By Aparna Jacob February 2003 So we all agree Mother Earth has been mistreated for far too long now. With the understanding that we are all part of her, we should be able to make up to her I roamed the valleys of the mountains that were her breasts, heard the rumble of her rage thundering above. When the heavens opened, my face was wet with her tears. The breezes were her sighs and the heaving oceans her emotions. Under the stars that were her thousand eyes I stood awed, a little afraid of this mother, so grand, wise and patient. She gathered me to her rich bosom and I slept knowing this was where I came from and to this I shall return. Eco-ConnectDr Michael J. Cohen, who directs several university programmers in Applied Eco-psychology, integrates both the scientific and spiritual approaches by creating ways in which effective environmental education and action spring from a deeply felt personal reconnection with Earth and nature. An accidental scientific discovery in 1953 by Cohen has evolved into a social restoration tool, a free online course and the USA Presidential Platform for 2004.Dr Cohen’s Institute of Global Education, Project Nature Connect and website www.ecopsych.com are in the forefront of environmental education. He had also developed the 1985 International Symposium ‘Is the Earth a Living Organism?’ According to Cohen, we, and all of nature, are built of attraction bonds that hold atoms and the world together. We are not taught that in us, at least 53 of these bonds register emotionally and spiritually as ‘biophilia’, a binding, 53-sense love of nature. Our nature-disconnected ways de-energize biophilia out of our awareness. We instead believe we have only five senses. Also, while we concentrate on science, economics and technology, we have been robbed of integrity by a seldom recognized but easily curable mental health disorder known as Natural Attraction Desensitization Syndrome (NADS). Our educational, professional and personal lives are spent indoors. This addictive, excessive separation of contemporary thinking from the integrity and wellness of natural systems within and around us underlies our greatest discontents and social or environmental disorders. Thus NADS is not just an environmental issue. Its destructive effects include greed, relationship problems, prejudice, diseases, abusiveness, violence and social injustice. We, society and the environment hurt from our extreme loss of contact with our origins in nature. Whenever a story or relationship reminds us of this loss, we feel the hurt. This makes us fearful, defensive, and apathetic. But our society is in denial. We accept this disconnection as normal trying to compensate with misguided social and economic practices aimed at conquering nature. Hundreds of studies have vindicated Cohen`s findings by illustrating that nature-separated organisms suffer from limited sensory stimulation which de-energizes natural growth and relationship sensitivities. To counter the ill-effects of NADS, Cohen created a Nature-reconnecting psychology called the Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) born out of his 30 years of all-season travel and study in over 260 national parks, forests and subcultures. The critical contribution of NSTP is that it empowers individuals to create ‘‘moments that let Earth teach’’. NSTP teaches individuals to make conscious sensory contact with Nature`s authentic intelligence and incorporate it in their thinking. This therapeutically nurtures the 53 inherent natural senses. They energize and increasingly remain in our awareness. Everyone can use, teach and benefit from these unadulterated sensory connections to attraction energies in nature, which help restore us and regenerate integrity, spirit and the environment. These connections help people to beneficially recycle, purify and transform their destructive bonds for constructive relationships. ‘‘You must nurture your felt love for nature. Never deny it. It is your connection with the unifying essence that organizes, preserves and regenerates life relationships at every level. Its profound loss in our thinking produces our destructiveness and imbalance,’’ says Cohen. ‘‘Because we are part of nature, when we thoughtfully reconnect with nature, nature’s recycling energies begin to reverse our mental contamination, just as they do any other contamination…Hundreds of irrefutable studies document what even a short walk in the park can show you: our thinking benefits from this restorative, purifying, support. Insurmountable problems along with apathy fade as we transform our discontents into more sensible, constructive participation,’’ he asserts. Cohen’s ecopsychology is in truth a rediscovered and repackaged version of the ancient wisdom that underlines the importance of connecting to the universal source without interference from our outdated conditionings. Prabhath