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West Coast University




  West Coast University is a distance learning program Internationally Accredited by the International Council for Open & Distance Education (ICDE) an agency recognized by UNESCO & UNO.

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Got Nature?

How to Address the Underlying Source of Your Personal and Global Discontents.

-Michael J. Cohen

When I was a child living in New York City, as I returned home from school one day, some bullies in the schoolyard roughed me up saying, "Kike!* You jewboy, you killed Christ." In tears, as I continued home I was drawn to an alternative path through a wooded park by the railroad. Things were peaceful in that little grove and by the time I emerged from it, I felt much better.

Next day, when I asked my teacher why the park made me feel better, she said it was, "Because it took you away from your problems." But, significantly, like most other people I have ever known, my teacher never told me just what it was that little natural area took me to. This is because most of us don't know what "to" is. In our nature-separated society that important piece of information has been omitted from our awareness, socialization and education. This is a huge, critical omission.

What we seldom learn about parks and other natural areas is that visiting them is more than just an escape from reality. Our nature-separated society leaves us unaware that natural areas also revive us because, to sustain its perfection, nature continually balances and restores itself. We are part of nature. In an attractive natural setting we connect with nurturance from our sensory origins in the regenerative, non-polluting way nature works. Often this happens subconsciously but the important thing is that it happens and we benefit.

Elements of nature make us feel good and revive us in attractive natural areas because nature's air, water, soil, sunlight, species, community, beauty, grace and renewing powers are nurturing essences of our physical, emotional and spiritual self. We learn to take for granted that in nature, the vibrancy of natural systems brings into our mind and heart their recuperative ways and intelligence within and around us. This helps us enjoy and think with the means nature uses to produce its optimums of life, diversity, cooperation and purification. Nature produces these optimums without producing garbage or our insanity because in unadulterated nature everything belongs. Nothing is left out. No 'kikes' there; things are neither labeled nor abandoned.

Transformation, not rejection is how nature works. That's a way to describe unconditional love; that's how and why nature supports us when we visit attractive natural areas. It makes us think and feel better because our psyche and spirit are more natural and whole there and they have the natural support to transform into healthier relationships.

It is urgent that we recognize our great personal and global problems result from our thinking not consciously recognizing that supportive respect for nature is a restorative and active part of life. To improve the quality of our lives we must learn how to genuinely reconnect our mind with nature so that, like organic composting, we can let nature transform and recycle our mental garbage into greater well being for the whole of life. That's the rest of the story about visiting a natural area, the organic part of it. To our loss, very few of us know it.

We omit nature from our thinking because our society not only prides itself on its conquest of nature but our socialization/education teaches us the false prejudice, "For survival we must dominate and subdue nature." We learn to exploit rather than cooperate with and embrace nature's ways around and within us. That prejudice explains why openly enjoying or revering natural systems, including our natural senses often earns us the name of "escapist, flaky, tree hugging, hippy environmentalist."

"From the masses to the 'masses,'
The most Revolutionary consciousness is to be found,
Among the most ruthlessly exploited classes:
Animals, trees, water, air, grasses."
- Gary Snyder


As I worked my way through elementary school I watched that little woodland park by the railroad disappear. Progress "improved" it by converting it into a shopping center and apartment house. What I didn't see was that my natural way of thinking and feeling was part of nature and that it was being similarly converted during this period. I unknowingly learned to overlook that I was being programmed to a way of thinking that destroyed natural systems because conquering nature is 'normal' and applauded in our civilization. It's the "in" thing to do to improve ourselves and the world. And, it's excessively rewarded to help us overcome our sadness over our loss of nature.

Our society teaches us to spend, on average, over 99 percent of our thinking and 95 percent of our time indoors, separated from authentic nature's balanced ways and guiding signals. This results in us losing consciousness of ourselves and the natural world as intercommunicating, seamless natural systems. The separation stressfully rips our thinking from nature's recuperative and aesthetic benefits while we are at home, work and school. We learn, instead, to destructively relate to nature as a "resource." Many financial and social rewards goad and psychologically addict us to keep doing this. We feel we can't stop, even when we know we should, even when we want to because we know it's stupid not to.

