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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Course Evaluation: Reasonable Sensory Language Translation
- Journal of Anonymous Participant
Project NatureConnect education, counseling and healing studies.
Ecopsychology is a reasonable and practical way of learning to think about and experience our environment, wordlessly relying on our 53 senses. Reason one is that the sensory language this course taught me to slow down and pay attention to sensory experience and connect with nature as something to be acknowledged and appreciated and not taken for granted as we often do as products of our society. It gave me reason to believe that the Earth has a lot to teach us if we take a step to learn her language.
The language of multi-sensory experience is one we are born knowing but is gradually more and more an obstruction by the teachings of our culture as we grow older. The mind game we are born into tends to obstruct our reason to live when we distance ourselves psychologically from our supportive web of life by renaming our home and calling it natural resources. That language translation game obstructs that to avoid grief we should be living in a sustainable and harmonious way with the world. We are children of a natural and supportive way of behaving but we are at a crisis point where choosing to live sustainably, in harmony with our planet, is the only way to avert irreversible environmental ruin. The Natural Systems Thinking Process taught in this course is a wonderful tool for establishing a common ground of language and reference for changing the way we treat our biosphere. It removes any obstruct to believe that we can't increase well being at every level.
Connecting as a Tool for Stress and Anxiety Reduction in the Moment. The repetitive cycle of life’s stressors can be greatly alleviated by connected sensory experiences in nature that reduce grief. Today we will learn from their sensory languages some simple tools for slowing down, reconnecting and remembering the wonder of being a part of it all.
Contact and connection with nature is a reasonable means to learn many of the solutions to our worldwide dis-ease. Nature is a willing new language learning teacher. It gave me reason to believe that if left to its own cycles of life the Earth operates in a completely sustainable fashion, nothing is wasted, there is no trash, and everything has its place. Through this course in Ecopsychology I have learned to slow down and reach out to this process of the eons and ask permission to share in the web of life that is all around us. I have accessed many valuable tools that give me reason to live, for understanding what is being taught to us by our natural world and to pay attention to my direct sensory experience and not give full credence to my abstract thoughts which might obstruct or manipulate the information my many senses are giving me. I look forward to overcoming that obstruction and continued learning in nature and sharing the webstrings with others.
I have learned many important language translation steps and processes for communing with nature and integrating those experiences into my awareness throughout this course. Reason one is the idea of five leg thinking, the way most of us go about life by mentally abstracting things into language to create distance and categories, is very helpful for keeping us limited within our culture’s structure but it is also essential in showing the value of the Natural Systems Thinking Process. Its mind game often acts to obstruct me to believe that our four leg knowing is a metaphor for direct experience, for acknowledging and using the information that our senses are relaying to us. The holistic nine leg philosophy demonstrates the possibilities of taking what we learn and know through our senses and sharing and relating by converting this knowledge into words to make stories and conveyable lessons.
A great philosopher once coined the phrase “the felt presence of immediate experience” to teach people about the value in trusting our own senses and not the manufactured stories which are all around us. “Well, to my mind, the felt presence of immediate experience is the surest dimension, the surest guide that you can possibly have. Feeling is primary. All rationalization and intellectualization and analysis is secondary, and comes out of culture. The game is, no matter your culture, it has answers. Cultures think up answers.” I can’t think of a better way to word where five legged thinking by itself has taken us. I have gained a lot from understanding the implications behind the need for a Natural Systems Thinking Process. My four leg sensory experiences throughout this course have shown me that sustainable living in balance and cooperation with nature really is the only answer for the human race to survive on this planet. For instance, if I paid attention to our culture telling me that disposable everything is good and convenient and creates demand in the economy then I would be a compartmentalized, disconnected robo-person operating within the very strict boundaries of consumption: eat, sleep, work, buy and pursue the American Dream. This is not a sustainable practice for living in harmony with and within our biosphere.
At the beginning of the course we were asked to evaluate our confidence in our ability to reasonably respond to questions which ask us to delve deeply into ideas about the web of life which question our held beliefs and concepts of our perceived reality. For example, “Life has a purpose. What is it?” and “How and where do you collect self-evidence?” Did I have confidence that I could answer questions like this in a nature-connected and genuine way? My overall score of confidence in my ability to answer these questions now compared to my score at the beginning of the course has certainly improved. At the same time, I am glad to know that my actual answers to the questions in the beginning were not completely abstracted five legged philosophies which had more to do with how I wish to see myself as opposed to how I am and what I see around me. I feel confident in my ability and very gratified to answer “Can you be sane if you are a good citizen of an insane society?” No is the answer. Empowered with what we have learned in this process I am glad to have a meta-view of our social and cultural structure. It is our job as awakening and connected citizens of the world to share our webstrings and empower others to ask these questions of themselves.
