Journal of Organic Psychology /
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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Sensory Nature Connections Help a Woman Remedy the Trauma of Neglect and Violence from Child and Family Mental and Emotional Abuse.
- Anonymous Project NatureConnect Participant
I'm doing some significant inner work in a continuing process of healing from trauma that I experienced when I was a toddler and the experiential practice of this one turned out to be highly charged and part of a fairly deep opening to personal healing. As I went through the steps of doing this, though, I came to appreciate that it took an appropriate amount of time; that what the healing required was for me to go through connections, memories and points of sensory awareness so fraught with traumatic content that it needed to be done in stages, and it needed to be done with non-humans, rather than with a group of people, in order to allow the feelings and memories to come forward and be known, the voices heard. The good news is that these advanced activities in educating, counseling and healing with nature really can be used for important counseling and healing work. And that operating consensually (even with my inner children) enables wonders to be accomplished in time.
I had spent about a week struggling with the instruction to perform the Willow in the Wind activity where I trust fall into a group of people who play the role of supportive natural senses; I wasn't able to get that group together; I kept delaying, delaying, and I could see that I was avoiding it. Finally, I stopped and felt my feelings, and realized that my attraction was to continue the inner child work that I began during my recent nature connecting work in New Mexico. My inner nine-year-old was urging me to continue knowing her, allowing her to be felt, to come into the light. But because what she had to say involves the darkness, for this activity I was strongly drawn to go out into the moonlit night to connect. This happened last week, at the time of the waxing gibbous moon.
I drove out into the country to a place where I've done NatureConnect activities before. It is a wild place in the woods, a home for trees, rocks, and animals who do not interact with humans and domesticated animals. It is a place where domesticated animals do not really belong. It is a wild place. And so, the wild places in me called out to come, and the wild place there called to me. The moon called to me.
The forest was dark, and I heard wild ones rustling about. An animal called out in an untamed voice to announce my arrival. I felt the dark places in me awaken, the inner children hiding there in the dark places stirring. I got out of my car, feeling excited and relieved to be engaging with emotional material that needs to be known, to be felt, to be integrated into my waking self. And feeling frightened, awed, tense, troubled, stirred-up. I felt dangers in the woods. The calling voice did not feel entirely friendly. It felt wild, dangerous. I moved forward into the moonlight, standing in a clearing to be bathed in silvery moonlight, taking in the enormity and the glory of the moon. There was a feeling of death, and of clarity, and of purification. My senses thrumming, prose came out to try to put multiple sensory messages, complexes of information, of feeling, into words:
Brilliant waxing gibbous moon,
Pearly bone bright
Illuminate my darkness
Shine the way for me
Clarify what is shrouded in mist
Reveal what is hidden
The child within me hides
A wise old woman so old
Her years are counted in ages
She knows what the secrets hold
She knows where the dangers lurk
She knows how to unlock the
Heavy wooden cask buried deep
In the forest floor.
Breath turns to fog:
Things are not as they seem.
One form chases into another.
My senses on guard,
The muscles tensed to bolt
The darkness holds secrets,
Treasure and dangers untold.
It is not safe here.
It's not supposed to be.
What was happening here was the allowing into awareness of the multisensory memories held by my inner children, the aspects of myself at different ages during my childhood. I was aware, through multisensory pathways, that I have kept certain information secret even from myself, in order to be able to function, to continue growing; that these memories are contained in my biology and my physiology, held in my cells; and that an older, wiser aspect of me is "in there" too; that my nine-year-old self (whom I connected with and invited forward during the intensive in NM) holds within her this older aspect, who is wild, untamed, and wise. She is not borne of industrial society. She is whole, and she is powerful. She is The Crone. The aspects of violence, death and mystery which are part of the wild Earth and of the darkness were alive and present; these are aspects of life which I have tended to shield myself from. Now I understand that the reason for this is because dangerously traumatic material needed to be kept from my conscious awareness for my own psychological and emotional protection.
