– Heartwood Path Waypoint 22 –
Understand The Value Of Consent
One of the key lessons I learned from Dr. Michael Cohen is the value and purpose of gaining consent. I will explain how to use this critically-important process of gaining consent in his approach to eco-psychology in this waypoint, but, before proceeding, I am obliged to follow my training and to ask you, the course participant, to give me consent to lead you through a mini-demonstration course that is intended to show how Michael Cohen’s “Natural Systems Thinking Process”--when used along the nine courses called the Heartwood Path--will help the participant find peace on and with the earth. If, before giving or withholding your consent to participate in this mini-demonstration course, you need more information, I suggest you go soon to www.ecopsych.com. If, now or after you visit this site, you are not attracted to proceed, I encourage you to stop taking this course and wish you all the best. If, however, you are attracted to proceed because of your curiosity or your desire to make a difference without crashing, I welcome you to this introduction to the “Heartwood Path.”
I ask for your consent here 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. But how does a place become welcoming? 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 that 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 proceed with my 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 proceed with the present being for the current particular HumaNatureConnect Activity.
We shall learn from Cohen that attraction “is something you needed to follow, not just something you needed to exude” (McElroy, 2006, p. 83). It is not hard to imagine that we, like plants and animals, thrive best in welcoming environments. Every being thrives when there is consent given through the attraction to remain, to stay in close proximity, to have a connection experience.
Your attraction to a natural being or a natural setting is, in effect, its consent to have a connection experience with you. It is important to have this consent just as it is important to say “please” and “thank you.”
We live in a world where consideration has profound value. Before engaging with a natural being or with a setting for the purpose of having 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. These are some of the vital attributes necessary for the reception of guidance from nature. Consent brings welcoming warmth. 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 object 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 mental 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.
The previous message of gaining and maintaining consent from nature to do connection activities in this course is provided because I know from experience that participants will, at least at first, feel odd about asking a rock, a plant, or a river for permission to have a connection experience that leads to the giving of advice from a natural being or its setting. If one can remember that such asking for consent is for the human more than for the natural being or for the human rather than for natural setting the initial dissonance may be easily overcome. 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 advise from a most 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 click on the waypoint links, 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:
If this is not a day when you prefer to spend time in nature without an agenda, do the following activity:
Giving Your Consent To Traveling Down The Heartwood Path
HumaNatureConnect Activity: Giving Your Consent To Traveling Down The Heartwood Path. With pen and paper in hand, go to an attractive natural area and, in a spirit of appreciation, look around you to find something that is attractive to you. This time go to a place where you can be alone. If you see ugliness or feel uncomfortable in any way, move on. Once you find an aspect of nature that is attractive to you continuously for at least ten seconds, consider if you really want to experience the growth in your character that will occur as you move down the Heartwood Path. If the answer is yes, shout it out loud with vigor while waving your hands triumphantly. Feel that warmth as I again say to you: “Welcome to the Heartwood Path!”
Record your notes from this and every activity in your Heartwood Path Activity Log, which can be opened by clicking here.
Natural Systems Reflection Process
For best results, write down your impressions of this activity in your journal using as many of the following components as you see fit, afterwards, share your interpretations with others.
The Heartwood Path Exchange:
Swap Your Ideas, Impressions, Photos, And News With Others
Your input is vital. Enjoy sharing!
Heartwood Path Axioms: