Ecopsychology & Project NatureConnect
Ecopsychology is a term founded by Theodore Roszak and stems from the belief that human beings are Nature and not separate from our natural world. He states; "Ecopsychology holds that there is a synergistic interplay between planetary and personal well-being."
Ecopsychology methods reunite connections and networks of relationships. The integrated unified whole is the common thread of Ecopsychology, Deep Ecology, Natural Attraction Ecology, Systems Thinking and Sacred Ecology.
In his book The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology (1992) Theodore Roszak writes; 'Its goal is to bridge our culture’s long-standing, historical gulf between the psychological and the ecological, to see the needs of the planet and the person as a continuum. In search of a greater sanity, it begins where many might say sanity leaves off: at the threshold of the nonhuman world.' (p. 14.)
The word Ecopsychology comes from the Greek eco/oikos = house/dwelling and ecology being environmental relationships. Psychology is interpreted as health of soul/spirit.
“Other therapies seek to heal the alienation between person and person, person and family, person and society. Ecopsychology seeks to heal the more fundamental alienation between the person and the natural environment.” ~ Theodore Roszak, 1993
Ecopsychology methods seek to understand and heal our relationship with our Earth and we do this by understanding our inner nature and the nature of systems we live in. Perceiving ourselves as separate from nature has led to many personal, community, cultural and planetary issues. When we view our planet as separate, we see 'it' as a resource. Multi-sensory methods, tools and practices make up an ecopsychology practice to gently guide and reconnect individuals to align interrelationships as a part of a whole living system. When we see ourselves as connected to all that is, we understand the laws of our planet are sacred and with respect and can choose to moderate our behaviours.
"Ecopsychology has emerged over the past several years as an intellectual and social movement that seeks to understand and heal our relationship with the Earth. It examines the psychological processes that bond us to the natural world or that alienate us from it... We need to uncover ways to heal the culture as well as the individuals who live in it. Ecopsychology is essentially about becoming cultural healers." -Ecopsychologist Mary Gomes (ReVisioning Vol 20 #4. 1998)
Ecopsychology can be integrated into any aspect of life. Ecopsychologists often work outdoors rather than indoors and may be incorporated in consulting positions such as health and well-being, sustainability practices, education and creative ventures, green-spaces, ecology, architecture and urban planning.This is because we aim to interact with Nature and nature already affects our body with reduced stress levels and blood pressure amongst other researched benefits.
Deb has studied Ecopsychology and Eco-Art Therapy with Project NatureConnect and associated universities since 2012. She incorporates methodology into all aspects of current employment and consulting positions within health and well-being, environment and conservation practices.
Project NatureConnect was founded and developed by awarded 1994 Distinguished World Citizen and Ecopsychologist, Dr. Michael J. Cohen over 50 years ago. Project NatureConnect has been researching and conducting education programs and healing with nature for over 50 years and the organization is at the forefront of Eco-psychology and Natural Attraction Ecology. (NAE)
PNC Mission Statement: We dedicate ourselves to help any individual learn how to create authentic sensory Ecotherapy moments that let Earth teach. To this end we offer holistic methods and materials that remedy our destructive disconnection from nature and help the United Nations meet its manifesto for sustainable personal and global peace, environmentally sound education and social justice.
"The core of the science and process of Natural Attraction Ecology, an application of Ecopsychology, is that from its inception, the essence of our Universe has been to build natural attraction relationships. Natural Attraction can be empirically identified, sensed and felt as the heart of responsible attachments between all things. It's a fundamental of the place all things come from. an intelligence that all things 'consciously' share with each other in balanced ways.Natural Attraction Ecology benefits our lives by enabling our psyche to habitually make sensory connections to nature into a permanent and therapeutic way of thinking and feeling. It gives us the motivation and ability to continually join our heart, mind and spirit with authentic nature's healing ways and strengthen ourselves and nature in the process. The natural attraction process of Educating, Counseling and Healing with Nature (ECHN) helps us remedy our loss of nature's renewing grace in our senses, thinking and feeling. It enables us to scientifically discover, sense and feel who we are with respect to the whole of life and its wellness.ECHN empowers us, moment by moment, to let conscious sensory contact with nature's purifying flow satisfy and strengthen our body, mind and spirit. It is an integral ecology, a natural attraction-based psychology that helps us enjoy our satisfactions in ways that satisfy and sustain all of the natural world while reversing fraud or corruption. It helps us increase our happiness reasonably, in a good way, meaning, "To the benefit of all."The more that the unifying touch of nature helps us think and feel in balance, the more the world enjoys the peace of well-being." - Michael J. Cohen
The Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) developed by Michael J. Cohen is at the heart of Project NatureConnect’s Applied Ecopsychology and Eco-Art programs.
This method guides Debs sessions and workshops. Natural attraction relationships hold everything together from sub-atomic particles to ecosystems.
The NSTP is a framework for:
-how the natural universe communicates its non-verbal, multi-sensory intelligence through the Web of Life
-how humans can reconnect to learn, receive counsel, balance and healing wisdom.
Debs work is tailored to the individual situation, intention or person. She emphasises that she is a facilitator and our Earth/Nature is the teacher. Deb uses life experiences, education and skills learned along with guiding the Natural Systems Thinking Process and other methods of Deep/Sacred Ecology and Positive Deep Adaptation.
