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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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Mind State Humility: The Raw Activation Process of Letting the Earth Teach
- Journaled Course Evaluation by an Anonymous Participant
Applied Ecopsychology education, counseling and healing article.
Crossing paths with Dr. Cohen's work and the Natural Systems Thinking Process has been a great blessing in my life. This course came into my awareness at a time when I was feeling disconnected from my environment, the Earth, and ultimately my own being. Granted it was winter in the Pacific Northwest, which many people claim to be the soul source of their depression, but it was clear to me that the disconnect I felt was based in a broader sense of separation regarding myself and Life and raw myth as a whole. Engaging in the NTSP activities and resources has been such a practical, enlightening, and enjoyable way to get back in touch with the web of Life and I can only see this relationship deepening over time.
In the activation process of letting the Earth teach I felt that I was visiting natural spaces for the very first time that I had been to many times before. Asking for permission of the forest, mountains, and sea to be in its presence has created a shift in my mind space and humility that now remembers to acknowledge any environment as an intelligent, living being with a mind of it's own. Recently I went for a ferry ride across Puget Sound and it suddenly dawned on me to simply thank this great raw body of water for allowing this journey to take place. I hadn't asked permission before boarding the boat, but this thanking alone immediately led to an upwelling of gratitude and what I felt as a recognition from mother ocean. In visiting these spaces now, there is another dimension of connection, because I can recall the myths and attractions that have been discovered and in a way rely on the sights, sounds, smells, feelings, etc.., as caring friends to find support and inspiration in. There is also a certain amount of humility that seems to be a byproduct of practicing these activities. This partly has to do with realizing the dependence between my state of mind and well being, and the influence of external environment separation. I feel that it has become easier to pay respects to wherever I might find myself, simply because without the seeming “other”, or external surroundings, this body would not be.
Something I can't claim to have totally overcome is the Eco-zombie mind state. This is due to the fact that I still find myself slipping into the trance of independence. By that I mean there is an assumption that I exist autonomously, without the influence of other elements, attractions, and environment. This plays out on a subconscious level, but fortunately when this process becomes conscious, its grip on my experience is lessened more and more. In observing this egoistic and inflated state of mind it is easier for me to understand how the Earth is seen as “other” and as a dead resource. Obviously this is no kind of joyous realization, but I think it is crucial in moving towards compassion for all beings that inhabit this Earth, and Earth herself.
If we are to bridge the gaps between our ideal of Life on Earth and the state of things today, I think it is very important to move out of the blame game and work towards healthy communication. This means seeing the destructive actions of others as a symptom of the confused human mind, rather than an opportunity to attack the individual. We all have our weak points, but through engaging in practice such as the NSTP, our inherent strength and beauty can be called forth as nature becomes a mirror of our forgotten radiance. One activity that I felt was quite profound was finding what was attractive about a particular space and then replacing the object with myself. “I like this forest because it is holds space and shelter for a wide variety of Life.”, then becomes, “I like myself because I hold space and shelter for a wide variety of Life.” What a simple and beautiful way to evoke from ourselves something that we may never bring to mind if it wasn't for a reminder.
The attractive value of taking this course has to do with the raw, beautiful, and in the moment experiences that are a result of utilizing the acitivities. Regardless of your location on Earth the simple instructions presented here can lead to quite profound states of connection with your inner and outer world. I think it is safe to say that all humans can benefit from the activation or remembrance of dormant, Life affirming resources and sensations that we come to find in the Web of Life.
