinct, different
natural sensations that we call faculties or instincts (Cohen, 1994;
Murchie, 1978; Pearce, 1980; Rivlin -Gravelle, 1984; Rovee-Collier,
1992; Samples, 1976; Stevens, 1993; Spelke, 1992; Wynne-Edwards, 1991).
They include senses like color, thirst, language, smell, taste,
consciousness, excretion, belonging, space, distance, form, temperature
and touch. Each is unique, each offers a specific message and wisdom.
Each is a natural intelligence. Note that reasoning, language and
consciousness are also natural senses that serve a survival function in
nature. In some form and intensity, each sense or sensitivity pervades
the natural world including our inner nature.
the Spring of 1993, Institute of Global Education, Department of
Integrated Ecology instructors and associates have completed an
informal study of over 4100 people, mostly aged 16-51, of differing
occupations (Cohen, 1993a). Our object was to determine if we could
observe the effects of separating people from nature by assigning
inappropriate words and labels to a person's sensory inner nature. We
did this by first asking the study participants
did you first learn to know the color Green?
responses fell into two main categories.
A. Some participants
remembered when they learned to associate the word green with their
green color sensation, thereby knowing green by its name or label. For
example: "I remember that my parents told me that the name for the
color of the grass and trees was green."
B. Some participants
recognized that they naturally registered green (greenness) as a sense
or sensation at birth or before: For example "Like many other species,
I was biologically born knowing green. It is a God thing. I could
naturally sense and distinguish the green grass from the blue sky even
though at the time, I didn't know the names of their colors."
we know green in two ways: by the biological, inborn natural color
sense (sensitivity) to green (greenness) and by the word-symbol green
which labels that sensitivity. However, consider the following findings
and considerations of the study:
Carol was an infant learning to talk, her father, an experimental
psychologist, used her as an experiment. He purposely taught her that
the name for the color green was orange and the name for orange was
green. The word and the color bonded. Today she is 34 years old and she
still gets confused when naming these colors. She still tends to call
orange green and green orange. Carol often "thinks about" and "figures
out" the correct terms for these colors rather than automatically
knowing them. Sometimes she feels stupid and stressed for having to do
so, sometimes she still mistakes one for the other.
found several participants who said they had similar experiences with
color, and with other areas too, for example left-handedness:
teacher broke my left had by hitting it with a ruler because I wrote
as a lefty, I did not learn to write left handed--I learned right
handed, if you want to call it learning. Today, the only way I can
communicate in writing without an interpreter is via typewritten
must wear a red glove on my left hand and a green one on my right while
sailing in order to tell port from starboard."
with my right hand stressed me, it resulted in me biting my
this scenario: A teacher tells her first grade class "Today we are
going to learn green" and a child says "I don't need to learn that
again, I've known green since before I was born." The teacher responds
"Can you read 'green'? Can you write 'green'? Can you spell it or tell
me how many times it appears on this chart? If you can't, you are
ignorant, illiterate, a failure, a problem for yourself and society."
The color green, a vital natural part of the child, experiences itself
as garbage. Garbage is something unknown in nature, something that is rejected and
unsupported. How can this part of the child naturally find its identity? It senses
abandonment and a child's natural self inherently knows abandonment to
be death, for nothing survives without support in nature. So much for
the child's security, self-esteem and self-confidence in this sensory
area until his or her scholastic skills are achieved.
other intact ways of being support the child through this period, but
many of them are under assault too. In all too many young people we see
violence, tranquilization and dependencies used to relieve the
discomforting hole we dig by not learning to validate nature within and
about us. Too often we call this process normal adolescence or
rebellion against authority, too often our nature-blind eyes don't even
see the hole.
we learn to feel good about ourselves as natural beings in a nature
separated society? As a control for this task, we first asked
participants if they still had their "inner child" natural ability to
quickly distinguish and identify blocks of ink colors that we painted
on a separate page.
then asked if they were literate and could apply a name to each color.
then asked each of our study participants to verbally call upon their
inner nature, their inborn, non-language, natural sense of color, to
express itself, to do its natural "inner child" thing. The vehicle we
used for this purpose is the list of color names found in figure 1, not
unlike the Stroop Test. The words naming the colors were written in
different colored inks (for example, the word "brown" was written in
violet ink). Participants were asked to quickly go down the color chart
list and say aloud the ink colors, not the color names. For example,
the first color is green, not red.
