– Heartwood Path Waypoint 1.24 –
Understand The Value Of Consent
One of the key lessons I learned from Dr. Michael Cohen is the value and purpose of gaining consent. Due to the benefits of seeking and gaining permission, —the most important for us here being the resultant development of a sense of equanimity between all participants, including between a natural being and its admiring human in the nature connection experience— I ask for your consent to be led down the Heartwood Path.
I ask for your consent because it is my experience that applying eco-psychology practices along the Heartwood Path is life-changing and one ought to not lead a person to life-changes without seeking consent. I recommend that you only give your consent to be led down the Heartwood Path if you are curious about it and eco-psychology or if you seek personal and environmental improvements. Your continuing to partake in this waypoint indicates your consent.
“The eco-psychologist Michael Cohen has made a life’s work of reconnecting people with nature . . . (He) believes that one of the most important laws we have forgotten about the earth is the Law of Attraction and Consent. For life to thrive –– not merely hang on but thrive and expand –– Cohen believes it needs the consent, or welcome, of its surroundings” (McElroy, 2006, p. 82).
Certainly one would be more attracted to people and places that are welcoming. “How does a place become welcoming?” you may ask. Plants and animals, according to Cohen, feel the sense of attraction and consent in numerous particular ways, through a host of natural senses mentioned previously. Each time you seek consent from your chosen attractive natural being, you will know you have the beneficial energy of consent when your hands and body feel comfortably warmer, when you feel uplifted, when you feel drawn to the being, when you feel more energized, when you experience greater clarity, or when you feel lighter. If I notice any of these things along with my attraction, I interpret them as a sign of consent or permission to continue with the HumaNatureConnect Activities.
If, however, you feel your hands starting to get colder; if you feel nauseous, saddened, repulsed, or confused; if you feel your energy dropping; or if you feel pushed away, it is best to just nod respectfully toward the being and move to a more welcoming partner. If I feel any of these negative responses, or if I notice myself moving in a counterclockwise direction, I know in my heart that I do not have consent or permission to continue with the present being for the current particular HumaNatureConnect Activity.
We live in a world where consideration has profound value. Before engaging with a natural being or with a setting to have a connection experience, as suggested repeatedly in this series of courses, ask for the consent of that being or setting before continuing to seek advice or guidance. Doing so, aloud or in your head, promotes welcoming warmth, relationship, and peace.
By asking for permission to have a connection experience wherein you seek guidance from a natural being or setting, and by gaining consent that comes in the form of continuing attraction, you as the “asker” no longer feel like a blundering intruder. Such attraction opens one up to the feeling of being welcomed and supported. Asking for permission to remain and feeling the consent through the continuing attraction makes the human in the person-to-natural being or person-to-natural setting relationship feel less domineering. This lack of domination helps the person become more sensitive.
Being sensitive is a requirement for the reception of guidance from nature. If one does not feel welcome and supported one won’t be in a frame of mind that allows for the sensitivity to feel the advice carried on the subtle vibrations that resound in nature.
Consideration is done not just for the object but also for the subject; in other words, for the human and not just for the natural being. It is not just a matter of being polite to the natural object or its surroundings. That borders on being unrealistically anthropomorphic. The subject—the natural being—will not understand your words, and it may or may not be aware of your emotional state. The importance of seeking and maintaining consent is rather about the human being remaining emotionally available for his or her own wellbeing, being considerate for his or her own sake, being attuned to feelings more than to concepts, and, therefore, being open to non-worded advice. Waiting for consent and checking on the continuation of consent through the continuance of attraction leads to the consideration, to the compassion, to the altruism, to the thoughtfulness, and to the sensitivity needed to make the activities of the Heartwood Path work as they are intended.
Asking for consent is for the human more than for the natural being or for the human rather than for natural setting. I am not asking you to be like Dr. Doolittle, talking to the animals. I am suggesting that you often become attentive to your attractions and that you ask for consent so that you will be emotionally available to receive “vibes” from nature, and, in so doing, become inwardly prepared to receive advice from an intelligent, albeit non-human, source –– a more-than-individual source that is not separate or distant from yourself.
With your continued consent, which can be shown by continuing to move from waypoint to waypoint, I will bring you through an introduction to the Heartwood Path. I will describe Michael Cohen’s applied eco-psychology. More specifically, I will describe the basics of Cohen’s “Natural Systems Thinking Process” and the basis for it—what Cohen calls “Natural Attraction Ecology.”
Then, I will in the next waypoint: