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 Nature of Pain, Freedom and Safety On a Twilight Beach

- Journaled Activity by Anonymous Participant  
Applied Ecopsychology education, counseling and healing article. 


For an individual suffering from aches and pain, the sensation from twilight falling on a lake beach and dark floral patterns feels akin to heaven and freedom. Embracing a fir tree releases senses of rigid math and converts a spider into a friend as nature inside and outside meet to transform discomfort into safeness.

For this activity I drove to the lake in the evening.  As soon as I could see the water, I felt interested.  I noticed that the ferns were almost completely unfurled.  I walked to the shore, noticing at once the puffy white clouds of blossoms on the madronas in contrast to the other green leafy trees.  I tried to avoid thinking about what I would write, and focus on being open, feeling, connecting.  I didn't feeling much like walking.  I felt into my own body, with all of its aches and pains.  I realized this is also nature; instead of me feeling into nature outside, let me feel inside, and  invite nature to feel into me as well.  I walked over to a large fir and leaned up against it.  I invited it to feel me.  I was distracted by the sound of a ventilation system, so I decided I would walk around the bend and try again.

On the footbridge, I watched the swirling rippling water, and realized that the attraction was again the randomness and freedom of the patterns.  I realized that my life had become boxed up and linear by living and being schooled indoors remembering how I chose Waldorf School for my son, where drawing and writing began with swirling shapes, and math began with clapping and movement.

There were sweet floral scents in the air.  I knew that if my sinuses weren't blocked, these fragrances would waft me away to heaven. The beach was strewn with madrona blossoms.  As I crossed the beach I noticed that the twilight was casting unusual reflections.  It seemed like a reflected fir branch was rising up out of the water.  I walked up the next path hoping to find the Solomon's Seal still in bloom.

I realized the reason my body had not felt like walking is that I have developed a shin splint in my right leg.  I took it easy, walked as far as the first Solomon‚s Seal, and breathed it in several times.  I realized that the fragrance, which we call the smell, is actually much more than that.  It is part of the intelligence of the plant, it is alive.  I wondered if the plant could smell me.

As I crossed back over the beach, I noticed all the blossoms again.  I realized that if I were a little girl, I would pretend they were pearls, and would gather them up and decorate my throne with them.  I stopped at the bridge and watched the bats swooping gliding and diving for insects.  I was entranced by their rapid free movements in all directions.  They never collided.  It seemed they were having a good time!

On the final part of the path, I suddenly noticed how dark it was.  The world seemed to disappear for a moment, and I was happy!  It was an exciting prospect, like entering a dream.  I noticed that I began to walk more quietly, to favor my hearing.  My world became smaller, as in an egg, focusing only on what was close.  I felt comfortable, even near a spider.

I saw my fir tree and walked over to try again.  I put my head right against the bark and invited it in.  It was silent.  I realized that was a good thing.  My mind, the human world, is too noisy anyway.  I sensed that its roots are nourished by the lake.  I could feel how water was like a highway, circulating the nutrients. I realized the tree did not know how to criticize itself.  As I walked in the dark, I felt 99.9999% safe.


At One With Nature When I Pay Attention and Be in the Moment

- Journaled Activity by Anonymous Participant

It was a mild late afternoon in early Fall and I was a little girl, eight years of age.. My countrified Pacific Northwest mill-town neighborhood was not industrious that day, strangely devoid of the grown-ups’ garden/lawn activities and sounds. Neither do I recall the usual roaming bicycle or group of kids playing. All was hushed. Life had turned indoors.

My family, although often a great source of joy, felt disjointed and antagonistic. I had had it. There was a better life to be had. So I packed a few essentials into a headscarf. I gathered a plastic blue comb, some saltine crackers and a small pen knife, and hit the road, undetected by my punitive-bent parents and heartless older sisters.

First stop: The crumbling and forbidden abandoned house next door. I found a fork among the debris-covered, undulating floor boards and took it along. I explored the adjoining vacant lot, a magical hide & seek playground of tall grasses and overgrown flowering shrubs. I remember often fantasizing about digging an underground carpentry shop between the snowball bush and the pear tree, maybe a spin-off from Santa’s workshop.  Although, when I pondered the hard, weed-choked soil I began to glean the rift of reality and fantasy. Anyway, not a task for someone setting off to start a new life far away.

Seeking solace from a reliable haunt, The Slough, came next. I crossed over to the Berkley’s house, navigating down past the electric-fenced pasture, which contained two blasť horses and a curious goat. I traversed a damp and shady rock knoll amongst the Douglas fir that boasted licorice fern.   I could live on that!  I spent some time practicing the swing and bounce of an overhanging limb, the familiar pungent smell of the tributary stream bed below. The Slough, once reached, represented a real way out. There was a board raft, pole and wooden box for seating on which my sisters and I conducted the occasional summer safari. But those safaris were only done in the sweltering heat of August days with a full bag lunch and ably captained by my sister, four years older. I didn’t think today was right for that.

Taking back meandering paths, hitherto unknown, I reached the Engleman’s chicken coup. Ah, the dry, aroma-rich sanctified atmosphere of the chicken coup. There I took a warm egg from a nest (where were those hens? And no Englemans?), so sweet and precious, I felt like a very sly fox.

Now evening had begun to darken the sky. I lied face-down in a field, nose against the cool, matted, brown grass. Here I reflected on injustice inflicted upon me and in a presentiment way understood the importance of facing psychological truth. I didn’t know why, I just knew it was very important to look things in the face, and not hide from hurt. Then with fascination, next to me I spied a large spider that had wonderful pink markings on its back. It kept me company for a while during my silent reverie.  A friend it truly seemed. It was then I heard the foghorn hoot of my father’s whistle in the distance. Awakened from the spell, I took off on a run for my journey home, healed in heart and triumphant of spirit. Surprisingly, and I’m still surprised, my return was met with cheers and open hearts. It’s interesting that I remember so much detail of that day, but not the actual reason that made me feel the need to run away from home. 

I felt independent from other people, but very connected to the nature supporting me.   I felt greeted and in a gracious, quiet way, taken hospitably in. Although it was long ago, I still can summon up many senses. My mood was interactive. My early family experiences aided my own inherent sensitivities…and I believe there were some school experiences, too, that supported NSTP. Essentially, they were available portals for my own explorations. I absolutely feel I am one with nature if I would just pay attention and be in the moment, especially when in challenging social and urban settings!

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