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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Remedy the psychological and spiritual illness that underlies our personal, social and environmental disorders.
What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Therapy in Nature for its Symptoms?
How to correct the seldom recognized source of corruption, financial greed, social injustice and the unequal distribution of wealth.
- Michael J. Cohen
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
- Katherine Lee Bates
It is a significant observation that most of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are also, to a lesser extent, symptoms of many of the other mental health and effects of stress that deteriorate our life and well-being. This suggests that most of our ill-health stems from a degradation of nature's perfection, and its self-correcting powers in and around us.
In the final analysis, it is the integrity and healing powers of nature that maintain the health, balance and support we obtain from natural systems as they flow through us and the environment.
Because the anti-organic posture of Industrial Society is to test, conquer or exploit nature for monetary profit or prestige, its assault on natural systems produces stress most everywhere along the deterioration of well being. We see this wherever the established order of how we think and feel disrupts nature's balanced ways.
A student in his introduction to his online, nature-connected, educating, counseling and healing study group wrote,
"I'm Andy Prescott. Poet. Wombed in the psychological trauma of Nature disconnection. Mom smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol. As did Dad. He was also emotionally distant.
'Let him cry,' the doctor who delivered me told my parents --as doctors did in 1953-- when I wouldn't stop. After 2 weeks of this, doc figured out I wasn't getting milk from mom. 6' 2'' and 143 lbs. when I got to high school. A type-one (insulin-dependent) diabetic at age 18.
Diagnosed Bipolar with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and panic attacks, unable to sleep in 2002. Sex and love addict since age 12. First poem: 'Let's Get Drunk Together.'
Unable to stop acting-out in my addictions even after 3 inpatient treatment-centers lasting a year and a half--and a care-home, I returned home to get my papers out of storage to finish my book. I came upon a brochure for Project NatureConnect I had gotten at our local Ecology Park. I ordered our Reconnecting With Nature text and How Nature Works. I noticed a very high addiction recovery rate was reported for severely at-risk students who'd taken the first online course using the book The Web of Life Imperative. Unheard of.
I took the distance learning "Orientation Course" for stress management. Obtained the longest sobriety ever. Developed the best blood sugars test of any of my doctor's patients: Averaging 130. Reduced my anti-psychotic, sleeping-disorder, panic attack medication from 600 mg./night to 50 mg./night. No longer required my Lamictol Bipolar medication. Currently getting the most positive reactions of ANY of the artists in city-wide Art Extravaganzas. Beyond all my wildest dreams are coming true."
Andy Prescott was able to reduce his many disorders. Nature-connected educating, counseling and healing activities helped him intermingle his thoughts and feelings with nature's purifying and restorative powers for transformation.
The fact that traumatic stress disorders are seldom found in nature suggests that every tree, plant, hill, mountain and rock, has healing energy.
As part of nature, our body mind and spirit are a seamless continuum of the natural world and its ability to sustain health and wellness. However, to our loss, normal life in Industrial Society excessively disconnects us from nature. The deficit this produces stresses us. This is because the web of life contains all the things we need to sustain and heal ourselves and the natural world.
"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."
- John Burroughs
Our problem is that as part of Industrial Society's demand for power and monetary profit, we mostly rely on nature-substitute beliefs and technologies. They are not organic. They replace the way nature's regenerative perfection works and we feel the stress symptoms that arise from that replacement.
We suffer our many disorders because, on average, over 98 percent of our thinking and feeling is not connected to or in tune with the healing pulse of authentic nature.
Our loss of healing from nature stresses our senses. We suffer sensory satisfaction voids that arise from our synthetic substitutes for nature. To often our beliefs and technologies inadequately replace the well-being naturally provided through an individual's contact with nature's recuperative powers.
Today, over 80 percent of the public endures many signs of stress and depression because we don't learn how to think and feel like nature's perfection works. Sadly, stress tests and medical observations indicate that 75-90 percent of doctor visits are stress-related. More than 85 percent of the public is in psychotherapy or similar support relationships. Our human nature is under the same assault as are natural systems in general.
We seldom see other members of the plant, animal or mineral kingdom suffer from our stress disorders because as part of the healing energies of nature's web-of-life, they continually support and nurture each other.
One could argue that our normal indoctrination into the nature-estranged ways of Industrial Society produces in us lasting symptoms of traumatic stress. In this light, it is the violence of our wars on nature in people that creates Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in many warriors.