using this color chart, although practically every participant had no
difficulty labeling the control blocks of ink colors, most participants
had difficulty quickly identifying the same ink colors when they
spelled out words. The overwhelming tendency was for participants'
culturally trained sense of language to dominate and, out of habit, or
"word addiction" read the colors as words rather than as colors. We are
not born thinking and communicating with words, we learn this skill. In
addition, when doing this activity quickly, over 40% of the
participants "deluded" in that they spoke a written color name aloud
but actually believed they had said the ink color. For example, in the
fifth item in figure 1, Paul believed he read the ink color correctly
even though he said the word "brown" while seeing the color magenta. If
another person had had not been with him and caught the the error, Paul
would not have known that he made it. It's similar to you, the reader,
perhaps not noticing that the words "the" and "had" were doubled in the
previous sentence until I now alert you to this fact. The difference is
that Paul lost awareness of a vital sensory signal from his inner
nature, not simply a typographical error.
experience the effect of our 18,000 hours of training to be literate,
plus all the rewards of building relationships through stories that
exclude nature, visit http://www.njagyouth.org/colortest.swf
and test yourself there. Notice there how the
website's story excludes sensing color as our inborn nature
and it concludes, instead, that the phenomenon is a subdivided,
right-brain, left-brain effect, rather than old brain/new
brain acculturation addiction.)
concluded: "My trained habitual dependency on using words overwhelmed
my natural sensory inner child, an important, loving natural part of
myself. I had trouble expressing my natural ability to recognize green
in a non-language way." One participant offered: "I love nature yet I
have a hard time loving myself. This helps explain why." Participants
never experienced "difficulty," "tension," "conflict" or "stress" on
the last word on the color chart, the word green written in green ink.
In all cases, "Green" written in green ink felt more sensible, relaxing
and attractive than did the other color words. "It feels like a
refreshing oasis", says one participant.
we learn to feel good about ourselves as natural beings if we don't
first meet the challenge of bringing into our awareness who we are as
natural beings? This study suggests that our awareness, our
consciousness, is overwhelmingly dominated by 5-leg words and stories
that disconnect us from nature within and about us. We have to learn
how to use language and reasoning
get past our stories, to find and validate our true colors.
AND NEW-BRAIN THINKING
early in our lives, our formal and informal education excessively
conditions us to bring the sensory world into our awareness by 5-leg
labeling it with language abstractions -words, symbols and images- and
validating the reasonable cultural meanings of these abstractions.
Usually two different natural sense groups lying in two different parts
of the brain are at work when we "know" something natural like the
color green (Samples 1976):
Old-Brain: Our natural sense of color lying in the large,
anciently evolved "old-brain" enables us to experience color as a 4-leg,
unlabeled, non-verbal sensation or feeling. The old-brain registers
non-language tensions, sensations, feelings and emotions. It makes up
approximately 87% of the brain and is the home of 51 naturally
pervasive sense groups, some of which I have mentioned. Most of our old
brain sensitivities we inherit from and share with the plant and animal
kingdoms (Cohen, 1994, 1993; Murchie 1978). These natural senses are
facts as real as rocks, oceans and gravity; our desire to breathe is as
much a property of air as is the wind. In multisensory concert natural
sensitivities make the balanced "natural sense" that is nature's
beauty, peace and wisdom, the web of life. In the natural environment
natural sensitivities provide a non-language, interspecies attraction
communion. This communion permits natural systems to act sensibly as a
community, "to make common sense," "work by consensus," to organize,
preserve and regenerate themselves responsibly, intelligently and
diversely without producing garbage, war, or insanity (Cohen 1994). If
assigning these powers to nature and the old brain seems invalid,
consider this: The pervasive natural patterns that colonies of food
seeking bacteria form (in the shape of the snail vortex, common
snowflake, tree branches, and starfish chiral) result from how
individual organisms in these bacterial communities communicate with
each other and disseminate information throughout the colony. The
behavior of these earliest forms of life shows that they change their
behavior in response to changing environmental conditions, not through
random genetic mutation. They cooperatively signal, calculate, network,
regulate and control their community behavior, then their genes mutate
and respond to environmental conditions. The patterns they produce are
the same as those found in minerals, suggesting that the same process
exists on molecular levels (Lipkin, 1995).
