As I begin my next sprint at university (my Psychology honours is structured in 6 week blocks), I can’t help but feel a bit apprehensive about the ‘race’ ahead. What’s keeping me going is the knowledge that our Here and Now meditation retreat is next weekend and I get to step out of the race and into nature – even just for a few days. After our retreat last August, I can’t tell you how rested, refreshed, and utterly reinvigorated we all felt afterwards.
In fact it steeped in research! David Strayer, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah who specializes in attention, says that “when we slow down, stop the busywork, and take in beautiful natural surroundings, not only do we feel restored, but our mental performance improves too”. His research shows that there is a ‘three-day effect’ (the same length as our retreat) of being immersed in nature which acts as a kind of “cleaning of the mental windshield” so to speak. Whilst regular short bouts of meditation are instrumental in maintaining overall health and wellbeing, the power of engaging in extended meditation periods whilst being immersed in nature can’t be underestimated. Strayer says that if you can have the experience of being ‘in the moment’ for two or three days, it seems to produce a difference in qualitative thinking.
This certainly was the case for us. We literally observed our mind ‘de-bugging’ itself – sorting through all kinds of ideas, concepts, memories, worries, concerns etc. And then eventually it all slowed down and got into a really deep and restful state. Sound enticing? We have a few spots left on our retreat next weekend so If you have even the slightest inkling that you would like to join us, please send us an email and we’d love to schedule a chat! And if you can’t come along – make sure you get out into nature this week and give that mental windshield of yours a good scrub!