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

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Chief Seattle of the Suwamish Tribe

If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to the man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth.

Friday, 25 December 2009

My Vision is to be of service and to have a Wilderness Centre

In essence my vision is to be of service to others by working with nature, mother earth and allowing myself to be guided by my creator.

I often dream about having a place where people can come to be with nature to explore their deepest feelings, thoughts and emotions to be with others in a safe environment. This place would be a woodland with the coast near by and a fairly large river running through it with a medium sized lake, in the immediate surrounding area would be varying habitats from marsh to heath with rocky outcrops.

Here animals, birds, plants and trees would all be plentiful. On the land would be small buildings made from cob some looking like a hobbit house. I love the idea of a round door, particularly with the above symbol on it and there would be a main building say an old farm or something like that.

I would have lots of different types of workshops going on besides myself taking people on nature awareness and tracking etc. I would invite older people in men and women (these people would represent the grandmother and grandfather) with skills that they would love to pass onto our younger generation, skills that are nearly forgotten that only a master can pass on to their apprentice by taking them on an experiential journey.

This sounds a lot and perhaps unachievable, but what does it matter its the journey that is important. Of course I would love to reach my goal but whats to say I have not already reached it through the journey.

Who would this place be for? Anyone really from an addict to a young offender and Joe public, for teachers from all walks of life like and to those who teach wilderness living skills like flint knapping, basket weavers, and trackers to teachers of life like a shaman.

This place would be open to the natural flow of things and only for the good of all and to harm none.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy what an experience that was.

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is a form of therapy which has an emerged in recent years which uses horses as a tool for emotional development and a collaboration between a qualified therapist and a horse professional. EAP can be intense and as such its effectiveness, is considered by some as a short-term approach.

As with Natural Awareness EAP is experiential in nature. Which means that the participants learn about themselves and others by taking part in activities in this case with horses, and in Natural Awareness simply being in Nature or by taking on the role of an animal or bird even encountering animals directly (I refer to my experience with a squirrel and someone I worked with in Spain who had a powerful lesson given to him by a Chaffinch,) at the end of each activity or exercise the group processes (or discusses) their feelings, behaviors, and patterns that they either saw in themselves or in others and which can be attributed to their own behaviour as well as that of others.

Horses provide a valuable opportunity for metaphorical learning, they have the ability to mirror exactly what human body language is telling them. Some people complain that the horse is stubborn, it will not do what I tell it, or that the horse does not like me. But in essence the lesson to be learned here is that if the individual changes, then the horse will respond differently.

Here is my experience of one such encounter with a horse.

Some years ago while working in an addiction treatment centre I had the opportunity to attend an EAP session with two of my colleagues I of course jumped at the opportunity to experience something new and truth be known I had a slight fear of horses as I was once thrown from one when I was at boarding school in Cheltenham as a boy.

On arrival we were presented with two horses one was a rather large brown horse which looked very strong and I was not sure if I could deal with him, the other however was a small white horse which came over to me as a female (later I found out it was a male) I felt I could deal with this size of horse so I choose this horse to work with me.

The task I was given was to try and rope my horse and then to walk it back to where the counsellors were waiting. I dually set off with rope in hand. However, every time I got close to my horse it would walk away from me, it was always just a few feet in front of me and it almost felt like we were engaged in a game of chase and that the horse was having fun with me. But of course it was more serious than that.

All kinds of emotions went through me from the horse does not like me, to feeling uncomfortable, unsure of myself, afraid of getting physically hurt. Then eventually, I got to a place of surrender at which point the horse allowed me to approach it and to put on the rope on her. This was the first time I had ever done anything like this and it felt great, I could feel my confidence grow but always aware of my own vulnerability.

I then walked the horse back to the counsellors and removed the rope, the horse then took a small step to the side away from me, it was about six feet away and it just stood there as we made eye contact with each other. The counsellor and friend then asked me why I took the rope off and why do I think the horse stepped away in the way that it did,. This was a truly an amazing experience because what came up for me was how I feel about relationships and my expectations of them and how I do not want to be tied down but I do want to be close to someone.

