of Global Education
Reconnecting With Nature Personal Healing and
Stress-management nature course for healing
depression, mood disorders and fatigue.
P. O. Box 1605, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
360-378-6313 www.ecopsych.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Reconnecting With Nature: The Organic
Psychology Elements of Global Citizenship: a friendship-building stress-management course
for healing depression, mood disorders and fatigue while strengthening
relationships with self, society and nature.
ten-week, distance learning interactive course
back on track by getting back to nature:
- Learn how to think and feel in synch with the
balancing energies of the Web of Life.
- Tap into the regenerative powers of nature's
- Let your love of nature increase your self-esteem
ten-week stress-management and mood improvement course uses nature as a
teacher, a counselor and a friend. It encourages us to slow down and
re-orient ourselves to the grace and wisdom of nature's creative and
nurturing healing process. Course members read assigned material, do
NatureConnect activities and share their experiences with others in
their group through email exchanges.
course helps us establish personal well-being, increases connectedness
with nature and with others, and enhances education, counseling and
leadership skills. Discover how to cooperatively reconnect your
reasoning and senses to their nurturing origins in nature's restorative
vigor, intelligence and peace.
good advice for practice: go into partnership with nature; she does
more than half the work and asks none of the fee."
H. Fischer (1879-1962)
yourself restore some balance and harmony back into your life through
exceptional process of this course in balanced thinking helps you
strengthen your connection to the recuperative and regenerative healing
powers of nature. They are powers that serve us individually in our
yearning for meaning and connection; they also serve our communal need
for both global and local cooperation and consensus. These are powers
that we are born knowing, but all too easily learn to forget as our
indoor lives rob us of our outdoor affinities and affirmations.
major opportunity for the intensification of consciousness lies in
nature....Once we lose touch with nature, our society loses its values,
Luten, Sierra Club Bulletin, 1964
THIS WORK DEVELOPED
Author: Barb Huning
his many years of experience as a nature-connected educator, counselor,
and passionate innovator, Michael J. Cohen, Ed.D. has developed an
organic way of using the electronic Web to regain what technology so
effectively deprives us of--our natural lives in the natural world. By
sharing online with four to six like-minded others for ten weeks of
reflection, nature experience, sharing and responding, his powerful
nature-connecting tool helps you restore your senses (all 53 of them),
including your common sense and your inherent sense of well-being.
These ten weeks include structured reading and online activity as well
as contact-with-nature "homework" outside your home.
online course is facilitated by the co-authors of The Web of
Life Imperative, and graduates of the eco-psychology training
courses that Cohen originated 20 years ago and continues to administer
through Project NatureConnect at the Institute of Global Education, a
special NGO consultant to the United Nations Economic and Social
his more than 50 years of experience--academic and otherwise--Cohen has
developed creative and effective ways to link people to themselves, to
others, and to nature through the webstrings of
natural attraction. Webstrings are actual fact--even if they are not
always visible--and they encompass far more than our well-recited five
senses. For example: thirst is a webstring, so is hunger, and so are
belonging, community and trust. They link our awareness to hidden
aspects of ourselves and to each other, even as they link us to nature.
They weave us into the fabric of life; they work continuously to create
the future--for us and all other species of plant, animal and mineral
We are born into the web. Yet much of our lives is spent breaking,
injuring, ignoring and discounting the webstrings of creativity
inherent in all of life. And as we injure the web of this world, we
injure ourselves. A psychological emptiness sets in and we begin to look further and further
astray to find meaning. Our "time" becomes meaningless if not filled
with attaining and accomplishing.
we get more and more disconnected from our natural webstring
attractions, we get more and more obsessed with unnatural,
often-destructive attractions. We become addicted to acquiring more and
bigger of everything--which results in a damaged environment, an
exploited humanity and a greater and greater sense of meaninglessness.
As Cohen writes in "The Web of Life Imperative:"
"We want, emotionally and materially, and when we want, there is never
enough. We become greedy, stressed and reckless as we try to gain
substitutes for webstring fulfillment. This places Earth, others and
ourselves at risk."
Cohen does not simplify his approach with a "back
to nature" flourish. He advocates that we grow up and move
forward--with Nature as a teacher and a co-creating partner. He sees in
nature's regenerative and waste-less grace a model of health and
healing for humanity. A model that satisfies our spiritual yearnings as
well as our earthly needs--without exploiting either people or planet.
"One way to be rich is to
not want anything."
