Educating, Counseling and Healing With Nature, subsidized courses, degrees and career training online,
Journal of Organic Psychology and Natural Attraction Ecology (OP/NAE)
Project NatureConnect Akamai University Institute of Applied Ecopsychology
VOLUME 1, NUMBER 2011-2012 Dr. Michael J. Cohen, Editor
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The Joy of Balance: How to Ground Our Life in Earth's Self-Correcting Ways and Save Both- Michael J. Cohen
The great secret that we desperately need to know:A UNIQUE SENSORY TOOL HELPS US REMEDY THE
PROBLEMS THAT WE CAN'T FIX BY SOLVING A
CORE DISORDER THAT WE LEARN TO IGNORE.
QUESTION: Do you know what the core problem is?
Abstract:Our greatest dilemma is that contemporary problem solving methods and materials are usually ineffective and they often cause additional problems. The migration of humanity from the dignity of the Garden of Eden bonded us to artificial agriculture, fire and medicine. This produced addictive prestige and financial rewards along with a hidden prejudice against nature. The remedy for this critically destructive addiction is the science of educating counseling and healing with nature.
Today, life as we know it is at risk due to a neglected, but curable, mental disorder that was tentatively identified in 1982. The disorder is seldom detected because we ignore that humanity biologically, culturally and spiritually evolved in the tropics, the so-called "Garden of Eden," and, in time, left it.
As our earliest ancestors migrated for food or habitat, they encountered non-tropical conditions. The dignity or integrity of their tropic-based body, mind and psyche had to adjust to newfound environmental circumstances. The latter presented crucial challenges for survival. To meet them, ancient humanity invented techniques that helped them create artificial, tropic-like benefits.
- The art and science of fire-building provided heat when it was cold;
- New tools and agriculture provided food when its availability waned;
- Stable, indoor shelters replaced adverse weather conditions;
- Substitute medicines replaced unavailable seasonal remedies from the environment.In making these adaptations, humanity unwittingly became psychologically dependent on its inventive stories and artifacts and Industrial Society remains so today.
Our ancestor's mental substitutes for nature's fluctuations became far more important and rewarding than were our inherent natural attachments to the way nature worked. Up to that point, over the eons, nature had sustained in balance and purity, Earth's cooperative plant, animal and mineral communities, the web-of-life.
Our ancestor's unique stories about how to survive nature's inconvenient fluctuations powerfully rewarded our senses, thoughts and feelings with nature-disconnected, artificial, satisfactions and benefits. This made our thinking control and exploit nature, in and around us, including our psyche. The short sighted benefits this mental disorder produced included unwarranted prestige and, in time, excessive power and monetary profits.
Through our nature-disconnecting stories, we obtained valuable psychological gifts for separating from, and thinking differently than, the way nature worked. Our sensory mind lost conscious sensory contact with nature's self-correcting balance, recycling and purifying wisdom.
Prejudicially, our mentality became attached to its "tropicmaking" techniques and it continues to do so. Today, our story way of thinking holds a major addiction to prejudice against nature (PAN). PAN is a mental disorder that applauds our dependence on technologies and the artificial. However, we can't control them. They destructively juggernaut far beyond what is needed for survival in balance.
Prejudice is an unreasonable pre-judging attitude that is, due to bonding, unusually resistant to rational influence. PAN generates powerful wants and needs in us for artificial fulfillments. Along with them come adverse side effects for there are few, if any, flawless substitutes for nature's balanced ways.
Due to our addictive PAN, we are seldom able to change when it makes sense to do so. Our senses have become emotionally attached to our destructive human superiority tales.
We have learned to welcome adulterated rewards from short sighted, excessive technologies and other impure solutions that we invent.
Tragically, the wise, organic, sensory satisfactions that we need today lie ignored in natural areas, backyard and backcountry.
We are at risk because PAN makes us seek unstoppable shopping, profiteering from, and control over, nature. This makes our psyche lose the value of nature's beneficial powers in people and places. It explains why, no matter how rich or poor we may be, we feel we need about 15 percent more money. We need money to satisfy us, to replace our profound loss of nature's essence, its corrective, fulfilling senses and their restorative energies.
The destructive results of our conquer-nature desires are the challenging personal, social and environmental disorders that we suffer. They further unbalance our senses and sensibilities.
Most information and education are unable to change our PAN addiction. They seldom recognize, no less can correct, our misguided bonding to PAN.
Our great dilemma is that contemporary, problem-solving methods and materials neither address nor rectify our nature-disconnected PAN and its discontents. This is why our solutions are usually ineffective or short-term. This is why they usually cause additional problems.