The path from wilderness to civilization does not necessarily lead to the cluttered, materialistic and desperate way that Industrial Society places personal and global life at risk. To become truly civilized, the nature-connecting science of Natural Attraction Ecology helps us go back to our origins in reality and imagination. We then enter the future with our body, mind and spirit embraced in the beauty and healing powers of authentic nature.
"This earth which is spread out like a map around is but the lining of my inmost soul exposed."
- Henry David Thoreau
Many people want to know, what is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), what causes it? Sometimes referred to as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS), experts say PTSD results from virtually any severe life-threatening event, trauma or intense fear that compromises our emotional well-being or that disturbs the health of our natural mind and psyche. Again, it is important to recognize that many PTSD symptoms are also found in less intense stress situations and mental health disorders, that our society, as a whole, suffers from varying gradients of traumatic stress. These gradients are caused by the extensive disconnection from nature produced by our socialization into our central, nature-exploitive way of thinking and feeling.
Some individuals rightfully ask "What is stress?" From a whole-life point of view, it can be best described as a form of emotional pressure or anxiety that results from an individual's strong or weak disconnection from nature's restorative and balancing ways, in and around us.
Because our extensive disconnection from nature causes the detrimental effects of stress, it is no surprise that learning how to think and feel while in conscious sensory contact with authentic nature provides lasting stress relief. It is a valid Post Traumatic Stress Disorder therapy. Better still, the side effects of this vital remedy are beneficial rather than harmful because they increase the balance, health and wellness of self, society and nature.
"Nature is doing her best each moment to make us well."
- Henry David Thoreau.
Due to our denial that our society is prejudiced against, and excessively disconnected from nature, we seldom recognize that conscious sensory connections with authentic nature help us reduce the stress that produces our financial greed, corruption, social injustice and unequal distribution of wealth. Like PTSD, these outrages stem from our unfulfilled need for the balancing stress relief satisfactions that genuine sensory contact with nature normally provides.
"We need the tonic of wildness. In wildness is the preservation of the world."
- Henry David Thoreau
Field Study Reports from Anonymous Project NatureConnect Participants:
“I have taught and worked with stress reduction for several years using the principles of this program. However lately I have found it challenging to remember to utilize the principles in my own life-this activity was a great reminder and reading the comments by the participants in the paragraphs helped me remember that I teach this to others and I automatically utilize some of it, however I needed to go deeper.
Today seemed especially stressful when I woke up. I have had panic attacks since I was three years old and I sometimes wake up with them, not knowing where they are coming from or any reasoning. I have now had them for three days in a row
This afternoon I went to a nature area where the fall leaves are burnt orange, golden yellow, crimson and the smell of autumn is in the air. There were two ponds near me and I watched the ducks and geese. When I first sat down, tears came to my eyes and I literally said “God, are you still here? Do you see me?” I felt overwhelmed with “too much” and “too little” in other words, stress. I sat there really tuning in to my senses and let myself just feel what I was feeling. And I really felt it---then as I paid more attention to the ducks paddling, the soft breeze and the light upon the water I felt my body and mind relax almost like the unfolding of a rose. I became calm, mesmerized by the beauty, tranquil and peace-filled. I was almost surprised at how good I felt. I sat there for 30 minutes in a “no time” moment until some children came along and started talking to me. It was a wonderful experience and I thought “wow-this really works”.
The second part of the activity was to repeat the activity with a group. I have utilized this almost every time I teach my stress reduction workshops at the beginning of the workshop and then we get back into group and the shared communication is always a gift to each person and brings us present for the retreat. I believe each person is able to connect with their inner nature and the inner nature of those in the group because of the solo time and it deepens the weekend and creates a platform for connection and authentic communication.
I also watched my husband do many of the activities with an Aloe plant we had in our home because he deliberately wanted to see if it was possible for people to really have the same experiences if they were unable to leave their home. (He also did the activities in nature as well). They always worked.
I learned that Nature is everywhere and that stress is alleviated by taking the time to connect with nature and then dealing with the problem. Our experiences with nature help us to know truth. The breath of all creation is real to me when I tune in, and I like ducks and geese. I have the tools to help me - right outdoors (or with a plant) to relieve my stress."
"The indescribable innocence and beneficence of Nature -of sun and wind and rain, of summer and winter- such health, such cheer, they afford forever!"
- Henry David Thoreau
"As I write this I am looking out the window at a beautiful full moon and I wonder how many of you all can see this same sight from your place on the planet. The webstrings of the heavens connect us all. I traveled to the desert again and did the activity there. It has been a cool and wet year in the Pacific Northwest so the desert is flourishing and the ecosystem is very active.
