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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Funded, sensory, accredited, courses, degrees and career training: B.S., M.S., Ph.D.
Our.alternative, natural, holistic studies include your life experience and prior education.
This amazing whole-life program offers.core.distant learning. It enables.you to add practical, hands-on, nature connecting methods and credentials to your livelihood and interests.
Ecopsychology in action!
Learn how to create moments that let Earth teach.
Remedy the psychological and spiritual illness that underlies our personal, social and environmental disorders.
Incorporating Positive Transformation Into Our Lives and Global Community.- Anonymous Project NatureConnect Student"Nature-Connected Education, Counseling and Healing: A report from mothers who steward a natural area contained disbelief that flora and fauna video could add to risk of technology addiction" -MJC
As an outcome of my coursework and studies with Project NatureConnect I have decided to create an organization called Connect2Nature. Connect2Nature’s vision is to facilitate nature reconnection through outdoor activities, community involvement and stewardship of the earth by establishing partnerships with other individuals and organizations that enable Connect2Nature to fulfill its vision and mission.
My Studies with Project NatureConnect have enabled me to discover and research the impact of humanity’s disconnection from nature. This disconnection from nature takes place for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons include:
Throughout our daily lives we utilize a myriad of electronic devices: televisions, computers, music players, cell phones, etc. When you combine electronic use during work or school and individuals free time, the overall daily usage occupies nearly every waking moment of someone’s daily life.
- Advancements of technology and its increased usage.
- Deterioration of natural habitats.
- Belief that we lack the money, skills or time to devote to being more active within a natural environment.
- A lack of knowledge, concern or awareness of nature around and within us.
- Feelings of anxiety or fear of the natural world.
- Belief that there is nothing we can do to improve the current state of the world or ourselves.
- Disbelief that nature could hold within it the answers we seek for daily and ongoing issues.
- Disbelief that nature could enhance our personal health, mind and overall well-being in a safe and nurturing environment.
According to Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year Olds, (January 2010) Children ages 8–18 spend the following amount of time utilizing electronic media on a daily basis:Approximately 7.5 hours using entertainment media
Approximately 4.5 hours watching TV
Approximately 1.5 hours on the computer
Over an hour playing video games
Adults and children are both at risk of becoming addicted to technology. Wikipedia states that “addiction has been defined as physical and psychological dependence on psychoactive substances (for example alcohol, tobacco, heroin, caffeine and other drugs) which cross the blood-brain barrier once ingested, temporarily altering the chemical milieu of the brain.
Addiction can also be viewed as a continued involvement with a substance or activity despite the negative consequences associated with it. Pleasure and enjoyment would have originally been sought; however, over a period of time involvement with the substance or activity is needed to feel normal. Some psychology professionals and many laypeople now mean 'addiction' to include abnormal psychological dependency on such things as gambling, food, sex, pornography, computers, internet, work, exercise, idolizing, watching TV or certain types of non-pornographic videos, spiritual obsession, self-injury and shopping.”
Individuals are also subject to deterioration of their health due to the sedentary lifestyle they are producing through the over usage of electronics. In 2007, a number of medical professionals wanted the American Medical Association’s (AMA) to recognize video game playing as an addiction and officially classify it as a psychiatric disorder, to raise awareness, and enable sufferers to get insurance coverage for treatment.
In the year that followed, ‘Internet Addiction’ joined the forefront of technological concerns. Many medical professionals and researchers begin to shift their attention to the possibility of psychological disconnection and addiction as a result of internet over usage. Dr. Jose Calderon, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, (2008), stated “People who are addicted begin to spend time (on their technology addiction) at the expense of social relationships. They become more isolated and therefore aggravate those around them because they are no longer socially available. They lose sleep. They can barely function at work or at school. They cannot pay attention, and therefore their productivity decreases. They stop eating well, and their healthy habits change because they are sitting. They may gain weight, get carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain or attention-deficit disorder. Because they engage less and less socially, they drop their social skills, or they lose them, or they don't develop them. In general, this can define addictive behavior.
There also can be biological components in the most severe cases. There have been instances when people who have checked into recovery programs for their technology addiction have experienced withdrawal symptoms -- depression, anxiety, tremors, lack of sleep, sweats and headaches -- like those associated with substance abuse.