There is hope. The organic medicine and preventative for most of our disorders is the Natural Attraction Ecology science of Educating, Counseling and Healing with Nature (ECHN).
ECHN provides us with a potent, sensory, social technology process. It helps us remedy our nature-disconnected thoughts and feelings by enabling us to genuinely reconnect our psyche to its origins in nature's balanced essence.
ECHN works because it lets nature give our psyche the means to compost our destructive PAN bonds and recycle them into constructive relationships.
ECHN starts with an online Orientation Course that offers nature-reconnecting methods and materials anyone can immediately apply to their life and livelihood. Additional course work enables us to master the ECHN process under professional guidance, so that we can teach it, or use it to enhance our career or hobby.
As part of the ECHN process one may attain Certification, or a subsidized Master's or Ph.D. degree in Applied Ecopsychology.
ECHN provides us with a special tool to solve our alarming problems. It empowers us, locally or globally, to walk hand in hand while interlaced with the real-life beauty and wisdom of nature's amazing grace. Anyone can start doing this right now. Begin here.
"Being immersed in this class and learning how to actively ask Nature to teach me what I needed to know and to help me understand it and grow has been a godsend. Contact with nature has shown me how to find peace in the midst of absolute chaos, healing and balance in the midst of total melt-downs."
- ECHN Course Participant
As demonstrated in my "Greening of Psychotherapy" article in the peer reviewed Interpsych Newsletter, humanity consciously registers itself and the world in two distinctly different ways:
Our 53 senses are an interconnecting essence of the natural world that flows in, around and through us, the "webstrings" of the web-of-life.
- verbally through our written and spoken literacy and
- non-verbally through our 53 natural attraction sensitivities.
Nature's web-of-life has its own non-literate essence. It is a special perfection and intelligence, of which we are part. It gives nature its ability to not produce garbage or pollution or the disorders, isolation and abusiveness that we suffer. Rather, nature sustains pure optimums of life, diversity and cooperative well-being.
When healthy, nature, and nature-connected people(s) seldom cause our destructive effects on individuals, places and things.
Our prejudice against nature disables us. It secretly disconnects our thinking and feeling from nature's healing balance and self-correcting essence. Because this separation hurtfully unbalances our senses and sensibilities 1) we suffer from its destructive results and 2) we lose nature's power to help us solve the problems that our nature-disconnection creates.
The core of our dilemmas is our PAN, our loss of nature's essence as part of how we learn to think and feel.In ancient times, "Pan" was the name for the god of the wilds, of rustic music, fertility and nature. He was a human-like creature with animal hindquarters, horns and hoofs for feet. Contemporary thinking converted Pan/nature into the devil Satan, the evil one, adding scales, fangs and claws for further insult. Nature is the perfection of pure air, water and life. Our conversion of nature into evil is but one example of our PAN.
PAN is a profound short circuit in our psyche that places life as we know it at risk.
ECHN helps us solve the unsolvable. It makes it possible for us to think, feel and relate in natural areas while consciously connected to, and receiving information from, the unadulterated, natural attraction power of nature's unifying and balancing special perfection.
Using and teaching ECHN is crucial because the remedy for prejudice is mutually beneficial familiarity. To this end, ECHN helps us discover and embrace nature's essence, in and around us.
At home, work, school, church or vacation, no matter our profession, age or belief, the more each of us take our body, mind and spirit into natural areas and there teach each other the nature-respectful science of ECHN, the better off are both nature and humanity.
"OBJECTIVE" SCIENCE IS PREJUDICED AGAINST NATURE
"Francis Bacon started it in the 16th Century with his scientific method which was based on separating ourselves from nature, believing this was necessary in order to gain objective knowledge. With the scientific method, nature could be "forced out of her natural state and squeezed and molded." Bacon's scientific method was based on power, control, and coercion--"the power to conquer and subdue" nature, whom he referred to as a "common harlot." Bacon introduced the concept of perpetual war against nature. Bacon was the one who secularized the dictum of St. Thomas Aquinas--to be in this world but not of it.
Then comes Rene Descartes with nature as a clockwork mechanism and mind/body dualism. Combined with Sir Isaac Newton, the foundation was laid to transform "worthless" matter into valuable wealth. The goal, according to Descartes, was to "make ourselves masters and possessors of nature." His vision stripped nature of its aliveness.
John Locke said, "Land that is left wholly to nature, is called as
indeed it is waste." Locke believed that as long as humans were vulnerable to the forces of nature they could never be secure, and that "the negation of nature is the way to happiness."