--Kenneth E. Boulding
THINKING WITH ALL NINE LEGS
Our ancient, instinctive brain, with its synapses
all set for survival, has insured our development as a species for
millions of years. It linked us inextricably to
nature--for our food, the means of shelter and transportation as well
as to the resources for communication, celebration and meaning-making.
Nothing whatsoever happened without nature's involvement. The more
recently evolved part of our brain, on the other hand, has been
stringently trained to be the creator of everything that's
artificial--from computers to cars to all the other conveniences and
luxuries of these times. It relies only upon itself; and is actually
rewarded not to rely upon nature.
This presents us with a huge and challenging rift
in our consciousness. Our ancient connectedness to nature is undermined
by the conditioning of our new brain and its sophisticated, insular,
indoor prowess. Even as we go outside to nature for much-needed
recreation and restoration, the new brain remains active and often
keeps us separated from nature's fullness. We rarely bring our old
brain with us back indoors to help us with our life challenges and
experiences. We literally check nature at the door, in effect, closing
ourselves off to that which has served us with the deepest of
meaning--our instinctual sense of belonging. We spend more than ninety-nine
percent of our lives defined by indoor, disconnected thinking. And our
healing processes, too, are closed off from the inspiring, invigorating
and inexhaustible grace of nature. Our new brain is useful--it knows
new things. But it is our old brain that feels and recognizes the
webstrings that attach us to deep belonging and interdependence with
all of life. A balance between the two is nature's path.
Mike Cohen illustrates this with a simple,
not-so-simple story. We are asked to answer the following mathematical
apptitude question: If a tail of a normal dog is counted as one of its
legs, how many legs does a dog have? Our excellently trained new brain
mathematically responds quickly and accurately, "Five, of course."
However, our old brain, well versed in it's old wisdom has to struggle
to be heard: "Ridiculous, a dog only has four legs no matter what."
Both answers are right. Yet because of the conditioned dominance of the
new brain in defining our worldly experiences, the old brain's
perceptions--of that which is organically true--get lost within the
hypothetical and abstract. Useful, perhaps, in developing
mathematicians and internet technology, but not so useful in creating
fundamental, grounded well-being and ontological trust in the nature of
"Nature is an ever-present
power of recuperation."
--Richard E. Dodge in a
1915 Journal of Geography.
Progress has brought us vast knowledge and
ever-increasing anxiety. Depression, suicide rates among our young
people, drug use (licit and otherwise), alcoholism, anxiety disorders
distress are at an all-time high. There is an epidemic of
consumer-based behavior that emphasizes self-worth based on material
worth. Yet satisfying the craving for consumption with more consumption
brings greater and greater dis-ease. Only by re-connecting to our old
brain's recognition of the inherent nature-based webstrings of
belonging do we find the ever-renewing deep sense of security that
leads to a deep sense of peace. It's instinctive. Yet because of our
excessive indoor lives, indoor values, indoor thinking and indoor
sensibilities, we fall prey to the limited perceptions of the
indoor-mind. Only by restoring our relationship to our old nature-based
instincts and interdependence can we bring a natural nurturing balance
to our experience.
"There is an endless
strength when we lie back upon nature and hush our hearts."
--Alan Devoe, Audubon, 1946
Yes, when a dog's tail is counted as a leg, a dog
has five legs. Yes, a dog only has four legs. When we use nine-legged
thinking and combine both sources of knowledge we cherish both
realities in healthy balance. This is what Project NatureConnect's
Personal Balance Course is all about. It helps restore fundamental
well-being and brings natural solutions to the unnatural difficulties
we face in our lives. It respects, nurtures and celebrates the wisdom
of old thinking and the innovation of new thinking. It partners
progress--individual and societal--with the inherent meaningfulness and
the restorative powers found in our organic and biological history.
WAY IT WORKS
personal course in self-healing and self-awareness is designed to help
regain the vital web-link to the richness of inner nature as well as to
the beauty of our interdependence on outer nature. It is a course in
which nature's beauty, fairness and wisdom do the teaching. There are
no wrong answers and no "constructive criticism." It is a course that
reflects the way nature works--through nurturing interdependence,
awareness, and appreciation of one another as part of nature. It
reinforces our natural creativity, our uniqueness, our connectedness,
and our deepest capabilities to heal the stress right out of our lives.