Outside of my own experiences it has been as much of a gift to hear about other participants encounters and attractions wherever they may be on Earth. While all of us clearly have our different paths and difficulties, in my opinion it is clear that these activities were of great benefit to each of us during the ups and downs. Here are some examples of what fellow participants had to say.“Stepping out of the box… I live in the projects, and I’m broke, limited on gas to find nature in my area “surely you jest!” states my five-legged mind… After a long week of work and two long days of heavy study attempting to uncover the secrets of the universe….Literally! I said I need a moment. So, optimistic on what type nature lies outside my project window I see life all around me, in what seems to be a dead area. I observed a small tree not dead, but resting as does most life in the winter. Surrounding the tree was numerous seeds or acorns, nestled in the soggy ground drenched in water from weeks of snow. And let me tell you about the snow, the tree, and the seeds explaining to me; relax let life seep in, drink up that which the most High has placed on you. The plain grey turned to vibrant peace, dark brown represented protection and comfort the seeds lay there as a mother was nursing them. My own stress and overwhelmed spirit began to be nursed by the same mother that fed the seeds the tree and the ground. I learned to relax and let it all seep in…”^^^
“Going back to the activity, I did it at the park, I used the park itself for what I was attracted to. I found a tree, asked for its permission and thanked it for letting us be there… things became much more beautiful and I felt lots of love and gratitude to this young tree. I wrote in my journal: “I love this park because when I am here I feel home, I am happy, I feel connected, loved, that I belong. It is here where I am reminded to be present, open and awake to life. Here I feel that everything is ok and perfect as it is. When I am here I just feel love coming out of my pores, at its beauty and perfection. And I feel gratitude for holding me. Here I am connected and I feel a part of life.
As I am very obedient, I hadn’t read part 2 before hand, so when I changed the park for myself, I couldn’t help but smile and feel very touched. Those words made a lot of sense, because when I am in myself I feel home, happy connected, loved and that I belong. Because only when I am in myself I can be present, open and awake to life. When all this happens I know that everything is and will be ok and perfect. Only then, I can truly love and accept myself and others and see our beauty and perfection in our uniqueness. And it is true that only by being in myself and present, I can connect and feel a part of life.” So I repeated to myself and then said it out loud. I stayed there just feeling the joy of this statement surrounded by singing parrots.”^^^"This week I chose to do my activity in my backyard. We just finished it, I'm so excited. I approached a beautiful yellow rose bush and asked permission to be w/ it. I tried to seance a connection by looking at it's vibrant colors and smelling it's fragrant petals. I didn't feel the "yes" so I moved on and sat on my porch swing. I immediately felt comfortable and decided to ask permission to be there in my yard surround by all my new trees and plants. I felt a resounding "yes!" I sat there for quite a while, noticing sights, smells, sounds etc...I felt enveloped by a graceful presence, that of course was very comforting.
It felt really nice to ask and receive permission to be in this space. I suppose we take for granted that a natural area was there before our houses were built upon them. The space was there first, it's kind of startling to imagine that I've been invading nature without ever considering that it may too have consciousness.
For several years I have been a student of Nonviolent Communication, a method of communication that teaches us to live responsibly with ourselves and others. At it's heart is compassion. I'm enjoying incorporating my new ability to communicate with nature in a compassionate way. I look forward to seeing how things in my life might shift as a result of this awareness.”
Without being in the direct presence of others in this course I felt that through reading everyone's experiences the joy and discovery that they felt really came to life in their words. This online correspondence has been a new form of education for me and I definitely got a sense of the benefits and difficulties of learning in such a way. My hope is that for all of us this exploration played out in a way that flowed smoothly into each of our life streams for our highest benefit. If my joining into the other group half way through the course caused issues for anyone I apologize for that and my wish that it ultimately has been a chance to flow with changes rather than a hindrance. My other hope is to further my relationship with the NTSP by incorporating the teachings into whatever I end up pursuing as a career. I think it is a testament to the power and depth of ecopsychology that no matter what field you find yourself serving in there is an inevitable link to the intelligence and beauty of nature, partly because we wouldn't be serving without it!
I would like to thank everyone who has played a part in bringing the NTSP to people all across the planet. From my understanding this work is the synthesis of many people's time and energy, with Dr. Cohen at the helm. Thank you for providing the framework for myself and many others to now see ourselves and all of Life in a new light that will continue to grow brighter and brighter. The amount of joy that I've experienced during this time is something truly worth celebrating and acknowledging, especially in these times when there is the tendency to lean on the crutch of sadness and despair. One of my favorite quotes from this course addresses this so beautifully.“At root, ecology is an erotic attitude of closeness, relatedness and care. We have made it into a rational/activist project and lost sight of its heart.”-Thomas Moore
May we all find lasting happiness and freedom as we dance amongst the Web of Life!
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