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Basking in Nature's Splendor by June
People are naturally drawn to the great outdoors. A trip to the beach, the
park or the mountains relaxes us, makes us feel good. Experts now tell us that
this attraction isn't a chance one. We need to be close to nature, and on a
Birth of a New Science
Ecopsychology or deep ecology is a new science that looks at this link
between people and nature. Deep ecologist, Chris Johnstone feels this is timely.
"Deep Ecology is a holistic approach to facing world problems that brings
together thinking, feeling, spirituality and action. It involves moving beyond
the individualism of Western culture towards also seeing ourselves as part of
the earth. This leads to a deeper connection with life, where Ecology is not
just seen as something 'out there', but something we are part of and have a role
to play in." (1).
ecology is becoming a popular way to provide psychological therapy. Dr. Jackie
Giuliano teaches people how to use deep ecology to boost their own mental
well-being, and dispel anxiety and apathy that stems from feeling hopeless about
the state of the planet. (2) Ecopsychologist, John Scull helps clients feel a
deep psychological, emotional and spiritual connection to nature. He uses
wilderness experiences, group workshops, ritual, habitat restoration work and
individual counseling in his work. Scull points out, "There may be agreement
among ecopsychologists that direct, non-mediated, non-verbal experiences with
nature are both therapeutic for the individual having the experience and
essential if the person is to become committed to living in harmony with the
Dr. Peter Cock includes nature-oriented rituals and projective methods in his
therapy and workshops. Art, dance, creating songs, writing poems or in journels,
drumming, story telling and silent walks are all used. He explains, "My major
intervention is the direct exploration of each person’s left field/right brain
dialogue with nature. This is in order to explore how that can enrich the power
and fullness of who they are and deepen their appreciation of their beingness in
nature and the beingness of nature."(4)
The Deep Ecology Process
Howard Clinebell outlines five steps used in deep ecology therapy. He first
invites people to tell their ecological story, whether positive or negative to
start to make a diagnosis. He then helps people become aware of and express both
their painful and good feelings about nature. The third step is to encourage
people to strengthen their sense of connectedness with the natural world by
being nurtured by nature often. This leads to the fourth step, ecobonding, where
people feel a deep bond with nature and begin to want to reciprocate the bond by
caring for the earth and nature in some way. The last step is to guide people to
develop a "self-care fitness plan" or "self-earth care plan", where time spent
in nature is a key component of their personal wellness regime. (5)
Good for What Ails You
experience of natural serene settings is healing and restorative for people.
Even pictures of nature, or images of natural settings in the mind's eye help us
relax and heal from stress, tension and pain. John Swanson uses wilderness
experiences to help people get in touch with themselves. Grief work, depression,
and anxiety can all be boosted with nature work. "Most people find the
profusions of nature to be nurturing, aesthetically pleasing, physically
invigorating, stimulating of the imagination, even spiritually profound. There
is plenty of evidence that human nature and mother nature resonate to a common
order that is physically, psychologically, and spiritually whole-some.
Reconnecting with nature reawakens us to pleasure and beauty that feed us in
body, mind, and soul." (6)
Giving yourself a dose of nature on a regular basis can help you feel
renewed. Listening to the rippling water of a brook, the song of morning birds,
the wind in the trees helps us to breath more deeply and restores tired nerves
and senses. Try it! Spend time with nature for a few minutes every day. Even if
it means looking at a single flower. This act in itself can refresh and help
reconnect you to the natural environment.
1. Johnstone, C. What is Deep Ecology? The Institute for Deep Ecology.
London, UK. http://forests.org/ric/deep-eco/johnston.htm
2. Guiliano, J. (1999). Chart of the Deep Teaching Process.
3. Scull, J. (1999). Ecopsychology: Where does it fit in psychology?
4.Cock, P. (2000). Ecopsychology in Practice. Gatherings: Seeking
Ecopsychology. Spring Issue: May. http://www.ecopsychology.org/gatherings2/pcock.htm
5. Clinebell, Howard. (1996). Ecotherapy: Healing ourselves, healing the
Earth. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, p. 179 - 185.
6. Swanson, J. L. (1997). Prescribing Nature: Exploring the Subjective
Frontiers of Nature. Ecopsychology Online. No. 4. http://www.isis.csuhayward.edu/ALSS/ECO/1097/intro.htm
Biophilia & Emotional Well-Being, an article written by Drs.
Patrick and Gael Flanagan explores how our connection with nature affects our
health on different levels. Available at: http://www.feel.org/articles/biophilia.html
EarthDance: Living Systems in Evolution is a free to download book
written by Dr. Elisabet Sahtouris on the links between humans, other species and
the Earth. Available at: http://www.ratical.com/LifeWeb/Erthdnce/erthdnce.html
The Deep Ecology Self-Discovery Trail offers interactive exercises to
help you get in touch with your inner senses, the ones that help you feel your
connection to nature. Available at: http://www.rockisland.com/~process/deepecologyk/intk.html
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