New-brain: Our two senses of language and reason lie in our
small, more recently evolved, "new-brain" the Prefrontal Area Neocortex. These two
senses learn to know greenness as the culturally correct 5-leg
word or label (like the word "green") for
sensory experiences. The new-brain makes up about 13% of the total
brain. It creates, experiences, validates and processes culturally
trained symbolism: language, letters, words, numbers, drawings, logic,
abstractions and stories. Society teaches/rewards/addicts us to mostly think and reason
in new-brain symbols and stories, be they accurate or inaccurate,
destructive or constructive, bigoted, limited or wide-ranged.
G-O new brain consciousness presently manages the world. Are we satisfied
with the effects? Can we learn to do better?
(Orange, 13%): Consciousness Reasoning and Language ability/mentality (CRL)
that Industrial Society rewards and bonds/addicts/socializes to
destructive nature-disconnected, conquer/exploit nature stories G-O. All
other parts of the brain are non-Language, 53 sense, seamless,
green continuums of our green, non-literate, body, mind and spirit Earth/Nature G-G.
early in our lives, the ancient sense of color, lying in the old-brain,
enables us to naturally register green color as a sensation. This sense
experiences green directly as "greenness", as a non-language,
unadulterated, unedited, unmediated sensation and feeling experience.
The old brain brings to awareness how we naturally feel and is often
called our inner nature, our inner self, or this sensory global wisdom
is misnamed our inner child. When we operate from the old brain, in
western culture we often say we are being too loving, emotional,
sensitive, childlike, feelingful, intuitive, subjective, inexperienced,
flaky, illiterate, or over reactive. However, Carl Jung and many others
note, "Our feelings are not only reasonable, they are as
discriminating, logical and consistent as abstract thinking." Natural
senses and feelings are the foundations of bio-logic, of nature's
civilization which can best be unprejudicially measured by its long
term survival effects, by its ability to create an optimum of life and
diversity without producing garbage, insanity or war; without
civilization's violence, stress or pollution.
the small more recently evolved new-brain, the Prefrontal Neocortex, Western
culture often trains the senses of language and reason to apply
cultural words, labels or stories to the natural senses. We teach the
new brain that it is reasonable to know greenness as the written or
spoken word green, or verde (Spanish) or vert (French) or other words
in different languages and cultures. We applaud it for doing so. When
we operate from senses of language and reason we proudly say we are
literate, cerebral, sensible, abstract, cognitive, reasonable, logical,
educated or thoughtful.
of the study participants were unaware that a cause of their inability
to express their inner nature is that the average American spends over
95% of his or her life indoors, isolated from nature. Studies indicate
that we spend almost 18,000 critical developmental childhood hours in
classrooms alone. Collectively, we spend less than one day per person
per lifetime in tune with the non-languaged natural world. We live over
98% of our nature-estranged adult lives abstractly knowing the natural
world through detached words and stories about it rather than through
intimate, non verbal enjoyment of it. My observations outdoors tell me
that our estrangement from nature restricts our natural sensory
inheritance from growing and strengthening from natural connections
with the natural world. This disconnects us from the wisdom, spirit and
peace of nature and creation. Conversely, when I've sentiently
connected people to natural areas, their problem solving abilities and
harmonic relationships have increased dramatically (Cohen, 1994b).
America, the stressful anger, anxiety and sadness catalyzed by our
overlooked or rejected natural feelings depresses us. It fuels our
problems at every level. We are not islands. As we remain estranged
from the wisdom, spirit and unconditional love of the web of life in
ourselves, others and natural areas, our negative personal, social and
environmental indicators rise. Even outdoor education that does not
teach us how to daily validate and fulfill our inner nature's need and
right to be connected, loved and nurtured by nature, does not resolve
these problems (Cohen 1993).
reverse our troubles we must reconnect with nature. We must learn to
effectively communicate with nature in order to know its ways and
needs. To accomplish this we must either teach the natural world to
speak English or learn to understand its non-verbal language. The
latter course makes the most sense since we already know nature's
sensory callings. We inherit them, they are our old brain and its many
distinct sensory signals.
