Life is busy, which can be good, but it can also be stressful. Let’s face it, most of us struggle with at least some level of stress or anxiety in our life that can put a strain on our mental health. One strategy for dealing with those feelings is to practice mindfulness, and knitting is a fantastic medium for mindfulness practice.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness, at its core, is the practice of being present and fully engaged in the here and now. Originating from Buddhist philosophy, mindfulness has gained widespread popularity for its potential to reduce stress and improve quality of life. The idea is that rather than letting our mind wander to worries and what-ifs, we stay focused on the current moment and what we are doing in that moment by bringing our attention to physical sensory experiences.
Why Mindfulness Promotes Wellness
Mindfulness is more than just a passing trend; it's a researched and proven method to improve both mental and physical health. Studies have shown that even short mindfulness sessions can significantly lower our stress levels, reduce blood pressure, and increase our mental clarity. By cultivating mindfulness, we can develop greater resilience, emotional balance, and a deeper sense of happiness.
Practicing Mindfulness in Your Knitting
Knitting offers a perfect mindfulness medium. There is something for all five senses to experience, from the appearance of the yarn, and its feel as it runs through our fingers There’s even the smell of the yarn - who hasn’t brought a skein to our nose to inhale its sheepy goodness!
To create a mindful knitting expereince, start by setting up a serene environment, relatively free from distractions–for instance, turn off the TV and cell phone. Get comfortable with your knitting and bring attention to your five senses. Focus on the texture of the yarn, the feel of the needles in your hands. Listen for the sound they make - or on the silence of our stitches. Note the changing patterns and textures of the fabric you’re creating. Do all of this without judgment. Just observe as you live and breathe with each stitch.
Tips for Mindfulness in Knitting Projects
Choosing the right project can make a huge difference in your mindful knitting experience. YOu want something that isn’t too complicated–something with a familiar pattern that your fingers already know. You’ll want to be able to fully immerse yourself in the knitting without getting overwhelmed or worrying you’ll make a mistake.
Mindfulness and wabi-sabi
The Japanese are known for their longevity due in part to their focus on holistic wellness which includes mindfulness as well as wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi is the appreciation and focus on the idea that nothing is perfect, nothing is permanent, and nothing is complete. As we knit mindfully, we can notice without judgment all of these concepts in our materials, in our work, and in ourselves.
The video below is my interview with Saori Okada, a Japanese wellness expert. We chatted about mindfulness, wellness, wabi-sabi, knitting, and Noro. Although Saori was not familiar with Noro, she immediately saw it as a perfect embodiment of the wabi-sabi precepts and an opportunity for us all to practice mindfulness and embrace the beauty of impermanence, imperfection, and incompletion. I think you’ll enjoy hearing what she has to say.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on mindfulness, wellness, wabi-sabi, and Noro. Share your stories in the comments below.
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