Awareness, Awe, and Your Wild Rainforest Mind

(This post was inspired by the writer, visionary, and extraordinarily rainforest-minded Geneen Marie Haugen*)

…I grieve and wonder why so many of our human kin don’t seem to recognize the astonishing miracle of our mutual existence on this precious, exquisite, watery planet that we share not only with fantastically diverse cultures, but also with our companion communities of humpback whales, hummingbirds, giraffes. Is such experiential awareness and awe not available to all of us?…” Geneen Marie Haugen

(photo courtesy of Dev Asangbam, Unsplash)

Maybe not. Awareness and awe seem to exist at different levels and intensities for each of us. Our capacity for awareness and awe might be related to how curious, sensitive, intuitive, empathetic, and perceptive we are.

When you have a rainforest mind, though, you are guaranteed to be living with high levels of both.

Let me explain.

~ Awareness ~

There are many things you see, feel, know, and intuit that others don’t. You may not even realize this. You are normal to you. But when you run into a conflict with someone, it might be because something is obvious to you but not apparent to them. You may think they are lazy or just not paying attention. But it could be they are not seeing what you see. My example from the RFM quiz applies here: Do you see ecru, beige, sand, and eggshell when others see only white? You experience multiple layers and several subtleties. Complexities. Maybe you hear the buzzing florescent lights no one else hears. Or the chewing person in the theatre drives you crazy. Perhaps you grok the solution to the architectural design flaw before anyone else realizes there is a flaw. Or maybe you can tell by the way someone smells that they need a root canal.

These types of awarenesses may seem odd to the non-rainforest-minded among us. They may seem odd to you, too. But they actually come naturally with your larger capacity for being. For knowing.

~ Awe ~

Because of your deeper perceptions and your capacity to appreciate beauty and wonder, chances are you do not take life’s opportunities for granted. Of course, you get irritable, frustrated, despairing, fearful, and angry. You are not always grateful or spiritually in tune. But there may be a sense of awe that always lives in your heart. Geneen Marie Haugen‘s connection with Nature is such a prime example. Here she is describing water.

“…am still in a mad love trance with water, still dripping, still sensing the body of that muscular river: clear, deep, sinuous, insisting on a mutual embrace. A wild adoration of water…” GMH

See what I mean?

This is the intense experience of the rainforest-minded life.

Can you relate?

And yet. You may be exhausted by all of the intensity. You may feel terribly lonely if you are the only one you know who is in a “mad love trance with water.”

But your awareness, your capacity for awe, can also bring you visions of possibilities:

“…I can see a possible world where human ventures are created in accordance with living systems, where (bio)diversity is cherished, where all voices and pretenses are honored, where individual human beings are nourished and encouraged by their communities and by elders to bring forth their unique expressions and offerings. This world is so near that I can even smell and taste it. Millions–maybe even billions–of others have seen and felt the shimmers of a possible world, too…” GMH

Not only that:

“…The circumstances or places in which we find ourselves most radiantly alive almost certainly nourish the wild soul who inhabits the depths far below the surface of our ordinary, everyday consciousness. Tending and cultivating the emergences of the wild soul may be a primary way toward revitalizing human existence on this great planet.” GMH

So, dear rainforesters, keep noticing those shimmers.

And do not forget to carefully tend and cultivate your deeply radiant rainforest-y wild soul.


To my bloggEEs: Can you relate to being aware and in awe? Let us know how this fits or does not fit in your life. What are the shimmers you are noticing? What are your thoughts? Feelings? Experiences? Questions? And, thank you so much to Geneen for sharing your wild soul with us!

*Geneen Marie Haugen, PhD, grew up as a free-range wildish kid with a run amok imagination.  She is a guide to the experiential, intertwined mysteries of nature and psyche with the Animas Valley Institute ( and has been on the faculty of the Esalen Institute, Schumacher College, and the Fox Institute for Creation Spirituality.  Her writing has appeared many publications including Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth; Thomas Berry: Dreamer of the Earth; Parabola; Kosmos Journal; Ecopsychology; The Artist’s Field Guide to Yellowstone, and others.  