Technology addiction is not well-defined, but it's a growing field. Currently, Internet Addiction does not have a category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association.” There is still deliberation over whether or not to include Internet Addiction as a diagnosis in the DSM-V updated edition in May 2013. In addition, we now have an increasing number of social networking applications and websites infiltrating the electronic and media world.
According to Nielson media research the social network site Facebook occupied 7 hours of the average user's time during the month of January 2010. Facebook’s self-reported statistics of its 400 million users determined the average user spends 55 minutes a day, almost 30 hours a month, on Facebook (2010). The increasing amount of time and excessive usage of social networking applications and websites is putting individuals at a risk for declining good health and increasing the desire to interact through electronics rather than developing in-person meaningful relationships with themselves, their families and friends.
Project NatureConnect Student T.S., Well Mind, Well Earth: Activity 42, (2011) stated “This activity was interesting.. I decided that even though i found the 5 min instructions on a timeless activity giggle worthy I was going to ignore it and leave my black berry inside. Now I know that doesn't sound like much but it feels attached to my person most of the time and I am constantly checking it for the time so I stay 'on schedule'. I am still struggling with the flu and it is pouring rain so I sat on my porch and just allowed myself to come into the moment. It took a long time for me to get my wranglers out. I noticed I was wondering in thought of what i needed to get done next, what time was it .. oh ya my phone is off limits right now! This went on for some time (no pun intended) until I began to experience the area without the story. What is time in the world of NIAL? Time in NIAL may not have a watch but it does exist.. seasons change, the sunsets, the moon rises, all on a schedule. I tried to figure out the approx time but it is overcast today, can't see the sun. I noticed that it feels colder in the mornings so I could go off of that, it also seems quieter in the morning in comparison to the afternoon when everyone seems to be buzzing about. What is time in the world of a person? As I thought about this it occurred to me, it is the one thing we all have in common, no one gets even a minute more then the next in a day.. but we spend it in different ways. I realized I tend to fill up my time with busyness.. then at the end of the day I wish I had more! I admire how nature has time all figured out. It just lives in the present moment.. I long for this.” As a result of the Well Mind, Well Earth activity the Project NatureConnect Student stated “As I relaxed into the activity I could see this unfold. The rain falling, the leaves changing color, the sun rising all because it does.. everyday. seamless sequence of attractions”, “I can live without my black berry, and should try more often :)”, “I am a person who values time”, and “I am a person who longs to feel connected in the moment.”
Michael J. Cohen, founder of Project NatureConnect, states “You must nurture your felt love for nature. Never deny it. It is your connection with the unifying essence that organizes, preserves and regenerates life relationships at every level. Its profound loss in our thinking produces our destructiveness and imbalance.
Those of us who are not scientifically filling the void in our life with our attractions to nature have been brainwashed into producing the problems we suffer personally, locally, and globally."
Biomimicry or biomimetic, as defined by Wikipedia, “is the examination of nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements to emulate or take inspiration from in order to solve human problems. Humans have always looked to nature for inspiration to solve problems. One of the early examples of biomimicry was the study of birds to enable human flight.”
In 2008, Barbara Huelat, in an interview with Journal of Green Building, determined “Nature can teach us a lot about sustainability and better ways of doing things. For example, take the lotus leaf and flower, a long-lasting symbol of cleanliness, beauty, and purity. The lotus grows in muddy, stagnant ponds, and what's remarkable is the flower is pristine and the leaf is perfectly clean. When water falls onto the lotus leaf, the droplets easily roll off taking dirt along with it. Scientists have discovered how to create a nanostructure based on the waxy surface of the lotus leaf and apply it to surfaces and fabric to repel water and bacteria. If we can develop products that mimic what works so well in nature, we can get away from the toxic cleaning agents.”
Michael J. Cohen’s lifetime of knowledge and experiences enables us to understand that “Even a walk in the park demonstrates that our troubles subside when we genuinely reconnect our psyche with nature. This explains why the healing science of Educating, Counseling and Healing With Nature helps us increase well-being at every level. It enables our thinking to interlace with the genius of nature's peace and renewing ways, backyard or back country." Michael J. Cohen further states “Sensations and feelings are of, by and from nature, no culture or individual lays claim to inventing or owning them or legally restricting their availability.”
If humanity studied and learned from nature’s ability to regenerate and sustain itself using approaches that do not destroy the health of the environment and continuum of life we could in effect reverse the destruction of natural habitats.