P What you can doElectricity • Replace your lights with longer lasting compact fluorescents to save electricity and money in the long run. • Don’t use electrical appliances for things you can manage by hand, such as opening cans, shaving, drying your hair. • Use cold water in the washer whenever possible. Wash dishes only when the dishwasher is full. Allowing clothes to dry on a line and dishes to dry in the air will conserve energy and save you money. Water • When brushing your teeth, don’t leave the water running. Flush the toilet less often. • Dump used oil and other chemicals in approved places. Pouring them down sewers allows these pollutants to enter the water supply and pollute ground water. • When landscaping, use plants that are native to your area to reduce your watering and fertilizing needs. If you do water your lawn, do so late in the day to avoid evaporation during the hot hours. Or wash your car on the lawn (be sure to use a bio-friendly detergent!). Fuel, Energy • Buy a car that gets good mileage. When possible, ride a bus, walk, carpool or bike it up. The biggest damage we can do to the environment is to fly on an airplane. Flying uses a great amount of fuel and the average airplane sends approximately one ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere on a single trip. That’s more carbon dioxide production than a year’s worth of driving and three times more carbon dioxide than rail. • Turn the stove or oven off a few minutes before you are done cooking and save gas. Reuse/Refuse/Recycle • Recycle newspapers. Turn scrap paper into a handy scratch pad for making lists, scribbling notes and doodling. • Buy tree-free paper made of fibres such as hemp, kenaf, sugar cane, coffee beans, banana leaves, blue jeans and old money, rather than timber. Paper made from these plants is also stronger and more durable, and can be recycled more times than wood-based papers. It is also important to continue buying recycled paper products to sustain a market for the recycling of the glut of tree paper in the market. • Shun fast food. Especially until they learn to produce less paper waste. Fast food servings, with their polystyrene packaging, plastic flatware, and single-serving condiment wrappers and paper napkins are extremely wasteful. Aluminum is the most readily recycled of common take-out packaging. The most eco-friendly take-out container is a reusable container you bring from home to the restaurant. • Carry around your own coffee mug and cut down on Styrofoam usage. • Get a few nice shopping bags, wash and reuse your plastic bags, re-use brown paper bags to line your trashcan instead of plastic bags. • Composting biodegradable waste such as yard trimmings, fruit peels and other such leftovers provides fertilizer for your yard and reduces the burden on landfills. You can also leave lawn trimmings on your lawn, it’s good fertilizer. Consume Less • You don`t really need a plastic bag when you buy a packet of bread, do you? If you must buy bottled drinking water, save empty bottles and refill them. • Try to eat less meat: The meat industry causes especially high amounts of environmental damage. The cattle industry requires significant land not just for grazing but also to raise crops for feeding and water, and at 10 tones of manure per animal the faucal runoff can contaminate surface water. Safe Disposal • Computers contain many toxic materials and an old computer should not end up in a landfill. Check for upgrading your older machine with new memory, microprocessors and drives. Consider donating the equipment to a local school or nonprofit organization. Never throw a cell phone into the trash—see that it gets reused or recycled. Cell phones have a toxic waste stream including lead, mercury and cadmium. When discarded improperly, these toxins are released into the environment. • Dispose of expired medicines properly. Most expired medicines from households end up in landfills or are flushed down the toilet. This can lead to water-table contamination, so proper disposal is critical. Others Preserve biodiversity. Do not always buy the same, common variety of popular foods. If you usually buy white rice, white bread and Shimla apples, next time try something different (brown or wild rice and green apples).Relying too much on a few plant varieties could limit our future food choices. Conserving biodiversity means greater choices and a safer food supply. • Avoid using petroleum derived oil-based paints. Water-based paint is less hazardous than oil-based paint, dries faster, saves time and eliminates the need for chemical solvents for clean-up. • Use natural cleaning products. You can make your own effective cleaning solutions from basic household products. Make your own cleaner using two teaspoons white vinegar to one quart of warm water.
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