This all provided the philosophical justification for our separation from nature, and paved the way for our physical separation in the enclosure movement as people were removed from their ancestral grounds. Some historians call this the revolution of the rich against the poor."- David Ewoldt
Become eco-literate. Learn more about Organic Psychology and Natural Attraction Ecology at Project NatureConnect:
- Publishable Article<http://www.ecopsych.com/hallucinatearticle.html>
- Process Synopsis<http://www.ecopsych.com/transformation.html>
- Fundamentals <http://www.ecopsych.com/mjcohen22.html>
- Testimonials <http://www.ecopsych.com/testimonials.html>
- Film<http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1357054/>"It's as easy as ABC to live in balance:A. Remember that before humanity emerged, the natural attraction, self correcting ways of nature/earth produced their special perfection: their pure optimums of life, diversity, balance, cooperation and well-being without garbage or pollution and without the excessive abusiveness, greed, isolation and disorders of contemporary society.
B. Remember that as part of nature, each of us is born in, and inherits all these natural attraction sensibilities and that we learn to bury them in our subconscious under the prejudiced against nature stories that indoctrinate us into Industrial Society.
C. Moment by moment find and support natural attraction energies in yourself and others. Our conscious connection with them lets their wisdom help us sustain personal and global balance."- Michael J. Cohen
A Journal entry from a new ECHN participant online.
(NOTE: "Webstrings" are the natural attraction connections between all things in the web-of-life. They register in human consciousness as natural attraction senses.)
"I went outside to sit on our swing and look out toward the valley, but
it was totally sunny on the porch swing so instead I found myself
attracted to our woven chair swing under the oak trees. I sat there,
rocking slowly back and forth looking up at the blue sky, being
totally entranced by watching the black and white of the acorn
woodpeckers fly from tree to tree, the way they dart forward with such
speed and then glide with their wings locked out straight to their
sides. The 10 a.m. air had just a little Fall chill to it and at the
same time the rising heat of the day. The grayish green of the oak
leaves and charcoal colored bark were set off by the solid swimming
pool blue of the sky - no clouds, all blue. Much of my awareness was
with the different birds flying around in the canopy of the trees
(Acorn Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Titmouse). I also listened carefully to
all the bird calls, the knocking of the woodpeckers on the oak limbs,
hammering from the neighbor's property, the sound of two voices
talking, the murmuring beeps of our chickens as they moved around
together. I noticed the blond white of the dry summer grasses and the
way the wild oats moved slightly with a breeze. I enjoyed the slow
back and forth movement of the swing.
At the same time I was noticing in my head a list of things I needed
to be doing. The power had just gone out in the house for some reason
and the task I was working with couldn't be continued, then I
remembered my ECHN assignments. Just sitting out in nature I recognized
that I was much more attracted to watching the birds (my whole body
felt more relaxed) than I was to getting up and going back inside to
work. Maybe I am enough when I sense and feel! At the same time I do
know my prestige from things getting done for my family to function well. Just stopping to sit in nature was such a good energizer that I want to do
it more. What I noticed is that sitting there looking up at the sky I
felt complete in a way that I don't feel when I'm so busy working
through my list of things to do.
The natural attraction of going toward the swing in the shade, of
looking up at the sky and watching the birds made me feel so content!
It gave me a glimpse of the fact that being attracted in this way is
as real and true as any literate or abstract fact.
1A. One or 2 significant attractions in section 1:
* "The fact that we each sense and feel webstrings is as true, if not
truer, than mathematics." I like how that part talked about us being
born with inherited abilities from nature to sense and learn through
our natural attraction senses.
* "We often know ourselves better by our names and prejudices than by
how and what we think and feel." I'm not entirely sure "how" I know
myself, but I was aware in doing this activity that I'm not sure about
how to express my response to sitting out and taking the time to look
up at the sky. The core of that experience was definitely in sensing
it in my body at that moment in time. That conflict or place of not
understanding kept getting filled with a list of things I should be
doing that my brain kept repeating to me.
2A. I can feel that there is a "split" in me created by the culture I
live in. It's all about an ingrained definition of self-worth based on
accomplishing things, daily tasks, parenting my kids, larger projects
or educational goals. It's a self-worth based on showing others what I
have done or having affirmation and feedback from others that I've
done a good job. It's clearly based on "doing the right thing", not being.
Sitting under the oaks watching the birds barely has a context in my day and relationship to others. It has a huge context inside my own body. I
know that because I felt so content sitting there observing and being
inside the natural world around me. That shows me something I already
knew - that nature doesn't have a voice or context in our culture. It
also shows me something I wasn't aware of - that simply sitting in
nature is a profound re-awakening of a lost part of myself. Just doing
this one earth teach session motivates me to be present out in nature
daily. I was clearly able to experience both my culturally driven self
and my calmer, less lingual, nature infused self side-by-side in a 15
minute time frame. It was powerful for me to see how grounding and
energizing it was to be present in the natural environment.
