I have been listening to an article by Florence Williams called the Three Day Effect. In it she suggests that three days outside enjoying nature can radically change your mindset and your brain. To study the idea, she joins an excursion to a riverside wilderness in Utah, Her guide is charismatic veteran who leads a group of other vets on these camping, hiking, canoeing adventures to help them with PTSD and other after effects of war. He believes strongly in the power of nature to soothe and heal, which sounds pretty good to Williams, as she herself is struggling with the trauma of divorce as her 20 year marriage dissolves.
The group arrives in the wilderness on day one. Tired from the journey, they hike a bit, set up camp, cook, and share a meal together. On Day Two they head into the water and spend the day on the rapids. She begins her interviews of the other participants who share their experiences quite candidly. One man talks about being injured overseas, and is now on disability. His wife said he'd changed too much, and she left. What he finds on these excursions is that he has a chance to get away from it. He's not just sitting on the couch eating the pills the VA gives him, and worrying about things. These three days give him a chance to get outside of himself. Each participant has a similar story of trauma and finds the wilderness experience thoroughly therapeutic.
It's a beautiful article, really, and quite uplifting. While I would never want to undervalue the beauty of nature and the loveliness of their experience, I would argue that the restorative benefits come not so much from nature itself, but from the time spent unplugged, collaboratively engaged, and constructively occupied. I would argue that you could get the same sort of soothing and healing from a getaway of any sort in which you spend three days of quality time with like minded people, engaged in collaborative and creative endeavors, without the intrusion of electronic devices. It's about getting away from it all. Putting aside the stress of what is happening tomorrow or next week. Leaving the regret from yesterday and last month in the past. It's about living in the present - about being aware of this moment now and only this moment -- being grateful for where we are right now and for those who walk the way with us. It is giving yourself three days of mindfulness and gratitude.
If camping is your thing, the natural world might be where you find such a space, but if not, you can create that same space anywhere. You and I know that our knitting is perfect vehicle through which to practice mindfulness and gratitude. Knitting with others and the healing benefits of sharing time with sympatico souls are yours for the taking anytime at the shop. If you are inclined, join us on the knitting retreat to Staunton, VA next month. Give yourself the luxury of three days away from it all in the company of other knitters, constructively engaged and if you like, try turning your cell phone off and see how calm it feels.
I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table. You are always welcome here.