THE USE OF NATURE-RECONNECTION ACTIVITIES
color chart activity is one of 124 Well Mind, Well Earth
nature-connecting activities (34 key activities are in the companion
Web of Life Imperative and Reconnecting
With Nature) used by counselors, educators and mental health
workers to catalyze "green in green." These pioneering applied
ecopsychology experiences counteract the adverse effects of the
estrangement of our 53 natural senses from the natural world (Goldman,
1993). In classrooms, counseling programs, environmental education,
mental health facilities, nature interpretation and recovery work the
activities help teach the new-brain the reasonableness of discovering,
validating and respecting the old-brain and its sensory connections to
nature's wisdom, to part of creation's higher power (Cohen, 1993,
1994). The activities move participants. Even when participants learn
the activities from our inter cultural
internet e-mail courses or our self guiding
training manuals, we see significant improvement in their
self-esteem for they discover that nature's perfection outside
themselves flourishes within them. (Cohen, 1994b). Nature- connecting
lets the natural world itself teach us to revere nature in ourselves,
others and the environment and we naturally refrain from hurting that
which we hold sacred. This is the new frontier for counseling
psychology. With over 70% of the nation suffering from stress, with
environmental deterioration continuing and alarming over 85% of the
public, counseling with nature holds a key to our destiny (Cohen 1995).
have found that the following activity helpfully introduces the
nature-connecting process of our 109 additional activities (Cohen,
1994a). We reinforce each of them through journalizing and critically
assessing the thoughts, feelings and reactions arising from them.
The Global Wellness and
Unity Activity: In Balance With Earth
(from the book The
Web of Life Imperative, Chapter Four by Michael J. Cohen)
The Experiences of Others:
are some reactions of other activity participants have shared with each
other. You may add your reaction(s) to a Message Board for
others to read and enjoy. Many interesting responses are located in the
was hot. Soon after I asked for permission to visit with the grove of
young trees, a gentle, refreshing breeze came through them. It cooled
me, and the trees waved their leaves at me. It felt good, like the
grove smiled its consent. Thanking the grove strengthened that feeling
as does sharing the experience with you now."
was attracted to the sound of a raven on the rocks ahead. I stopped and
sought its consent for me to enjoy its presence. It began to come
closer and closer, increasing my delight and excitement. That was so
fun and unforgettable. I feel thankful to that experience and this
whole attraction to the moss on the rock increased. I felt more
intensely than when I first arrived, it felt like a hug from the
Worthwhile information: To read the fascinating
validations of people who helped develop and have done In
Balance With Earth visit visit http://www.ecopsych.com/archive.html.
Sandy validated that she could gain good feelings and reverse
depression by following her natural attractions, she made a conscious
effort to become fully involved in that process, For years she shunned
walking up the beautiful moss-covered rock faces that called to her.
She thought they were too steep, wet and slippery, that story made them
unattractive. But on this day, because she decided that her nature
deserved to have good feelings, she followed her attractions to the
beauty and other attractive callings of the rocks: their color, height,
space, form and texture. Moment by moment she sought the most
attractive, therefore safe, next step across the rocks. With surprise
and elation, she easily climbed them. She then described her fun
experience and how nice it felt. Describing it felt good, and her
companions enjoyed hearing her talk about the experience, and knowing
her joy. Sandy is learning to achieve this same result by following her
multisensory attractions to her friends' inner nature. She is
discovering that the negatives in her life are signals to discover,
follow and enjoy her natural attractions.
ecopsychology activities create thoughtful nature-connected moments. In
these enjoyable non-language instants as many as 53 inborn natural
attraction senses safely awaken, play and intensify. Additional
activities immediately validate and strengthen each sensation. This
emotionally empowering process connects, fulfills and renews our inner
nature with the natural world's beauty, wisdom and peace. We feel
rejuvenated, more colorful and thankful and these feelings give us
support. They nurture us, they satisfy our deepest natural wants. As we
satisfy these wants we remove the stress and dependencies that fuel our
disorders. The process triggers green critical thinking that values
natural sensory relationships. It regenerates natural connections and
community within ourselves, others and the land. We become more
knowledgeable, more environmentally and socially responsible. We feel
better." (Cohen, 1994a). Here's the process in action via E-mail:
an Email course member, reads her training manual to learn what
activity she and her E-mail partners, who live in many different
countries, will to do this day in their local park, backyard or even a
terrarium. As Linda begins this day's activity, spontaneously, the
delicate sparkle of a water droplet on a fern attracts and delights
her. She does additional activities designed to reinforce this nature
connected sensation and she becomes aware of other times she has felt
it. She also notes her past disconnections from it and the effects of
the loss. Linda goes on-line and shares with her 7-person interact
group, her thoughts, feelings and reactions from her nature connecting
experiences . She reacts to her group's and instructors' posted nature
experiences, and to their reactions to her reactions. It's fun. She
feels alive and spirited, supported and unified by her Email partners
and connections to Earth. Her day brighter, Linda looks forward to
further connecting with people and natural places that attract her.
