Catalyzing personal empowerment, societal transformation, and environmental sustainability


"We evolved as creatures knitted into the fabric of nature, and without its intimate truths, we can find ourselves unraveling."
Diane Ackerman

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Ecopsychology/Integrated Ecology

   The Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) embodies both Nature's science and spirit. Academically and professionally, it falls within the field of applied ecopsychology and uses ecotherapy and ecoeducation in its application and teaching.

   Ecopsychology (EP), also known as Organic Psychology, seeks to redefine sanity as if the whole world matters.

   Taking the interconnected and interrelated nature of reality as one of its foundations, EP posits that since we come from the Earth and depend on the Earth for our very sustenance, we require a healthy Earth for our own health. But lacking our own health -- physically, psychologically and spiritually -- causes us to treat the environment in the same unhealthy, exploitive, and destructive way we treat ourselves and others. In a downward spiral, the Earth gets sicker, and we get sicker. We consciously and unconsciously destroy our very life support system even though we purport to know better. This is one of the core components of pathology in general, and addiction in particular.

   We must nurture Nature in order for Nature to nurture us.

   EP is also a very holistic way of looking at mental health and healthy personality development. EP recognizes that a person cannot be truly healthy by only paying attention to one aspect of the mind/body/spirit relationship, nor that even this set of relationships can entirely define who an individual is. Our family and social relationships, and the environments in which we live, work, play, and love also define who we are and determine our overall health.

"All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter." Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning father of quantum theory

The Natural Systems Thinking Process

   The Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) provides both a framework for how the natural universe communicates its non-verbal, multi-sensory intelligence through the Web of Life, and a way for humans to get reconnected to this balanced, sustainable wisdom. The scientific underpinnings are drawn from both current and ancient thought in the physical, natural, and social sciences, and are held together with current thinking in systems science. When one examines the results of evidence and leading edge thinking from the above fields, the inescapable conclusion is that attraction relationships hold everything-from sub-atomic particles to ecosystems to economic systems-together. These attraction relationships are the creating, binding, and balancing energy of the universe-and the essence of the NSTP.

   Attraction relationships can be seen as the manifestations of a 5th Force within quantum mechanics, what pioneering systems thinker Ervin Laszlo calls the subtle field. This subtle energy field that guides the cosmological evolutionary life force is a Nameless, Intelligent, Attraction Love known by its acronym NIAL within the NSTP. "Webstrings" (the term taken from the experiential Web of Life model used by environmental educators) are the attraction relationships that bond quarks, biosystems, and everything in-between. NIAL is the underlying field itself.

   When any organism is separated from its natural environment, it acts abnormally because it is disconnected from the biological essence/spirit that creates and sustains every ecosystem. This has major implications for humanity. Studies show that in our nature-separated society, 95% of our time and 99.9% of our thinking is disconnected from Nature. Yet, we seldom recognize that our greatest troubles-our rampant personal, social, and environmental crises-directly result from this estrangement from our natural origins. We are in deNIAL.

   The real power and importance of the Natural Systems Thinking Process is that it goes far beyond providing a merely "intellectual" understanding of our problems, their causes, and what we should do about them. Instead, the NSTP thoughtfully reconnects people with Nature's balanced, fulfilling intelligence by reconnecting over four dozen "forgotten" senses to their biological origins in Nature. This is achieved through a series of simple yet powerful sensory outdoor activities which heighten conscious awareness of the multiplicity of supportive, balancing, and sustaining energy flows through us, the "sharing of bonds and messages that makes reality into a stupendous network of interaction and communication." (Lazlo, The Whispering Pond) These 'felt senses' inform the intellect and engage the emotions. Destructive 'disconnected' thinking is recycled, and as we personally experience the relationship between human and environmental health, we become highly motivated to restore the wellness of both humanity and the Earth. Right relationships replace deNIAL.

   As can be seen then, the NSTP is an ecological process of healing the personal and environmental ills caused by the dualistic worldview held by Western society and science. However, it goes far beyond treating just the symptoms and politics that are the result of this mindset. Rather, it has the potential to catalyze the major shift in human consciousness needed to overcome the destructive behaviors that are negatively impacting human and environmental health. By psychologically reconnecting to Nature, we can reverse our self- and Nature-destructive activities and trends and replace them with the simple elegance of a Nature connected sustainability.

   The Natural Systems Thinking Process was developed by Dr. Michael Cohen, a pioneer in the environmental education movement. His nature-connect training programs have been incorporated by a national and international network of professionals into their own work as teachers, psychologists, ecologists, life coaches, counselors, artists, therapists, healing professionals, outdoor leadership trainers, and social change activists.

   In cooperation with the Institute for Global Education, a global-reach educational institute and NGO consultant to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, Dr. Cohen's Project NatureConnect is committed to restoring the vital kinship with nature that nurtures physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual health in individuals and in society. Through this work we serve the future of an ecologically sound and healthy planet.

   If you would like to schedule an introductory consultation session or arrange a presentation or workshop for your group, please contact or give Dave or Allison, co-founders of Attraction Retreat, a call at (360) 756-7998.


"The world is sick; it needs healing; it is speaking through us; and it speaks the loudest through the most sensitive of us."
Sarah Conn


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