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The Power of Natural Attraction Ecology: How to Benefit from the Restorative Miracles of Nature that We Learn to Disregard

By Michael J. Cohen, Ph.D. Project NatureConnect Program Director, Akamai University, Hilo, Hawaii.


From personal experiences that I have described in my peer-reviewed books, articles and interview in the Journal of Ecopsychology, in this article I share the sensory art of Natural Attraction Ecology (NAE), a key, accredited science that my 82 year life work has established. NAE is a nature-connected educating, counseling and healing tool with astonishing benefits. It makes a significant contribution because in our excessively indoor lives our natural senses and sensibilities are suffocated like "fish out of the water" which our warped thinking sees as normal. This unbalances our psyche, creates mental illness and prevents us from building sensible relationships.  To remedy this destructive separation, NAE empowers our thoughts and feelings to create trustable moments that let genuine sensory contact with Earth teach us what our mind and spiritual health needs to know. The hands-on methods and materials of NAE enable our psyche to genuinely tap into its authentic origins in the natural world, backyard or backcountry. This provides a safe playground for the purifying and self-correcting powers of nature to help us remedy our personal, social and environmental disorders.


When I was a child a magician visited our elementary school and explained that he was going to perform a miracle: "Miraculously, I am going to make something from nothing," he said.  He first rolled up his sleeves, then opened wide both his hands and twisted them so we could see them, back and front.  He asked us if we recognized that that they were bare and empty.  We agreed. They were. No doubt about it.  The others and I, including our teacher, saw this with our own eyes.

Then came the miracle.  Out of nothing, there came something.  The magician made a loose fist with one hand and with the other hand he pulled from his fist many scarves of different colors.  While he was doing this he repeated, "You see, I have the power to make the impossible happen."

We all believed his story. Why not? We experienced it, we saw it.  The magician said he could perform magic, why should we not believe him? He certainly didn't lie, he did what he said he would and could do. This built and established our trust in him

Sight, sound and understanding stories are just a few of the 53 natural senses that our body and spirit inherit in order to register the world around and in us (6).   If the magician's story had been honest, or had his natural integrity invited us to come closer or touch and feel his hands, we would have known what we needed to know about his miracle.  Our senses would have been able to register that he was deceiving us. We would not have trusted him.

About sixty years later I became aware of the magician's secret. He had an imitation plastic thumb placed over his real thumb and he knew we didn't know this. Inside the plastic thumb there was space enough to hide the scarves.  So, while his fake-thumb was buried in his fist he pulled his real thumb out from inside it and took the scarves out of the plastic thumb while telling us misleading stories about his miraculous powers and empty hands.

Why did the Magician mislead us innocent youngsters?  Because he was paid to do it or he liked to do it, it gave him prestige or power as a professional magician. He might not be able to stop when it made sense to stop.

Fooling people is how magicians make money and gain prestige.  It is entertainment as well as a way the economy works to satisfy our need for entertainment, be we magicians or their audience.

As long as I trusted the magician's story I did not get all the facts that I needed. He did nothing to help me as a child think he was a fabricator or help me figure out his use of a fake thumb. He did not encourage me to be "impolite," to not trust his word or demonstration, to request that he let me fully experience his hands through my many inherent sensory ways of knowing. 

As a consequence of the Magician withholding information and misleading me, I ended up believing in magic.

I don't believe in magic any more, not even Magic Johnson.  What I believe is that whole life experience is the best teacher and that scientific research supports my decades of multisensory experiences with nature (1).  The latter convinced me in 1965 that our planet is alive or acts exactly like a living organism (Thirteen years later this was scientifically validated as Gaia) (7).   From that personal discover I have learned to sense and trust that all things on Earth, including humanity, are diverse expressions of the unifying spirit or flow of nature's life energy around, in and through us and all other things.

From years of exploring natural areas while on education expeditions that engaged most of my 53 natural senses, I identified and removed the "fake plastic thumb" in my life and the lives of other expedition education participants (6).  In multi-sensory ways my consciousness reasonably registered that all things consist of the self-organizing and balancing growth of life energy from the Big Bang to this moment. 

I observed that all things are equal forms of life energy, all things enjoy it and each thing, in turn, contributes to its power and therefore to each other.  Scientifically, this helps to explain why nature's life on earth is in balance and has seemingly miraculous non-dualistic healing and spiritual properties as well as the ability to not produce waste, pollution, disorders, isolation, excessive stress and abusiveness. This is neither magic nor a miracle. It is simply nature's life energy manifesting itself and growing into becoming the material and non-material world, including us.  This still occurs moment by moment as new opportunities continually present themselves. 

In Industrial Society we learn to omit from our consciousness the inherent attraction growth and development attributes of natural life energy. What results are the troubles that plague us. 

We seldom learn that our 53 natural senses are part of nature and that this includes our senses of reason and consciousness. Our senses register the web of life in our awareness and they commune with it in homeostatic concert for they are part of it.  The balanced and purifying unity our sense of thirst with the global water cycle is but one example.

In time I was able to identify the attraction essence of life energy. This occurred because my contact with nature's aliveness freed me from cover-up "plastic thumb" thinking. It allowed my senses to register the fundamental of nature that is found everywhere.  It makes sense and has proven to be undeniable. 

To understand why I was able to identify the essence of how nature works, simply compare my intensely nature-connected life and livelihood over these past seventy years with that of a "normal" citizen or leader. The latter, on average, have almost completely spent these seven decades indoors.  In addition, all but 12 hours of their thinking and feeling was disconnected from how authentic nature organized, sustained and corrected itself to produce its, and our perfection.  Their senses, sensitivities and sensibilities were, and are still, like a fish out of water, the failing we call "normal" as is reflected by the shakey state of the world and our mental health.

