Two Sticks Plus Yarn Equals Mindfulness

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Sitting quietly my mind relaxes as my senses focus on what is in my hands. I feel texture, I see color and shape, I hear subtle sounds of bamboo against bamboo. I am mindful. I am meditating. I am knitting...

Meditation is often thought of as a "sitting" practice where you remain perfectly still with your eyes closed. That's true but only in a limited sense. Sitting meditation is but one type of practice. There is walking meditation for example. But there are also practices that I call "active meditation".

Active meditation can include things like Tai Chi, some martial arts, yoga, even dance. Of course these practices can be done without being in a mindful state and so would not be considered active meditation in that case. But moving while being mindful can be an excellent method of mindfulness practice. 

I practice an activity that when I do it mindfully, brings me into a deeply relaxed state while also keeping my mind focused and untroubled by distracting thoughts. My creativity is increased. I find it one of my favorite active meditation practices, and as a side benefit, I end up with actual physical items. 

I am a knitter...  Yes, I know; a few folks may laugh at the concept of a male knitter but if you examine the history of knitting you'd find that men invented knitting, men once controlled the knitting guilds, etc. Currently there is a resurgence of men taking up the hobby. "Strong enough to knit, man enough to purl"...

So how does this apply to meditation? When I pick up my current project and sit to continue my knitting, I'm quickly becoming centered in my chair, my breathing relaxes, my senses are drawn to the feel, texture, and color of the yarn. Even the sound of the bamboo needles are a calming repetitive influence. It doesn't take long to be in a meditation state. I can keep knitting for hours. I'm mindful of what I'm doing. I feel better. Stress has melted away. This is mindfulness.

Of course sometimes I may have an audio book playing or music or even an old familiar movie on the television while I knit. But even though it doesn't seem like it, this too can be mindfulness. The knitting movements of my hands seem to take on a life of their own, continuing with a rhythm that is very much like a mantra. I may be listening to the music for example, but I find my attention is far more relaxed and focused. The monkey mind of random thoughts seems to have taken a vacation. I think the act of knitting so focuses my mind, hands, and senses that even the part of me that is listening to music is focused and not distracted. 

And there is the benefit of the act of creation. When I complete even something as simple as a scarf, there is a feeling of accomplishment. I created something that, at least to me, is beautiful and useable. We need to create things of beauty in our lives. To create is to be mindful.

Much has been written about this, for example: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/01/25/the-health-benefits-of-knitting/  and there are even books on the subject. Active meditation can be something very effective to add to your basket of practices. If you don't already have such a skill, learn. When I first learned, I took a class at the local knitting shop. 

Try active meditation. Just be mindful of what you are doing. And remember, even if your yarn gets tangled, your mind can be "untangled"...