Therapy For a Stressed Out Society
by Dominique Larocque
article was first published in 1999 in Issue 12 of Food
& Leisure. Six years later, this article still reminds
me how grateful I am for having journeyed with Project
Nature Connect back in 1995. I have not looked back since
and am proud to say that my latest creation is the development
of 108 acres of rocks and trees into an education center
that will combine a sustainable living experience with
some education, interpretation, as well as recreation.
I choose the wear the hat of ecopsychologist with pride
and look forward to co-create with my land to reach more
individuals in my private practice.
it that I always wait until the last minute to write my
contribution for Food & Leisure? Allow me to
answer in two words: human nature!
this paradox called ‘human nature’ that a new
breed of psychologists calling themselves Ecopsychologists
are trying to comprehend. I say paradox because nature is
so perfect and humans so complicated. We seek direction,
power, balance and harmony in our lives by reaching out,
when all the time we could be reaching in and trusting our
can we truly expect from our human nature? According to
Michael J. Cohen, founder of Project Nature Connect,
we have been socially programmed to believe that we have
five senses and to live 98% of our lives indoors. Cohen
has been researching the field of ecopsychology for many
years and his studies indicate that we actually have a total
of 53 senses. Awakening these dormant senses through a series
of ‘nature connecting activities’ is his way
of making humans face their true nature.
always being fascinated by human beings, I pose a question
that permeates my daily existence: “Why do we
as a society continue depleting our natural resources even
though we know that it is to the detriment of our survival?
Is our collective consciousness actually wishing for global
of our dysfunctional society make it difficult for me to
believe otherwise. Our society is stressed out, overweight,
out of shape, depressed, spiritually hungry and suffering
from all sorts of disorders, syndromes and diseases. Yet
we continue at the same crazy pace, day in and day out.
We seek quick fixes in the form of antidepressants, miracle
drugs, diet milkshakes, plastic surgery, or temporary relief
in the form of smoking, alcohol and or drugs.
down inside, from what are we suffering? Is our environmental
crisis the consequence of our human suffering? Are we so
caught up in our own little personal dramas that we forget
we are part of a much larger community? Are we capable of
humanitarian actions as in sharing our natural resources,
or is life a wild zoo, designed for the survival of the
fittest? Are we willing to slow down and take the time to
explore our human nature to find out who we truly are? If
science and technology are so powerful, what great invention
will protect us from future environmental disasters like
ice storms, hurricanes, floods, droughts and viral epidemics?
lessons is Mother Nature trying to teach us?
Psychologists and ecologists are now working together to
illuminate these important questions. Ecopsychologists believe
that by understanding the psychological aspects of our environmental
crisis, we will then be able to start caring for our planet
and thus for each other. But are we running out of time?
Can we keep ignoring and denying the interconnection of
all humans, nature and the cosmos. We have much to learn
from the wise earth and the spiritual teachings of indigenous
peoples and the early pagan cultures. Are we open and ready
for such teachings or do we label them as barbaric and uncivilized.
Remember, “the map is not the territory.” Until
you have experienced these teachings one cannot judge their
effects. One way to re-awaken our love of nature and the
desire to protect it is to experience a wilderness adventure.
people lead non-conformist lifestyles, not as a radical
act of rebellion but as an example of choosing ‘voluntary
simplicity’ over ‘voluntary consumerism’.
Their lifestyle choices are reflections of what they believe
to be the truth: that we cannot carry on living and enjoying
the goods of this planet if we are not willing to give something
back in return. I know of many people who give back simply
by embracing the philosophy that moderation is beautiful.
for equality, dignity and human rights should still be a
priority on our list of social actions, but it is a worthless
fight if we no longer have fresh air, clean water and fertile
land to sustain human life. There is a time to work and
there is a time to play. However, in the next millennium,
both of these behaviors will have to be governed by formal
environmental and philosophical personal ethics if the human
race is to survive. There is one thing that differentiates
us from the animal kingdom and that is freedom of choice.
Have we truly evolved as a human race? How different are
our choices from those of our ancestors? We think of ourselves
as intelligent yet do we act in a preventive manner? Do
we respect and model the natural cycle of Life-Death-Rebirth
so evident in the teachings of nature or is the hunger of
science for ‘power over nature’ bound to annihilate
us all? If not physically, spiritually? The Y2K computer
crisis might just be a little reminder of our fallibility.
the time to think – the coming millennium
a time to act!
Larocque is a wholistic health practitioner trained in Gestalt
therapy and energy healing. During the summer, she directs
XC Mountain Bike School (formerly the mountain bike
camp), which she founded in 1997, and in the winter, resumes
her private coaching practice in Ottawa under Creative
Wheel Consulting. She is presently working at developing
a nature based wholistic center for learning and culture
in conjunction with LaRocca XC, in Val-des-Monts, Québec.
following is a photgraph commemorating the first official
trailblazing on the land for Dominique's new wholistic center.
All the work was done following IMBA
principles, and thus constitutes the first workshop to be
offered on the property.