Sustainability is about optimizing, rather than maximizing, what we have. Through nature humanity could learn to utilize natural energy, embrace diversity, and adapt and evolve. By mimicking how nature utilizes materials and nutrients within a habitat we could essentially use resources efficiently and eliminate unnecessary wastes. As a result, this would enable humanity to engage in a ‘natural system’ that creates products that we need rather than destroy the assortment of life on earth to acquire things that are unnecessary.
Project NatureConnect Student Mallory, Well Mind, Well Earth: Activity 48 (2011) stated “Nature changes moment to moment. One of my favorite examples of this is the many trees I am surrounded by on a daily basis. Many different flora and fauna find food, home or refuge in or around the trees in the forest. Each tree in the forest is unique. Some trees are strong and sturdy towering over the smaller trees in the forest. Perhaps some of the smaller trees and saplings are attracted to the protection of the larger trees. In the spring the trees come back to life spreading their seeds. The seeds fall to the forest floor and are blown by the wind to other areas. No matter where the seeds end up they patiently wait for their moment in the sun. When the seeds begin their growth cycle it reaches toward the sun, preparing to succeed and reach its fullest potential. Every day the forest changes and in every moment it experiences it changing surroundings. Seasons, weather, time and temperature are all part of its moment to moment living. Nature is able to go through a multitude of changes and at the same time express and know its interconnection with every other part of nature. All of this (and more) increases my attractiveness to nature. It shows me my own innate ability to do the same because I too am part of nature” and “I appreciate and value nature’s ability to adapt, recycle and reinvent its self repeatedly by fulfilling its natural attractions and love for all. I too can do this.”
Project Nature Connect Student R.S., Well Mind, Well Earth: Chapter 20, (2011) stated “The seasons give us time with the sun hotter and colder for different purposes and balance. The sun heats it up and brings out life and then cools off for the period of dying off and allowing for room for new life. As I write this, I’m struck that this cycle is also the cycle of life/death. So, since I am part of nature and humanity is part of nature, we will have new life and then die off to make room for new life.”
Project NatureConnect Student M.M., Well Mind, Well Earth: Chapter 16, (2011) stated “Organizing is something that can happen without speaking. Nature does it all the time. NATURE is also very organized and has systems that seek balance, help to sustain life, that recycle to prevent waste, and support us in our human conditions.”
As a result of the breadth of experiences and knowledge shared through Project NatureConnect we are able to improve our lives by participating in nature connected activities that immerse us into a readily available and free process. We need only take the time to appreciate and learn from the limitless attractiveness and ability of nature to act as a catalyst to reconnect us to our innate sensory knowing.
Project NatureConnect Student Mallory, Well Mind, Well Earth: Chapter 52(2011) stated “NIAL [Nameless, Intelligence, Attractions, Love] connects directly to sensory experience(s)/expressions and in this place there is no separation. As a result, NIAL [Nameless, Intelligence, Attractions, Love] experiences are whole and supportively create a link between mind/body/spirit and everyday life.”
In 2006, Louise Chawla, Learning to Love the Natural World Enough to Protect It, stated “a positive experience in nature was a significant factor for those who choose to be active conservation stewards.”
Michael J. Cohen has learned through his 50 years of experiences in nature that “We seldom live and think organically. Most of us unnecessarily suffer from Natural System Dysfunction (NSD) because we live excessively nature separated lives. Over 95 percent of our time is spent indoors. Over 99 Percent of our thinking is out of tune with the restorative workings of natural systems within and around us. Fortunately, Organic Psychology enables us to reverse this disorder.”
Michael J. Cohen also states, “Any disorder is a condition in which there is a mental, physical, or psychological disturbance of normal functioning; one that perturbs us, makes our psyche uneasy or causes us undue distress, worry or alarm. NSD is a pervasive disorder that we usually deny. NSD produces sensory deprivation that seldom registers in our awareness. It harms us by rendering us incapable of registering and thinking with the full range of inborn protective and supportive natural senses that are normally part of natural systems within and about us.
Our natural senses are vital immunity and resilience functions of our natural systems. When they are unavailable or impaired, our thinking is forced to make less sense for it has less data to work with when our natural senses are removed. This produces a void in us that distresses our mind, body and spirit. It makes us more dependent on, as well as vulnerable to, detrimental products and relationships.
