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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Who or What is the Greatest or Best Teacher, Counselor, Mother, Friend, School or Corporation Executive on Earth, American or Not?
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
- Albert Einstein
Yesterday, on the Internet, I ran across the great question in the title of this article and I thought to myself, "It's easy for me to answer it if think outside the box. Experience is the best teacher and I have experienced that each of the categories in the question makes an important contribution to my life." So I mixed the question in with the wonderful thoughts and feeling I'm having as part of our Educating, Counseling and Healing With Nature (ECHN) course. Its answer became apparent. The answer is Earth, or Mother Earth. This is especially if you think of our planet as being a perfectly run corporation that organizes, self-corrects and purifies itself and all its members. It is its own executive, one that has the wisdom to be able to produce balanced optimums of life, diversity and cooperation without producing any garbage, or our greed, abusiveness and other disorders.
Most people would not come up with my answer. Without being involved with ECHN they would not recognize Earth being a true mother of pulsating global life in peace.
Without ECHN experiences and training, most of us are unaware that Earth speaks to us through our 53 natural senses and that it can teach us what we need to know once ECHN gives us the means to consciously register its communications in our sensory way of knowing. In fact, the object of ECHN is to "Create moments that let Earth teach," This helps us gain the knowledge needed to think and feel like nature works. To the layman, accomplishing this no doubt sounds "far out."
Color me strange. I sense that Earth fits the bill. It is all, and more, than the greatest corporation executive or the best teacher, counselor or mother, or a great friend or school, American or otherwise. I kept this in mind as I did my ECHN course assginment activity yesterday. I was in a a natural riparian zone, situated along the Green River, gently flowing in the midst of the high desert and through my home. At 6200 feet, the air is thin and crisp, beautifully clean and invigorating. Today, it whipped at 17 degrees F through the leafless trees at 50 mph (we've had high wind warnings that last few days, and today was no exception).
As the sun began to set and the temperature began to drop, I looked up at the beautiful rock towers that surround my town, immensely attracted to their beauty as they began to glow a deep and rusty red with the low traveling, setting sunlight. My soul is stirred daily by the sight of my earth mother's high desert towers, as I am lucky enough to have a giant tower, Castle Rock, right across the street from my home.
As I waited for consent from the towers to do this activity with them, I experienced a slight reprieve from the wind – a very positive sign, and one that I interpreted as consent. “Who are you without your name? Who are you without your labels?” I asked aloud. A feeling of peace rolled over me, a feeling that I always feel when contemplating the rocks, as well as the sense of deep kinship that I feel with this landscape. I was reminded of a quote from a book I've recently read, Talking With Nature, by Michael Roads, “Suddenly I was alive in a way never before experienced. I related to every twig, every leaf, each blade of grass, the living soil, the fading, watery sun. All became a part of myself, and I in turn became a part of the Whole” (Roads, 34). This is how I feel every time I actively connect with Nature- it never fails. The feeling is always so new, so wholesome, so invigorating. The living earth shows me that spiritual evolution is a rising spiral, and that there is no end to the journey, only more and more depth of experience... what a wonderful thing! Just when I believe that the sense of rapture that I feel could not possibly become more intense, my soul alights further in the beauty and purity of Nature, and God whispers to me of the joy of conjoint creation.
The rapport that I have with my home is very profound and deep. Through ECHN I have deepened my relationship with the area – I never tire of the beauty and the connection, and I always learn more every day. Since I have become a barefoot enthusiast, I have developed (and continue to develop) a higher tolerance to the cold. I enjoyed experiencing the feeling of the cold, high wind without labeling it, thus furthering my increasing tolerance and appreciation. Becoming friends with the wind and the cold is something that I have been working on for many years (I have lived in this area for 22 years, and the coldest temperature we have had was right around -56 degrees F), and I find that this activity is very helpful for this, and this is very important to me. I continually increase the feeling of kinship that I cherish and never tire of, in addition to the excitement of becoming more and more “friendly” with the wind and cold.
I do not have any problems with trusting my feelings of Nature-connection – in fact, I trust them much more than the feeling that are provoked by the pressures of superficial society. I always feel a strong sense of confidence and self-worth when I am spending time with the nature of our living planet, and this was no exception.
All this came about when Iwent for a walk along one of my favorites of the many trails that run through the area, seeing deer along the way, many tracks, and admiring the beauty of the river. Eventually I came to the dirt road that runs through the area, and as I walked the sun began to set, setting the dramatic rock tower formations afire. I was attracted to and consequently decided to “use” the rocks for the activity. I went through the consent process and began the activity. The results of the activity are recorded above.
The following quotes, italicized, are those that I found attractive while reading Chapter 3 of Reconnecting With Nature (Cohen, 2007) and how they added meaning to the experience is written below each quote.
“The road to civilization does not necessarily lead to the runaway clutter and destructive ways that mark industrial life. To find a better road, our thinking must be attracted to return us, in reality and imagination, to our origins in nature and society. From them, knowing our past errors, we can make enjoyable responsible moments and their attractions. This process carves a path that our children and others can follow. The path molds them to continue building that path” (Cohen, 24).