In metaphor, I was in contact with a living thumb, not the deception of its plastic-imitation cover.

There are far too many misleading magician-types at work in our society. We call them politicians, educators, economists, scientists, spiritualists, editors and leaders. The significant question is whom amongst them or us can we trust without having the experiential contact that we need.

Like most magicians, our leaders are paid to disregard, and make us disregard, facts from our sensory experiences for the latter are considered subjective or flakey. This misleads the individuals that we trust to guide us, especially with respect to conveying the truth about our relationship with nature and with each other as part of nature (2). As a result, the balance, purity and peace of our living planet, including us, suffer the consequences of these individuals and their detrimental plastic thumb falsehoods. As long as we don't correct these powerful figures, we grow into becoming them and we continue to endure the distortions of our society's excessive, conquer-nature ways. 

Our major challenge is that the questionable way our culture's magicians operate is applauded.  For this reason, we seldom recognize or apply the necessary remedy for our distorted sensibilities and the hurt and disorders they cause.  Instead, we wait for miracles to happen that have already taken place and been ignored, nature's restorative balancing and healing powers being some of them. 

Recognize it or not, there is a practical remedy for our madness.  It is to learn how to engage in the art and community of Natural Attraction Ecology (NAE) a sensory science that I developed to help us apply nature-connected facts in a pure way. NAE is crucial for effectively educating, counseling and healing with nature in and around us instead of against it (4).

The process of NAE empowers us to discover, think and feel using 53 natural attraction senses and 20 whole life axioms.

Our natural senses are instinctive parts of our biology that register our attraction relationships. They enable us to consciously engage in and join the way the world works in purity and balance, around and in us.  The axioms give our mind a scientific structure on which to hang our natural sensory experiences.

NAE is an ecopsychology tool that provides any individual with an organic form of thinking and feeling. It offers a genuine nature-contact procedure that helps us make greater sense, question and explore the world with greater expertise and  correct the plastic thumb fabrications of our leaders (3).

The advantage of NAE that we don't have to wait for miracles. We discover that we are born as miracles. We can learn to apply and benefit from our miraculous nature and solve the unsolvable.

Perfected since 1965, today NAE enables us to genuinely interlace our body mind and spirit with the power of nature to purify, restore and heal itself, within and about us.  This form of ecotherapy benefits all of life on Earth including our misguided "leadership magicians" and their false-thumb mentality.

Although NAE is a web-of-life model that did not exist fifty years ago, it is accredited and available now.  If that seems to be an example of something coming from nothing, perhaps it explains why those who use and teach NAE find that its results see, to be miraculous (5).

I researched and invented NAE because I came to realize that nature's attractive life energy conceived us as children of Mother Nature. Along with everything else, our body, mind and spirit are designed to suckle the loving breast of the natural world's health, balance and beauty as well as be it.  However, to our loss, on average we spend over 95 percent of our time indoors. Over 99 percent of our thinking and feeling is estranged from nature.

Our nature-disconnecting birth into Industrial Society weans us from being healthfully nourished by Mother Nature. It is as if we are trained and rewarded instead to suck a plastic nipple attached to a bottle of whiskey.  For the remainder of our excessively indoor lives we suffer the destructive effects of the whiskey and nipple until we connect with nature's power to help us stop our addiction to them.

Without support from continual NAE connections, is it any wonder that our troubles continue or that "Just say no," does not produce the personal, social and global solutions we desperately need? 

Isn't it time for our thumb to hitch a ride on the NAE vehicle that enables us to think, feel and act like nature's perfection works? Individuals who are learning and teaching NAE are making a difference by being it (5).



1. Cohen, M. J. 2008,
 Educating Counseling and Healing With Nature  Illumina Publishing.

2. Cohen, M. J. 1995,
 Education and Counseling With Nature: A Greening of Psychotherapy. The Interspych Newsletter, Vol 2, Issue 4

3. Doherty, T. J. 2010, Michael Cohen: Ecopsychology Interview Ecopsychology Journal, Vol 2 No.2. Mary Jane Liebert Publishing.
4. Project NatureConnect 2007,
 Natural Attraction Ecology

5. Project NatureConnect, 1996, A Survey of Participants

6. Project NatureConnect, 1990, Connecting With Nature World Peace University Press
7. Project NatureConnect, 1986
 New Vistas Dawn: The Only Life of its Kind That We Know, "How Nature Works", Stillpoint 1986

About the Author:

Recipient of the 1994 Distinguished World Citizen Award, Applied Ecopsychologist Michael J. Cohen, Ph.D., is a Program Director of the Institute of Global Education where he coordinates its Integrated Ecology Department and Project NatureConnect.  He also serves on the faculty of Portland State University and the Akamai University Institute of Applied Ecopsychology whose program he initiated and has directed since 1990.  In 1965, Dr. Cohen discovered that Planet Earth acted like a living organism and based on this observation he founded sensory, Gaia based, degree granting Environmental and Expedition Education outdoor programs independently and for the National Audubon Society and Lesley University.  He conceived the 1985 National Audubon Society International Symposium "Is the Earth a Living Organism," at the University of Massachusetts and established the science of Natural Attraction Ecology in 2008.  He is the Editor of the Journal of Organic Psychology and Natural Attraction Ecology and an award winning author of ten books dealing with Applied Ecopsychology including "Educating, Counseling and Healing With Nature," "The Web Of Life Imperative" and"Reconnecting With Nature."  Dr. Cohen is also an accomplished folk song artist and contra dancer who presents, on San Juan Island, Washington, traditional music programs using guitar, banjo and accordion for the U.S. National Park Service, the Cask and Schooner Public House and the Skagit Valley College Road Scholar program

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