Permaculture methods in Landscape Designs is a great example of the respect for our intricate Earth systems and how we can mutually benefit each other with knowledge of systems, patterns, rhythms and behavioral observations. Permaculture builds resilience of self, community and environment by mimicking Natures intelligence as a grounded and practical life-style. Growing and eating our own food offers a simple and practical method of reconnecting with ourself and earth systems.
Deb uses Ecopsychology and Eco-Art Therapy methods, in programs, workshops and sessions with people who wish to:
- explore creativity and other sensory feelings
- know themselves as part of the unified system; feel balanced, healthier and more relaxed and work through personal issues
- acknowledge and transform feelings from our ecological decline: anxiety, depression, despair, guilt, numbness, feelings of being overwhelmed/powerless. The Circle Group; 'Sustainability of Self, as a whole life organism' regarding the benefits of applied ecopsychology for self care during this current time of ecological crisis and intense emotions.
- explore behaviours they perceive as unhealthy; addictive, distraction and/or destructive
As an Ecopsychologist, Deb promotes healthy, sustainable relationships between people and their surroundings through nature-based mindfulness, environmental education, creative expression and reflection. Reiki offers a somatic experience which is a preference for some people.
Trees need not walk the earth
For beauty or for bread;
Beauty will come to them
Where they stand.
Here among the children of the sap
Is no pride of ancestry:
A birch may wear no less the morning
Than an oak.
Here are no heirlooms
Save those of loveliness,
In which each tree
Is kingly in its heritage of grace.
Here is but beauty’s wisdom
In which all trees are wise.
Trees need not walk the earth
For beauty or for bread;
Beauty will come to them
In the rainbow—
And the lilac-haunted rain;
And bread will come to them
As beauty came:
In the rainbow—
In the sunlight—
In the rain.
- David Rosenthal
Linda Buzzell walks us around the forest and her Permaculture garden talking about types of Ecotherapy and the benefits. She also touches on Joanna Macys The Work That Reconnects to assist with building the environment around us to to create a balance in our lives.
In Ecopsychology sessions we explore realities with the experience and discern a personal truth rather than limiting beliefs installed by society, parents, teachers, friends, etc. Reported benefits include gaining feelings of acceptance, support and purpose with expanded awareness. Methods help many people to lose attachments and feelings which prevent fulfilling, purposeful direction in our lives.
“With awareness of self and nature connectedness, I realize that we humans are nature. Nature, when we are conscious of its invisible links will shift our consciousness to heal us, balance and teach us. We can then at least make informed conscious decisions.” -Student comment
What is Natural Attraction? Founding director of Project NatureConnect Dr Michael Cohen explains the essence of nature...
“Life is neither unbiased or indefinable. It is the natural attraction to live. The purpose of life is to support life."
Michael J. Cohen 1985
We are called now to explore and acknowledge the sacred connection our ancestors had with our Earth and some humans continue to hold or are remembering their innate BEing. Many indigenous cultures that have been able to continue their cultural practices are deeply rooted in the sacredness that Ecopsychologists seek to reconnect people with. If we remember our place and who we are, we can relate within our relationships with all entities with compassion, trust, respect and love. Many countries had indigenous human populations who lived respectful relationships with the environment spanning thousands of years without damaging the environment. Tenalach is the Gaelic word meaning 'a oneness with nature allowing you to hear the song of the Earth' Didirri is a word used by Australia's first nations people. Both suggest a similarity with Ecopsychology methods and rituals to deeply tune us in with Nature. This innate inner connection exists in our very BEing since time began regardless of our ancestors, it is time for us to awaken as a species and share this connection relationship.
“Dadirri is inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. Dadirri recognises the deep spring that is inside us. We call on it and it calls to us. This is the gift that Australia is thirsting for. It is something like what you call ‘contemplation’. When I experience dadirri, I am made whole again. I can sit on the riverbank or walk through the trees; even if someone close to me has passed away, I can find my peace in this silent awareness. There is no need of words. A big part of dadirri is listening….In our Aboriginal way, we learnt to listen from our earliest days. We could not live good and useful lives unless we listened. This was the normal way for us to learn - not by asking questions. We learnt by watching and listening, waiting and then acting….My people are not threatened by silence. They are completely at home in it. They have lived for thousands of years with Nature’s quietness. My people today, recognise and experience in this quietness, the great Life-Giving Spirit, the Father of us all… Another part of dadirri is ‘the quiet stillness and the waiting,’ Our Aboriginal culture has taught us to be still and to wait. We do not try to hurry things up. We let them follow their natural course - like the seasons.” Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann
"Deb, I feel very privileged to have you to guide me for this nature walk. Thank you!
I learned that nature has the answer to modern day living stress. There is this deep connection between nature and human that we have long forgotten to connect with.
Being in nature ( after consenting it) helps me to appreciate life better and take things around me slow.
It helps me to appreciate myself and this world i live in. And a tree is not just a tree, it full with life. its the circle of life."
Singaporean female, 29. (Self-confessed high-rise girl!) August 2013
"As nature safely teaches us what is 'real' in ourselves, we can gradually replace our 'unreal' fears and anxieties with feelings of in-the-moment joy, radiant good health, fun, laughter, self-balance, and harmony with life.” -Student comment
Being in Nature naturally releases endorphins, dopamine and other hormones which produce good feelings, they are a natural reward for us. Research demonstrates that interacting with bacteria in soil produces serotonin and stimulates our immune system. Nature provides us with many gifts, all we truly need! There are so many other researched benefits!