It gives us the tools to become our own best therapist. And if we are
in the healing professions, it has a dramatic and strengthening impact
on the counseling process.
never did betray
The heart that loved her."
week is structured with nature-connect activities, reflective time,
personal writing, shared writing and responsive writing. This is not a course about "good
writing;" it's about honest exchanges based on the attractions that
each person feels as they do the exercises and exchange nature
experiences with one another. Each week has a theme and participants
agree on the schedule that best supports each group.
two books used, Reconnecting With Nature and
The Web of Life Imperative, complement each other and serve
two different purposes. Reconnecting With Nature is
a reflection of our natural attractions; it's narrative style informs
us as it inspires us. The Web of Life Imperative is
a workbook; it presents a scientific model for us, first of all, to
think about-and second of all, to apply to our thinking/sensing
relationships in our lives. Weekly on-line instructions and
supplementary material give in-depth direction to group members. It is
a process that reinforces healthy, sustaining and creative relationship
with self and other and is based on many years of successful and
effective use in Project NatureConnect's academic course material. (Click here to read testimony
from NatureConnect participants.)
"Nature resolves everything into its component elements, but
(c.100-c. 55 B.C.)
Once the group of 4-6 people has been established,
it takes on a nature name and each person receives the names &
email addresses of the members. Four roles are assigned to participants
to insure an effective and supportive group process: Group
Consciousness Supporter, Participation Supporter, Agenda Supporter and
Coordination Supporter. These roles can be assigned to individuals or
shared. There are also two course co-facilitators from Project
NatureConnect who observe the unfolding process and occasionally
comment and participate-but peripherally.
is essential and participants are asked to keep the process private
within the group and not to share email addresses.
course self-organizes itself the way nature does-through natural
webstring attractions. Everything, therefore, depends upon all group
members having their needs met as the group develops and explores its
course takes ten weeks and each week focuses on a particular area.
There's emphasis on sleep and dreams as well as on writing and
activities. There is a suggested schedule for each week and this can be
adjusted accordingly to satisfy individual needs. There is, however, a
carefully thought out and time-proven protocol for interacting within
exchange of emails is a foundation of the course. They convey the
spirit and sustenance that each member experiences through nature. This
safe sharing bonds the group, creates trust, and becomes a reflection
of the interdependence we have with one another and with all of nature.
It reinforces nature-connected thinking and the webstrings of
relationship that optimize learning and belonging.
(The logic and logistics of the online process is carefully detailed in
Appendix C, The Online Course Instruction in the Web of Life
course made a difference in the quality of my life, a huge difference.
I am enjoying inexplicable peace which bubbles over to others (without
much explanation!) Every day is a new dawn for me to see nature, to
Attach, Connect and Express or just be an example to others. This
course is needed for all humans to get globally reconnected. It
empowers a person to assist in their own mental and physical healing
capabilities." -Teresa V.
"I know that I will never be able to deny my need
to reconnect with nature again. I can feel that the shift in my
perception -from nature as someplace I would like to be if I could find
the time - to nature as a critical part of who I am- has changed the
course the rest of my life will take." -Larry D.
and Outcomes of the course to
better understand its benefits.
greatest beauty is organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things,
the divine beauty of the universe."
includes four books needed to complete Certification, supplementary
email material and all aspects of the guided ten-week Project
NatureConnect Personal Balance Course. If you decide to continue on
with academic, professional or personal training in this work, you can
apply all of the course fee to study in the Certification or Degree
programs. Three CEU credit/clock-hours are available
Provides a Loving Answer to Hopes, Prayers and Dreams.
lack of peace, sustainable economics, trust, social justice and
personal and environmental wellness alarmed me. I sought and finally
found a tool that transformed my depressing stress and anxiety into
responsible stability. I thought I was stressed because the more I
became aware of the destructive things happening to Earth and to people
and places I loved, including myself, the greater became my lack of
hope and feeling either mad, sad or depression. This divorced me from
both my spirit and partner. I felt anger with God and beauty, a fear
and disrespect of God for letting so much war, suffering and
environmental deterioration occur that I was powerless to change. In
time, I became aware that I was in denial. I denied that I, like many
others, had an addiction to immediate rewards from my dysfunctions. The
robbed me of the resilience to tolerate what I could not change. In
fear, I came upon the description, on this page, of an amazing book and
course. In depression, I only paid attention to it because it received
super positive reviews from many conferences, spiritualities and
publications that I respected, especially Psychology Today, Humanistic
Psychology and the Journal of Environmental Education. In retrospect,
it was a love answer from nature's grace and beauty to my hopes,
prayers and dreams.
