Excerpts from my book, Awakening Natural Intelligence

Dr. Catherine Cunningham, PhD

We access central intelligence databases to analyze trends, to make important decisions, and to launch sensitive missions. We explore and monitor the drivers of transformative change across economies, industries, and global issues through strategic intelligence– a new global thought leader platform at the World Economic Forum. We pool national intelligence from different agencies and resources to optimize our foreign relations and national security interests. We craft counter intelligence operations to thwart the political activities of our enemies and to sabotage their economic advance. We build artificial intelligence programs and protocols to manage big data better and to perform manual or computational work faster. We foster functional intelligence in different areas to train our minds and bodies to become superior in a variety of disciplines; like sports, medicine, music, philosophy, art, and science. We prize and reward intelligence of the mind—clever ways of solving problems, creating linear arguments that furthers a particular propaganda message, position, or perspective. We celebrate the intelligence of the body—spending countless hours tracking athletes, watching sports, competing against one another alone or on teams, laboring over make-up and adorning ourselves with jewelry; while fussing with our hair, fine shoes, and fast fashion. As we dive deeper into scientific fields of study that exponentially expand our knowledge of life in the universe, marry fields like biotechnology and quantum physics; we risk deifying technological intelligence and deluding ourselves into believing that the intelligence acquired by humanity to explain itself and the entire universe according to a systematic treatment (technologica) of itself and the universe as defined by humans and computer bits and bytes; makes us omniscient.

Nature’s Reflection Photography

While these human-centric forms of intelligence are valuable and important to cultivate in the Wu Wei (non forcing) way; I suggest that it is now vital to our survival as a species and as a biosphere to also quiet the human intelligent ego and train humility by becoming more alert, aware, awake, and connected to the (our) natural intelligence of life on earth and throughout the universe. Clearly in these confused, chaotic times; there are many forces vying for our attention, intention, and intervention. However benign or maleficent; any such external influencing, directing, coercing, cajoling—subtle or overt, by their forcing– interfere with the natural processes, patterns, and predilections of life. Thus, by orienting to, immersing in, and acting in this world from our natural intelligence–our intuitive knowing-internal sensing selves, guided by the bliss of the biosphere; we rather live and move and have our being according to nature’s flow and not human force. Alan Watts explains the Wu Wei—the act of not forcing by comparing the act of rowing (exerting human force to move) and sailing (tuning into the ocean’s winds).

This nine-part series is all about learning the ocean of our being and how to sail the seas, whimsically, rightly. This series is all about learning to listen and to observe our ancestral kin for hints on how this life on earth’s gameboard to win– to awaken our natural intelligence and to live healthier, happier, more honest lives. And, it all begins with attuning the heart.

“The question: “What would love have me do today and in this situation?” is the secret to deep inner freedom; and the answer, the key to living a life of truth.” Jack Kornfeld, Spirit Rock

Nature’s Reflection Photography

Part I:

Natural Intelligence: The Art of Attuning the Heart

Natural intelligence nurtures the intelligence of the heart—our true center of right intention, right discernment, right motivation, and right action. Whereas the eyes see, the ears hear, the nose smells, the mind thinks, and the body acts… the heart knows. And what does it know? The heart knows our Natura Vera (true nature). It is attuned to our innate truth—our intuition, our unique identity, and our personal coherent frequency that serves as the gateway and compass for accessing the extraordinary creativity and human potential within each of us. The heart is also ground zero for our inherent (biological, physical, and energetic) connection to all of life in the biosphere and light of love in heaven above (below, everywhere, nowhere, inside, outside). The heart and the compassion that lives within the heart awakens our true human + human and human + nature connection. How? The harmonization of the mind and body, the balance of action and reaction, the reconciliation and co-creation of male and female energy unified– all find resonance in the heart center. For this, the heart is the key that unlocks the trinity.

We’ll explore this theme and expand our discussion on the trinity more in a subsequent section, but suffice to say that we will not survive as a species if we can not learn to respect, love, value, and appreciate the biological, physical, cultural, mental, spiritual diversity of our brothers and sisters who share our humanity. We will not survive if we continue to treat each other as the other; and not our sister and brother, ourselves. We will not survive if we refuse to realize that our lives are dependent upon and inextricably linked to our ancestral animal kin in the grander tree of life. The good news is that our inherent good nature, our most evolved intelligence, and our authentic emotive selves naturally intelligently appreciates the beauty of life, speaks the language of love, and gravitates toward kindness for others. This is our naturally intelligent essential nature. And, this nature we must now re-awaken if we are save our best selves from our worst enemy– our worst selves; and if we are to reunite now in peace and refresh our right relationship with the natural world. 