3A. I am a creature of this earth and a member of my cultural tribe.
This section taught me I am both. Even though the society has taught
me to make its rules the most important ones, by carefully attending
to the moments I was sitting in that swing under the oak tree I
experienced that I'm naturally part of earth and that natural-ness has
an equally important place inside my daily life as the rules and
knowledge I've had to learn. Who am I? I am a creature of this earth
and a member of my cultural tribe. Both are part of me, part of my
daily experience. Even though my culture has taught me to deny the
importance of my birthright to be in and of Nature, I can learn to
balance that relationship in myself by spending more awake and aware
time in nature by following my attractions.
1) I went outside with a plan to sit in a particular place and watch
what was going on outside my home and found myself drawn to sit in an
entirely different place. I like the quotes I listed above in 1A. I
also like the question in the chapter: "Do you trust your inborn
senses and feelings as much as you trust mathematics or definitions?"
That question helped me to notice both the sensory nature experience
and the "things I have to do today" thoughts that were rolling loudly
around in my head.
2) The most important things I learned from "section 1" in the chapter:
* We aren't born knowing mathematics - we must learn it. We are born
with the inherited ability from nature to sense.
* We largely build our lives and our knowledge of who we are around
the intellectual mentally conceived abstract truths of math, science, technology artifacts.
That lets us come to know ourselves as "cultural objects."
*The way we are taught the knowledge part of life without also
learning from experiences in nature.
3) I would feel busy and stressed without having the webstrings
attractions I had during this activity.
4) Just the feelings in my body, how easy it was for me to sit there
and sink in deep quickly and naturally with what I was observing
enhanced my trustfulness with nature.
5) This whole activity re-educated me to really observe my cultural
self that's busy with tasks and my natural senses that totally know
how to hook up with nature, but have rarely been allowed to in this
6) (will respond to others when they post)
7) Summary option - statement B: "Because I'm mostly rewarded by
people and society I tend to habitually know and think about the world
through the perceptual filter of our nature conquering society." Yes -
I partially agree 5-6... Because I live in a yurt and we live in the
country I do feel like I walk with some nature consciousness.
9) I am more than my busy mind and busy life. It's a really valuable process to re-connect the inborn, sensory part of me with the natural field it originates from.
10) Dreamtime: After the activity - all night long intense dreams of
me doing things, doing, doing, doing. My husband suggested that my
body was fighting the visceral experience I had yesterday where I
realized how deeply good it was to just sit and be.
11) The things in my trustable, safe, thought space labeled TRUE NATURE:
*I am born with the inherited ability from nature to sense, feel,
think and learn through webstrings and I share this on some level with
all of nature.
12) I'll be watching for ways to share this activity with friends or
my children :)
PURITY OF BALANCE
I went outside and stood looking around, then laid down on our
hammock. This time my mind was really busy thinking about the seed
idea of "purity of balance" so when I observed something visually it
sparked a whole cascade of thinking.
When I drop into just what I was attracted to: laying in the hammock
under the oak trees, looking out across the valley at the ridgeline
where 3 vultures were circling small and black over the tallest gray
pines, the lazy weaving motion of their circles as they move through
the sky, noticing the texture and colors of all the different trees
and brush growing on the ridge, seeing the straight planted rows of a
walnut orchard in the midst of Nature's forest, feeling the heat of
the morning sun through the black fabric of my pants, watching our cat
stretch up against a tree trunk after intently focusing on a bird
higher up, a breeze that was merely a whisper against my face, seeing
the red earth of an area on our land that's been cleared in a
construction project and the ways the brown white oak leaves are
starting to cover the bare earth, just noticing the movement and
textures and quietness of all the plants - boulders - creatures around
me as if it's a solid, whole tapestry that's been woven by invisible
* In a healthy ecosystem there's hardly anything out of balance.
* My love of a sunset can be as true or more true than 2+2=4
One thing I really noticed by taking that seed thought "there's a
purity of balance in nature" out into my Earth Teach experience today,
was the pace of nature. I watched how our cat moved, how the birds
moved through the air, the greater cycle of movement of the trees (the
budding, blossoming, leafing out, creating acorns, dropping leaves,
bare tree and repetition of the cycle) and how the oak leaves were
covering the bare earth from our project earlier this summer. I
realized that the pace of nature is usually slowly, gradually, always
unfolding into new phases. Then I thought about how quickly we were
able to clear the earth with machines. I noticed how the walnut
orchard was planted in straight rows while the trees of the earth were
random and diverse planted in way more complex relationships than the
man's orchard. We live in a society where people's ingenuity has
created a way to accomplish big earth changing processes quickly -
things like building homes and cities, paving roads, mining the earth.
