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Thinking With Nature: Today's Rendezvous with Destiny.

An article in five parts

Michael J. Cohen, Ed.D.


Part One: A Moment of Truth

As we begin to learn about reconnecting with nature, we begin to discover why the world works beautifully, yet often it does not work that way in our lives.

During my 37 years living, learning and teaching in natural areas year-round, I have identified cohesive energies in nature that creatively hold the natural world together in balance. You have experienced them. They touch you when you take a walk in an attractive natural area and you feel rejuvenated by the magic of sunshine, trees and the wind. In nature, these attraction energies have no name, for nature has no verbal language. However, we, and all of life, are born with the ability to feel, enjoy and benefit from them. We sense them as natural attractions through 53 different senses we inherit from nature. Our problem is that, unlike how nature works, our excessively indoor ways teach us to make sense of our lives mainly using five of these natural senses, not all of them. The disastrous personal, social and environmental results speak for themselves. Scientifically, I demonstrate that our problems subside as we learn to make conscious sensory contact with nature and learn to think in multisensory ways. That process is a practical applied ecopsychology.

Research shows that we can choose to rejuvenate and use all our 53 natural senses and reverse our excessively destructive ways personally and globally. However, be alarmed. I recently watched these natural senses perform their magic before the eyes of informed, caring people. They, like most of us, were insensitive to the value of the performance. They chose to ignore it. Their, and our, dismissal of it is cause for great concern.

The performance occurred at a hurried, stressful training session for community leaders. Their differences kept them arguing amongst themselves. In the midst of this hubbub, a young, wild bird flew into the meeting room through the open door. It could not find its way out. Without a word, the behind-schedule meeting screeched to a halt. In that moment, the bird brought to people's consciousness deep natural attractions and feelings for its life. Hope filled each person. For ten minutes that frightened, desperate little bird catalyzed those seventy people to harmoniously, supportively, organize and unify with each other to help it find its way back home unharmed. Yet when they accomplished this feat, these leaders cheered the accomplishment and their role, not the bird's. It's role and impact went unnoticed. They returned to the hubbub of the meeting, as if nothing special had happened.

I wanted to point out to this group the powerful, sensitive, unifying and mutually supportive effect the bird had upon them individually and collectively. Experience told me they would scoff, as they had previously. They would say what happened was not important or useful for it was uncommon to have a wild bird touch their lives.

Unconsciously, these leaders sensitivities allowed a touch of nature's plight (a bird at risk) to unite them, to free them from the stress they were feeling and catalyze community amongst them. Although it said not a word, the bird was an educator and counselor. It reached and ignited people's inborn nature, nurturing senses of love, empathy, community, friendship, power, humility, place, reasoning and a score of others. A bird brought joy, cohesiveness and integrity to their lives. The benefits were evident. I have found that it is the lack of such contact that creates and sustains our runaway disorders.

The bird impacted the conference because, as part of nature, it was part of everybody at the conference. Humanity is to nature as our leg is to our body. We are one, an integrity that is sentiently integrated. For example, as we breathe Earth, Earth breathes us. One need only hold their breath to realize that our desire to breathe is a specific natural sense, a love for air. We did not invent that love. It is of, by and from nature. We inherit it and many other attraction sensitivities from nature. The bird reconnected us with nature. It sparked some of our natural sensations and feelings into consciousness and things came out right. Anybody can learn to create similar experiences that afford similar outcomes. However, this seldom interests us. We have learned that to expressively emote, enjoy and validate nature is similar to having an illicit affair.

Our lives don't make sense and our problems flourish because industrial society does not teach us to seek, honor and culture nature's sensory contributions to our lives. We learn instead to conquer nature, to separate from and deny the time tested love, intelligence and balance enjoyed by the natural world.

Part Two: The Challenge

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Thinking With Nature Article Part 1 ..Part 2 ..Part 3 ..Part 4 ..Part 5








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