Editor, Does this make sense to you? Isn't it something your readers
can benefit from?
Growth and Self-Improvement
Organic Psychology Revolution: A Sensory Education and Counseling Tool
Strengthens Holistic Health, Sanity and Sustainability
society has taught us to be experts in conquering nature, including the
balanced ways of our natural self and its love of nature. The result:
because we don't protect what we don't love, nature, our collective
sustainability and our personal wellness suffer. To stop this insanity
Organic Psychology makes readily available the means to genuinely
connect our thinking and feeling to Mother Nature's recuperative
powers, perfection and love of us as her children. Using the Internet
as a learning tool, we tap our psyche into nature's beautiful sane and
balanced web of life that produces an optimum of diversity and benefits
without producing garbage, a web some people call God
we are part of nature, we are normally educated to spend, on average,
over 95 percent of our time and 99 percent of our lives thinking and
feeling while separated from nature's grace, beauty, and restorative
powers. Our mentality's profound loss of nature divorces us into apathy
through denial. We deny that we are rewarded for fearing and
exploiting, rather than embracing, the supportive ways of our planetary
mother and her kingdoms. We deny that we are psychologically addicted
to nature-disconnected thinking that creates our personal, social and
easily learned, nature-connected Organic Psychology methods and
materials, the Internet makes it possible for any individual, or 600
million people, to think in ways that invigorate resiliency and spirit
and that reduce our addictive trespasses, denial and apathy. By
genuinely reconnecting our thinking to natural systems we rejuvenate
and trust more than forty-five natural senses that have been numbed out
of our consciousness by our extreme disconnection from nature. The
renewal of these senses increases our sensitivity, sensibility and love
energies. This ecopsychology helps unbalanced parts of our minds and
hearts benefit from nature's ability to rejuvenate and balance itself,
including us, for we are part of nature. We reduce our stress,
depression and abusiveness. We transform our apathy into constructive
participation. Backyard to back country,-we strengthen our life, our
organizations and global society.
The Great Challenge
body, mind, spirit and ability to love come into the world through
nature. They are part of nature's beautiful perfection, wisdom and
restorative powers. However, the extreme disconnection of our thinking
from nature injures these attributes. Like tearing a leg from a live
rabbit, we wound and damage our ability to think clearly. Its
dysfunction deteriorates our wellness, our destiny and the environment.
bonding and denial present us with great challenges. To replace our
lost gratifications from nature, our socialization rewards our
disturbed psyche to attach or addict to contemporary ways along with
their destructive side effects. Our greatest challenge is that we learn
to deny that the means is available to reconnect our thinking with
nature's regenerative powers and thereby co-create ourselves and the
world in a peaceful balance that eliminates these side effects."
Michael J. Cohen
Mood Disorders: Are
You Suffering from Denial of Your Separation from Nature?
Contemporary society and its citizens are in denial. We are aware that
we are part of nature and that although we are disconnected from
nature, we deny that this separation bears ill effects upon our
physical or mental health. We are also in denial if we know our
separation from nature is producing destructive personal, social and
environmental disorders but we don't use readily available
nature-reconnecting tools to help us treat these disorders.
||Excessive separation from nature produces the
discomforts of fatigue, apathy, stress, anxiety, depression,
hopelessness, anger, mood swings, mistrust, loneliness, broken
relationships, destructive dependencies and sleep, eating, learning and
Because we are members of a nature-disconnected society in denial, we
are psychologically bonded to our society's ways and we each suffer
from and perpetuate the dysfunctions, insanity and discontents of our
Many people display mood disorder symptoms or other discontents that
are not normally found in nature-connected people. These individuals
are usually in denial that they suffer because they are, or have been,
excessively separated from nature and its regenerative healing and
restorative powers. The symptoms these individuals endure include the
discomforts of fatigue, apathy, stress, anxiety, depression,
hopelessness, anger, mood swings, mistrust, loneliness, broken
relationships, destructive dependencies and sleep, eating, learning and
Contemporary society consciously and subconsciously socializes us to
believe that nature is an enemy to overcome, conquer or develop.
||- We are in denial that we mistakenly consider it
progress and economically sound to subdue natural systems within and
around us and thereby lose the resilience and immunity provided by the
recuperative powers of these systems.
- We deny that if disconnection from nature produces discontents, that
authentic reconnecting with nature enables nature's renewing powers to
help us transform our discontents into happier, more reasonable, ways
of being and relating.
