To survive and thrive in the modern world, environmentalism, all sciences, and fields concerned with human psychology and sociology must all combine forces. Creating sensory awareness is a vital aspect of tuning human minds toward belonging on the planet.
Ecopsychology is dependent upon therapies that allow people to connect to the external world from which they have become detached in modern life. It directs human beings to use senses and sensory awareness to feel the sustaining gifts of food, water, soil and air. Sensory awareness is concerned with human relationships too.
Charlotte Selver, who founded a practice of sensory awareness in the mid 1970’s began with group immersion in pleasant and natural settings that allowed people to open senses and connect to all the healing and regenerative powers inherent in biology and beyond.
The foundation of life on earth is in interconnected relationships. The ability to benefit from these relationships is sensory. Modern life is cut off from these benefits because people no longer live in close relationships to sources of food, (animals and plants) fresh outdoor air, or healing connection to biodiversity. The human/nature relationship is damaged due to highly isolated, abstraction based lives. People are more in touch with artificial supports such as money, mortgages, technology and stress that ignore all resources are connected to, and derived from earth.
To sever these relationships is something like having a family, but being locked in a closet, disconnected from shared communion with the family and all sources of what sustains life. Air, water and even food arrive without the closet dweller ever being allowed to sensually experience the bond between water bottle and water fall, or forest and field, that creates the air, water and food.
Yet, however detached humans are from resources, in reality all organisms need air, water soil and food each day. Modern agriculture and industry has invented methods in which they have learned to extract from nature in exploitative, non aware ways. The factory farm and artificially fertilized field process what appears as sustenance, but it does not satisfy the craving people have to know and appreciate animals, plants and systems. Many people eat meat who have never once looked into the eyes of a cow, calf, sheep or pig. Many people have never seen chickens, ducks and other fowl doing their natural part for the health of the soil and biodiversity of the web. People snack on corn or cereal without ever sensing an ancient connection to a stream in a meadow, or field.
Still, many do not realize this is a significant source of modern discontent and common woe of modern humanity. Separation is a very recent development in human history, and Homo sapiens is in a bigger than life experiment. How sustainable can life be, when a finite carrying capacity for life is met, or exceeded? Sensory awareness is one path to learn human survival in fractured relationships of ecosystems.
Relationships to human sustenance has until recently been ignored, or downplayed as “primitive”. Sensory awareness has been largely shut down to instead focus on productivity. Life within the earth, knowing its patterns and gifts has diminished. The way human beings evolved to know these things was mostly outdoors. Ancient lives were seldom, or never, disconnected from food sources, patterns of the seasons, and or quality of the soils and land that make life possible. Cooperation, even reverence for the earth meant that people valued life, rather than sensing it is just a constant competition for resources.
Sensory awareness, collecting empirical and sense data are crucial to all science, to all collections of wisdom and to all beings who would have a place and meaning in relationships of earth. Until people can sense that belonging they will suffer internally and project their symptoms onto a diminishing world. To open the senses is to open the mind and heart to the family of all creation.