Patricia MichaelEcological Living Designs from the Book of Nature with Patricia Michael

These trainings with Patricia Michael will be an intimate experience using our senses to begin to read the Patterns of the Sacred Book of Nature.

Design with a Deeper Agenda

This is a design system for creating sustainable human environments. Base your designs on the observation of how healthy, natural systems work. Learn how to truly harmonize with nature! Emphasize integrated pest management and disaster-proof designs. Improve the quality of water, air, soil, sound and tranquility on the site. Create useful connections between elements through thoughtful use of placement, scale, and edge dynamics and 'Patterns of Nature'.

The Book of Nature extends the effort to create a sustainable environment with resources that are healthful and nurturing for humans and other species that inhabit the site. This course describes the discipline of landscape design with particular emphasis on healing and regeneration of the land. It is a design system for creating sustainable human environments.


The kind of Design we explore is based on principles of nature, revealed on environmental, economic, social and psychological levels. This is landscape design involving an ethical and deep understanding of the 'Book of Nature'.

We will learn how to use the five senses, as well as, intuition, heart and mind and personal experience to bring ourselves to an awareness of the unique aspects of any site, be it building or land.  Thus, we will engage in an embodied exploration of space.

waterfallLearn how to employ these principles to broaden the way we think about our bodies and our environment. In this module Patricia includes exercises, lectures, discussions and design examples from over twenty years of Permaculture design experience, presenting a veritable feast of techniques for growing our senses to analyze a site and design for safety, health, comfort, beauty and success.

Using the analogy of our bodies as our first architecture, we will introduce the development of architecture from Sufi stories that narrate how spaces in the Middle East, North Africa and India have been designed to support the development of the human spirit.

We will explore the use digital photography, colors, symbols and forms as well as words as tools to record our impressions about a site.

Permaculture is a philosophy that works with natural rhythms and patterns of Nature to consciously create designs that care for both people and the Earth itself. Permaculture mimics the patterns and relationships found in Nature to provide an abundance of food and energy. It harmoniously integrates landscape, shelter and people so that their needs are provided in a way that is sustainable.

It is a practical concept that can be applied to either a balcony in the City, a suburban block, or a farm deep in the countryside.

  • Permaculture – what does it mean?
  • Permaculture Design – how does it work?
  • Design methods – how can I achieve that?
  • Construction Materials – what do I use?
  • Climactic factors – can I do this anywhere?
  • Garden maintenance – how do I keep it going?
  • Water management – what if it doesn’t rain?
  • Working with the Elements 
  • Energy-efficient housing
  • How to keep waste to a minimum
  • How to Green our cities
  • Urban renewal strategies
  • How to apply Permaculture techniques to your private spaces

mexican buildingNatural Remodeling

We will cover a section on Natural Remodeling and Naturalizing a Home, including Pigments, Paints, and Plasters, and Natural Furniture. We will explore green furnishing options from the standpoint of ergonomics and chemical components, as well as practices of material sourcing.  Wall surfaces cover a large area, and paint is a common source of indoor air pollution. Safe, ecologically sound, fun alternatives to conventional paints and wall finish: casein (milk) paints, clay paints, and earth plasters are explored.

Considering that most of us spend 80% of our time in buildings, natural material alternatives are crucial to a healthy living environment.

The Soul of the Dwelling with Patricia Michael

Delve deeper into the unseen world of the site, the soul of the dwelling and of the landscape, and the designer’s soul (ourselves). The class will introduce Sufi teachings from Hazrat Inayat Khan to teach us personal practices to help achieve the attunement necessary to work with the unseen elements of the dwelling, the landscape and ourselves.

We will strengthen and sharpen our attunement with the whole, learning to perform specific blessings and work with elements, breath and movement.

Business and Presentation Skills 

spiral shellPatricia Michael will teach many graphic and presentation techniques to help the practitioner design materials for promotion of services and delivery of designs and other materials to the client. 
Patricia has an MFA in Art. She has taught graphic design, architecture, and art in several Universities and has over twenty years of experience delivering value to her design clients.

Learn how to attract, consult, and follow up and sustain client relationships from someone who has proven to be one of Americas most successful Eco- Designers.

Design Ethics:

  1. dwellingCare for the earth: All living and nonliving things have an intrinsic worth.
  2. Care for people: Promote respect, health, self-reliance, and community responsibility.
  3. Emphasize positivism and cooperation: Emphasize harmony, and beauty. Competition is the opposite of cooperation, as chaos and disorder are the opposite of harmony (aesthetics). In competition, as in chaos and disorder, much useful energy is lost. Gardens, society, whole systems and human lives are wasted in disorder, opposition and competition.
  4. End destruction and waste: We don’t have the right to ruin.
  5. Share the surpluses: Pass on everything (labor, money, information) beyond what we need.
  6. Work toward the good not the right: know the difference.

Guiding principles of the Designer

The Web of Life is a net of functional relationships: How Nature Works.