Although the disconnection of our mind from nature's balanced ways underlies our disorders and discontents, we are conditioned to crave, rather than correct, this separation. As we purchase things that help us overcome the discomfort produced by our disconnection, we fuel our economy and we depend upon the shallow happiness of status and false security. A vast majority of us do not recognize that our nature-disconnection is a major source of our dilemmas. Short circuited, we remain disconnected, we think those who do connect are eccentric, and the world increasingly goes around in crazy untrustable circles.

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. "
- Benjamin Franklin

Accompanied by others at Project NatureConnect, and the program I founded at the National Audubon Society Expedition Institute, since 1952, I have focused a major part of my life researching and developing an organic sensory science, a Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) that enables us to genuinely reconnect our mind with how nature works in natural areas as well as in people. Readily available, NSTP helps us tap our thinking into authentic nature and thereby tenfold strengthen nature's balance and healing powers in ourselves, others and the environment. It enables us to let nature's recovery energies help us deal with our addictive dysfunctions and our emotional bonds to detrimental ways of thinking and acting.

Today, funds developed by NSTP economics make it possible for anybody who appreciates nature to learn and teach NSTP and enjoy its organic benefits to themselves, to others and the to environment. And today, the value of teaching this science is increasingly recognized and supported through many universities, most recently West Coast University in the Republic of Panama, accredited by ICDE, the global accrediting agency recognized by UNESCO & UNO.

Maybe there is hope. After all, anyone who has enjoyed a good experience with nature -backcountry, backyard or with their pet, or with the wind, sea or stars- knows nature's potential for increasing our peace of mind and our reverence for all of life. All we need to do is trust our good experiences in nature and learn to use NSTP to help us incorporate them in our daily life.

Isn't now the time to produce and enjoy the organic rewards of greater personal, professional and environmental sanity rather than continue to suffer our dysfunctions and discontents?

- Michael J. Cohen, Ed.D.
Faculty, West Coast University



*Leo Rosten says, "The word kike was born on Ellis Island, when Jewish immigrants who were illiterate (or could not use Roman-English letters), when asked to sign the entry-forms with the customary 'X,' refused -- and instead made a circle. For the Jewish immigrants, an 'X' was an evil sign, representing both the horrors of crucifixion and the sign of their (Christian) oppressors. The Yiddish word for 'circle' is kikel (pronounced KY - kel), and for 'little circle,' kikeleh. Before long the immigration inspectors were calling anyone who signed with an 'O' instead of an 'X' a kikel or kikeleh or kikee or, finally and succinctly, kike."







KEY: Online Information Guide for Application and Admission


New Grants, Loans and Scholarships Support Environmentalists and Nature Lovers

Nature-Connected Counseling, Education and Self-Help Programs Improve Personal and Environmental Sanity

Balanced Learning that Embraces Natural Systems Offers Internationally Accredited Online Training, Courses and Degrees.


For immediate release. February28, 2005
Contact M. J. Cohen
360-378-6313, nature@interisland.net, http://www.ecopsych.com/


FROM: Susan Chernak McElroy,
NY Times best selling author of Animals as
Teachers and Healers

Feb 28, 2005

Dear Editor or Administrator,

Please read and distribute this important announcement about funding and education from Project NatureConnect that is available this year to help produce ecologically sound well-being.

You may co-sponsor this grant program as a fund raising function for yourself, or link to this release at http://www.ecopsych.com/insightrelease.html

If you cannot use the release, would you kindly post this short announcement? Thank you:

Grants, Loans and Scholarships for Nature-Connected, Counseling, Education and Self-Help: Increase personal and professional well being through an organic psychology that helps us genuinely tap into the balance, grace and restorative powers of nature.  See http://www.organicpsychology.com

For Peace,

Susan Chernak McElroy



New Grants, Loans and Scholarships Support Environmentalists and Nature Lovers

Nature-Connected Counseling, Education and Self-Help Programs Improve Personal and Environmental Sanity

Balanced Learning that Embraces Natural Systems Offers Internationally Accredited Online Training, Courses and Degrees.


Friday Harbor, WA 3/1/05

In a timely and passionate article entitled How You Can Come to Your Senses: What They Don't Teach You at Harvard or Yale (1), Ecological Psychologist Michael J. Cohen, Ed.D, (2), describes a new grant, loan and scholarship program now available for restoring personal and global balance. The program funds the application of a proven personal and environmentally rewarding nature-connecting tool called the Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP).

