20 Feb Can Knitting be considered as a Mindfulness Practice?
Knit one. Purl one. Knit one. Purl one. Knit one. Purl one. The rhythmic and repetitive nature of knitting is calming, comforting and contemplative. It’s not a stretch for you to imagine knitting as a mindfulness practice, or perhaps a form of meditation. –
Even if knitting isn’t your preferred creative activity, it is still undoubtedly is a way to mindfulness – a way to to calm down and de-stress. Just think of all those photos of women busy knitting during world war II – especially those of women in the London Underground at night – losing themselves in something familiar while the world around them was falling apart. The article mentioned above reminds us about the repetitive nature of knitting that is so calming. Once the pattern is established, maintaining it keeps the monkey brain occupied, while freeing up your creative mind space to think about other things.
Like so many children of the post-war generation, I was taught to knit. My godmother patiently taught me the basics when I was five or six, then at the age seven, we were taught to knit a glove puppet in school. Once I’d got to grips with the mechanics of knitting, I found it was a great way to lose myself. It is very telling that when I was anxious, my knitted item output ran wild! I knitted my way through exam stress, driving tests, relationships, deaths, preparing to become a mother – any event that needed processing. I knew that by keeping my hands busy I could think without commentary of interruption from my monkey mind. Knitting also became a useful tool for appearing to be sociable – or at least physically present in a room with others – while actually being lost in thought!
Mindfulness is a phrase that gets used a lot these days. In this case I am using it as the way to focus on what you are doing, and yet be fully aware of what you are thinking and feeling. In letting your hands take care of the creative activity, your mind becomes free to notice of what is bothering you, what it is you’ve been wanting to think about or plan how to do, and gives you a brief ‘time out’ to process those thoughts. Mindfulness doesn’t require sophisticated equipment or clothing. A simple pencil and paper, a stick and a sandy beach, knitting needles and yarn, or a trowel and dirt, for example, are all you need to occupy your monkey brain so you can process those thoughts that can otherwise elude you.
What creative thing is it that you do to help yourself relax and reach mindfulness – even if that isn’t the word you might use to describe it?