Ecopsychology – Interconnectedness with Nature – Solving Nature Deficit Disorder

Do you think deliberately destroying one’s life support system is a good definition of insanity?

It is not much of a stretch to say that traditional coaching and life development theories try to make us feel sane about living in an insane world.

Fortunately, there’s a new discipline in the healing arts which seeks to redefine sanity as if the whole Earth mattered. Known as ecopsychology, or organic psychology, it is an holistic integration of ecology with psychology.

 Ecology is the study of connection, the interrelationships among all forms of life and the physical environment they exist within and depend upon.

Psychology is the study of the human psyche as it perceives, feels, thinks, imagines, and acts.

Ecopsychology builds on one of the core principles of general systems science: the interconnected nature and structure of reality. It is a foundational precept that the human psyche can be neither healthy nor understood in isolation from its environment. Ecopsychology examines the psychological roots of the environmental and social crises and presents a way of living and loving that promotes harmony between the environment and the individual, as well as all other relationships the individual is part of.

It can be easily shown that any individual organism is best defined and understood by its relationships–its internal relationships, relationships with other creatures, and its relationships to the environment and the very elements it is comprised of. Ecopsychology begins the healing process with the realisation that the relationship between humans and all other things is an essential part of the self, and healthy relationships are necessary for individual health.

As Sarah A. Conn, from the Ecopsychology Institute at the Center for Psychological & Social Change at Harvard Medical School points out, the very concept of health care itself changes when symptoms are seen not only as signals from the larger world but also as signs of our disconnection from it.

Ecopsychology recognises that every individual is biologically, psychologically and spiritually part of Nature’s intelligent ways. The Earth itself is a living system, and the psyche and body exists within this larger system.

 Leading thinkers say that humanity’s attraction to nature is a deep, biological need rooted in over two million years of evolution. This need for the natural world is known as biophilia, a genetic urge encoded in human nature to maintain the balance and harmony needed to preserve our psychic and physical health.

Excessive indoor living and a lack of bonding with the Earth actually causes a disconnection or atrophies many of the senses we have inherited from nature to keep us naturally fulfilled and in balance with the rest of the web of life. This disconnection causes psychological pain we obsessively try to tranquillise, (see the four substitutes) and a void we never seem able to fill. Society’s ‘fixes’ are often temporary and destructive. Even as we indulge our addictions, we experience a deep, pervasive longing for something that we sense is missing from our lives.

Krishnamurti once wrote “we live in a self made prison of our own isolated thinking, the best we can do with improving that, is decorate the prison cell.”

Our life-styles can be making us ill! Our efforts to succeed in our nature-disconnected world are taking a toll on our psychic, physical, and spiritual well-being. And we think this is normal–until we experience reconnection to Nature. The Universal Laws of Nature provide a way to psychologically reconnect strands of the web of life–both within and without–using the transparency of everyday life as a guide. This reconnection helps bring nature’s integrity–and a sense of deep, natural fulfilment–into conscious thought in our daily lives. The result is improved physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. This, ultimately, improves relationships at all levels, including within ourselves.

Ecopsychology is based on applying Nature’s Laws, the model nature uses to create and sustain healthy, thriving ecosystems. This model provides the metaphors we need to create lifestyles and social systems that also exhibit the same intelligence and harmony.

Ecopsychology facilitates helping people remember how to think and act the way that nature works. Using nature’s laws also helps us understand and appreciate the strength and resiliency that comes from increasing diversity. This diversity helps us realise that just as no two snowflakes are identical, no two people will relate to life in exactly the same way.

Due to the interconnected nature of self (we are nature) what we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves. The Earth does not belong to humans, humans belong to the Earth. We’re currently destroying and depleting natural resources faster than they can be renewed which is leading to ecocide. Since our physical bodies are gifts from Nature, “You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.” Alan Watts, it is logical to think that we treat nature as we treat ourselves. Improving one, automatically improves the other.