They gain new value and she finds new self-worth. Because she has done
the activity and knows its effects, she owns it and the joys it can
bring her and others whenever she uses it again.
New brain language-reason disconnections from the natural world and our
sentient inner nature make it difficult for us to fully experience and
express natural feelings. Disconnected and unfulfilled, our inner
nature feels stress and lackluster causing us to excessively crave
natural sensations or depend upon artificial, excessive and often
irresponsible substitutes for them. When we want, there is never enough
and that creates runaway "greed" and unfulfillment problems. Sensory
nature-connecting activities have shown to help reverse this phenomenon
and its adverse personal and environmental effects by offering safe,
responsible, lasting natural fulfillments. When used in conjunction
with counseling and education, the activities connect participants to
the self regulating wisdom of nature's vitality and spirit (Cohen
dramatic effect of this study has been for my associates and me to
accommodate any counselor or educator who desires to learn the skills
of counseling with nature. We have made this easy to do through our
manuals, or its use in conjunction with a free, accredited,
e-mail or correspondence home study course we sponsor internationally.
In this way we implement solutions for our findings as well as fulfill
our hearts' desire for a better world. Our course of action addresses
the underlying problem this paper identifies, the problem expressed by
D. H. Lawrence: "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."
as this study suggests that stress from our nature disconnected
"bleeding roots" creates the insatiable wants that cause our personal,
social and environmental problems, the guidebook and course we offer
teach how to reverse our nature disconnection problems. Uniquely, they
let any interested person master thoughtful nature reconnecting
activities that dissolve hurt and stress by satisfying our deepest
natural loves, wants and spirit. They teach hands-on education,
counseling and mental health skills that tap the "higher power" wisdom
of nature's creation process. They let tangible contact with nature
nurture responsibility, supportive interpersonal relationships and
did the farmers in their relationship with the rats, course
participants become more enamored with the natural world and its wise
unconditional love. They also become painfully aware of how we learn to
separate from it, to abuse it and our natural selves to the cost of our
mental and environmental health. Energized by their new sensory
connections to nature in people and places, participants learn to use
bio-logic, they validate their love for nature and they act to reverse
their disconnects as well as protect and preserve the natural
environment. We find that the process of counseling with nature offers
new hope for our troubled times.
M. (1995) Are You Missing the Missing Link? Proceedings
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M. J. (1994). Well Mind, Well Earth: 97 Environmentally
Sensitive Activities for Stress Management, Spirit and Self Esteem Box
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Fall 1994, Cortland, NY: Coalition for Education in the Out of Doors.
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author dedicates this article to Sunkyo Kwon whose devoted efforts
improved its clarity and desirability.
THE AUTHOR: Michael J. Cohen, Ed.D. founded and coordinates
Project NatureConnect, a continuing education workshop and home study
program of the University of Global Education, a United Nations
non-governmental organization, where he chairs the Department of
Integrated Ecology on San Juan Island, Washington. For 33 years, he has
established and directed degree granting environmental outdoor
education programs for the Trailside Country School, Lesley College,
and the National Audubon Society. His 8 books and 56 articles include
the award winning Connecting With Nature which is included in his 1993
self-guiding training manuals
Reconnecting With Nature and Well
Mind, Well Earth: 97 Environmentally Sensitive Activities for Stress
Management, Spirit and Self-esteem. Dr. Cohen is the
recipient of the 1994
Distinguished World Citizen Award. Contact: P.O. Box 1605,
Friday Harbor WA 98250 (360) 378-6313. Email: email@example.com