A Phenomenological Self-Inquiry into Ecological Consciousness
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2011
Pages: 41 - 50
Source ID: shanti-sources-34481
Collection: Contemplation and Ecology
Abstract: While many of the issues associated with the global environmental crisis are facilitated and worsened by globalized economic, financial, and social systems, at a more fundamental level they arise out of the dominant Western consciousness that lacks empathic connection and identification with nonhuman nature. Research suggests that an individual's sense of connectedness with nature significantly influences environmental concern and behavior. Ecological consciousness is a form of consciousness that is characterized by a psycho-spiritual connectedness with nature; however, a structured approach to its development has not been clearly articulated from a lived-experience perspective. This article explores the heightened state of ecological consciousness from a phenomenological, self-study perspective. A structured mindfulness-based perception exercise was developed to deepen nature connectedness and to evoke heightened ecological consciousness within a variety of natural settings. Thematic analysis of exercise worksheets found that heightened states consisted of psycho-spiritual experiences of connectedness facilitating spiritual meaning, ecological awareness, and therapeutic outcomes. Experiences of heightened states were characterized by 16 thematic categories and a spectrum of consciousness states. The evocation of heightened ecological consciousness has implications for not just the practices of environmental educators and psychotherapists, but also for individuals seeking greater connectedness and a nature-based way of coping with a variety of negative psychological states.