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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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Quality Time in Nature Helped Me Feel Balanced and Restored
- Journaled Course Evaluation by Anonymous Participant
Applied Ecopsychology education, counseling and healing article.
ABSTRACT Discover the advanced secrets of health and peace by exploring how being in nature affects our quantum mind body connection. Ancient people knew that their very lives depended on their absolute relationship with the Earth. We endure hard times because, today, we seldom admit that we spend less than one percent of our quality time connecting to the great outdoors. Our lives in Industrial Society are more stressed out than ever. Ecopsychologists have discovered how sturdy sensory activities in nature can heal, restore and increase personal, social and environmental health.
The field of ecopsychology was a foreign, yet intriguing, concept to me before I started an orientation class with Project Nature Connect. On some level it made perfect sense for me to admit that society's separation from nature was the cause of many of it's maladies however, I could not have imagined how much deeper my understanding would be after finishing this class.
The richness of my knowledge of our profound connection to nature now goes beyond what my abstract intellect could have ever fantasied. I found the activities simple, yet absolute and profound. I was able to see the world around me differently, as if to see into another quantum dimension that had been previously hidden from me.
My overall quality time sense of connection with nature helped me feel instantly balanced and restored. I believe that people of all ages would greatly benefit from learning to see themselves as parts of nature's perfection. I was truly amazed how quickly I could turn away from stress and hard times when I remembered to intentionally connect with natural area attractions.
Aside from the practical activities, the advanced theoretical information provided by this class was equally important to my understanding of Natural Systems Thinking Process. Over the past several years I have studied spiritual concepts. The concept of Oneness occurs over and over in most spiritual texts. I found that this course helped me understand how web strings and sturdy natural attractions connect us to each other and to our living Earth and reverse critical conditions. I found great pleasure in seeking out attractions, asking permission to be in nature and allowing nature to work it's magic on me.
The idea that nature communicates nonverbally was an important piece of information. It helped me admit that nature restores us by sending messages through our intuition or directly through our senses. I have learned through my parenting studies that humans are indeed self corrective. Understanding that perhaps it is nature that send us those self corrective messages was powerful food for thought.
The concept of 5 legged thinking vs, 4 and 9 legged thinking helped me visualize how our conditioning affects our perception. I try to remember now to look at the big picture, with an open mind and honest heart.
I really enjoyed the feedback I received from my classmates. I was beautiful to read everyone's posts and perhaps integrate their experiences into my own.
The attractive value of this course was that it "made things better". This is a simple description that encompasses how I felt, what I learned and my ability, therefore, to act upon the changes that have occurred within me.
Here is a quality time experience I had after I did the first activity and wrote my first posting. It occurred at night. As I was returning home to my family I stopped in front of the house. As I stood in the driveway I noticed how fantastically bright the stars were. Wow, I felt like I hadn't seen stars like that in years! Not only that but my attention was captured by a light coming through the woods, from our neighbor's house. We had moved in a few months ago and although we had gone to their house to trick or treat for Halloween we had never really met, since they were not home at the time. I had this friendly urge to go over there and to introduce myself. It was a result, I believe, of my enthusiastic participation with this Nature Connect class! It was really something. I was being so good and wanted to do my part in contributing to this place that I lived in and what better way than to go be friendly with a neighbor.
I was initially thinking my reactions, ideas and feelings would of already have been experienced and described by other Project Nature Connect participants in the past. I was thinking this because there seems to be some strong absolute themes in the descriptions people give about their reconnecting activities. The light getting brighter, colors and shapes being sharper, a feeling of belonging, etc.... all things I too was experiencing, but upon closer introspection I realize each of us a some own our individual novelty to offer.
We bring this novelty along with our individual make up, based both on the natural history of our ancestors, as well as the stories that influence our thinking and perceptions. I could clearly relate to Sandra's desire to move to a cooler climate that had trees. I had felt a similar thing that motivated me and my family to return to a temperate climate from the tropics.
There were several most advanced and important parts of the course. Firstly beyond the background information in the supportive reading (examples such as we spend 95% of our time indoors and think 99.9% of our thoughts disconnected from our immediate natural sensory surroundings, etc...) the activity instructions were such that we, as the activity participants, did have genuine true to life conscious connections with Nature. This in itself was significant!
After learning the phrase "Webstring attractions" we consciously sensed them and participated with them in a quantum communicative relationship. It was an in the moment attention encompassing thing. That was the most important part. Actively doing, feeling, being a part of the time and space right there and then.
Another important part of the course was being able to verbalized it in our posting, and share our experiences. That act enhanced the original experience as it created a sturdy "story" that was stored in our memory, could be recalled and re-enjoyed, as well as one that taught us our own truth! Sharing it with our group was also beneficial and necessary because we, as social creatures are suffering hard times. We do have a need for communicative relationships as well as community in our lives.
The third most important part of the course was the way it was presented. What I am referring to is the sequence of the chapters in The Web of Life Imperative. Allow me to elaborate.
In order for people to understand and accept an idea it is important that it be available to them in bite sized comfortable pieces that build an abstract foundation (what is 4, 5, or 9 legged thinking....) and then little by little allow the process to build upon that in a effective way.
At first we were simply asked to remember and verbalize a positive nature story from our past. How could someone refuse to do that? That isn't at all threatening. It is the opposite. It is welcoming and bright and a great smooth start that immediately builds upon our innate love for nature. First success.