Being at the Nature preserve always makes me think about what the area must have been like before “pioneers” first came to the area. I feel a profound confusion as I attempt to reconcile my own role in modern society with my very strong feelings of disgust with throw-away culture. Doing Nature-connect activities calms my mind and soul and offers insights, but I feel that I still have a way to go as far as real, lasting peace of mind goes. As I progress in this program I feel, more and more, my own calling solidifying. I feel that I am learning with more and more detail what my “destiny” is – or, my “right livelihood,” to use the Buddhist term that has been recently discussed on the PNC Yahoo group with the launching of the fantastic website of our fellow PNC-er. I believe that “Buried and hidden beyond the five senses of man, truth beckons eternally to the human spirit” (Roads, 40). The more I follow this beckoning truth and flesh out my ideas and future plans to be a Nature-connect mentor, the more peaceful I feel.
“The 'basic' we most need is trust in ourselves, our natural attractions, and our environment” (Cohen, 24).
This is what I believe and feel in my heart. I do not need to be convinced of the concept, as I already have this “basic.” I appreciate seeing it expressed in the text.
“If we do not activate and support sensations from direct contact with nature in the moment, we do not trustfully return to our origins in nature. Instead, what we know are stories about nature from the past. These stories are not fully accurate, because nature changes and stories are often only partially true. Stories are not nearly as trustable as what we directly sense in the immediate moment” (Cohen, 25).
This passage helps me in my quest to be a Spiritual Naturalist, as only when one is experiencing the peace of real Nature is one truly able to foster a soul-expanding connection. It reminds me that, as a mentor, I must always keep this truth in mind, and always plan activities and lessons that are authentic.
“What we fully are is what we think, feel, and do in the immediate moment. It is not our memory of past moments, not our fantasies about future moments. It is us in the immediacy of our lives” (Cohen, 25).
Yes. Authentic Nature-connection must occur in “real-time.” Authentic Nature-connecting must be a real and constant choice which, as Cohen expresses in the text, becomes a habit.
“...we habitually think with stories that exclude nature” (Cohen, 26).
“We produce our troubles by teaching ourselves to avoid nature-centered thinking” (Cohen, 26).
I believe that this is true when considering status-quo public education and the modern media, and it is a reminder to me to keep seeking ways that I can help to reverse this damaging trend.
“Reconnecting With Nature enables you to know how and why you may locate, respect, and respond to nature's intelligence. This is a wisdom we each biologically inherit, one that enriches every minute of our lives as we become conscious of it” (Cohen, 27).
Staying conscious of it is the key – making the choice to foster Nature-connection every day and remembering that “Nature/mankind is but one movement, each an echo of each other” (Roads, 43).
“We can learn to hear attractive and wise sensory messages from nature within and around us” (Cohen, 27).
“Nature says the word love. It says we suffer a vast deficiency of natural love and it says how and where that love may be found. Nature can teach us that love for it is key to our happiness. However, be aware that nature teaches its love through sensory attraction experiences in nature, not by using words, for nature is nonverbal. Each nature attraction experience is a form of love. The natural world involves a type of love that neither uses nor understands verbal language and stories” (Cohen, 27).
The lack of self-love is one of the most basic causes of maladies of all kinds – including the malady of environmental destruction. As we relate more and more to Nature, and genuinely feel Nature and her love, we simultaneously develop love-of-self. As we accept the true nature of Nature and embrace the spiritual growth and peace that Nature-connection provides, we begin to accept ourselves as the perfect creations that we are. This love and acceptance happens at the level of the heart, not the head – thus the experience is a non-verbal one. The love that I feel when I am in Nature – the love that I felt when doing the activity – is ultimately indescribable. However, the avenue of artistic poetry is very promising to me, and I am striving each day to develop my expressive capacities further, so that I will be able to artfully and soulfully express my Nature-connective experiences in a way that touches others in a deep and authentic way.
Doing this activity I discovered the growing personal importance of communicating with Nature on a spiritual/nonverbal level and the potential for personal spiritual expansion when consciously asking Nature what it purely is by humbly asking the question “who are you without your name/label.” I found the reiteration of the importance of trusting our natural attractions, which are far more authentic and true than the stories of the shallow and superficial status-quo media and corporate adgendas.
I strengthed my awareness that the river and the cold, the rocks and the desert, speak truth to my soul, that I belong in the desert, I am one with the wind: Nature is in me, and I in Nature, the when the sun sets, setting the towers alight; my soul is inflamed, rapturously. My heart of hearts and my natural self is awakening more and more every day, even when I homeschool! Deep soul longings are authentically satisfied by the comfort of awakening webstrings. Relaxing into perceived adverse conditions results in euphoric Nature bonding and soul-expansion.
Participating in this activity enhances my devotion as a homeschooler to mentor my son in authentic, natural educational methods. The activity, and the wonderful results that I experience when I practice it, reinforces my choice to allow my son to experience purely and deeply his world in a non-verbal, bonding way before any labels are attached to it. It also reinforces my choice to allow him to guide his own education by following his natural attractions. This choice has resulted in almost perfect recall and retention of all of the things he has studied: it is simply the natural way to learn.
This activity has also enhanced my spiritual practice, which is deeply connected with Nature. In considering this spiritual enhancement I am spoken to, again, in Talking With Nature: “You are discovering your latent ability to unite with the energies of earth. There is no limit to the range of this power. It is universal, all-encompassing. This, my friend, is the journey you are undertaking. Eventually you will be more clear about the purpose” (Roads, 53). Indeed.
Cohen, Michael J. Reconnecting With Nature. (2007). Lakeville: Ecopress.
Roads, Michael J. Talking With Nature. (1987). Tiburon: HJ Kramer.
...Enjoy further information about Organic Psychology and Natural Attraction Ecology:
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