sector into the Scottish wilderness. Margaret and Dave work with the power of the wild to facilitate a transformation from a conventional ‘egoic’ self to one that is “transpersonal and interconnected” (Kerr and Key, 2012).
Although many ecopsychologists look to the richness of Native American traditions, the influence of British indigenous practice is less apparent. Perhaps it is just a matter of labels, as I would describe the work of UK shamans like Gordon McClellan and Barry Patterson as ecopsychology. My own ecopsychology practice is, of course, influenced by paganism and draws deeply on personal experience. Like most ecopsychologists, I weave together ancient and modern and I delight in finding resonances between cutting edge research and timeless indigenous wisdom.
Embodied connection Many years ago I suggested that the wisdom of the body reveals our connection to nature. My ideas opposed mainstream psychology, which typically assumes that knowledge is lodged in the brain and that we are isolated individuals in a mechanistic world. However, my journey of exploration continued, leading to a PhD and ongoing research. It’s now clear that the old mechanistic ideas are untenable; knowing is embodied and relationship is fundamental. Each individual is like a complex node in an infinite web: your body is “part of a gigantic system of here and other places, now and other times, you and other people, in fact the whole universe” (Gendlin, 1978). This connection can become especially apparent when we use a technique called Focusing, which is a simple means of listening to the deep wisdom of the body. Focusing is used by some ecopsychologists and is an especially powerful aid to nature connection.
Conclusion Although ecopsychology is very new, it has grown from ancient roots. It provides profound insights into our environmental crisis and offers valuable tools for change. Instead of a psychology based on mechanistic models, ecopsychology is founded on the understanding that our bodymind system is part of the wider ecosystem. Ecopsychology is inherently holistic; it recognises that human wellbeing entails a flourishing ecology and typically has spirituality at its heart.
Every age faces its challenges, but never before have humans been confronted with the prospect of an ecological meltdown of our own creation. There is still time if we can wake up from the dangerous illusion that we are separate from our environment. That’s a tough call, but if ecopsychology draws deep from the well of spiritual wisdom, I believe it can answer that need.
Adrian Harris is a Counselling Psychotherapist and workshop facilitator (www.natureconnection.org. uk). Adrian has a PhD in Religious Studies and has published on Eco-Paganism, embodied knowing and the power of place. A pagan and environmental activist for most of his life, he founded the Dragon Environmental Network in 1990. His blog (www. bodymindplace.com) documents his adventures beyond the skin-bag.
Further reading Fisher, 2002. Radical Ecopsychology. State University of New York Press. Gendlin, 1978. Focusing. Bantam Books. Greenway, 1995. The Wilderness Effect and Ecopsychology. In, Ecopsychology: restoring the earth, healing the mind. Roszak, Gomes & Kanner (eds). Sierra Club Books. Harris, 1996. Sacred Ecology. In, Paganism Today. Harvey & Hardman (eds). Harper Collins. Kerr and Key, 2012. The Natural Change Project. In, Vital Signs. Rust & Totten (eds). Karnac. Roszak 1992. The Voice of the Earth. Simon and Schuster.
Bench and Ferns
Bench and Ferns, Dhanakosa Loch, Into The Wods are all copyright the author of the article.