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The Green Spirit of Ecology and Psychology: Educating, Counseling and Healing With Nature Through 53 Natural Senses


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This article, that you may edit, describes the experience and process of Educating, Counseling and Healing With Nature, the history of a sensory ecology science designed by a Ph.D. It explores the discovery that 53 living-earth natural attractions register in our consciousness as the green spirit of our natural senses. They are included in an accredited learning and teaching tool that helps us increase personal, social and environmental well-being by dissolving Industrial Society's unreasonable prejudice against nature. This article helps our thoughts, feelings and spirit learn the how and why of genuinely tapping our thinking into the grace, balance and restorative powers of nature's web of life community. Its green spirit empowers us to grow a new and reasonable passion to benefit from and strengthen our inborn love of nature and life.


Educating Counseling and Healing With Nature

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Green Spirituality and The Metaphysics of Reconnecting With Nature

......"If the higher purpose of literature is to provoke thought...then Dr. Michael J. Cohen has written a masterpiece! "Reconnecting With Nature" is as provocative a book as this reviewer has seen. One of its purposes is to show how to let nature place its wisdom and spirit into our thinking and overcome our separation from its intelligence.
......Dr. Cohen presents the case that we have separated from nature's nurture and that is the root cause of our maladies and discomforts. Worse...our natural abilities have been significantly reduced by our society. We live our lives in cement and steel structures that have greatly reduced our appreciation and respect for nature and all that nature offers and teaches.
......Thus, "Reconnecting With Nature" is about awareness...and enlightenment and enablement. Dr. Cohen makes us aware of the situation in a bold, forthright yet compassionate fashion. He then shows us that the circumstance is not only solvable...it is do-able. You see, Dr. Cohen has lived, researched and taught in nature for over fifty years, now. Not cement and steel...nature, and so he knows of what he writes. He then gives us simple, practical solutions to enable us to find our way back to the loves, truths and integrity that some of our Native American forebears lived, daily.
......Reconnecting With Nature is a waker-upper! Michael J. Cohen has sounded the alarm, defined the problem and given us the tools to put out the fire. This eye-opener is a brilliant self-help book for all seeking renewal in our relationships with our environment, and our selves!"

 - Richard Fuller, Senior Editor, Metaphysical Reviews


The Green Spirit of Ecology and Psychology: Educating, Counseling and Healing With Nature Through 53 Natural Senses

- Michael J. Cohen, Ph.D.

By the time we are born, we inherit at least 53 natural attraction senses that enable our thoughts and feelings to make sense by connecting with nature so that we may live in balance with the whole of Planet Earth, its spirit, and each other.

During the eons before humanity walked on Planet Earth, the natural world and its spirit, an attraction to support life-in- balance that some call green spirit, thrived.  They grew in the non-polluting ways of nature's self-correcting perfection and restorative powers. Garbage, pollution and war were unknown.

Today, the deteriorating state of most aspects of the industrial world indicates that with regard to sustaining the health of our society and the environment, we are "bewildered," meaning, "separated from wilderness and green spirt."

Advanced research suggests that we suffer many troubles and disorders because we omit the renewing powers of green spirit in our industrialized spirituality and thinking. For example, because we seldom view the sensations of our natural attractions to nature as valuable scientific facts, we suffer from learning to exclude their "subjective" natural intelligence and spirit in how we think, feel and relate.

The ecology of the natural attractions that grow, sustain and hold together all aspects of Earth, is a holistic environmental psychology process, a
green spirit science that explores nature's blend of the way we learn to think and the way natural systems work. It is a blend that an unreasonable prejudice in Industrial Society teaches us to ignore. This prejudice produces many of our unsolvable problems.

Research into our psyche finds that we are born inheriting at least 53 natural attraction senses, not just five, that register the world in our consciousness. They are green spirit manifesting itself in our awareness. They enable our thoughts and feelings to make sense by connecting with nature so we may live in balance with the whole of Planet Earth, its spirit and each other. 

To our loss, the bias of Industrial Society against nature teaches us to overlook the green spirit of our sensory inheritance. For example, most of us have enjoyed a walk or meditation in the park or other attractive experiences in nature that have relieved our stress, cleared our thinking or strengthened our spirit.  Although we often take this restoration for granted, the reason it occurs is because humanity is part of the web of life. In a natural area, gently connecting the green spirit of our natural senses with the green spirit of the balancing and purifying attraction powers of nature revitalizes our psyche. However, Industrial Society overlooks this fact because can't control it or make money from it. It would rather sell us a pill, a technology or a belief than update its thinking.