It was time to do the Willow in the Wind part of the activity, but I was too terrified to go into the dark forest in the black of night. It was beyond me. So, I decided to trust that there would be a way to complete the activity later, and I felt that all was just as it needed to be for the good of all.
I then, as directed, made a list of 10 animals, plants, minerals that I like along with their outstanding skills and talents and thanked this place and its entities for their qualities, and for sharing their qualities with me.
Thank you moon, for mystery and illumination
Thank you fog, for bringing mystery to life, for making the invisible visible
Thank you darkness, for being the home of my mysteries
Thank you, legs, for standing strong despite the fear
Thank you small animals and creatures of the forest, for inviting me to enter your world
Thank you rich scents, for fortifying my body with courage
Thank you crickets and cicadas and frogs, for accompanying my journey with your rhythmic chants
Thank you Nancy (my nine-year-old self), for child and crone.
Another week went by after completing the first part of the activity. I put off going to do the Willow in the Wind, put it off again and again. I didn't feel ready. I was still charged and afraid with the content I know I am allowing to come forward. The multisensory experience of trauma for a young child is not tempered by the psychological defenses and various numbing and ameliorating abilities of the adult. To allow primordial trauma to come forward and be experienced takes a lot of courage. During the intensive in NM, I had a taste of the level of terror, rage and feelings of betrayal that I had experienced as a child. It was formidable. I respected nature's good time.
Finally, three days ago I felt inclined to complete the Willow in the Wind portion of the activity. For some reason, I was reminded of the moon, and felt drawn to look up the moon phases and the traditional wisdom about the functions of the phases of the moon in our activities. I realized that what I was reading actually reflected my own feelings: that my attraction to the moon is connected to my inner emotional nature; that the waxing gibbous phase is the optimum time for taking action on a difficult task; and that completion of the task happens naturally during the waning moon (which is when I felt inclined to finish the activity). I felt a sense of integrity and natural flow to my emotional process and felt gratified to have confirmation that many others have felt the same connections.
I went to the forest where I completed the moonlight activity, this time during the afternoon. I felt attracted to choosing a series of trees (and the mossy rocks) to be my trusted circle of "catchers". I felt safe being there with my feelings open- feelings that I didn't feel safe holding open to fellow human beings. I needed to feel very safe. As I drove to the spot, already my inner 9-year-old was coming forward within me, communicating with me, letting me feel her world, her life. I had the most intense sudden realization that she had performed a valorous service for me. She consented to close herself off in a cask in the wild forest floor, along with her terror, and with the secret of what happened to her little girl, the toddler whom I was so long ago. The toddler is held still in secrecy, behind a massive protective force, held in the arms of the Wild Crone who is powerful enough to keep her safe.
What I suddenly realized is that My 9-year-old self remembers what happened to my toddler self. And she agreed to prevent me from knowing what happened, in order to enable me to function. I suddenly realized that my 9-year-old self had agreed to give up her life for me. As the enormity of her sacrifice struck me, I was overcome with emotion, appreciation, and awe for the integrity and genius of the animal psyche.
I arrived at the forest edge, got out of my car, and walked into the woods which had been too scary to enter during the night. The same animal call which I had heard during my moonlit session called out again, announcing my arrival. I felt grateful and at peace. I felt welcomed.
For the Willow in the Wind activity, I had identified the senses engaged during the first moonlit activity night which I would then thank during the Willow in the Wind. I followed my attraction to a tree with a mossy side, closed my eyes and allowed myself to fall forward into the tree from a different angle with each sense. At certain points I was drawn to change trees, and ended with the assistance of a mossy boulder playing the role of "catcher".
1. Senses of moods and identities attached to colors:
Thank you, moods and identities attached to colors, for helping me identify inner children and guiding aspects of myself who have something to say, including lost parts of myself who hold keys to my personal healing. It is an archetypal hero's journey.