I learnt so much more from this experience, I just wanted to share a brief part of what took place and to share with you how powerful it is working with animals and nature, it is important to realise also that horses are honest animals and that they mirror your feelings and behaviour.

Nature, Mother Earth is my teacher we would do well to listen to her.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Nature Awareness and Autism.

Below is a letter from my cousin in Northern Ireland and I believe this is the first time that my involvement with natural awareness has been used for autism and what a result. I know from my own personal experience with autism that they are our teachers and that they are so much more connected to spirit, the outcome of this does not surprise me, but it does excite me because it shows the versatility of nature awareness.

Hi Geoff,

I read this letter (Letter from Holland) during the summer and thought it was amazing so I decided to try it out myself! With both the boys having autism I wasn’t sure whether it would work, but guess what it did!! We all found our trees, three times!!



Monday, 14 December 2009

The Kingley Vale Stag

This is a story from Cliff Wright a close friend of mine which I thought I would share it with you.

Last Sunday I took an early morning trip to Kingley Vale for a wander around with my friend Cathy. We'd been wandering a few hours, and came upon some deer that ran off, all except one, which was a stag. It was making strange shapes under a tree and we couldn't figure why 'til we thought that it must be caught on something.

Working closer, which terrified it, showed that one antler had what looked like a tree root wound round it which was also wound round a tree. I then saw that it was actually a length of chicken wire several yards long by about a foot or two wide. The wire was fast attached to the ground and a tree and the stag had wound it round and round so much that the bit that held it's antler was no wider than your thumb, made up of twisted metal. It was so firmly attached that the deer was thrashing to escape it but only twisting itself firmer on it. Who knows how long it had been there? By the state of it and the thickness of chewed up mud, you'd think quite a while.

We retreated and thought it over. The cars with phones in were half an hour away, who were we to phone anyway? It would take too long anyway. We had no wire cutters or anything sharp and in any case how are we supposed to get close to a wild and petrified stag? Meantime the animal was doing stupid leaps to try and free itself and crashing horribly in the slimy mud on a steep slope. It was traumatic to watch.

We decided the only thing was to try and get close and make an attempt to free it. I took my waterproof off and edged closer, trying to be calm and talking to the stag. Of course he totally freaked out and violently thrashed 'til I thought he was going to kill himself. As I slowly got closer he leaped and fell badly with the wire running across one back leg, going under his belly and pinning his antler to his back - it looked like he'd broken his neck and I thought what am I doing? But it stopped him moving for a moment so I found myself going right up to him and getting hold of the antler to relieve the pressure on his back. His eyes were nearly out of their sockets with fear.

I laid my hand on him and said some things whereupon he flinched and then settled and then something happened which I can't forget. He surrendered. His eyes went calm and I, with heart pounding, found myself gripping his muddy antler and looking at the mess of twisted wire that held him.

His neck wasn't broken. He had fallen in such a way that force of tension on the wire made it impossible to move anything. One of the points of his antler was digging in his back and even holding that away so it didn't puncture the skin was as much as I could do. The only thing was to try and move him. Fully grown, mud soaked stag, steep sloped mud bath, pouring with rain. Somehow though, he let me do it. I could only move him a few inches but it was just enough to release some of the wire tension and have a good look at it. The wire was round two points of the antler and around the main stem and would not budge a millimetre. It couldn't have been tighter bound if you'd tried and looked an impossible task. I sat there and stroked his neck, thinking can you saw off living antler and is there a saw in my car?

Then somehow I saw the shape of the wire as if in reverse and I knew what to do. With a process of hacking at it with a sharp flint, prizing bits of wire with my car key and yanking it and untwisting it with my hands I got it off I think it took about half an hour but things were going in slow motion.

I moved a few feet away and for the first time thought I might be in danger here if he gets up. He didn't move for what seemed like ages just staring at me. Cathy and I were making encouraging noises and I was thinking maybe he's just given up. Then, quick as a flash, he was up and running away into the forest. I was too close to a tree so missed seeing how he ran but Cathy saw all and thought he looked fine.