None of that's been done with nature's pace in mind. Just looking at
our own construction project there will be a lot to clean up
afterwards and the earth disturbed part will take a longer time to
settle down. All these things are created with our own personal goals
in mind. Few of these things are created with a consciousness of
nature's intricate relationships and slow timing. When I looked across
the valley, all of nature looked smoothly in balance with itself:
continuous, diverse, a beautiful mix of sounds-colors-textures-species. The pace of a person living in a small group with others, creating their lives by hand, harvesting building supplies with hand tools, building people size houses, moving at the pace of walking or horseback seems like it would be way more in alignment with the rhythm of nature. Since we've far outpaced that I wonder if we can still pay attention to nature's diversity in making
our decisions. I wonder if we can take the time to be asking for
permission and guidance as we live and build and create our lives, if
that will make a difference, since clearly as a species we won't be
interested in giving up the power of our machines. Still, it seems
like our thoughts have the potential to come into better alignment
with nature which could still change our destiny for the positive.
3A. I am a creature of earth who moves at a pace way faster than earth
pace because of story-thinking that produces technology. Just driving in my car, typing my thoughts into a computer, building a project with the help of a backhoe and power tools disconnects me from the environment around me.
Who am I?
I'm someone who is now curious about how to bring my life more into
alignment with nature's balance and rhythm because I've taken this
time to recognize how "in balance" the earth is when moving through
her own cycles in her own time.
1) I walked outside and mostly stood there, with a cup of hot tea in
my hand, looking around at what drew my attention while thinking about
the topic of this section.
*By noticing that a sunset is as true as the thoughts of quantum
physics I have potential to think in more globally balanced ways
because I have an awareness of nature's intrinsic balance.
*Very little, if anything, is out of balance in a healthy ecosystem.
3) If the webstring attractions were taken away from me in this
experience I would feel out of control, careening to a bad destiny,
blind to possibilities of how to regain life balance.
4) Just by seeing how complex and diverse nature is in seeding the
hillside with a bunch of different species of plants I trust nature
way more than the singular thinking of people who have a tendency to
plant orchards all in a row with a single kind of tree. It was
beautiful to absorb this teaching just by looking out across the
valley from our home.
5) I feel like I got a huge education today just about the difference
between the pace of our daily lives and the pace of nature. I can both
feel and see how the earth's pace is more healing than the pace our
society has created for us.
6) By taking the time to be in a slower natural pace we bring
ourselves into balance the way nature does.
7) DREAM TIME: 2 things from dreams the night after doing this activity:
A. I was thinking about something and a greater voice than myself
asked me to physically stand beside myself (like there were 2 of me,
but there was still only one) then take my own hands and lift one of
the things I was thinking about out of my head and place it into a
special quiet area in another protected part of my brain.
B. I was walking across a school campus, with a teacher and 2 friends.
A riot had just happened and as we walked across campus the teacher
called in a big German Shepard dog to check out the safety of the
area. He called the dog in by pointing his finger different directions
then watching the dog for non-verbal cues. When he pointed out a
direction just past me the dog trotted over and put his paws over my
eyes and pressed in a few times. It was a little painful and bugged my
contact lenses. When he was done the teacher said it was safe and we
moved on. (After waking up it made me think about how much I use my
eyes as sensory receivers).
8) What I've put in the Nature's Trust container in my mind:
* I have the ability to trust the sensory webstring truths that
ecosystems share with me.
* "Very little if anything is out of balance in a healthy ecosystem."
* "I have great potential to help myself and others learn to think in
globally balanced ways, and to live in greater peace and
responsibility with myself, society and nature."
I went outside last night to look at the stars. Imagined the smaller
ones were farther away and the large were nearer. That did give
dimensionality, but I didn't really believe inside myself that the
statement about the stars was true when I was out looking at them.
When I went outside, I'd just had a relationship conflict and my chest
was tight and I could barely breathe. I just kept looking up at the
stars, crickets were loudly chirping all around me - in a deafening
way, the air was cool, not cold and the mountains surrounding the
valley were a jet black silhouette creating a bowl that held the sky
and stars in, just over my right shoulder the Milky Way was drawn
across the middle of the dark sky. It was so calm out there - like the
night was a continuous blanket of being. I just kept breathing in the
cool air really deeply into my lungs over and over to try and draw
that calm into my lungs and body. I kept thinking about things and
twice a shooting star raced down toward the horizon. I felt like the
sky was having a conversation with me because of what I was thinking
when the stars fell - like they were affirming some of my thoughts. I
know that's ego-centric and at the same time it did make me feel
better and calmer and part of the same nature fabric as the sky and
1A) Stories influence our natural sensitivities. While I couldn't
really connect with the example of the stars close or far - I can see
that the story I told myself about the night sky being in conversation
with me made me feel connected to the vastness of the sky above me and
the night nature around me.