The way the natural systems of earth work to sustain the health of themselves and the world is exemplified by the water cycle and the way it registers in us as thirst and excretion. As its flow of water nurtures plants, animals, air, soil and us, it composts, recycles and renews destructive impurities and disorders, when possible. This restorative process sustains the well-being of all of life including the thinking and sensory life of our psyche for it, too, is a working part of many natural systems globally and within us.
As with any other form of pollution, when our thinking is polluted, until it recovers or is restored, it pollutes the natural systems of which it is part. For example, if our senses of thirst, excretion and reason foolishly allow our thinking to place dioxins in rivers, the rivers become polluted with dioxins. Dioxins then further pollute us.”
We become fearful or detached when we lack knowledge or awareness of something. To make the nameless known and be compelled to solve the unknown we must choose to confront and interact with the nameless. The Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) supports us in understanding we are all born with and can access 53 natural senses and sensations. As a result of bringing the fact of their existence into our consciousness we confront our personal challenges and achieve courage to embrace self-empowerment, and integrate positive transformation into our lives and global community.
A study, Clements (2004), found that “82% of mothers with children between the ages of 3 and 12 identified crime and safety concerns as one of the primary reasons they don’t allow their children to play outdoors.”
According to Pyle (2002), Herrington & Studtmann (1998), and Moore & Wong (1997), “Due to ‘stranger danger,’ many children are no longer free to roam their neighborhoods or even their own yards unless accompanied by adults.”
“Children's lives have become structured and scheduled by adults, who hold the mistaken belief that this sport or that lesson will make their children more successful as adults” as noted by Moore & Wong (1997) and White & Stoecklin (1998).
In fact, “the culture of childhood that played outside is gone and children’s everyday life has shifted to the indoors” (Hart 1999, Moore 2004). Rivkin (1990), Chawla (1994), Kellert (2002), Pyle (2002), Kuo (2003), Malone (2004) conclude that as a result of not being allowed to explore and play in nature, “children’s opportunity for direct and spontaneous contact with nature is a vanishing experience of childhood.”
The importance of direct and spontaneous contact with nature is that it builds skills and trustable conscious contact with our natural senses and sensations. The natural world varies every day and in every moment. These changes validate the balance nature achieves in its ‘in the moment living.’ This awareness can be utilized to strengthen acceptance and well-being on a personal and global level.
According to Michael J. Cohen, “Sensations and feelings are of, by and from nature, no culture or individual lays claim to inventing or owning them or legally restricting their availability.”
Everyone, regardless of age, can benefit from nature’s diversity through structured and unstructured play and exploration of the natural world. Through the Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) everyone is stimulated to find their own distinctive approach to discovering and expressing themselves, in and through nature, to generate self-freedom and choice.
The Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) stimulates a nurturing and non-competitive learning experience. These experience support increased self-esteem and bonding with nature, ourselves, and others. As a result, we feel more connected to ourselves and the global community.
According to Cobb; Berkman & Syme “While many nature experiences have a solitary component, many involve a social component, as well. Natural environments provide opportunities for affiliation, social support, intimacy, and group bonding in a new, exotic environment. A degree of shared challenge also increases social support and altruism. Social support has demonstrable health benefits.”
According to Edward O. Wilson, Biophilia, Harvard University Press (January 13, 1984) the biophilia hypothesis suggests that there is “an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems.”
The term biophilia literally means ‘love of life or living systems.’ It was first used by Erich Fromm to describe a psychological orientation of being attracted to all that is alive and vital. Edward O. Wilson uses the term in the same sense when he suggests that biophilia describes “the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life.” He proposed the possibility that the deep affiliations humans have with nature are rooted in our biology. Unlike phobias, which are the aversions and fears that people have of things in the natural world, philias are the attractions and positive feelings that people have toward certain habitats, activities, and objects in their natural surroundings.”
Kaplan and S. Kaplan, Preference, Restoration, and Meaningful Action in the Context of Nearby Nature, in P. F. Barlett (Ed.) Urban place: Reconnecting with the Natural World, MIT Press (1995) it stated “The immediate outcomes of contacts with nearby nature include enjoyment, relaxation, and lowered stress levels. In addition, the research results indicated that physical well-being is affected by such contacts. People with access to nearby natural settings have been found to be healthier than other individuals. The longer-term indirect impacts also included increased levels of satisfaction with one's home, one's job, and with life in general. Surely this is a remarkable range of benefits.”