A great lesson in surrender...?


Sunday, 13 December 2009

How did I discover Nature Awareness?

In truth it has always been in me as I believe it is in everyone, we are all connected and we all have a relationship and deep connection to nature and Mother Earth.

However, I discovered the language for what I had always felt inside sometime after I had left the army. At that time I was wondering what to do with my life, I knew I was a good teacher and that I loved the survival course that I did while in the army, so I decided that’s what I would do, teach survival skills.

So, I set out on a fact finding mission, before I could teach it I needed to know did I have the ability to run a business and if so what shape would it take. I booked on several courses offering bushcraft and survival skills the first one I did was in Wales run by an ex- SAS guy and while I enjoyed the course and learnt some important lessons about myself and how I judge people, I came away knowing full well in my heart this was not the way I wanted to teach or run my courses, I did that while in the army. I am not saying their methods were wrong no, because I still use a lot of the teaching skills the army taught me even today, it has stood me well, it was just not for me. I wanted something else but I did not know what at the time.

Then I saw an advert in a magazine called Kindred Spirit, the school was called Trackways run by Thomas Schorr-Kon who is now a very dear friend of mine, and from this statement you guessed it I went no further with my fact finding mission. Why, well I found Thomas was using a language that I understood inside, one of caring for nature one of taking reasonability and one of a deeper understanding well beyond the nuts and bolts of here is a bow drill and this is how to use it, which is of course a very good way to start out.

Thomas got you to explore your relationship with the bow drill and what is it teaching you about yourself, what a way to go. I found by day two of the course I opened up to him, trusting that he would understand where I was coming from and I was right and to this day he stills supports me in what I am trying to do and that is a belief that I also held while teaching in the army, you do not just teach someone how to do, you continue to be a part of their process and yours for as long as it is necessary.

I remember teaching a young man on one my early courses and thinking to myself one day I will be attending his classes and learning from him, wow that would be just so good. Nature Awareness for me is never ending since the early days I have been able to expand on it because of having this relationship with myself in nature and with others you in turn have become my teachers such as the addicts that I have had the real pleasure and privilege to work with, and to this day them lessons keep coming. That is the power of Nature and Mother Earth and ultimately my Creator.

In fact I could talk about this subject all day because it fires me with passion, so I would like to just finish by saying thank you, to all my teachers and to GOD.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Native American Proverbs

Remember that your children are not your own, but are lent to you by the creator. (MOHAWK)

The ones that matter are the children. They are the true human beings. (LAKOTA)

It makes no difference as to the name of the God, since love is the real God of all the world. (APACHE)

Wisdom only comes when you stop looking for it and start living the life the creator intended for you. (HOPI)

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

But I have no idea how to behave like a Rabbit...

Early this year I was helping a friend out with his year course by providing a session of Natural Awareness and it never ceases to amaze me how people respond to to these games.

While playing Animal Tag one woman who I had selected to play the part of a young rabbit told me that she had no idea how a rabbit behaves, however once she was in the circle blindfolded she immediately started to behave and move just a like a rabbit would, this was relaid to her at the end of the game by her peers and she was trilled by that.

During this game I had also given someone the task of being the mother rabbit she was also blindfolded and another person took on the role of the fox, however she was not blindfolded. What unfolded next you could not have planned, the fox immediately started to stalk the baby rabbit by getting low down, moving extremely slowing and on one occasion counter tracked while staying focused on what the mother rabbit was doing.

At the start of the game the mother instantly turned in the direction of the fox (this is not uncommon, as it also happens when people connect with their tree) and the young rabbit moving exactly like a rabbit put the mother between her and the fox by moving directly being the mother while also facing in the direction of the fox.

I find that when people take on the role of an animal all sorts of amazing things happen, which just goes to show that when we are not caught up in our own stuff and we truly let go we can achieve just about anything, for the fox and the rabbits it was about survival, and of course we all had fun exploring the events that took place a well as enjoying the games.

