"It is no accident that the word human has its ancient roots in humus, a fertile forest soil."
"Biologists and chemists demonstrate that the natural world constantly flows around and through us. They show that every five to seven years every molecule in our body is continually replaced, particle by particle, by new molecules attracted in from the environment and vice versa. The natural environment becomes our body and we become it a dozen or more times during our lifetime. We and nature are each other."
"Even people without scientific training recognize that everything in nature is connected, everything attracts or attaches to something else. We know that the global life system holds itself together through a variety of affinity attractions. It communicates through these natural attractions."
Reconnecting with Nature by Michael J. Cohen, PhD (p 82-83)
What is Naturography?
It is a word I created to describe writing about and/or photographing our natural attractions to nature. Since my last blog entry 6 months ago, I am participating in online courses toward a master's degree in Ecopsychology with Michael Cohen's Project NatureConnect. I am communicating with people from all over the world in peer-led groups, learning powerful but simple exercises to reconnect old brain with new (reptilian with neocortex), language and reason with vast natural senses (many more than the 5 senses Aristotle taught us to believe), and becoming more acutely aware of the emotional pain caused by our societal separation from nature.
How can we heal this pain?
By consciously identifying our own natural attractions and place of power within the dance of nature.
I invite you to try any of these exercises below as a start:
Listening to Nature
1) Go to a natural area– anything that is attractive to you and ask for its permission to help you with this activity.
2) Get comfortable, close your eyes, and listen for 3 minutes to every sound you can hear.
3) At the end of the 3 minutes, write down everything you were able to hear in the natural area you chose. Did you hear your heartbeat? Your own breath? How many sounds did you hear outside of yourself?
4) If you have coloring tools, try to draw a colorful image of what you heard, as simple as you want or as detailed.
Earth Energy Battery Recharge
1) Find a place that feels safe to lie down on the ground. Ask this place for permission to help recharge your energy.
2) Imagine you are a rechargeable battery needing replenishment. Lie comfortably on the ground for at least 10 minutes and try to relax your entire body on the earth.
3) Try this for as many consecutive days as you can, marking a green check on a calendar for each day, meaning you have sustained a minimum of “green time” or “vitamin G.”
4) After 10 consecutive days, write about any changes you notice. Are you overall more relaxed? Less anxiety about little things? Huge insights come to you? Realize how exhausted you really are?
5) After 20 consecutive days, congratulations! You are fully charged and conscious of how Earth’s energy benefits you.
Discovering Our Natural Self
Paraphrased from: Michael Cohen, Reconnecting With Nature
1) Go to a natural area– anything that is attractive to you– a plant, animal, mineral, or place.
2) Ask for it’s permission to become involved with it. Gain its consent to help you with this activity. Do the following activity once you are sure the natural thing you selected continues to give you some sort of comfortable, attractive feeling. Be sure that you like this natural attraction.
3) Write down what you like and why. This may be as simple as:
The (plant, animal, mineral, place, thing in this natural area) that I like is _____________. I like it because ____________.
1) Change the second part of the sentence to “I like myself because __________.
2) Read it to others if possible. Does it describe part of you?
Example: “I like the tree because it is beautiful and strong” becomes “I like myself because I am beautiful and strong.”
You are nature. Does this describe some aspect of yourself? How do you feel about yourself in this light?
(After the Japanese term “shinrin-yoku”: Research Article on Benefits of Forest Bathing)
1) Go to a wooded area you find attractive. Ask this place for permission to help you with this activity.
2) Walk as long as you like paying attention to the living community that surrounds you.
3) Imagine a string between you and every sound and sight and touch you experience. Try walking for a minute saying the word “unity” to yourself alternating with a minute walking without any key word. Notice if there is any difference between the minutes you are repeating the word and those you are not.
4) Write down the 3 most important things you learned from this activity. Does this activity improve your sense of self worth? What did you feel?
Becoming aware of our stories about nature, we recognize we tend to feel comfortable thinking of nature as exploitable real estate. When we reconnect to our multi-sensory experience in nature, we may think of nature as "an intimate part of ourselves, a personal fulfillment, a friend, a love, a wisdom in action, a community, a home and life support system, a teacher, a biological necessity for one's ethical, physical, and emotional well-being, a celebration of 4 billion years of relating wisely, a spiritual or sacred place." (Reconnecting With Nature, p 60).