2A) A lot of the stories we here in the media and growing up are about
separating ourselves from nature. Locally there are stories that
impact the way we interact with our land. There are rattlesnakes here
and we do see them now and again in the summer. When we first moved
here we had a neighbor who is terrified of the rattlers and she was
saying how she just read in the news that the gopher snakes (who eat
rattlers) were instead mating with the rattlers and becoming venomous
themselves. So now we had to watch out for both rattlers and gopher
snakes. That's one of those radically untrue stories that sounds like
it might be backed up by science or someone in authority in the media
that totally disconnects us from our environment we live in everyday
out here in the hills of Northern California. When we first moved on
the land there were several snakes and all our neighbors and my father
and mother in-law said the snakes needed to be killed. We did kill a
couple and that felt horrible to me, so I investigated ways to move
the snakes off our land so the snakes could continue to live and our
family could be safe. Between having a roaming flock of chickens on
our land and the use of a snake snare we built we've successfully
relocated many snakes out into deeper wild areas. Our neighbor's story
separates us from nature, our story keeps us connected to nature and
solutions. Clearly the stories we hear and we tell ourselves are
3A) Who am I? I am someone who is usually skeptical of the nature
stories I hear from the media. I'm also aware that I have some fears
of nature because of the stories told in our culture. I can be afraid
to swim in the middle of a high mountain lake because I can't see
below my body in the water and I have the story of shark attacks in my
mind. Clearly that doesn't make sense and still it affects my level of
fear or acceptance of different nature experiences. I find many of the
stories I tell myself keep me curious and engaged with nature. I am a
writer and poet so I love stories. I am someone who easily infuses my
nature experiences with the stories I've heard, especially indigenous
people's stories of our connection with the bigger world. Because I am
a poet I also find that it is easy for me to experience nature through
her signs and symbols, so I find that I often travel with my own
stories of the way nature is talking to me as if we are in an ongoing
conversation with each other.
1) This was a tiny section about how a story can influence our natural
sensitivities; about how our perceptions can change with a lie. I
walked outside in the dark, down the hill from our yurt, waded through
the star thistle growing in my medicine wheel and sat in a chair down
overlooking a wide valley below our home. I was aware of stories as I
sat in dark's of nature - the story of the stars being close/far, the
stories of my relationship conflict, the stories of the phase of the
moon we're in, the stories of night creatures. All these came together
in my experience down there looking at the stars.
2) The most important thing I learned about myself is that I can't
extract stories from my experience. Depending on what's been pointed
out to me at whatever moment in my life I'm near nature, I will have
5-Leg stories and information in my head the same time I am immersed
in the sensory experience of being in nature.
3) I would feel really anxious with the webstrings of this experience
cut from me. Just staying down in my medicine wheel long enough to
experience this exercise helped me calm down and come into more
alignment with Nature's energy field around me.
4) The activity totally enhanced my trust of nature. I felt like it
was interacting with me in the moment when I was upset and needing to
calm down. This is great practice for me to take my body out and sit
down quietly in nature on a regular basis. I'm really enjoying the way
it shifts the way I'm feeling - I feel quieter, more expansive, more
open, curious and available after sitting in nature. I'm also learning
I don't have all the answers to problems and I don't have to have all
the answers. Nature's helping me let go of some tight inner structures
(I don't really know how to describe that very well yet).
5) I liked how this exercise made me think about the stories I carry with me when I'm out in nature. Good to see both the helpful, life enhancing stories and the ones that bring me fear.
8) Sensory connecting stories sweeten our attraction to nature - other stories cut us off from the lifeblood nature provides
9) When we choose to carry the life-affirming stories of nature with
us we are more likely to be able to benefit from them continuously as well as share those same stories with others.
(I think about the fact that there are cougars and bobcats out where
we live and that we sleep outside. You can usually tell the difference
between the calls of the 2 different cats, although many assume the
big cat sound is always a cougar. When we hear these calls at night,
everytime I have to talk to my children about it and assure them that
most of what we hear is bobcat and those cats are afraid of people,
they eat rabbits and smaller animals and it's a rare occurrence to
actually even see them. Then I remind them when it is a cougar that we
need to be careful and alert, but that just by hearing them doesn't
mean we will be attacked like the media stories and others living in
the area tell us.)
