Nature connection, Transformation

Krisztina Pásztor

How my re-connection with nature guided me to re-connect with myself and the whole world.

Ecopsychology is a multidisciplinary area, it is a partnership of psychology and ecology that also integrates areas such as philosophy, system theory, anthropology, etc. It is seeking the answer to questions such as “What is the psychological answer to humans destroying their own habitat?” and offers a wider perspective to psychology, that is: we cannot be studied or healed separately from the whole of the planet. Ecopsychology offers three insights: 1. There is a deeply bonded and reciprocal relationship between humans and nature. 2. The illusion of the separation of humans and nature leads to suffering both for the environment (as ecological devastation) and for humans (as grief, despair, and alienation). 3. Realizing the connection between humans and nature is healing for both. (Source: One of the aims of ecopsychology is to bring the suppressed ecological self (ecoself) to surface. The ecological self is the expansion of self to the natural world. We experience our ecological self when we sense a deep resonance with other species and a quality of belonging and connection to the larger ecological whole, a unity with the rest of the planet. We identify with the natural world when we experience commonality with it. The ecological self leads to environmentally appropriate behaviours, not out of a sense of self-sacrifice or self-denial but out of a sense of love and common identity. When we act from our ecological self, we do not have to try to make environmentally responsible choices. Instead, our choices are naturally less intrusive, more sensitive, less toxic because we appreciate the larger context and care about those well-being our behaviour affects.

“Hello Evet, will you come to the Camino with me?” Asked my friend through the phone from a busy day at work. “Yes, sure!” I replied without thinking or having any idea of what the ‘Camino’ was. That was where the story of my shift began.

A pilgrimage followed, thirteen years ago walking 800 km through great adventures where fun, love and a future found me. Yet, the moment of conscious transformation came a few weeks later as I was walking the streets of my Hungarian birth town. Right out of the blue came the realization that I had been living a life that someone else had dreamed for me, and that I have the right to live my own! That was the second step of importance, a step that continued to lead on to further transformative moments; a journey that connected me back to the natural world in different ways.

I had been living a life that someone else had dreamed for me, and that I have the right to live my own!

About seven years later I participated in a training course that included a 24- hour solo in a forest. It was the first time that I’d spent hours in the same spot in nature for so long without having to do or achieve anything. It was cold so I spent most of the time in my sleeping bag or doing exercises; hugging trees, observing insects, listening to the sound of leaves in the wind and the strange noise the trees made as branches touched. Holding the trunks and feeling movement from the wind, I could also tune in, hear the birds and the whole forest. At night I woke up several times to watch the full moon, each time in awe as it moved forward across the sky. Not for a moment did I feel bored even though I basically felt nothing much actually happened. Only later as we shared our stories in the circle and received a mirroring from the facilitators did I realise the significance of this experience. It helped me to understand that I’d felt ‘One’ with the whole forest, that my unity with the whole world became clearly evident for me, just by being out there.

These experiences remind me of the very first moment when the boundaries of my ‘self’ dissolved, and the idea of how we humans are part of the whole ecosystem whether we know it or not

This experience opened a deeper gateway for many more; from seeing the whole universe in fractals after noticing ants running up on the bark of a tree, noticing a green beetle ‘watching out for me’ before I slept, and then it flying away as I awoke, to the forest holding me as a mother in her womb, or simply feeling welcomed, safe and happy as I hugged the tree at my sitspot.

All of these experiences remind me of the very first moment when the boundaries of my ‘self’ dissolved, and the idea of how we humans are part of the whole ecosystem whether we know it or not. And how did this change my life? It helped me to find my vocation; to discover nature-based practices and offer them on, to facilitate transformative processes that are holding the possibility of experiencing ecoself. This ecoself is also there in every decision I make, trying my best in making an ethical way of living. And here for me is a big lesson about transformation; It may happen sometime later, or perhaps even during the experience without me or us noticing it!

Recall a special place in nature and the experience that made it special for you!

What makes you feel connected to the rest of the world?

What was the most remarkable transformational experience for you? What triggered it?

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Innovative approaches in learning for Sustainability
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