2. Sense of awareness of visibility and invisibility
Thank you, invisibility, for cloaking memory and sensory information so traumatic that my child was not able to function with awareness of it. Only by repression and suppression was my 9-year-old self able to save my life. I am eternally grateful to her for her valiant effort and honorable sacrifice. My sense of invisibility enabled Barbie to hide chunks of raw, chaotic, disorganized primal emotion until I had developed the ability to digest and integrate it. Like a time capsule. Pure genius. She is a courageous little girl who followed her good instincts. I respect her and am eternally grateful to her. Now I intend to take her burden and help her come back into the present, to live her life as she deserves to live it.
3. Sense of season (cooling air/fog)
Thank you, sense of season, for expressing the mutability of life which makes healing possible. The fog is a comforting love-blanket of protection. Magic! This reminds me of a Sufi poem which expresses what my 9-year-old self, and her inner crone, have done for me:
Should never be offered to the mouth of a Stranger,
Only to someone
Who has the valor and daring
To cut pieces of their soul off with a knife
Then weave them into a blanket
To protect you.
4. Electromagnetic sense
Thank you, sensual genius, able to accurately pin-point exquisitely detailed, accurate information about the world, about others.
5. Sense of light and sight
Thank you Beauty! Thank you Wonder! Thank you, Silvery Moon! Illumination and clarity, release, resolution!
6. Sense of hearing, resonance, vibrations
Thank you sense of hearing, bringing messages to me from those wild ones in the deep, dark forest who say "Danger! Get Out!"
7. Sense of pressure (breeze)
Thank you fresh air, for wafting over my feelings, for lifting old deadness up off of my heart and carrying it away on the breeze.
8. Tactile sense
Thank you, tactile sense, for enduring trauma so painful that you had to numb yourselves in self-defense, in protection of my heart, of my psyche, of my life. Thank you, tactile sense, where dangers lie still waiting to be seen, to be known, to be grappled with, and freed. I hope to free you so that we can feel again. Before we die.
9. Sense of space
Thank you, sense of space, huge, vast space between me and my moon, within which I feel full, part of a community gathered, a family filling all of space.
10. Coriolis sense (moon phase)
Thank you coriolis sense, thank you for keeping me grounded on this tumbling round living ball, oriented to time, place, and person, sane and sensible.
11. Hunting urges
Thank you hunting urges, for enduring the experience of a being hunted down by one's own parent, for being the innocent target of someone else's rage. May you live to run wild and free one day.
12. Sense of fear, dread, danger
Thank you sense of dread, fear and danger, for protecting me, for informing me, for being my teacher, for making me stronger than I knew I was capable of becoming.
13. Sense of play
Thank you, sense of play, for lifting me up!
14. Sense of belonging, support, thankfulness
Thank you sense of belonging, support and thankfulness, for insulating me and empowering me.
15. Colonizing sense
Thank you, colonizing sense, for leading me to find others who are healing like I am, who have endured what I have, who are family of mine.
16. Procreative urges of sex, mating, raising young
Thank you, procreative sense, for enduring the blending of your aspects so that pain, confusion, and handicap resulted. I respect you and grieve the wound which impaired your ability to mate, and to procreate. I rejoice in your ability to work around your wounds and find your way to love, and to blessed motherhood.
I discovered that systematically engaging the senses provides a framework for multisensory feeling, which automatically results in sensory restoration and personal healing and that my 9-year-old self performed a heroic deed for me. Exploring the dark side of myself is the pathway to wholeness and completion of my life mission.
This experience in nature shows me that I am a person who gets good feelings from breathing in the dark and from connecting with my inner child, and my inner wise wild woman. I also get good feelings from utterly honest and intimate experience of my senses.
This is such hard work that I have intentionally taken sensory experience away. I am grateful for these healing benefits, but I'm also grateful for my ability to temper my awareness of sensory data, because some of it was too dangerous to feel. It definately enhanced my sense of self-worth and trustfulness of NNIAL.
This activity identifies the person who traumatized me when I was very young. It also identifies powerful aspects of myself, tied intimately to nature, who are able to overcome the challenges and restore me. Multisensory exploration assists in the reclamation of the soul.
...Enjoy further information about Organic Psychology and Natural Attraction Ecology:
- 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>
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