Do you know how great you feel when you’re in one of your favourite natural settings? The Laws of Nature allow you to bring that feeling home, into the office, bedroom and boardroom. It presents ways for people to feel like that every day, no matter where they are, by reconnecting with aspects of the nature that brought them to life in the first place.

 Part of basic philosophy is that since we, as a species, come from Nature, we can look to Nature through the examples provided by healthy and thriving ecosystems to understand the best of being human. Just as the individual cell contains the wisdom and knowledge to repair and heal itself, so does the psyche and spirit. It’s all based on the same natural processes that have created the physical world and life itself.Chris Walker Innerwealth Soul Nature

Think of a previous enjoyable experience that you’ve had in Nature.

 What senses or sensations do you remember using or experiencing? What was rewarding or worth remembering about the experience? Do you recognise the fact that you didn’t have to learn how to have this experience in a school classroom, from a book, or from a parent or other authority figure?

Would you like to repeat this experience? Would you like to have other experiences that produce good feelings or sensations? Would you like to use all of your senses to give you the ability to repeat these good feelings and make them a part of your daily life?

The Universal Laws of Nature present a nature-connected, psychological science with a distinct rational and methodology. It’s to help us enjoy life, find fulfilment, empower us to reach our potential, and provide the meaning and purpose all humans seek by reconnecting with Nature, either in the backcountry or in your backyard.

 Our separation from the very system that sustains us makes no sense.

The majority perception in the Western world is that we are apart from, and not a part of, nature. There is some separation from the systems that give us life and sustain us. We are taught to see ourselves as outside, and in control, of nature itself. Environmentalists shame us and say we have to “protect nature” as if we were given a gift to cherish and we need to attach ourselves to nature as a protector. This is external thinking and is part of the disconnection.

This disconnection then spreads to all of the other relationships–interpersonal and social–that define who we are as caretakers of others and nature. It is how we define reality. Reconnecting with nature and building responsible, mutually supportive and empowering relationships is different. Nature will adapt to mistreatment. We are not here to protect nature. We are nature. This shift in thinking lays the foundation for much ecopsychology work, which strives to holistically improve personal well-being in order to improve ecological integrity.

People will fight to save what they don’t love. That is separation and the thinking that dominates the western world. If we see the Earth as an endless supply of resources and a bottomless pit for waste; if the wilderness and other species are merely something to be conquered and tamed, we will either continue to dominate, exploit and destroy it to turn radical terrorist and fight to save it. This external process lacks integrity.

However, redefining the paradigm makes more sense: since we come from nature, are a part of nature, and actually require nature to even exist, we include nature as part of our self identity. We define ourselves not just by our clothes but by their source.

Stress, depression, feelings of isolation, and a rash of social ills stem from separation and is unsustainable and, most importantly, incurable by the methods of externalising nature. Therefore, our reconnection to nature is vital.

Separation tends to cause people to see other cultures and value systems as inferior to their own. We exploit the “other” in Nature, in cultures, and even in our own inner-nature. We throw out the “other”–our waste, discarded materials, and even other people. The garbage, waste, and other races are put out of sight, out of mind. If the Earth can be seen as something we own, something separate like a car or a neighbour or a house, then if our refuse is carted off to landfills by someone else we feel we’ve done our work to protect our possession. This is the impact of isolation of the self from nature.

If we can overcome this sense of otherness, we can then accept and rejoice in our sense of unity.

By witnessing that nature’s laws run human laws and that we are not just governed by governments and rules but by the very same universal law that govern an ant or the growth rings of a tree, we can overcome our feeling of separation from nature. Because, then we realise quite clearly that, we are nature, inseparable, interconnected, one.

When I am in the Himalayas of Nepal, far from the books, religions, ideals, philosophies, self help gurus and newspapers, I share a kinship with the Sherpa people whose philosophy allows them to personify nature as a friend, a part of themselves. They believe that what one does to a tree, one does to one self. It is no longer as pure as it once was, some is lost due to the millions of western visitors, education and internet. However, the beauty in the heart of a Sherpa, is something that must be felt, it is an energy, and that energy is what most of us, back here in the big smoke, call love.