Why do this knitting tutorial and this meditation lesson sound so similar? The two activities both create a similar effect referred to as mindfulness.
- Create a comfortable sitting place for your Mindful Knitting Practice.
- Give yourself time to sit and relax.
- Pick up your yarn and your needles.
- Focus on the beauty of the fiber and smoothness of the needles.
- Take a deep breath in and exhale a few times,
- If beginning your project, take time to slowly cast on stitches,
- Let the yarn wrap around the shiny needles.
- Focus on breathing, or a word, as you relax into the repetitive action.
- As you begin to knit, and observe the rhythm of the moment,
- feel the calm as the polished needles loop the yarn round and round.
- As your hands and the materials work in harmony,
- notice your body relax into the repetitive action.
- When repeated multiple times,
- Time falls away and tranquility ensues.
- Get comfortable and prepare to sit still for a few minutes. After you stop reading this, you’re going to simply focus on your own natural inhaling and exhaling of breath.
- Focus on your breath. Where do you feel your breath most? In your belly? In your nose? Try to keep your attention on your inhale and exhale.
- Follow your breath for two minutes. Take a deep inhale, expanding your belly, and then exhale slowly, elongating the out-breath as your belly contracts.
- (Mindful.org “How to Meditate”)
Mindfulness is a state of mind focused on the present moment and the acknowledgment of feelings, thoughts, and sensation in a peaceful way. Practicing mindfulness has been found to provide bountiful benefits to health and mental wellbeing, but how do you start? Traditional meditation requires the practitioner to focus on the flow of breath in and out of the body which most beginners find easy for a short time but often find their minds wandering back to day to day troubles and thoughts. Mindful knitting gives the practitioner something tactile to focus on; the weight of needles, feel of the yarn, and the click of each stitch keep the mind and body engaged simultaneously. Even with these additional stimuli, some knitters like to practice a variety of mental exercises to keep them in the moment as they work. Here are my favorite suggestions for grounding mental practices to quiet the mind while knitting:
- The Bubble
My personal favorite technique, I use it for focusing on knitting and in day to day life! When you notice a thought pass into your head, start by recognizing the thought. You might say to yourself silently or aloud “I recognize that I am thinking/feeling _____ and that is valid but I am practicing mindfulness at the moment” this honors your truth while focusing on your goal. Next, imagine the thought being sucked into a smooth bubble and picture that bubble floating far away into the universe. If a thought is persistent, push the bubble farther away.
- The Body Scan
Starting with your toe tips, focus on everything you can feel in your body. Move slowly from toes to foot to ankle and so on, checking in with yourself as you go. There are no wrong answers except judgement and worry. Practice recognizing judgement when you feel it and if body positivity is challenging try replacing negative self-talk with body neutral phrases like “these legs carry me where I need to go” and “my chest holds a strong heart that has survived even the hardest days of my life”. Continue to bring your awareness over your entire body until you reach the crown of your head, then repeat either by scanning back down to your toes or beginning the cycle again. Checking in with your body in this way keeps the mind busy as well as allowing an opportunity to notice whether your body is getting what it needs. After your row ask yourself if you need some water or a snack and remember to focus on something far away to give your eyes a break from close-up work.
Find a clear area where you can safely pace without tripping over items or crashing into people or objects and slowly walk while you work. Navigating your body through space will give your brain something else to focus on if you are struggling with clearing your mind.
- PRACTICE! Start with short bursts of mindful knitting and build your way up! Go your own pace and knit your way to self-understanding and a calm mind.