For the last 20 years or so, fitness experts have talked about the importance of our core. As you probably know, our core refers to a collection of muscles in our midsection and, with the exception of the coveted six-pack, are decidedly unglamorous. Core muscles don’t show when we flex them, and they don’t make our butts look awesome in jeans, but they are, possibly, the most important muscles in our body. These are the muscles that hold our internal organs in place and allow us to stand and walk upright. A strong core is what gives us balance, stabilizes us, and keep us from being blown over by the wind.
Just as our core muscles need exercises, our mind and spirit need exercise to keep us from being buffeted about by the winds of anxiety, stress, and fear. One exercises that keeps our spirit healthy and strong is mindfulness, and I believe knitting is a perfect medium through which to practice it. Mindfulness is that concept of being in the present, living fully in this moment. Sounds easy enough, but it’s actually pretty hard. We humans are always thinking ahead and worrying about the future or fretting over the past. A regular mindfulness practice helps train our brain to focus on and appreciate this moment, and only this moment. For newer knitters, the mindfulness comes easily as the focus required to make each stitch is all consuming. As knitting gets easier, there is still an opportunity for mindfulness as we purposefully focus on this stitch, an only this stitch, being fully present rather than worrying about all the things we need to do or all the things we wish we’d done differently.
Gratitude is another important exercise that helps us build mental and emotional strength. Things are never as bad as they seem, and there is always a way to find some good from every situation, even if it is just the opportunity to learn or practice patience. Gratitude doesn’t come automatically— sometimes I have to make a real effort to find even one shred of good in a particularly bad situation, but studies show that when, we focus on and build the positive we feel happier and have a greater sense of e control of our life.
Like the crunches and planks that build our body, practicing mindfulness and gratitude can be challenging. Sitting very still and being mindful is tough for most of us, and that’s why I think knitting is so great. Knitting gives me a point of focus and busies my fiddly hands so that I can be still. Try just a few minutes of mindful knitting each day. It’s lots easier than a 45-second plank.
Until we can be around the table together again, stay well, keep knitting, and create something beautiful.