Industrial Society seldom teaches us that our body and mind consist of ten times more cells of other organisms than human cells; over 110 species live on our skin alone, our genetic makeup includes plant and animal DNA. Every 2-7 years every atom in us is replaced by atoms from the environment.

Our thinking learns to omit that each atom in and around us almost entirely consists of space filled with natural attraction energies that attract the atom to stay together. For this reason, we and the world, almost 100 percent, consist solely of natural attraction energies found within and between atoms. These green spirit attractions interconnect and bind us to everything and our psyche registers them as 53 natural attraction senses. They create, sustain and recycle nature's perfection to health. 
Throughout our lives the natural world becomes us and we become it. We are obviously part of Earth's web-of-life community, a seamless continuum of its flow through our body, mind and spirit.

The detrimental effects of our indoor lives excessively disconnecting us from nature's regenerative ways clearly demonstrate that the global ecosystem is a heart of our lives. What is also true is that in order to be part of any system, one must be in communication with that system.  We seldom recognize that, as part of the global ecosystem, we biologically inherit the ability to communicate with it.

As noted above, the green spirit of Earth communicates with us, as part of itself, through the intelligent sensibilities of at least 53 natural senses. For example, our sense/sensation of thirst intelligently "turns on" to attract us to drink water, to make the global water cycle and its spirit flow through and sustain us. In addition, when we have enough water, thirst reasonably "turns-off" and, in balanced ways, attracts us to stop drinking. Each of our additional 52 natural senses is a similar natural attraction intelligence.  Besides our sense of thirst, our love for water, these senses include our love of community, reason and trust; aroma, place and consciousness; color, taste and motion; belonging, beauty, music and gravity along with 40 additional natural sensory attractions.

The web-of-life and we hold these natural attractions in common while these senses, without words, hold us together in natural unity and balance.

We suffer because we have learned to ignore or obstruct the peaceful and biologically balanced fulfillment of our 53 natural senses in nature. Rather than honor them for what they are as nameless, green spirit attractions that we can sense or feel, we entangle ourselves with nature-disconnected labels, and industrial stories that we have attached to these labels, stories that seldom agree. For example, although our 53 natural attraction sensations exist, are they sensitivities
? needs? drives? spirits? instincts? divas? wants? gluons? motives? angels? desires? senses? intuitions? quantums? god callings?

We build differing technologies, institutions and belief systems around these labels and their stories. We learn to think and relate with the meanings of our nature-disconnected stories, not directly with the nameless green spirit sensations of natural attractions and their self-correcting abilities. This detrimental separation in our thoughts and feelings reduces our inherent ability to make sense and cooperatively enjoy nature's peace.  Instead, it often results in estrangements, arguments or war over beliefs and other story differences. It prevents us from feeling and being in unity with ourselves, each other and the natural world.

Let us pause here a moment, look at, or think of, a scene or some alive member of nature, and, with awe, recognize that it has come into its perfection through the eons of nature's wordless attraction relationships.

Significantly, on average, Industrial Society's prejudicial need to profit by excessively naming and exploiting nature socializes us to disconnect over 98 percent of our time, thinking and feeling from the intelligent satisfactions we obtain from the callings of "nameless" green spirit attractions that touch us in natural areas.

Our profound loss of rewarding support from nature's green spirit perfection leaves us wanting. We feel that we never have enough or that we are enough. This spawns our excessiveness, feelings of inadequacy and other problems. We become destructively greedy, stressed, abusive, depressed and/or chemical and relationship dependent.

Nature has its own perfection. It knows how to sustain its optimums of life, diversity, balance, purity and cooperation. It does this without producing garbage or pollution because e
verything in nature belongs, including us. Nature accomplishes all this without war and with a minimum of greed, abusiveness and isolation.  As part of nature, because we register natural attraction sensibilities, we meditate and dream about living in their natural perfection.

When we are in natural areas, the natural attractions that we experience help us remedy many troubles in our psyche and increase personal, social and environmental well-being. In nature, independent of drugs or hallucinogens, and as a modern tool for shamans, we have the ability and opportunity to reasonably reconnect our thinking to the healing flow and spirit of natural systems, in and around us.  Backyard or back country, we can make genuine contact with authentic natural systems and their green spirit. As exemplified by even a walk in the park, this empowers our thinking to help nature recycle any garbage or pollution that Industrial Society has dumped in our mind. 