The Well Mind, Well Earth activities and students have stimulated and inspired me throughout the coursework. The vast intelligence of nature transports us into personal truth, wisdom, community, support, and love. There is an endless abyss of nourishment and inspiration available when we connect to the intelligence of nature through the Well Mind, Well Earth activities.
The Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) has enabled me to contribute to an empowering interactive process that connects me to the beauty within nature and in turn myself. Every single moment spent doing nature connecting activities in Well Mind, Well Earth have assisted me in recovering from wrangling beliefs and disconnected sensory connections. As a result of my experiences the Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) has aligned me to a process, a tool, which I can easily utilize or enable others, who want more joy and abundance in their own lives.
Society teaches us how to ascertain what ‘enough’ is. It teaches us how to control and manage our hunger, time, and relationships. We are taught that conquering resources is one way to achieve greatness and wealth. We are taught to ‘defend’ our misguided thoughts and beliefs. As a result, disconnection, war, anger, murder and destruction continue to poison humanity.
Project NatureConnect Student Mallory, Well Mind, Well Earth: Chapter 45, (2011) stated “My sense of time 1) Feels rushed and my body tenses when time is measured by a clock. 2) My new brain artificially attempts to tell me that I need an electronic device to determine the time of day.”
My sense of hunger is 1) Frustrated by the story of not being able to seek food and eat whenever I am hungry. It is 2) artificially satisfied by eating economically available food at scheduled times, no matter the season, weather, or geographic location.
#1. My sense of temperature and temperature change is 1) Frustrated by the story that I cannot enjoy the temperature/seasons changes as they happen in nature. 2) My new brain artificially attempts to fulfill my senses by telling me the store hasn’t switched the season yet. The store still has shorts and swimwear not jackets and coats. The calendar doesn’t say it’s ‘fall’ or ‘winter.’ Further my new brain attempts to tell me that the temperature change is a ‘fluke’ or ‘not typical’ because it is unexpectedly/unseasonably cool.
My sense of weather changes 1) Feels confused when it relies on the ‘predictions’ of weather forecasts. 2) My new brain artificially attempts to tell me that weather forecasts are more accurate than my own senses. My new brain tells me that I must further rely on the cautions of weather forecasters to remain safe during certain weather conditions.”
The Well Mind, Well Earth activities stimulate us to follow natural attractions, to appreciate time in nature, to unwind and rest, to love ourselves and the natural world. As a result, we are able to find hope in places we felt lost and replace those spaces with support and love from our global and natural community. We become rejuvenated, balanced, renewed, and rewarded with a sense of joyfulness for all life.
Project NatureConnect Student T.S, Well Mind, Well Earth: Chapter 35, (2011) stated “I struggle with allowing myself to just feel happy. I always question it, wait for the rug to be pulled out so to speak. It is almost like living in a perpetual state of anticipation and it can be exhausting. I love my time outdoors because it is the now. the right now.. and I can be happy in it.”
Nature’s therapeutic powers support us in finding tranquility and to know our importance. This knowledge can definitely be shared with others. When we help ourselves and others we have a greater sense of ourselves as a part of a larger community of people and living beings. Within a supportive community we honor each person’s abilities and choices. Through sharing our experiences with others we learn to trust our natural sensory connections and cultivate knowledge that enables individuals and communities to have a better sense of well-being.
Project NatureConnect Student T.S, Well Mind, Well Earth: Chapter 19, (2011) stated “I gained self confidence/ self esteem during this activity when i recognized that my strengths and attributes are the very things I have been condemning in myself. To change this, I embraced the moment as it presented itself to me and I gained value for myself in the process.”
In conclusion, our local and global life system can greatly benefit from time in nature and its infinite wisdom. The Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) reverses humanity’s prejudices and disconnection, Natural System Dysfunction (NSD).
By thinking and sensing through unfiltered natural attractions we acquire the ability to care for natural resources and ourselves intelligently and sensibly. As a result, we will improve our understanding of our living global community. We will be capable of honoring truth and preserving it through our ability and commitment to speak up for ourselves. In turn, we can use our voices to heal, inspire and sooth pain and disconnection. Humanity, as a whole, could cultivate truth. Thusly, we would no longer allow culture stories and our wranglers to govern our sensory connections and beliefs. Most importantly, we would reconnect to our innate 53 natural senses and sensations. As a result, we can apply our natural senses and sensations at any time to facilitate and contribute in our healing and that of the living global community.
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