Then when we feel good, we are shown how susceptible we really are, and have been throughout or upbringing, to the culturally prevalent nature conquering mentally we posses. This part of the course was painful to hear and swallow. Especially about how our economic system is based on degradation of Nature. So it both depressed and angered me. It was a way of pointing out the importance of shifting our focus back towards harmony and cooperation. It was necessary to see our level of being ecozombies in order to be motivated to do something about it. Karen did something about it. She dropped out of public high school and followed her heart! That was inspiring!
Then we were helped to feel. The activities following created whole being heart felt statements such as, "I am shown that I enjoy the sun!" Here was the opportunity to enjoy something about nature. Be it a sound, a movement, an occasion...anything we choose, we floated in the present moment and established a webstring attraction. A basic one that was our beginning towards more complex ones later on.
To continue each activity, we had an opportunity to start a conversation with natural attractions. We had the background for it, we were able and brave enough to try. "May I please have permission to visit here?" The answers came freely and glowingly back to us and through us. This was the moment that fully allowed our understanding of what ecopsychology really can be. Wow!
Later on we were given the opportunity to go further and listen to nature. Create a moment that let's Earth teach. Choose an attraction and connect with it's intelligence. Listen purely and objectively, as much as possible, with more senses than we are accustomed to. It was amazing what we "heard".
So now well on our way, we were shown how we ARE what we perceive. "I like this river because it is like the cycle of life... I like myself because I am like the cycle if life..." An experiential explanation of oneness between ourselves and our natural surroundings.
In conclusion we were shown and reminded trough the Mimbres pin how it probably was before our time. Not only that but we were given our own opportunity to created our own simplicity now, and see our mind in Nature.
It was a long journey, that lasted through the changes of seasons and showed us several things. One, we can ask for help from Nature. Two, we can promise to be friendly. Three, we are accepted as ourselves. It is like our sins are absolved, we are cleaned out and we become free! The world is free and open for us to share. There was a message from this course that I received. The message was to live love, with authenticity and to do it in the present moment with caring, sharing and blessing. It has taught me how to live, and I am extremely grateful for that! Thank you!
Let me quote some of the writings from our study group. The are do meaningful and true to life!"I allowed myself to listen to the signals nature was sending me. I opened my heart and felt compassion, strength, vulnerability, fragility, and passion. I noticed that the sky was dark blue with hues of orange and yellow. I felt its vast openness, shelter me. I wondered what lessons nature might try to convey to me tonight. I closed my eyes again and asked for direction in my life and to be reconnected to my intuition, which was nearly lost so many years ago. I felt an overwhelming sense that this was a time for me to heal. That nature would support my rest and would help me store the energy I would need in the future."^^^
"I went to the park, going to the park now, has become a pleasure, a need, blessing. I used to think it was too far to walk, and now it is the most enjoyable walk till I get there. A couple of blocks before we get there, lalo -my dog- who has been my companion thought out all this fantastic journey, starts jumping and wagging his tail… and I do too I feel my heart filled with joy, love and life! I love that space, it has brought me back to life and has helped me regain my soul (I was talking with my mom a few days ago and I told her that I felt a lot better since doing these activities, and she told me: “in the last few years you had hardened, you were irritable and easily upset and your light was fading. And now when I look into your eyes, I see that little baby's spirit again, that woke up singing in the mornings when you couldn't even speak. This is the you that we all knew and we are glad to have you back”.^^^"I like myself because even in stormy, turbulent conditions I remain sturdy and flexible at the same time.
This took a bit of reflection for me to let the truth of this sink in and realize that I do have this quality. As I read on the book mentions that many people have a hard time admitting they are beautiful, peaceful, etc.. without feeling shameful. At this point a huge rush of emotion swept over me. I was reflecting on my own tendency to at times think of myself as not being quite so beautiful because of physical conditions. Recently I've been working to see through this illusion and in this wave of emotion I just ended up feeling so grateful for all of the people, situations, and myself, for giving me just the right experience to see where unconditional Love for myself is the only remedy."
The location seemed to very much greet and welcome us. It became even more beautiful and the way that someone else had trimmed fallen trees out of the trail seemed to invite us to enter. I was feeling so appreciative of the spot and excitedly eager that we had actually made it! I led the kids down to the edge of the river, where there was a scooped out sheltering rock where we could safely be right next to the river as well as be safe from falling into it.
My oldest recognized an amazing wave just a meter away from us and I went to tell the kids, "This is the spot". It was amazing. I spoke aloud about what I liked about this place. I said that I liked this place because it reminded me of "Life and Death" and all the mysterious beauty, pain, pleasure involved. This place reminded me of a mystical Alaska. Alaska as a symbol of purity and spirituality. It was a symbol of something beyond me, something sacred, something beyond the ordinary that I normally focus on. All the children were excited, attentive and very aware that I was having some kind of powerful spiritual moment. They we too, we were in it together!"^^^
These are only several of the descriptions of our lives during this time our group was involved with each other and Nature on such a pure webstring attraction level. The wonderful thing is that life and our beautiful experiences will continue. It has been absolutely profound and amazing, this short class of ours. I feel so blessed to be able to say that, because I was able to share it with you! Thanks again and again everyone for being there, doing it and for seeing it in me.
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