Part Two: History

In 1936, a New York City elementary school policy insisted that Michael Cohen, a left-handed, six-year old, first grader, write with his right hand. The suppression of this youngster's left-handedness depressed him and led to mild speech, posture, nail-biting and stress disorders.  Over time, as he worked to overcome these difficulties, his skills led him to attain a Ph.D. in a blend of outdoor environmental science, education, counseling and psychology. 

Research with people in contact with natural areas helped Cohen, in 1965, recognize Earth to be a living organism and that from it we are born with, not just five, but more than 53 natural senses that help us sustain personal and global well-being (including a sense of left-handedness for 10-15 percent of the population). 

Cohen's investigation of our natural-senses brought to light that most of the personal, social and environmental disorders that we suffer - including greed, stress, violence, abuse, depression and addiction - result from an unreasonable, but profit making, prejudice against nature in Industrial Society that we seldom acknowledge.  This prejudice holds an irrational disregard for nature's integrity and the green spirit callings of the 53 natural senses that we inherit as part of nature. We become less sensible and we weaken our well-being due to the absence of the self-correcting and restorative ways of our natural senses and spirituality.

To our loss, we produce our greatest problems because we seldom learn to think sensibly by respecting the green spirit of our natural senses and their sensibilities. Instead, our unreasonable prejudice against nature socializes us to injuriously drive these senses out of our awareness and into our subconscious where they lie hurt and frustrated.

To deal with this phenomenon, Cohen produced a hands-on, nature-connecting, sensitivity tool that helps us eliminate our natural-sense deprivation. He demonstrated that his renewing educating, counseling and healing with nature process is a sensory and spiritual ecology that enables us think like nature's restorative processes work.  Readily available on-line, and in his newly books, "Reconnecting With Nature" and, "Educating, Counseling and Healing With Nature," the process generates genuine, nature-connected learning and relating that heals and renews our injured natural senses. By learning to use the process, we become more resilient and sensitive; we build more sensible relationships and many disorders subside.

The process of educating, counseling and healing with nature, is a professionally refereed, practical, environmentally based psychology and spirituality. It's concepts and activities help our thinking and meditation co-create with nature's self-correcting and regenerative ways.  Because it is an effective green spirit antidote and preventative for many dysfunctions, including Nature Deficit Disorder, it enables us to increase well-being and decrease our alarming prejudice against nature through a strong sensory familiarity with nature. 
Whenever our natural attractions connect our psyche with the web of life, our restored natural senses transform our disorders into constructive relationships. The latter contain the balance, cooperation and unconditional love that nature's green spirit shares with us to sustain life in peace.

"We cannot win the battle to increase the well-being of the web of life, that includes our life, without strengthening our natural senses, our emotional bonds with nature  - for we will not fight to save what we do not love."

- M. J. Cohen's blend of statements by Stephen Jay Gould and Jalaluddin Rumi

Read, download or review Educating, Counseling and Healing With Nature on line, at http://www.ecopsych.com/ksanity.html, or obtain a review copy of the hard-copy edition through links on that page.


Recipient of the 1994 Distinguished World Citizen Award, Ecopsychologist Michael J. Cohen, Ph.D. is a Director of the Institute of Global Education, where he coordinates its Integrated Ecology Department and Project NatureConnect. He also serves on the faculty of Portland State University, Akamai University and West Coast University. Dr. Cohen founded sensory environmental education outdoor programs independently and for the National Audubon Society and Lesley University(AEI.) He conceived the 1985 National Audubon Conference "Is the Earth a Living Organism," and has been identified as a “maverick genius” or “the reincarnation of Henry David Thoreau as a psychologist.”  He is an award-winning author of The Web of Life Imperative, Reconnecting With Nature, Einstein's World, and How Nature Works as well as an accomplished folk song artist and contra dancer who presents traditional music programs for the U.S. National Park Service and Elderhostel on San Juan Island, Washington.

CONTACT: www.ecopsych.com  nature@interisland.net 360-378-6313, Pacific Time Zone

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"Human behavior is rooted most deeply in nature's intentions and desire. The rhythms of nature underlie all of human interaction: religious traditions, economic systems, cultural and political organization. When these human forms betray the natural psychic pulse, people and societies get sick, nature is exploited and entire species are threatened."

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In industrial society our excessively nature-separated lives mold us to betray the natural psychic pulse. We learn to block from our thinking over 98 percent of the wise sensory callings and fulfillments we normally share with natural systems and their eons of experience. Our subconscious hurt and frustration from the severed disconnection of these senses underlies our greatest troubles.

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