How to Meditate using your Mindful Knitting Needles
The act of knitting is inherently connected to the act of creation. While knitting, we create stitches that will finally combine to a beautiful fabric. We place our attention over and over again on the rhythmic movement of our knitting needles, the flowing of the yarn, insert the needle tip, yarn over, pull through and repeat this process. Focussing the mind on a repetitive process is the very foundation of mindful, contemplative practice.
All knitters know the soothing effect of their craft. But actively practicing mindfulness while knitting, can help us develop an even kinder sense of self-awareness. Mindful practice helps us become anchored in the presence of our being. We have gathered some ideas of how to turn your set of mindful knitting needles into true tools of meditation.
- Create your own sanctuary for your daily knitting practice, a place for yourself, where you feel restful and can sit still. Surround yourself with your favorite things, such as a lovely cushion to support your back, perfumed candles or a beautiful table lamp and perhaps a cup of your favorite tea.
- Choose a simple knitting pattern which requires light attention, but is easy to follow and has a very repetitive structure, a cowl or a blanket perhaps or an easy to knit sweater.
- Practice The Five Senses Exercise if you still feel unrestful and have ruminating thoughts. This is a grounding technique that uses all five senses to root down and feel entirely centered in the body. You can do this exercise while already easing into your knitting process. First, name five sensations that you can feel on or in your body. For example, the shirt against your skin or an itch behind your shoulder. Name four things you can hear, such as a dog barking in your neighborhood or the sound of cars passing by. Then name three things you can see in your room, two things you can smell in your close environment and finally, name one taste in your mouth, such as leftover crumbs or your toothpaste.
- Knit without any extra entertainment such as television or podcasts and pay attention to your body position. Make sure you feel light and comfortable while knitting.
- Count your own breath without trying to change or control it. Count up to 10 breaths, then start over. This is a wonderful and simple exercise to set the tone for mental efficiency during your entire day. It helps the brain learn to process things more efficiently and to stay focused on one thing at a time.
- Let your mind wander through your body. Start at the top of your head and work all the way down to your feet. Pay close attention to what each area of the body feels like. Meditation leaders explain this journey through your body as "feeling from the inside out." It can be difficult at first for many people to feel much below the shoulders. Any feeling or no feeling at all is entirely okay, just let your mind pass by the different stages in your body top to toe.
- Practice "The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique". Breathe in for four seconds, Hold for seven seconds, then breathe out for eight seconds. Repeat this exercise eight times. This rhythmic breathing exercise is a part of many meditation practices and will help you to reduce anxiety and stress.
- Practice Mindful Knitting. Focus your attention on your knitting needles and the soft clicking sound they make when you work the yarn. Look at the beautifully crafted needle tips which are such simple, yet highly sophisticated tools to create something as wonderful as a garment or an accessory. Each of our Mindful knitting needle sets comes with a meditative mantra, such as 'breathe' or 'dream'. Contemplate the word from all sides and what it means to you. Let your fingertips stroke the yarn and feel the softness and elasticity of the fabric you are creating.
As with your knitting practice, your mindfulness will increase the more you exercise consciously. You will find that concentrating on picking up the knitting, making stitch after stitch, and thoughtfully putting away the knitting when finished, creates a calm feeling that stays with you even after you have finished your daily knitting sanctuary. Aim to practice one or all of the above exercises every day for several months. Over time, you might find that mindfulness becomes effortless as does your knitting craft. Think of both knitting and mindfulness techniques as a commitment to reconnecting with and nurturing yourself.
Which contemplative word do you like best on your Mindful Knitting Needles? Do you have a favorite mantra?