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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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Humble, Playful, Residual Air Stops Cyclical Panic Fear
......../////////....................................................................- Journaled Course Observation by Anonymous Participant
Applied Ecopsychology education, counseling and healing article.
After asking permission, I sat in a shady spot underneath the ponderosa pine. Air is fresh and damp after a morning monsoon rainfall. The hill I climbed is covered in dry pine needles that dropped from the trees. The covering is spongy and holds in moisture for the trees and it is comfortable for me to sit on. The birds singing grows louder and highway noises are drowned out. I breathe in humid pine scents and listen to thunder in the distance. Raindrops that fell earlier fall from the branches when a breeze stirs the tree. The sun’s warmth intensifies and an airborne grasshopper collides with my arm. The air is alive and it stimulates all of us who share it. It is packed with energy, smells, thickness, moisture, playfulness, movement, and unpredictability. I am blessed to breathe it in, absorb and renew, and then exhale it as a gift back. I like to share this interaction knowing that my exhalations are nourishing and affecting other creatures in a positive way. As I smile at this, catkins (they appear like tiny softer pinecones) are falling on and around me, ants are exploring me, and my skin and sunshine are attracted to each other.
When I hold my breath, I feel a slight panic attack. The world is smaller and frozen. I feel like I am on the other side of a glass pane looking in. The circular flow of life stops. I realize that I absolutely trust the natural attraction feeling for air. When this crucial webstring is cut, my survival is threatened. I am humbled. I exhale and breathe in out of necessity. The pine smell is sweeter. I am affirmed by my connections with Nature that I am supposed to be here. I am thankful for Nature’s nonverbal messages to reconnect and breathe. I know the panic and attack that arose was old, from residual memories of earlier experiences of not being allowed to breathe. The breeze against my skin and sounds of raindrops bring me back to the safety of the moment. Nature affirms again that I am supposed to be here.
I notice that certain memories can affect me to feel disconnected from Nature. It is interesting to me that I was able to trigger myself, in a safe place, to panic and fear not being able to breathe. I know that the panic was related to earlier traumas and their unpredictability. The fear came from within me and had nothing to do with Nature except that I am a part of Nature. The memories will be stored in my cells and will affect or cover my cognitions as long as I keep giving power to them. Nature can help me to reclaim this power and focus on the beauties of the present. Systems that function harmoniously.
Both the chapter and the activity remind me to be accountable. In the realm of daily life, I can choose to be so busy that I take rapid, shallow breaths and feel panic or I can choose to inhale deeply and, humbled, trust that I still need to take care of myself. When I feel good, I feel like I belong. When I was in the woods, the other creatures and I were a community celebrating, sharing, and resolving challenges in a cyclical way. It is when I feel my worst (disconnected because needs are not being met) when I will isolate, not engage in community, or attempt to fill voids through material things. When drowned in this covering, I usually go to the woods or a natural place, away from humans, to ground myself.
Repeating the disconnection exercise, I feel the difference. I trust that I am holding my breath temporarily and I am safe. Old memories are nowhere to be found or felt.
Susan, I can relate to your experience. Just a few minutes ago I walked out my front door to catch a ray of sunshine totally not expecting to have my experience with self-discovery. But it happened. It had been a greatly panic and stress filled week with regards to my invested works. Immediately as I stood on the front porch and asked permission to be there, all sounds stopped. The wind stopped blowing and nature and I were one. In my 4 legged thinking I needed to get a breath of fresh air. In my 5 legged thinking, the computer was causing me to compress and fill with electrostatic magnetic electricity. But in my 9 legged thinking, almost as a subconscious reaction, I was going to nature to be cyclical, to regroup and reset. For the 7 or so minutes of complete stillness I felt all my bent up stress leaving my body like the image of a spirit leaving a person who has just ceased to live. I was renewed thanks to nature. It just so happened that when I verbalized "Thank You" to my environment, the wind began to blow once more and the birds and animals went back to business. BLESSINGS and goodness abound! Stress free....
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