Nature’s Reflection Photography

It has been and continues to be my personal and professional life quest to explore the relationships and the naturally intelligent energy among all living beings inhabiting earth—in a scientific (objective) sense, in a cultural (multi-biased) sense, in a creative (artistic) sense, and in a spiritual (truly Catholic-universal and inclusive) sense. I realize my approach may be confusing because we normally separate the scientific, spiritual, cultural, creative domains in our niche communications. But I am choosing to bring my whole self to these reflections—and I am a scientist, a cultural anthropologist, an ecologist, an artist, and a truth seeker. This nine-part series extracted from my book, Awakening Natural Intelligence, represents my ever-evolving personal reflections on natural intelligence. I hope that it inspires your own personal meditations because you, your unique life purpose, your relationships, your talents, your humanity, and your voice; matter. We are the generations now alive, experiencing the betwixt and between of a great cultural revolution and ecological evolution. Individually and collectively; our lifestyle choices, behaviors, consumption, energy use, movement, and actions; matter.

It is to our heart-mind-body coherence and conscious living that I dedicate my life work forward. I ultimately believe in the goodness of humanity. But, perhaps in our convenient, expedient, opportune, excessive, and egocentric world—we lost our way and our connection to our true selves (Natura Vera). The humble journey back to our natural intelligence is long overdue. It is time for humanity to show up in the world as the compassionate, considerate, and higher conscious beings we were born to be. In the end, don’t we want to be proud of being human? Don’t we want to peacefully sigh when we die and smile with pride when we look back at our life journey in stride? Don’t we want to leave a living legacy, like the cyanobacteria, who 3.2 billion years ago created the optimal conditions for life to flourish and flower into the incredible Garden of Eden biodiversity we enjoy today? Don’t we want to remember 1,000 years into the future and 1,000 years into our past that we were the generation who inspired our species and fellow living beings on earth to fast adapt and to fiercely evolve together, rather than to exterminate each other en mass or persist as the last generation of purely organic, 100% nature-made life to exist?

“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference. And, the head and heart must work in harmony for each of us to reach our true human potential.” Dr. Jane Goodall, primatologist, anthropologist

Nature’s Reflection Photography

Dr. Catherine Cunningham, PhD, Natural Intelligence Media is committed to awakening Natural Intelligence in the World. We produce multimedia content — books, films, experiences, and podcasts that inspire everyone to live a happy, healthy, nature-conscious life.

Visit our Natural Intelligence Website HERE.

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  • Catherine Cunningham, PhD

    Mission Possible: Awaken Natural Intelligence in Our World

    Natural Intelligence

    Dr. Catherine Cunningham, PhD is an ecologist, anthropologist, writer, filmmaker, and media host producing films, interactive experiences, and online multimedia for international clients who are focused on positive economic, social, and environmental win-win-win solutions to global conservation and climate change.

    Catherine has travelled, written, photographed, and filmed in 70 countries, producing creative films and music videos in support the UN Global Goals and the human+nature planetary health narrative. Visit Natural Intelligence.com to see where her work has premiered internationally. Over 20 years, she has interviewed hundreds of global thought leaders to promote sustainable solutions to climate change and conservation in creative ways. Catherine has written numerous articles on climate change, nature, and regeneration. She’s currently writing two books: “Naturally Intelligent by Design” — a fine art science and culture book for families and “Natural Intelligence”— a guidebook for well-navigating a post COVID-19 world by following nature’s principles. Partnering with Eurovision News and Events, Catherine is also an independent media host— producing content on nature, climate, and regeneration; syndicated globally by EuroVision’s News Direct. She is a regular contributor to Thrive Global and Medium. She currently produces communications for the Prince Albert II Foundation and participates in programming @ the World Economic Forum on Climate Change, Nature, and Biodiversity. As an university educator, Catherine taught undergraduate and masters courses in corporate sustainability communications at Arizona State University; global sustainability at Chapman University; biology, ecology, botany, and environmental science at Denver State College and Front Range College. In 2016, she designed one of the first university courses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (also online), contributing to youth action on the UN Global Goals. She also created a post-graduate program with UNESCO on the MAB (Man the Biosphere) reserves. Catherine earned her PhD in Ecosystem Science at ETHZ in Switzerland, studying climate impacts on mountain ecosystems. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Cultural Anthropology and International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters degree from Utah State in Ecology. Catherine speaks fluent English and conversational Italian. She loves creative collaboration, media production, mountaineering, outdoor sports, yoga, wellness, and travel.