NSTP is an easily learned, on-line organic psychology (6) that is guaranteed to help us overcome troubles and dysfunctions by revitalizing more than fifty natural senses that our indoor lives ordinarily subdue (3). It teaches us how to save our sanity and health and reduce budgets by genuinely tapping our senses and thinking into the balance, grace and regenerative powers of authentic nature.

NSTP takes us on extraordinary treks through the nature of our mind and of Earth, offering astonishing revelations about how to overcome the estrangement of our mentality from nature's balancing recuperative influence. The cutting edge nature-connecting tool Cohen describes enables us to think and relate like nature's peace, cooperation and renewal energies work (4). The tool and financial aid program (5) help us increase our security by binding our mind with the way nature provides love, joy and well being for people and ecosystems.

Recipient of the 1994 Distinguished World Citizen Award, Ecological Psychologist Michael J. Cohen, Ed.D. is a Director of the Institute of Global Education where he coordinates its Integrated Ecology Department and Project NatureConnect. He also serves on the faculty of West Coast University, Portland State University and Akamai University.

For more information on how to acquire grant funds, visit http://www.ecopsych.com/2005grantapplic.html or contact Michael Cohen, nature@interisland.net 360-378-6313

* * *

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Additional Information:

NSTP solves the underlying mystery of our tragic relationship disorders. Cohen explains, "If we slice off part of a ball, we make the ball and the slice dysfunctional. Neither will roll with the same perfection as when the ball was whole. In this regard, we are born as part of nature and its globe, Planet Earth, but, on average, 95 percent of our time and 99 percent of our thinking is separated from genuine contact with the balanced life-enhancing ways of Nature and Earth."

Cohen says, "Because we strip our mentality and psyche from the rewards and beauty of nature's grace, perfection and renewing powers, we want, and when we want there is never enough. Our wants entice or bully us into relationships that are unreasonable and result in destructive activities, greed and disorders. We learn to conquer rather than embrace nature and lose the wholeness that supports personal and environmental well being. This loss reduces our self-worth."

"As caring people," Cohen notes, "We deserve the use of a powerful recuperation tool that is readily available, a tool that helps us overcome disorders by reconnecting our thinking with nature's extraordinary attributes. NSTP enables us to satisfy our natural desire to live in the safety and comfort of simpler peaceful relationships, preserve nature's living systems and return to a happier, less stressful and consumptive ways of life. It gives us a potent antidote for the detrimental ways our separation from nature has goaded us to think and relate."

Cohen, a maverick genius who has created many effective, nature-centered books and programs (2), believes our extreme separation from nature has brainwashed us to think we can survive independent of nature's ways. He says, "Even when we visit a natural area, our thinking and psyche are not in tune with nature. While we are in nature, our mind often isn't. Addictively, it thinks about experiences, problems and stories from other times and places. This addiction separates us from vital information and energies that we would otherwise register through our more than forty-five natural senses and inherent loves (3) while they are connected to their nurturing origins in the natural world. As the state of the world demonstrates, without knowing it our mind is taught a disconnected way of thinking that fights an undeclared war against natural systems around and within us."

Cohen finds that any person who has had a good experience in nature, backyard, park or backcountry, enjoys activating their suppressed natural senses and appreciates the resulting tenfold increase in benefits from their nature experiences (4). With reference to "God's Love," and quoting D. H. Lawrence, Cohen argues that it is essential to fund the use of NSTP because truly nature-connected people seldom display the dysfunctions we suffer:

"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."        

- D. H. Lawrence


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1. Article:

2. Cohen:

3. Senses:

4. Outcomes:

5. Grants: http://www.ecopsych.com/2005grantapplication.html

6. Organic Learning:


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Michael J. Cohen
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About the Author

Recipient of the 1994 Distinguished World Citizen Award, Ecological Psychologist Michael J. Cohen, Ed.D. is a Director of the Institute of Global Education where he coordinates its Integrated Ecology Department and Project NatureConnect. He also serves on the faculty of Portland State University and Akamai University. Dr. Cohen has founded sensory environmental education programs independently and for the National Audubon Society and Lesley University (AEI), conceived the National Audubon Conference "Is the Earth a Living Organism," and is the award winning author of the Web of Life Imperative, Reconnecting With Nature and Einstein's World. He is an accomplished folk song artist and contra dancer who presents traditional music and ecology programs for the U.S. National Park Service and Elderhostel on San Juan Island, Washington.


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Readily available, online, natural science tools
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The Natural Systems Thinking Process

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