- We deny that nature-reconnecting tools are readily available to us
and that we that can use them to help ourselves reverse our disorders.
5. An individual that only addresses their personal dysfunctions
without addressing the nature-disconnected roots of these dysfunctions
too often furthers their and our problems as time passes.
The Nature Of It All.
How Do We Belong and Heal?
(the last hunter-gather Native American) was sure he knew the cause of
our discontent. It stemmed from an excessive amount of indoor time. 'It
is not a man's nature to be too much indoors.'"
- Theodora Kroeber
is quite clear to me after several years in the environmental movement
that all physical problems of man's impact on the environment -
pollution of the air and waters, the desecration of the land, the
contamination of the food chain - all start within the environment of
- Maurice Strong,
Founder or the United Nations Environment
Co--chair of the Commission on Global Governance,
we live in a nature-separated society, we seldom learn that it is the
personal and collective relationship of our mind with nature that
determines our sanity, our future and the future of the earth. Much has
been written about how we need to help the planet regenerate itself.
Too often we overlook that restoring it is the lasting means to improve
the environment of our mind, our wellness and our destiny.
conscious are we about the interactions of our mentality with the
natural world? How do we passionately incorporate nature's intrinsic
health and recuperative powers into our sense of self, other and
livelihood? Do we acknowledge this deep and penetrating partnership in
a renewable path to sustainability that serves people, the environment
are compelling questions for us as our society is in denial of our
mentality's relationship with nature and we face a most precarious
Lose What We Most Love
As nature's resources are diminished so is the quality of our lives as
part of nature. As the quality of our lives diminish, we become
desensitized and fearful. We further lose touch with our natural
ability to connect to the web of life within which we are so
intricately bound. It becomes a cycle of loss. The nurturing link
between our human lives and our earthly home gets broken. We are driven
to seek more and more satisfaction in the material world, which means
we consume more and more of the resources we need to sustain natural
world and our inborn love of it. We get further and further away from
our innate sense of meaning and being. We lose what we most love-about
ourselves, the world to which we belong and our sense of the sacred in
In these difficult times, we are virtually on the edge of losing our
ability to save both ourselves-and our earthly home. Yet the saving
grace is simple: We will save what we love. And when we learn how to
stop long enough to genuinely reconnect to the nurturing sustenance of
nature, we emotionally reconnect to what is most deeply satisfying in
our human experience-belonging. We re-learn to love the very essence of
who we are as living breathing perfect beings on a living breathing
perfect planet. It is a generative partnership that happens when we
reawaken and enliven all our senses with the awareness of nature's
grace, intelligence and sustenance. We find and feel that we, too, are
part of the very grace and intelligence we celebrate in nature. We
belong. Because this reconnecting process is often foreign to
contemporary life, an enabling tool has been devised to help us engage
in the process.
Our Sensory Connections To Nature's Renewing Powers.
Project NatureConnect, a pioneering process in environmental psychology
and education, has developed an ecopsychology program that is first of
all committed to helping us-as individuals-restore our connection to
our place in nature's transcending grace. Then, through its sensory
nature-connecting, ecotherapy activities, we learn how to genuinely
unite our thinking to the web of life that is always around us, always
nurturing us, always waiting to help us wake up. We help ourselves bond
to living in awareness and equilibrium with nature, in hope and in
love. Living in that organic awareness we create a lasting future for
our loved ones and for our extended human and ecological family.
Organic Science of Nature's Regenerative Ways.
Backyard or back country, the idea and goal of Project NatureConnect is
special because it is doable by choice. It offers a web of
possibilities-for everything from personal growth, stress management
and depression recovery to professional gain. It is based on the
NatureConnect work developed by Michael J. Cohen over a span of 50
years of studying, teaching, writing about and experiencing the
regenerative power of our natural experience in the natural world. His
work is a science and an art, the result of decades of practice working
with communities of people in natural areas, all culminating in a
process that helps us recover what it is we have forgotten, what it is
we love, what it is we can save. (www.ecopsych.com)
It is time for us to come out from behind the addictive socializing and
economic forces that keep the environment of our mind disconnected from
the Earth and each other. It is time to re-learn how to let the wisdom
and renewing energies of nature transform our destructive patterns into
balanced and loving relationships that can help restore both personal
worth and global harmony.
||"The indescribable innocence and beneficence of
Nature-of sun and wind and rain, of summer and winter-such health, such
cheer, they afford forever!"
-Henry David Thoreau, Walden
- by Janet Thomas