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Alex Douglas-Kane shares her experiences and understanding of Discover Nature Awareness

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Cleve Backster and Plant Meditations is there a connection?

Have you ever thought about talking to plants? There is scientific evidence that we (our thoughts) are in direct communication with plants, even if they are separated from them by thick walls. I have direct experiences of similar events while conducting 'Plant Meditations'.

Cleve Backster is a polygraph expert who began his career as an Interrogation Specialist with the CIA and best known for his controversial experiments with bio-communication in plant and animal cells using a polygraph machine in the 1960's which lead to his theory of 'Primary Perception.' He is currently the director of the Backster School of Lie Detection in San Diego, California. In the 1960's he claimed to have discovered that a polygraph when attached to a plant registered a change in electrical resistance when the plant was harmed or even threatened with harm.

He argued that plants perceived human intentions, thoughts and emotions and their reactions were recorded on a polygraph this sensitivity he termed as 'Primary Perception' and published his findings in the International Journal of Parapsychology. This met with wide criticism Backsters work was inspired by the research of Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, who claimed to have discovered that playing certain kinds of music in the area where plants grew caused them to grow faster.

His bio-communications work is most famously discussed in The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. Backsters work is discussed in his book, titled Primary Perception published in 2003.

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sunday, 28 June 2009


Some time ago I was guided by my Higher Power to seek a job in a rehab, at the time I had no concept of what addictions was about other than my very narrow minded view of, it’s their problem sort it out.

How wrong I was

Nature Awareness is in part were it is today as a direct result of working with addicts and for Dr Robert Lefever who is considered by many as a maverick. I personally like the fact that he stands by what he believes in whether you agree with him or not, he is a teacher and without someone like him pushing our boundaries as he does I think we will all just stand still and not even consider what else can we do to make a difference or to be of service to others.

Dr Lefever gave me the opportunity to attend university which I never thought I would ever do, but much more than that he allowed me to work with his patients every week bringing Nature Awareness to them as a part of their journey into active recovery.

I learnt so much from them and about addictions but more importantly I learnt about myself, and I made mistakes but I trust that I have learnt from them and will continue to do so. At no point did he ever judge me.

Natural Awareness as it is now know continues to grow.

I am truly grateful.

Saturday, 27 June 2009


GOD: St. Francis, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on earth? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honeybees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colours by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.

ST. FRANCIS: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers weeds and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD: Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colourful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it, sometimes twice a week.

GOD: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS: No, sir just the opposite, they pay to throw it away.

GOD: Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS: Yes, sir.

GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS: You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stoke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.

ST. FRANCIS: You'd better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD: No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD: And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD: Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

ST. CATHERINE: Dumb and Dumber, Lord. It's a real stupid movie about

GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

When the Birds flew over the group something changed.

We were playing Blindfold Tag one day in Rehab when suddenly the energy of the group changed, and everyone noticed it, for the first time birds were flying directly over our heads.

We all commented on how nice it made us all feel and how peaceful we were inside.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

“This is not the sort of course I would normally come on, but it has liberated me."

Martin attended a recent Tracking One course where he experienced the Meet a Tree and Energy Tracking exercises, this is what he had to say.

Good to hear from you Geoff,

On a physical level I don't think the course needed any recovering from - I don't think we could have been any better looked after, and it was good to just spend some time in the woods with a great bunch of people. On a different level though, I think you know that a few of my buttons were pushed during the "Meet the Tree" and "Energy Tracking" exercises. That was quite unsettling, but in a wholly positive way.

The tracking basics were very helpful too, and I have been reading Tom Brown's "Science and art of tracking" with renewed enthusiasm. The weekend has made the whole subject come alive a bit more for me. Once I have consolidated what I have learnt I would definitely be interested in learning more, so if you will be running another course, especially if it’s at Rob's place, please do let me know.” Thanks again,

Kindest regards,

Martin Pope

(Forensic Scientist - Former Senior CSI with Kent Police)

Monday, 22 June 2009

The Dead Sea Sparrow that was not so dead.

Having just completed a Desert trek for Men Cap we finished up at Mount Sinai, the group I was with then got on to the bus and we went into Eilat in Israel.

The next day I was getting ready to go to the local ringing station do some bird watching, when Jane who became a good friend, asked if she could come with me, of course I was delighted and off we went.On arriving at the reserve, I introduced myself to one of the ringers there, who happen to be German and me being me, I took the opportunity to speak to him in German, it’s my way of keeping my hand in.

I asked the guy, if he had caught any Dead Sea Sparrows in his nets; (this is a rare bird and only comes from around the area of the Dead Sea, hence its name). He said he had not, but if catches one he would bring it over to show us, as I had said to him, I think my friend would enjoy seeing one.

Some time later, we were watching a Pied Kingfisher hovering and diving into the water for fish. I saw the German guy heading our way with a cloth bag in his hand and I said to Jane, “it looks like he is bringing us a Dead Sea Sparrow in his bag for us to see”, Jane replied “why would I want to see a Sea Sparrow that is dead”.