But I would say that.

More to come later...

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The African Experince

Many years ago I attended a one day drumming workshop near to Muswell Hill in London where I was shown how to play the djembe drum, at the time I had two left hands and I guess I still do.

Anyway my reason for writing is that I wanted to share with you my experience of this amazing workshop. The instructor took us through various beats throughout the day and as we got progressively better he would up the momentum. He also taught us some traditional African chants as well with the idea that near the end of the workshop we would bring everything together, drumming and chanting.

There were thirty of us, so he split us into three groups and each group had to learn a different chant then we formed a circle and as with the french song Frère Jacques each group sang their chant, so one group started with their chant then followed by the next group and so on.

His team of helpers did the drumming and we went for it, once we were in full flow drumming and chanting together the workshop leader (I am sorry to say I do not remember his name) took each of us in turn into the middle of the circle and ask us to close our eyes and to experience the sound and feeling of the chants and djembs.

For me this was such a powerful moment that I share this story with others right up to today. This is what I experienced, as I shut my eyes I was instantly transported to a vast African plain and I was surrounded by thousands of African warriors young and old from all sorts of tribes and they too were chatting it was so emotive as they all focused just on me, telling you this now is sending tingles down the back of my head. I guess words cannot truly express how I felt in that moment, but what a moment of awareness of self and others of mother earth and all that she brings us, moments like these occur everyday its just that we have shut ourselves off from it.

I just want to finish by thanking the workshop leader and by thanking our ancestors for such a magic moment in my life.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Plant Meditation...

I have trouble communicating this is what she shared with the group, there is a lump in my throat and I feel the plant I am holding is connected with it some how.

She was holding lavander which is good for sore throats and of course communication.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Nature Awareness, Music and the Challenge.

Often when working with addictions, if I know that someone can play an instrument I would offer them a challenge. Which they have always taken up without exception.

I have used various instruments in this way, namely piano, guitar and saxaphone. The challenge is that when playing thier instrument they would not be allowed to play any known score, the music would have to come from the heart. Of course this is a trust issue I would entirley trust that they would not play any known score.

With the piano one sernario would be to tell the story of the tree that the panio was made from, for example from when it fell as a seed to the ground to taking root and sprouting into a sappling and then growing into a fully grown tree,. They could tell the group through the music if anything had happened to the tree, had anyone carved his girlfriends name into the bark, had a deer rubbed up against it, were birds nesting in it and so on, right up to even telling us how it felt when the woodcutter had come to cut it down. To being driven away in a truck to the woodmill and then how it felt being made into a panio to now were it can create some amazing music.

One of the people taking part in this exercise said to me at the end "by the way Geoffrey the tree was taken away by a horse and cart" now thats what I call being connected.

Another person played his guitar and as always with this exercise I get them to connect with thier higher power and ask them to see a white light entering through the top of thier heads helping them to create the music from thier heart.

At the end of his experince I would asked them to remain silent, its at this point I turn to the group who have been sat around in a semi circle supporting them on an energtic level and ask them what was their personal experince of the music?

On one occasion a woman responed by saying that the person playing was playing his life story which in deed is what I asked him to do. Often the music will transport each indivdual to an experince they have had to do with thier addicition and it is at this point we open up the group process. I would also be watching the group to see if anyone is having a reaction to the music, this is another way in for me to help address their issues.

Some of the storys they have to tell just from connecting to the music are simply quite amazing.

When I next try this exercise I would like to get two people with a drum each and one will tell the story of them as an addicit about to buy some drugs from a dealer or being found out about thier alcohol addiction by thier spouse, the other drummer will take on the oppisite role and play out the events that may occour from this experince and then maybe move onto how they would like it to be now, i.e. the dealer offers them a fix and they respond by turning it down by playing how they would feel and actully feel about this...

Then the group process steps in again to work though thier story. So you can see just from this one exerecise there is so much that could be achieved.