Nick Uren from the EarthLab Foundation sent us this tool to help us each make a personal difference in the fight against climate change.
I have returned, feeling different in my skin, after a short but enlivening visit to a few remote villages in Vhembe, Limpopo. Time seemed slower there, given a certain rhythm by the pounding of grain in preparation for dinner, or the many steps taken to the forest to fetch wood. It is worlds apart from the South Africa I thought I knew: Cape Town; and I learned a lot from their way of life – I believe we all could.
The Vhavenda tribes inhabit the Soutpansberg mountains, nestled in lush Afromontane enclaves, situated in the northern most subtropical part of South Africa. Vhembe, formally Venda, was declared self-governing in 1973 and independent in 1979 by the South African government. Edward Lahiff reflects on how the enclosure of the region allowed for the preservation of many traditional ways of life in his book, An Apartheid Oasis?: Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods in Venda. We were led by Jeffrey Rink, an ecopsychologist from Cape Town who had long since fallen head over ‘hills’, those beautiful green mountains, and in awe of the cultural and spiritual wealth of the tribes.
“Download” During Meditation (PDF 74K)
Submitted by Kathleen Pait
During an immersive group meditation, I experienced an out-of-body sensation that cast me above the group, away from the building, and out of Earth’s atmosphere, where I was presented information from a more evolved being on the current climate problems humanity faces. The following is my recollection of the event, although suffice it to say that words could never adequately convey the soul of the wisdom…
A Book Review, by Marilyn Steele
Last week I visited a favorite “soul’s place of resurrection”, hiking the Tennessee Valley trail in Marin County to the beach. Author Sharon Blackie defines such a place as one where a soul is happiest on earth and, at the same time, most in touch with all that is eternal.
It was a magical, breathtaking clear sky day where I watched a blue heron stand poised, present, patient at the edge of the blackwater pond spotted with bright green islands of plants. The water broke and rippled as an otter, sleek and shiny, playfully surfaced and dove over and over again in joy.
At the beach, strings of brown pelicans streamed across the water along with smaller black seabirds and sharp winged white birds which just skimmed the waves, chittering and chirping. On the way back, a black snake slithered across my path and into the grass.
What gifts did I carry home with me? Heron medicine. The example of dignity, determination, grace, balance, standing steady as she waited for just the right opportunity to plunge. The reminder to play, have fun, be curious like otter. And of course Snake. Ancient wisdom, prophecy, death and rebirth, transformation, the weaving path of the wild and sacred Feminine. So many messengers on the path showing “This way, this way.”
Re-Humanizing Nature (PDF, 123K) by Ian Johnstone
“The meaning of things lies not in things themselves, but in our attitudes to them.”
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Australian Ian Johnstone’s long (24 pages), thoughtful article utilizes the language of poetry (and excerpts from the best of nature writing) in an impassioned plea for :re-humanizing” nature. Written in 2014, Johnstone’s argument is about the dehumanization that an exclusively scientific perception and language has wrought, and the many ways he sees for re-humanizing our relationship with the natural world – a topic as relevant now as it was then.
Linda Buzzell and Craig Chalquist, co-editors of Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind, present principles of Ecoresilience as guidance for people adjusting to a world in the midst of change. Their preamble speaks to the need for balance now and in the coming era if we hope, as persons and communities, to maintain a focused pace of working towards ecological restoration and to retain our individual and collective resilience despite the widespread effects of ecological imbalance:
“It’s pretty clear what isn’t working, but not so easy to envision the practicalities of a sustainable world that could really work. Craig Chalquist and I have been wrestling with this, and have developed 20 ecoresilience principles for personal and cultural adaptation to a changed planet. We’ve gathered wisdom from many sources, including the nature-based permaculture principles, ecopsychology, ecotherapy, ecospirituality, community building endeavors, indigenous wisdom, the arts, and depth psychology. Our hope is to provide at least the beginnings of an integral and hopefully inspirational view of how we and “all our relatives” might survive and even thrive on our Earth homeplace as environmental, political, economic and cultural conditions become ever more challenging.”
Click to view the paper:
Buzzell, L. & Chalquist, C. (2017). 20 principles for ecoresilience. Communities Magazine, 176, Fall.
Interested in learning about nature-focused therapies?
Sky Mountain Institute runs an annual 100-hour Certificate program in Expressive Arts and Ecotherapy from March to June. Modalities include clay therapy, movement arts, ceremony, visual arts, poetry, sandtray, performance, language arts, and even collage!
To view the offering for 2018, please click here for the flyer.
For more information about Sky Mountain Institute, please visit their website at http://www.skymountain.org/
In a year-long study of 500 male prison inmates placed in restrictive housing, researchers found that watching videos of nature imagery were linked to lowered stress levels and a significant decrease in the number of disciplinary referrals due to violent infractions.
Inmates’ self-report on their emotional responses agree with the study’s overall findings. A great majority of the participants reported feeling calmer and felt better for sustained periods. They also stated that they enjoyed more positive relationships with prison staff.
This study adds to the growing literature on nature-based interventions and on nature exposure within urban spaces.
