Update on the “Knitting as Meditation” class I’m taking. The teacher Lanny Mihardja has a unique approach to mindfulness. She uses the activities of knitting and crocheting (although her website says you can work with sewing and quilting or other handcrafts as well) as a focus of awareness. “It’s a movement meditation”, she says.
This is what was so interesting to me. I thought I preferred sitting meditation. For some reason it seems harder for me to be mindful while doing an activity. It’s much easier to get lost in thought when I’m producing. And I guess I feel like moving and not sitting is cheating. But to bring mindfulness into your everyday life, you need to use your activities as objects of awareness. Activities such as eating, walking , doing dishes can all be objects of mindfulness. Learning to be mindful while going about your day is actually having a mindful life rather than having a life that includes a short mindful sit. So I will embrace movement meditation.
While knitting and being mindful of the needles in our hands and the yarn bobbing, she instructs us to watch and pay attention to our body and thoughts as they arise and pass away. And just like sitting mindfulness, she instructs us to just watch it all as if sitting on the sidelines of a parade, just letting the thoughts, feelings and sensations pass by, allowing them to come and go without judgement. And then returning to the present experience of the current stitch.
I’m a very inexperienced knitter sitting with very experienced handcrafters. Of course I was first aware of my feelings of inferiority. One of the class members wrote a book on sequence knitting for goodess sake! But as I continued, my experience was one of comfort as the knitted part of my scarf covered and warmed my legs and the quiet repetition of knitting soothed my nervous system. Eventually, while sitting with the other ladies, I felt somehow gently held by their experience and therefore wisdom. I was very comforted and touched by the first class.
The subsequent class was done with a guided meditation which is not technically mindfulness, but powerful none-the-less. Lanny is a gentle facilitator who apparently walks her talk as evidenced by her caring and wise manner. I highly recommend this class.
Here’s Lanny’s website- Hancrafted Mindfulness. She writes a newsletter with tips on handcrafting as well as being mindful. Check it out.