Reconnecting With Nature
It was the longest and dreariest trip over the Coquillhala (Hwy 5) mountain pass that I had ever had to endure. The windshield wipers constantly had to keep up with the rain. The boys slept for some of the trip from Kamloops on our way to Vancouver (BC, Canada). My youngest son, who was around four at the time, became very restless as we descended the mountain pass probably due to ear pressure and the claustrophobic feeling of the car in dense rain.
This was beginning to affect me as I needed to focus on the road and there was nowhere to stop on the side of the road। I needed 20-30 more minutes of driving, before I could safely stop and let the boys out. My son began to cry. As a last ditch effort, I put some music by Yanni into the stereo, and turned up the volume so that the dramatic melody may distract his irritability. It did and he focused on some books on the back seat.
Further, down the road, I pointed out a small waterfall gushing over the cliff walls where usually a fine stream of water trickled. Both sons became intrigued as we passed by several little waterfalls with abundant water cascading down the valley hills and into the ditch. When Yanni’s music, ’After The Sunrise’, exploded in dramatic keys, the boys shrieked and laughed, ooooh –ing and awing as if they were on a roller coaster ride! Serendipitously, Yanni’s music was synchronized with the continual displays of waterfalls!
As the rain subsided in the valley, even the sun briefly peeked out, giving us hope that we could stop at Bridal Veil Falls west of Hope, BC. Sure enough, I was able to let the boys out to stretch and walk the rainforest path up to the Falls. The boys were full of enthusiasm with a renewed interest in waterfalls.
That car trip was never forgotten. Every time we descended the Coqillhalla (Hwy 5), the boys anticipated the waterfalls and requested the Yanni’s Waterfall music be played. They experienced pure Joy watching the wonders of Mother Earth. Frequently from then on, instrumental music became a car activity, as we searched for background music to match the environments that we travelled. However, Yanni always maintained the strongest emotional connection to the environment।
Sadly, this reminds me that some newer vehicles now have video screens on the back of passenger seats, so that kids in the backseat can watch movies. How sad that this activity can deprive children from discovering the wonders of the world outside from their car windows. Most importantly, it reduces their connection to their environment।
(Synaesthesia is profound sensory awareness. Good memories come from a sharpened awareness in the present moment.)
Excitedly, I joined the Online Ecopsychology training course. I struggled to do the activities in front of the computer, as in those days computers were quite noisy. I printed out the assignment and went out to the backyard to sit on the grass. To be quite honest, its content somewhat frustrated me, and my thinking demanded a linear format.
However, outside it finally dawned on me what Michael Cohen of ‘Project Nature Connect’ was trying to convey! I remembered that Nature is interconnected and we are part of nature. Michael Cohen’s teachings about the ‘Natural Systems Thinking’, reconnects people to nature! From applying the assignment and choosing to focus on a blade of grass in my backyard, to then remembering my son’s experience of waterfalls during a past car trip, I understood the profound relationship. Everything began to appear more vivid and alive, as I sat there on the grass.
I continued to use this focusing activity during my early morning routine of delivering newspapers. It drew me out of a sleepy, self absorbed, dreamlike state that one experiences upon waking up. I also learned that some people unknowingly are in a self-absorbed state for most of their lives! Cohen’s ‘Natural Systems Thinking Process’ awakened the curiosity and wonder that is natural in childhood. (Synaesthesia ~ profound sensory awareness! )
'Natural Systems Thinking' occurs in many different forms, in all cultures, in all religions, or spiritual practises. Modern societies often become disconnected from its’ simplicity.
"Project NatureConnect provides alternative, holistic, sensory tools that help our psyche genuinely connect with nature. Our personal and environmental well-being improves through sustainable education and counselling techniques that enable us to thoughtfully tap into nature's balance, grace, and restorative powers."
-Michael J. Cohen
“Moment by moment, natural systems and their grace, balance and restorative powers flow through all of life. This includes flowing through our mind and spirit, through the life of our thoughts feelings and perceptions.
His book:RECONNECTING WITH NATURE 2 : Counteracts the amazing lie and disconnection that underlies our great troubles. Readily access a critical but missing natural systems component of psychology, therapy and education. Powerfully increase well being in yourself, others and the environment. Learn to use and share new tools for hope.
Michael Cohen -From Project Nature Connect
Satish Kumar on Elegant Simplicity
As a child, was there a special place outdoors
that you liked to visit?
What made it special for you?
Are there places in nature that you connect to now,
because of those early experiences?