The Natural Systems Thinking Process
Michael J. Cohen, Ed.D.
(1-1) Biologically and psychologically people are part of nature, the intelligent, ever-balancing, ancient, web of life that builds itself and communicates within itself through non-verbal attraction energies. (1-2) A deep fear generated by our nature separated society addicts us to live, on average, less than .01% of our lives in conscious sensory contact with the web. To protect our thinking from the anguish this extreme disconnection incurs, our body places our hurt, inherent 53 natural sense way of knowing in our subconscious. The absence of the normal gratifications it normally generates results in us craving and psychologically bonding to immediate rewards, often no matter their adverse effects. To reverse this irresponsibility, through sensory nature activities, the Natural Systems Thinking Process scientifically helps us reconnect our psyche with the web of life's nurturance. We replace our destructive subconscious hurt with unifying passions that produce responsible attitudes. Our hopes become reality. As documented, responsible personal, social and environmental relationships arise by restoring this missing link in the way we think.
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On average, a person in contemporary society lives over 99.9% of his or her life devoid of conscious sensory contact with attraction energies that pervade nature and our senses. We spend over 95% of our time indoors. We think, write and build relationships while closeted from nature. This disconnected state makes us "ecozombies," environmentally desensitized deadheads (26). It deludes us to believe that our extreme separation from nature does not influence our intelligence, sanity or ability to relate responsibility. The state of the world says otherwise (9).
(1-3) Unlike nature connected cultures, our detachment from nature's workings psychologically deprives our thinking of elements that hold life in balance. If our disconnection from nature produces problems, it makes sense to solve them by reconnecting with nature (13).
The purpose of this article is to introduce a process that helps reverse our disconnection from nature and its destructive consequences.
When I ask contemporary people to describe their fondest hopes, they usually include sanity: sustainable peace within themselves, with society, and Earth. Although contemporary society has yet to discover or use a process that produces the sanity we desire, whales use it successfully and, as if to advertise their ability, have demonstrated its power. Biologists say the demonstration was conducted by abnormal whales, that they deserved to die because the were not the fittest for survival. However, Biology is but one of many disciplines, the science of nature connected psychology tells another story.
The whale's demonstration took place in 1989 when two that were trapped in the arctic winter ice bridged the hostility between Communism and Capitalism. To save the whales, opposing nations united. So did labor and industry, corporations and environmentalists, spiritualists and scientists, technologists, peacemakers and the media. Close to a billion dollars was spent to save two whales by cutting them a path to freedom through the arctic ice while the world cheered and unified.
The whale's effects demonstrate that the attractions we feel when in contact with a whale, or nature, are but the tip of an iceberg. The hidden portion of the iceberg consists of chains of additional attractions that, like sensory roots, reach every element of our planet including people. Like whales, as part of nature we register and contain the means to live in peaceful equilibrium. What we lack is a process that enables us to think with and use this planetary ability. For example:
Since 1951, my hypotheses has been that (1-5)we can produce hope, sanity, peace and balance by engaging in a process that helps us think like nature works.
My procedure has been to experimentally improve and engage in the hypothetical process, observe its effects and improve it again. As an outdoor educator and researcher, for the past 31 years I have camped out year-round though the seasons in 83 different natural habitats while building responsible human communities. My classroom has been wild America, over 200 national and state parks, forests, shorelines and historical sites. I still, today, daily sleep outdoors in a wild area.
The results of my work speak for themselves (10). My references here are original documents that have been reviewed and published academically and commercially. I also reference, for educational purposes, the unpublished raw experiences and thinking of those who have been involved in my process (6).
As with the whales, my teacher has been the global ecosystem as it expresses itself in local natural areas. I seldom use books and the conflicting, limited, theories of those who abstract, speculate and observe nature through machines. They seldom live in, think and build relationships in nature. I find their words often separate my thinking from truths in natural areas that otherwise register.
Most literature seldom validates the sensory/experiential while connected with nature, nor offers a doable procedure to help us immediately think more responsibly. In contrast, my social invention is a hands-on, easily available process that a person quickly learns and teaches. Its effectiveness clearly demonstrates we may benefit by creating moments in nature that let Earth teach, and then participate in these moments. Significantly, this gives natural areas added value. Through this process, in 1965, thirteen years before Lovelock published Gaia, I was living and teaching a form of Ecopsychology; it included that (1-6)Earth acts like a living organism (16).
As a global ecosystem in balance,
Organism Earth must somehow be in communication with itself.
This suggests that.natural attractions are a form of communication
and consciousness, perhaps conscious of themselves in some way,
no matter where they are found. Some form of consciousness must
be found in every molecule. Consciousness, as humanity experiences
it, did not simply arise out of nowhere if it pervades our planetary
The natural attractions that we sense and feel to ourselves, others, natural areas and things, Earth, the solar system and stars are not accidents. (1-7)Natural Attraction is the wise, vibrant voice of Nature, the intelligent, self-conscious, non-verbal, essence that since the beginning of time has helped made possible Nature's creative perfection in cooperative diversity.
(1-8) In our excessively indoor society, nature experiences are often suspect. Many people I have personally or otherwise familiarized with my work and its benefits neither incorporate it nor reference my many published materials (6). This includes Capra(4,) Seed(24,) Rozack(23,) Devall(18,) Wilson(25,) Fox(19), Quinn(22,) Abram(1,) Berry(3,) McKibben(21,) and Berg(2,) none of whom published about nature psychology in 1965. Although theoretically correct, not surprisingly, they more trust abstract and mechanical stories about nature (including those spoken by a Gorilla in a zoo and fictional adventures) than a process that necessitates genuine sensory connecting experiences in natural areas. (1-9)The latter is evidently like having an illicit affair.