Transpersonal Ecology

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Transpersonal ecology is a type of ecological philosophy that is centered around the idea of dissolving perceptions of boundaries between self and nature in an effort to move toward a realization that humans are a part of the environment, rather than separate from it.

The term transpersonal ecology gained ground from Warwick Fox’s Toward a Transpersonal Ecology (1995), which was Fox’s attempt to further develop the concept of deep ecology into a philosophy which focuses on connection to nature as a form of spirituality. Fox and other radical ecopsychologists and transpersonal ecologists discuss the more commonly used term 'transpersonal psychology', which is the practice or study of transcending the egoic self to achieve a state of spiritual unity and explore metaphysical states of consciousness. It is the belief that human experience transcends the boundaries of the self to encapsulate the whole of being. As deep ecology, ecopsychology, and other forms of ecophilosophy identify the human existence as being interconnected with nature (i.e. we are our environment), transpersonal psychology and transpersonal ecology are thus one and the same. Just as transpersonal psychology is a connection in spiritual nature beyond the self, connection to ecology is a spiritual experience to be utilized toward self-realization.

Through transcendental spirituality and achieving a state of interconnection with nature, humans will have an increased sense of well-being and mutually symbiotic relationship with the environment, generating better stewards for the Earth. This is supported by the findings of the Nature Inclusive Measure (N.I.M.), developed by David St. John and Douglas A. MacDonald (2007) to assess the effects of a “nature inclusive self concept” on the ecopsychological self. St. John and MacDonald found that transcending a restricted sense of personal boundaries to include nature and the surrounding environment not only enhances a sense of psychological well-being, but also increases the likelihood of a person to actively participate as a caretaker of the Earth.

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Author: Shena Turlington