I laughed, and explain to her that, that’s its name because of where we are, she realised what she had said and laughed as well, feeling slightly embarrassed, although she had no need to be, if you do not know, then you do not know.

Photo by Geoffrey McMullan.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

While serving in the Falklands Islands...

I had the opportunity to sail down to South Georgia, some one thousand miles from the Antarctic. During the ten days of sailing (round trip) on the Grey Rover, I spent the majority of my time out on deck birdwatching, only popping inside every now and then to drink some hot sweet tea and then back again for some more birding. Everyone on board thought I was mad.

I saw many wonderful things, like a school pilot whales, which ran into the bow of the ship, and there were the Tunny fish way of in the distance, massive fish they were. Plenty of birds were to be had like the Black-browed Albatross, Yellow-nosed Albatross, and then there was one way of in the distance that reminded me of a B52 bomber, namely the Wandering Albatross, what a magnificent bird to behold sailing effortlessly over the waves. One day we had a Wilson's-storm petrol land on board; it was amazing to be able to such a delicate bird in my hands.

Once ashore in South Georgia, I went for a walk along the coastline to take a closer look at a glacier ,when we came across a Weddell Seal just lazing away on the beach, what a moment to be so closed to a wild animal that seemed to be just as curious about us as we were of it.

The whaling stations on the Island were something else, even though they had been abounded many years previously, there was still an eerie feeling to the place; you could imagine the whales being dragged up the slopes by chains, to be prepared for human needs.

I also had the privilege of being in the presence of Ernest Shackleton's grave, and strangely enough, buried close to his grave was an Argentinean Officer. I love to travel you experience so many wonderful and amazing things and you meet very interesting people as well.

Photos by Geoffrey McMullan.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Möhnesee (Dam) they spoke engish all along...

When I served in Germany, I often went out with my German friends Wolf and Andreas, and we would go trapping and ringing various birds like Spotted Flycatcher, Little Owl, when I first met Wolf and Andreas they told me that they could not speak English. One evening we were trapping and ringing Tengmalm's Owl up in the Arnsberger Wald near the Mohnesee Dam, one of the Dams hit
by the famous Dam Busters raid.

On this occasion we had with us he Commander of the Royal Artillery (CRA) who is also a keen birder and he wanted to see this owl, so I arranged for it to happen with my friends. When you in the Arnsberger ringing this owl you need to get there for about midnight and stay until about three in the morning, and it is so dark in the woods there that you cannot see your hand in front of your face.

So, now that I have set the
scene, one of my jobs that evening was to translate for the CRA. I was doing really well and I was very pleased with myself, then the CRA asked another question, one of my friends answered him in English, I looked at Wolf with a look that could kill and this is how the conversation went from there:

Geoff "Wolf you just spoke English"

Wolf "yes I know"

Geoff "are you telling me that you could speak English the whole time we have know each other"

Wolf "yes"

Geoff "so you let me struggle for the last three years, when you could have spoken to me in English"

Wolf "yes, it worked though you speak German now"

Geoff "I don't care if it worked or not"

The rest you can guess and of course Wolf was right, it did work, because I do speak German now. But if you could have seen my face it was a real picture. I laugh about it now.

Top Left Picture: Geoffrey as a young soldier having just ringed a Tengmalm's Owl.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Spiritually vs Science

Regarding the lack of empirical evidence into alternative and spiritual aspects of recovery in wilderness-therapy, perhaps with future research Nature-Awareness can in a small way close the gap on the so called grey-literature.

Miller (1998) states that in terms of spirituality to

“…Simply to ignore a…potential source of healing violates both scientific curiosity and professional responsibility, he continues by challenging the academic and spiritual community by stating,

“…It is time to question and reverse the assumption that spiritual variables are taboo for scientists and therapists, or that scientific methods cannot possibly shed light on spirituality” (p. 987).

Miller, W. R. (1998). Researching the spiritual dimensions of alcohol and other drug problems. Addiction, 93, (7), 979-990.

Below is some feedback from tracking courses I recently ran from three participants both from opposite backgrounds Richard comes from a spiritual perspective and who wanted mostly animal tracking while Mark who is from a scientific background was sceptical of the energy tracking aspect of the course, as was Martin who is a crime scene investigation officer.

"The weekend looking back was a very ‘dense’ experience: in the sense that it felt very full with experience - I don't feel that I ever was in need of more excitement or more things to occupy my mind - it was just fantastic to feel myself gradually becoming more natural myself!”

Richard Matthews

“I really enjoyed the weekend. As I said at the time, I think the way it broke down into different activities and disciplines worked really well. Working on animal tracks, human sign and energy tracking proved a great mix, and I felt each part helped you learn something about the others.”