  • Everything is connected to everything else.
  • Every function is supported by many elements.
  • Every element should serve many functions.
  • The edge is the most productive area in a natural system. Therefore, you increase the edge you increase productivity.
  • Diversity is related to stability.  It is not, however, the number of diverse elements you can pack into a system, but rather the useful connections you can make between these elements that achieves stability.
  • Nature abhors a vacuum any bare soil will be filled by something.
  • Characteristics are a message about the condition and function of the system. The same condition may give rise to characteristics of different kinds, and conversely different conditions may give rise to the same characteristic.

The Patricia Michael Workbook is included in this workshop.

The Mystic as a Designer

walking through a doorwayIt is said in the Bible, 'Knock, and it shall be opened unto you'. Knocking at the door is asking within one's own self, 'What will become of this particular business, or aim, or object that I am thinking of?' As soon as one knocks at the gate of God, which is one's heart, from there the answer comes, and it is a truer answer than any other person can give. There is no one who can know as much about our life, affairs, objects, motives as we do ourselves. And therefore nobody can advise us better than ourselves.

The Sufis in all ages have tried their best to train their consciousness. How did they train it? The first training is analysis. The analytical striving is to analyze and examine one's own consciousness, in other words one's own conscience; to ask one's conscience, addressing it, 'My friend, all my happiness depends on you, and my unhappiness also. If you are pleased, I am happy. Now tell me truly if what I like and what I do not is in accordance with your approval.' One should speak to one's conscience as a man going to the priest to make his confession, 'Look what I have done. Maybe it is wrong, maybe it is right; but you know it, you have your share of it; its influence on you and your condition is my condition, your realization is my realization. If you are happy, only then can I be happy. Now I want to make you happy; how can I do it?' At once a voice of guidance will come from the conscience, You should do this, and not that; say this and not that. In this way you should act, and not in that way.' And conscience can give you better guidance that any teacher or book. It is a living teacher awakened in oneself, one's own conscience. The teachers, the Gurus, the Murshids, their way is to awaken the conscience in the pupil; to make clear what has become unclear, confined.

How does the mystic proceed to experience self-knowledge? By the mystical process of turning the eyes within, by shutting out the outside world for a moment and going into meditation, and by realizing, 'I do not exist only as a physical body, which I always see myself to be, but I also exist as a life, as a magnetism, as an energy.' Meditation which lifts him, in other words the consciousness, from the physical body, helps to make it clear to the mystic that he is not only a physical body, but that he is a being of energy, of magnetism, of breath, by the touch of which the physical body lives, being attached to it. As he goes further in the meditative life, he then begins to see that the faculty of thinking, of imagining, of feeling, is independent of the first two aspects; that he himself is a thought, that he himself is a feeling, and that he himself is the creator of thought, even a creator of feeling. And as he goes still higher, he sees that he is happiness himself as well as the creator of happiness.
man at Ganges River, IndiaInspiration comes from the light thrown upon a certain idea.  This comes from the radiance of the breath falling upon the mind.  There are two shadows, one that is projected upon the sky, and another, which falls upon the ground; the former known to the mystic and the latter to everyone.  When the breath which is developed is thrown outward its radiance produces light, and it is the different shades and grades of this light which manifest in various colors, suggesting to the mystic the different elements which the particular colors denote.  The same breath has a different action when it is thrown within.  It falls upon the mind like a searchlight and shows to the intelligence the object of its search as things seen in daylight.  Thus man knows without any effort on the part of the brain all he wishes to know and expresses in the way each individual is qualified to express.

Inspiration, is one thing, qualification another thing.  The inspiration is perfect when expressed by the qualified soul.  Nevertheless inspiration is independent of qualification.  The light that the breath throws upon the mind is in every case different in its radiance.  When far-reaching it illuminates the deepest corners of the heart, where the light has never reached, and if breath reaches further the light is thrown upon the mind of God, the store of all the knowledge there is.

All those who begin to receive inspiration receive it first from outer life. Man is created in such a way that he first looks outward; and then, when he is disappointed, when he cannot find all he wants in the outer life, he turns within. He wants to see if he can find it in the inner life, and thus he becomes connected with the source of inspiration, which is the Spirit of Guidance. And he who has once found the Spirit of Guidance will always be able to find it again if he keeps close to it; but when he goes astray, when the way of his life takes another direction, then he wanders away from the Spirit of Guidance.

There are some who are more intuitive, and there are others who are less so; and if we study the nature of their character, we shall know the nature of their intuition. Those who are confused, who are constantly hurried, who are changeable in their nature, who are afraid of death, of disease, of their own actions, of their enemies, of their surroundings; those who have constant doubt, wondering whether they can trust this person or that, whether a friend may or may not prove worthy, and so on---it is all these who have less possibility of intuition. Those who can trust without troubling themselves, those who have few doubts, are usually clearer in their perception. Those who trust in the inner guidance, who understand the secret of .the instinct that works through animals and all creatures, those who are pious, those who wish to walk in the light, who always prefer the right way of thinking and speaking and acting, it is these who often experience intuition.

Intuition is the first step, inspiration is the second, and revelation is the third. When revelation begins, it has arisen from intuition for intuition is the first stage.