10) Dreamtime - I had weird dreams last night about going to
Thanksgiving at the home of an alcoholic and the Thanksgiving wasn't
very thankful. I don't know how that ties into this whole activity or
my psyche related to my relationship conflict that came up in the
midst of doing this exercise. But, I recognize this morning how
grateful I feel that I thought the stars and the sky were actually
having a conversation with me last night. I feel even more grateful
for the healing stories I tell myself as I sit out in nature. I feel
grateful for the stories nature seems to weave for me about my life,
too. The falling stars last night made me feel like I belong to
something bigger, like I'm not alone in my pain.
11) What's going into my trustable Nature container I built inside my head...
Our natural experiences are influenced by stories. Because we live in
such a media saturated society that spends its focus weaving
destructive stories that cut us off from nature and natural healing
instincts, I continue to chose to be curious and open to
life-affirming, nature-affirming stories.
12) Will continue to watch for opportunities to teach this - it's
really healing to go out and do these simple exercises of sitting in
nature with a seed thought in my mind and see how the two interact.
BONDING TO A WORD OR IMAGE
I went outside at dusk to sit in the chair in my medicine wheel
overlooking the valley. On the way there I was startled by the
movement of a fat toad (the size of the palm of my hand) hopping
across the ground. There was a gentle coolness rising from the ground
that I felt on my bare legs. What I noticed more than looking around
with my eyes was the sounds of the crickets chirping, another bug
clicking randomly here and there and maybe some peeper frogs. The
sound moved through my body like electricity. I felt like I was being
tuned to the sound of nature, like I was becoming part of nature's
fabric just by sitting out there in the descending darkness. The earth
felt totally alive to me and I thought about the toad hopping across
my path and thought about how there's no way a non-living entity could
sustain the life of so many moving, living, breathing creatures. I
know a non-living office building or black asphalt road couldn't begin
to sustain a toad. Life comes from life. When I sat out there tonight
feeling the sounds go through my body I thought "nature is definitely
a well balanced living organism."
1A) I love this homework! Where else do we get to go outside to do "school?"
My attractions in this section really revolved around experiencing
nature as a well balanced living organism. A huge mother creature who
is as alive as I am.
2A) I know that the earth is treated as a dead natural resource. We
hear that perspective in the news all the time. The Gulf oil rupture
was all about mechanically fixing or plugging a hole like you would
fix a leak sprung in a hose. It was a science and engineering project
rather than a healing effort. If our culture believed the earth was
alive and we were blind enough to do what it took to leak a ton of oil
into the ocean we would be grieving and wailing like we lost someone
or many small beings precious to us. Then we would get together teams
of compassionate people to figure out wise ways to do something
different than use the resource paths we were using. We are
desensitized to the aliveness of nature by hearing all the "media
speak" about fixing the problems, about the statistics of any part of
the process, about all the "expert specialists" who are interviewed
one after another when disaster strikes.
3A) Who am I? I am a living creature who is family to this wise and
alive earth. I notice it only takes me sitting out in nature for a few
minutes to be reminded of this. This exercise in particular wakes me
up to really feeling connection, anguish, love for the earth. I
recognize how we are desensitized to the earth by the way she's spoken
about as resources for industry and profit which is just like going
after middle eastern people because they're easy to spot by the color
of their skin and they might be "terrorists." Our culture uses a lot
of language like that to distance us from humane, connected responses.
Earth is oil fields, nuclear energy, infrastructures, property values,
mining resources, dirt to be moved, space to be cleared, harness-able
energy reserves. All those words are very different than thinking
about earth as a well- balanced, alive, breathing, sustaining,
1) I walked outside, paying attention to my surroundings and sat
quietly in a chair to take in the sensory input. My favorite quote in
this section is about considering earth as a "wisely balanced living
2) The most important thing I learned from the chapter was all about
sitting down in my chair, looking across the valley and pondering the
idea that earth was alive, then imagining that I believed earth was a
dead natural resource. Truthfully, there was nothing in me that could
believe earth is dead. I just had to look out at the variety of
growing plants, the live and vital textures of noise around me, the
sense of temperature in the air and then compare that to the silence
of an empty building to know there's no way for earth to be dead.
3) If the webstrings were taken away from me I'd feel lonely and cut
off in the utter quiet.
4) My self-worth is definitely growing by doing these exercises, just
by going out this last week to work through these I feel much more
connected to something bigger and richer and more complex than me.
5) I was really conscious of my nervous system tonight as I heard the
sounds all around me. It was just like running electricity through my
body to smooth me out to match the energy around me. I felt like the
sounds were running energy through my entire nervous system, like the
sounds were tuning me to the frequency of nature.