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

13 responses to “Awareness, Awe, and Your Wild Rainforest Mind”

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  1. It’s Time We Talked About Trauma, Resilience, Intuition, And Spirituality | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] often an unusually strong spirituality including a mystical connection with Spirit or Guidance or Nature or the Universe or God. Clients have told me that when they were quite young, they felt the […]

  2. Sunshine Robin Avatar
    Sunshine Robin

    Reblogged this on Don’t Stand So Close To Me and commented:
    I stumbled across this blog on one of my adventures down the ‘rabbit hole’ that is the Internet.

    I was stunned.

    Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
    “And what we will all be seeking when we decamp, and for the rest of our lives, will be large, stable communities of like-minded

  3. Sarah Avatar

    This is a beautiful post. Thank you.

    I would love to see more regarding our perceptions (as RFM) vs other people. I have an ongoing conflict with my stepmother over the ease I have in cooking. She’s frustrated with how I just throw in different herbs or change recipes on the fly. It’s natural to me and I’d like to help her but I can tell she doesn’t have the same catalog of flavors and textures in her head.

    It’s not that you haven’t addressed it! You have, but I thirst for more perspective on what others perceive.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for the suggestion, Sarah. I will see how I might say more about this.

    2.  Avatar

      This would be great! I sometimes do really have a hard time seeing that what I notice is sometimes not even near to the perception of someone else!

  4. Hanna Avatar

    Thanks again Paula.

    I can totally relate with this today. It was a though one for me. A lot of things happening on family level right now a stressful day at work left me drained and with a lot of rumination.

    After my evening run however, I had two conversations with total strangers, whom I greeted.
    I felt so happy and reflected on how much everyone can do just by saying something friendly to strangers now and then..!
    What a world would we live in :).

    But if I am not alone, I feel strange to just talk to strangers out of a sudden. Others don’t seem to understand, ashamed of me sometimes even. They criticize that I always have to give my input, or that I am too much present in conversations. I guess my parents are used to the silent and dreaming kid I once was. Well, I can’t find her anymore. Working my way towards daring to be different.. step by step.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Sending you much support, Hanna, as you dare to be different!

    2. renovatio06 Avatar

      Kudos, Hanna, on having found the courage for “daring to be different”, I salute you. I think, I’m about to embark on a similar route going forward. Should be an adventure… 😉

      1. Hanna Avatar

        It is! Just remember to take it step by step I guess..

  5. cmd1122 Avatar

    This is so beautiful and intense, and yes, I totally relate. NEVERending awe, every day, for much of the day. I can’t find better words than what you already captured here at this late hour. I was busy being in awe at some insane talent and musical magic on NPR Tiny Desk (too bad I can’t move into the office space).
    “The circumstances or places in which we find ourselves most radiantly alive almost certainly nourish the wild soul who inhabits the depths far below the surface of our ordinary, everyday consciousness.” Well, yes, of course. Like, duh?! *let’s take out the ‘almost’ before ‘certainly’, please.
    Circumstances/places for me = creating music, art, playing with dogs, spending time outside surrounded by other animals and plants or any outdoor water (especially the ocean) or a campfire or the sound of the wind through the leaves, sunlight or moonlight shining through clouds or leaves… also, just watching plants grow inside my home (and outdoor spring blossoms, you can actually see how much they grow between the morning and afternoon–it is incredible)…
    This seems so very natural to me; us ‘humans’ are all animals, but many have lost so much of our ‘nature connections’ as we try to be industrial, modern, tech-savvy… It is the crisis of crises if you ask me. Yet I still remain very hopeful, but mostly in the sense of ‘we need a revolution’ to re-centre nature and our necessary connection with and respect for it, including the countless other beings that call this insanely intricate and beautiful planet home. Near and far, millions and millions of people continue to have a strong connection to their surroundings, so not all is lost, and I think COVID-19 lockdowns in cities globally are helping more people realize how important ‘green spaces’ are to our well-being.
    Sending much love and thanks for this unique post.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, cmd1122. Aren’t Geneen’s words so exquisite? Such a great example of the rainforest mind’s depth, sensitivity, and awareness.

  6. hksounds Avatar

    Humans are geneticly equally distant from both chimpanzees and bonobos. I am inclined these days to think that some of us, individuals, are closer to the chimps and some closer to the bonobos. Maybe the men went the chimp way, and women the bonobo? Far too simplistic, but it would go a long way ti explaining the world we live in.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Interesting theory, hksounds. Thanks!

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