Another valuable dimension of this course is the interaction we have with other group members who are taking the course and doing the activities at the same time. “So, we’ll start this organic journey of remembering with this very important part of you, the natural systems within you.” We would go into nature to learn that experiences are facts. We would come back, evaluate our experience, email each other and share our webstring attractions. Even though I have never met in person, and may never meet the people in my group, I feel a bond of shared experience and the friendship gained through thinking and relating on this journey. Dehab, Michelle, Don and Jessica all have very unique writing styles, each a reflection of their personalities and their approach to what we were learning. I looked forward each week to the various stories and new perspectives shared by everyone. When we were learning about sensing and feeling webstrings.
Dehab wrote “My experience in nature shows me that I am a person who gets good feelings by observing growing grasses, particularly naturally growing grasses found under other plants. For me, these simple green grasses represent the whole world that we live in; its green color shows me pure nature, its togetherness (since I never noticed a single strand of grass standing alone at
a place) shows me natural attractions, its simple yet amazing texture (when I touch it, it is smooth as well as rough based on the direction that I stroke) shows the plain yet the complicated world, its smell shows pure air (I just know it, even though I am not able to smell it with my nose),.. etc ”. This is a beautiful, genuine statement. Dehab is from Ethiopia, it was wonderful to compare the differences and similarities in our cultures in how we relate to nature and speak about it.
Regarding our activities around the idea of Natural Consensus Don wrote “I compared how I felt about being in this mutually supportive moment in nature compared to how I felt before the activity. What happened was my chest became less tight and I was reminded to live in the present and not be so
concerned about aspects of the future (as I was prior to the activity). Being present (mindful) and asking for consent from nature is a way for a human to do his part to create a mutually supportive moment. Nature's part are the attractions themselves.” Don has a lot of life experience working in protecting the environment. He has much to share and many wonderful stories which will help others in the Natural Systems thinking process.
When we were examining the idea of “I sense and feel, therefore I am” Michelle said “For this first teachable moment I went into my backyard with the intent of finding an element in nature to connect with. What ended up happening
is that almost immediately I was greeted by a brisk winter wind that was blowing in before a cold snap. * What happened was that the breeze stopped me very suddenly and I couldn't help myself but concentrate on its affect on my skin and nose. * What it offered was the simple truth of air movement across the earth as the movement of air into and out of my lungs. * It felt life giving.” Her descriptors were always clear and real and enhanced my own enjoyment of my nature experiences.
I believe that Jessica is the youngest of the group and still in college. Her writing is fresh, full of emotion and brought me into her world in a very inclusive way. The story she shared about one of the young students she works with still stays with me “Also, as I am sitting here writing this at a coffee house, one of the special
needs kids I work with is sitting here with me. His name is Johnny and he is high-functioning autistic and ADD. He is also very emotionally
sensitive and talks to cars and animals and gets very upset if he sees anyone or anything suffering. A lot of people try to make him stop this behavior. I think this is a common thing - stopping the imagination by repeatedly telling children that they can't have it or through Western education that values empirical knowledge over imagination. He is reading through everyone's comments with me and thinks
everyone is so intelligent. He was reading and looked at me and said, "You know, these people are speaking 100% facts. When you open your eyes to the true world, you see you never have been and never will be alone." I really hope he doesn't lose this insight.”
Wow. This process of posting our experiences, while daunting at first, has become one of the most valuable parts of learning about The Web of Life
Once we begin to become aware of the real impact of our separatist abstract thinking on the physical world a kindling fire starts to burn
to do something about it. This is the logical next step. And, when we start to reexamine different writings and literature it is almost a revelation to realize that people have been speaking and writing about the need to rebalance ourselves in dynamic cooperation with this Earth for many years in many different ways. “The unity of man and nature. Human beings live in the realm of nature, they are
constantly surrounded by it and interact with it. The most intimate part of nature in relation to man is the biosphere, the thin envelope embracing the earth, its soil cover, and everything else that is alive. Our environment, although outside us, has within us not only its image, as something both actually and imaginatively reflected, but also its material energy and information channels and processes.
This presence of nature in an ideal, materialized, energy and information form in man's Self is so organic that when these external natural principles disappear, man himself disappears from life. If we lose nature's image, we lose our life.” We lose what is our true life if we do not recognize that nature is a part of us as we are a part of nature. This is the deep lesson that Ecopsychology has taught me as I have learned to pursue natural attractions which have reawakened in me the innate love of sensory experience which we all have.
 Terence McKenna at St. John the Divine's Cathedral, Synod Hall, New York, April 25, 1996
 The Web of Life Imperative
 Alexander Spirkin, Dialectical Materialism, 1986
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