8) earth is alive, earth is a creature, I am a creature, I am a
creature of the earth
9) By knowing earth as a being that is alive, I feel connected to
something bigger which makes me care about what our culture is doing
to this home we live upon. By caring what our culture is doing to the
earth I'm curious about how I can help instead of feeling defeated and
powerless to change the trajectory of destruction we seem to be intent
on following. Maybe if I am in love with nature I can make a positive
10) Dream time: Last night I dreamed that I moved into a new home, but
the home was like a skin tight suit and it moved that closely with my
body. When I woke up I could feel that movement and it was my skin. My
home is my skin. It is an amazing sensory experience to have! It
taught me that if earth is a wisely balanced living organism, I am a
wisely balanced living organism, too. The dream also gave me a brief
opportunity to 'drop' all the physical stuff that surrounds me - my
home and all the objects in it, my car, the buildings on our land - my
home became something as close to me as my skin, became my skin. Then
I felt a great affinity for earth who, in the natural state, lives
only inside her own skin - the grasses, boulders, dirt, hillside,
trees. It was an amazing dream!
11) Here's what's going into my trustable, loving inner nature container:
"Earth is a wisely balanced living organism."
and... By being in love with nature and spending time in natural
settings to remind me of this love and connection my biological being
has to the earth I can make a difference in how well our environment
12) Teaching others... I was talking with my 2 teen kids at the dinner
table about how important it is to balance their electronic time with
time outdoors, even if it's just sitting and reading a book out on the
swing. We talked about comparing our bodies to what's outside our yurt
- moving deer, greening grasses, flying woodpeckers and comparing our
bodies to the cool electronic gizmos the kids like to use. While it
wasn't really experiential teaching, it was an interesting discussion
to have at our dinner table.
EFFECTS OF REPETITION
I went outside to lay down on our swing and closed my eyes. Mostly I
was aware of the wind blowing across my body and the sounds of my
chickens as they foraged in the grasses near me. Then I fell asleep
until the rooster crowed right by my head and jumped me out of sleep.
1A) It was interesting to think about whether I'm more familiar with
my culture's conquering stories or sensory experience in nature.
Because this culture isn't about nature connection I'm clearly more
formed by the culture's stories than nature's - although, every
experience I've had in nature since being a kid has been precious and
expansive for me.
2A) In this section I realized that the cultural conquering stories
are really the way we move through our daily lives. They are all about
conquering the land as rugged individualists and living singularly as
families in big houses (which we often move a lot of earth and lay a
lot of pavement to build). Those stories are about the way we drive
cars to get places faster, the way we eat mechanized foods created in
factories because we know more about efficiency and nutrition than
nature and her whole foods. They are about the way we are required to
keep our kids in the institutions of schools because some unseen
people know more about training them for life than we do inside our
families and friendship communities. The repetition so saturates us
that it is the very threads of our daily lives.
3A) This is a more difficult who am I to speak to because it reminds
me that I am a tamed person of our culture who is required to follow
all kinds of cultural laws and structures. Those structures are so
much a part of my daily life it's exactly like I am that elephant who
was tethered so long that I've forgotten now I have nothing holding me
in a small space.
1) The socialization story of the elephant was powerful and subtle in this section - I forgot I read it until answering one of the questions above. Otherwise what I am learning by doing an exercise and being out in nature each day this week is that there is a huge amount of power and sweetness in taking the time to have my own sensory experiences in nature.
2) I learned that I am influenced by the repetitive requirements of my
culture and I can also be influenced by the energy field of nature if
I'm willing to get out into natural spaces on a regular basis. By
doing that I'm reminded how healing that is and how connected I feel
when I'm in natural surroundings.
3) I would feel really sad without these webstrings because there
would be no balance in my life. Our culture is pretty stressful and
hard on a person, without the webstrings there would be little break
in the stressors.
4) The way this activity enhanced my trust of nature was in the
experience itself - the wind that was blowing was so gentle and felt
good that I fell asleep on the swing in the midst of the activity. It
was soothing on a really deep level.
5) By having the soothing-ness of nature side-by-side understanding
how strong the culture's repetition is in my daily life, I have a lot
more respect for the calming, healing nature of earth and her
9) The more time we spend in nature the more opportunity we have to
balance the stresses of our cultural experience. The more time we
spend in nature the more we care about having a deep, preserving
relationship with the earth and our natural surroundings.
10) Dream time - didn't really have anything come up in dreamtime
other than I had an unusually restless night and woke up at least 4-5
11) Into the trustable container inside my head:
Nature has the ability to be a powerful balancer in my daily life.
12) watching for teaching opportunities!!"This course was an absolutely powerful and amazing experience for me. I can't fully express or thank you for the gift it has been and how it has helped open my eyes to a whole new world."- ECHN Course Participant
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