“It’s not something I would normally choose, but I found it liberating”

Martin Pope

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Give peace a chance

This is a letter in response to another letter which was responding to my article in Drink and Drug News magazine.

"I can’t help thinking that Derek Wilson is being a little harsh on Geoffrey McMullan and his nature awareness therapy (DDN, 9 March, page 9). It’s fair enough if he thinks there’s nothing to nature awareness therapy – Geoffrey McMullan is open about the fact most people are cynical about it. But to call the article ‘frankly insulting to those of us who have spent many years offering service users robust evidence-based programmes’ seems somewhat over the top.

It was clear that Geoffrey McMullan was saying that nature awareness could be used as a useful add-on for some clients, to help them engage more effectively in treatment. At no point does he call it an alternative to mainstream treatment, nor is he asking for NTA money, as Derek Wilson appears to be implying.

He’s helped some clients and wanted to share his findings – where’s the harm in that? And, as he’s the only practitioner in the country carrying out these interventions with this client group, I don’t think he really poses too much of a threat. I’d say the robust evidence based programmes were safe from being discarded in favour of people pretending to be wolves for quite a while yet".

Molly Cochrane

23 March 2009 | drinkanddrugsnews | 7

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The Gay Birder

Just lately I have been reflecting on my life in the army, mainly due to being contacted by my army buddy's recently on facebook.

When I joined my first regiment 40th Field Regiment the Lowland Gunners at the age of 18 years, I was working in the MT (motor transport) office. One of the guys was asking what my interests were and when I told him I enjoyed bird watching, he replied only gay people watch birds. My response was would he like to close the door so we could rearrange the office furniture. I am much more of a gentle giant now.

Leaping forward to when I was a Sargent in 49th Regiment Royal Artillery and was at the time setting up a nature reserve on the German net.

One day when the regiment was on parade the colonel came up to me and said "Sargent McMullan the Brigadier wants to have a conservation day soon, and I would like you to come up with something, you have the regiment at your disposal"

I chuckled and the colonel looked at me and said "I'm sorry did I say something funny" I apologised and said I was just reflecting back to when I was 18 Sir, I was accused of being gay because I watch birds, hey oh how times have changed".

I think he saw the funny side of it?

Friday, 5 June 2009

The Soldier and the Mongoose - I so like this story…

Many years ago I was once told of a story about a soldier on exercise in Kenya. The guy in question was described to me as a big guy that very few people would take on. They established their Base Camp and during their stay there, a mongoose regularly visited their camp. It seems this man took an instant dislike to the mongoose and he took every opportunity to abuse the animal, he would kick it, throw stones at it and yet the mongoose kept coming back. The other soldiers apparently loved the little mongoose.

One day the soldier went to his Bedford to get something from his tool bin, as he opened the tool bin a snake sprang directly at him, fangs in full view.

In a split second the mongoose leap between him and the vehicle and the snake was gone.

The shocked soldier could not believe what had happened and from that day on he befriended the mongoose, because in his eyes it had saved his life. Everywhere he went he took the mongoose, he would let it sleep with him in his sleeping bag, he would feed it tit bits, and their relationship crew stronger and stronger.

So much so that when the exercise ended and they were boarding the C130 to return to the UK, one of the crew became aware that the soldier had something moving under his jacket, when challenged he denied he had anything, he was asked again “what have you got there” he replied “nothing”.

It was soon discovered that he had got the mongoose under his jacket and that he wanted to take it back home with him, when asked he refused to hand it over, he was told you can’t take it with you. He still refused to hand it over and it ended up in him being tackled to the ground by 4-5 men, the mongoose was caught and released back into its habitat.

The soldier boarded the plane in tears at his loss.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

We are not at War with Egyptian Vultures...

While serving in Bosnia in 1996 as part of IFOR the first NATO troops to be deployed there. I encountered an Egyptian Vulture. The story goes...

My boss had to return to the UK and his replacement arrived in theatre, so one day it was agreed that I would take around our area of operation to introduce him to key people and to familiarise him with the routes and locations of the Gun Battery's.

We where based in Jace and as we were approaching Sippavo I could a large bird sat on a telegraph pole in the distance, and it looked to be an Egyptian Vulture but I thought to my self it can't be they do not come this far north.

As we got closer I realised that it was indeed an Egyptian Vultures at which point I brake sharply and jumped out from my land rover, John also jumped out but he proceeded to load his weapon. I said to him what are you doing he replied "aren't we getting attacked"? I said no don't be silly I stopped suddenly so I could see the Egyptian Vultures. At this point he went into one and while still jumping up and down he shouted "They F%$@ing told me about you".

It is fair to say he saw the funny side of it all, I can only image what the guys told him before leaving perhaps something like this...

"Where you off to then"? "Geoff is taking me around the see the Battery's today" big smiles all round "Good luck with your birding trip then, expect to be stopping all over the place".

I am sure it was much more colourful than I have just described. He he...