For this activity I laid down, partly because I did not feel well but also it seemed a good posture to do the activity. I have a digestive disorder that flares up from time to time and I was feeling miserable at this time. As I laid there with my eyes closed I felt the heat of the desert which was soothed by occasional breezes coming off of a small lake next to where we were staying. The heat was welcome because it was not a very hot day and the breeze was calming. As I laid there I could smell and feel the moisture in the air from the lake and also the strong herbal scent of the desert shrubs and willows growing along the lake.
There were horses in a fenced area next to me and I could hear their steps and tails swishing to keep the insects away. I heard the chirping of a small bird so I opened my eyes. I saw a tiny quail by itself walking up from the one spot along the lake bank that did not have thick vegetation. My heart felt a surge of joy, nurturing and community from the sight of this baby quail. I was concerned for it being alone, but then out of the thick grass along the lake came his 5 other siblings and his two parents. I was fortunate to be able to watch this family for quite a while and my senses were filled. I watched the father stand on a rock watching for danger as his family dusted themselves in the sandy soil. I watched them search for food, pecking around in the dry soil. And I watched them watch me, and I felt that powerful feeling of kinship with nature that is becoming welcoming and familiar as I progress in this course. I also noticed after the birds had passed away into the brush and that my symptoms had subsided. I felt renewed, refreshed, I did not feel ill anymore. The power of nature to renew and sustain health and balance in my life was experienced once again."
"A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature."
-Henry David Thoreau
"I loved this quote from the reading: 'Just as when you inhaled air, you always have the option to safely feel comfortable by reconnecting with nature through Natural Attractions. You can do this even when a story within or around you stresses you by telling you to do otherwise.” This reminds me that the skill I am gaining, connecting with nature, is a supportive asset that is always available to reset my troubled emotions, overloaded mind or to support my ill health. I like that every form of education, counseling and healing works better when it is in contact with attractions in nature.
I discovered that tuning into natural attractions can restore the balance of my mind, spirit, body and emotions, and this can happen easily and rapidly. Tuning into natural attractions can help foster my relationships to my own species by engaging my 53 senses with nature and having a deeper awareness of the depth of the sensory experience of people. Becoming aware that nearly every human being I come into contact with has a 5-leg bias, makes me more equipped in navigating through relationships.
If my webstring natural attractions to nature were taken away from me I would feel stressed, abandoned, sad, disconnected, and lonely. I would probably still feel the symptoms of ill health I was experiencing.
This activity reinforced my trust in nature and its ability to support all aspects of my life. What improved my self-worth was in the reading where it highlighted that nature needs my expiration just like I need the inspiration of air. All this provided me with a concrete sensory experience that reinforced the validity of what I am learning. The study book notes that in our society, our thinking has become destructively dependent on nature disconnecting words and stories. This troubles me and I'm not sure what to do about it. Nature is an unlimited, always available source of positive energy.
I shared this activity with my wife and she actually started taking notes and has begun to share in this connecting with nature learning. We both love it. I no longer say I'm experimenting with these ideas. I claim them for my own- for my fulfillment, my growth and my enjoyment.”
"In wildness is the preservation of the world."
- Henry David Thoreau
“For this stress-release activity I was attracted to a fig tree in a park. With my eyes closed I repeated the words “natural attraction” and for consent to be with it. I became aware of the motion of the leaves in the wind and could hear them gently rustling. I felt a quiet sense of peace and of the immense height of the tree without actually seeing it. When I opened my eyes I felt the rich abundance of the leaves of the canopy, and saw a beautiful family of snails harbouring under its branches which made me sense “community”. Other trees reaching out to this tree reinforced this sense of community and close to the tree , I too felt part of the community. I saw that it was nurturing a family of marigolds around its trunk which made me so aware of how we all support and sustain each other and need to trust each other for the different unique qualities we provide one another. The colours ranged from vibrant light green to more mature dark green. The texture of the trunk was smooth but the knobbly texture of the family of snails complemented it beautifully. Though there were contrasts everything belonged harmoniously and contributed to the beauty of this tree and the life it supported.
This activity led me to feel a calming sense of trust, community and nuturing. I loved the quotes “The word inspiration means “bringing air/spirit in. The word expiration meanings letting air or spirit leave” I find the expression “atmosphere comes from the ancient word for the soul” awe-inspiring.”
"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts."
- Rachel Carlson
...Enjoy further information about Applied Ecopsychology, 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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ADVANCED ECOPSYCHOLOGY IN ACTION
The Natural Systems Thinking Process
Dr. Michael J. Cohen, Director
All programs start with the Orientation Course contained in the book
The Web of Life Imperative.