For details about this research, click here.
Nadkarni, N, Schnacker, L, Hasbach, P., Thys, T., & Crockett, E. (2017). From Orange to Blue How Nature Imagery Affects Inmates in the Blue Room, Corrections Today, Jan/Feb 2017, 36-40.
Announcing Transpersonal Narratives in Eco-Psychology – an upcoming CONFER event happening 24-26 November, 2017 at the Eden project in Cornwall.
It’s priced to be accessible to all. Many of our friends and colleagues will be there, and the sessions sound brilliant!
How do we quiet the monkey mind and receive our environment? And once we are in relationship with place, how do we engage and interact?
Embodying Nature Download PDF (93K), by Jamie McHugh
In this somatic and expressive approach to becoming more fully human as elemental creatures, Jamie McHugh combines the technologies of breath, vocalization, contact, movement and stillness to occupy the soma/psyche, open the portals of perception and invite in the spirit of place. He discovers how tree, rock, sky, and water reflect aspects of our being through this sensory-motor encounter.
Author Bio: Jamie McHugh is a somatic coach, dancer, and artist living on the California coast. The creator of Somatic Expression® – Body Wisdom for Modern Minds, Jamie has guided somatic-expressive encounters with the natural world for the past 25 years in Europe and the United States.
Photos of Jamie McHugh by Gregory Bartning
I just posted one of my favorite visual/written sequences on Great Basin Bristlecone Pines from writer, photographer and nature-lover David Malinsky in the ICE (International Community for Ecopsychology) blog.
Here is a gallery of some other favorites from his keen eye (open this post and then click the images – twice – to see them full size):
And here are some clues from David on to how to look at them:
1. The images really serve best as a “one at a time” experience, even if they are part of a sequence. They are meant to both hint at something particular, yet at the same time to be naturally vague, and allow for exploration (the “natural” part matters because it means movements beyond the confines of how the human imagination might present something, so that in most of the images there is not a hint of a beginning or end, only a movement). That exploration needs to be untimed, so that the viewer can allow the image to unfold across their own imagination. So if it is to be slide show it must be self-directed, and not automatic. Ideally there would not be a hint of a “next” that is coming up, because that can serve as an unnecessary distraction to the current image. That will be a delicate work around, but the attempt will be to have the viewer one-on-one with both a concept and an image, for as long as they need to be.
2. Part of what will need to be established as an introduction is that these images are not quick splashes across Nature’s canvas, but instead long, slow and purposeful movements across time, which should alert the mind of the viewer to notions of thoughtfulness. There are decades in the making of many of the patterns, hundreds of years for some, and perhaps into the thousands. Many of the curves in the paths are reactions to adversity, so instilling those notions of time is important. Ideally, if developed properly it slows the senses of the viewer, allows them to be suspended in a spiritual weightlessness, and can change to scope of how a problem of their own is being viewed (the magic bell we are trying to ring). There are a lot of possibilities in terms of presenting this time element, like a close-up that expresses slowness of movement, and makes the faded area ancient.
Shoal Sanctuary is a 50-acre nature preserve in Florida that is open to the public for “retreats, civic-minded growth, and repose with nature”. Individuals and groups from around the world are invited to immerse in nature, explore sculpture trails, and experience the peacemaking power of harmony with nature.
According to their website, you can:
“pitch a tent, bring a pop-up,
hop on a hammock,
rest in the “Little Green Mansion,”
or stay in the farm house.”
We are hosting the Second Annual Ecopsychology Symposium on our campus next month… (June 10-11, 2016)
The event is relevant to folks working in healthcare, education and sustainability, environmental advocates, artists and creative professionals, and really anyone interested in the psychology of the human-nature relationship.
Here’s an event flyer with more information:
For revolutionary change that reverses disorders including climate change consider this:
“As exemplified by the sensation of thirst, on cellular and molecular levels, sensors (senses and their sensations) in an organism, large(Earth) or small(nanobe), are receptors that are attracted to detect stimuli. When the information that they register is out of balance, they become the main homeostatic driving force for change that promotes life in balance. Their detection process is a fundamental source that functions on mechanical, thermal and chemical levels as it promotes the survival of life. When they are not adulterated by nature-disconnecting stories the senses can be depended on as self-evident, recovery and balancing tools that are part of every space/time moment of Planet Earth.”
A new scientific tool that generates a natural genius way of thinking and feeling produces critical remedies. The art of this super-intelligence technology increases personal and global well-being in a balanced way. It is effective because it uniquely uses Nature’s healing and purifying energies to restore the wisdom of our 54 inherent natural senses We have learned to hurtfully suppress them so we “normally” suffer the pain and depression from our loss.
“Exciting new research is revealing that various nature reconnection practices are powerful medicine for improved mental and physical health—in fact, many now qualify as “evidence-based medicine.” Yet little training has been available for those wanting to include the various ecotherapies in their professional healing practices or personal lives. On the beautiful Ladera campus of Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, nestled between the mountains and the ocean, our intensive weekend will cover the many different applied ecopsychology methods now being practiced in consulting rooms and outdoor spaces around the world.