Are you stressed? Overwhelmed? Anxious?
Want to meditate, but find it hard to sit still?
Join the club.
In this fast paced, busy world it is difficult to relax and find stillness within.
Perhaps, like me, you keep hearing about mindfulness and meditation, and you’re curious. You think it might be good for you? Maybe it will help you deal with some of your problems more skillfully?
But you just haven’t been able to make it happen.
Meditation typically requires us to sit down in quiet solitude to practice observing the mind. It may sound simple…but it’s actually hard to do.
You’re not the only one who is intimidated by sitting still and focusing on the moment. Many people think they are no good at meditation because they can’t seem stop to the seemingly endless stream of thoughts.
They’d like to meditate, but they’re too easily distracted, or they find it hard to sit still.
Don’t worry…I have a solution for you.
Knitting as Meditation: Sit. Breathe. Knit.
With our knitting in our hands, we can learn to slow down, take our seat, and sit in a quiet, relaxed, yet alert state. This is the foundation of any meditation practice.
Knitting offers the perfect training ground for cultivating a mental state that is less distracted, more present, and peaceful. The rhythm of working the same stitch over and over again calms the heart rate and breathing, creating a feeling of stability and inner quiet.
Letting Go of Distractions and the Art of Focused Attention
Knitting provides an object of focus for our practice. We can practice focusing our attention and letting go of distractions.
If you are a beginner knitter, perhaps learning how to hold your needles, tension the yarn, and create each new stitch provides enough of a mental challenge to focus your attention and practice concentration.
If you are an experienced knitter, the same simple stitches that are challenging for the beginner offer a training ground for knowing and strengthening our minds.
Knitasana: A Mindful Knitting Meditation Practice
In Yoga, the word “asana” is used to refer to the art of sitting still, but later it was applied to any posture useful for restoring and maintaining a practitioner’s well-being. Knitasana is the term I use to refer to your knitting practice – that is, the practice of sitting for mindful knitting and/or knitting meditation.
Sitting to knit with a conscious intention to know and train our minds is meditation – a lifelong practice with enormous physical, emotional and spiritual benefits.
You Get Good At What You Choose to Practice
When we sit in Knitasana we are reminded that we get good at what we choose to practice.
Most of us understand this, especially when related to physical skills, like learning to knit, playing a sport or an instrument. No one expects to be able to pick up a pair of knitting needles and know how to knit a sweater. We understand that we have to start at the beginning and build up our skill set with regular and consistent practice.
But we must realize that if we want to get better at something, we need to practice, practice, practice.
If you want to cultivate more patience, you need to practice.
If you want to be more compassionate, you need to practice.
If you want to cultivate more happiness, gratitude, or empathy…
You’ve got it…
You need to practice.
Just as learning to knit requires focus, perseverance, and patience, so does learning how to manage stress, take care of ourselves, and living our lives to the fullest.
That’s why it is helpful to think of knitasana as a practice…It is a life-long journey and we must be kind to ourselves along the way.
Knit Your Parachute (Before You Take the Free-Fall)
Cultivating a solid meditation practice while life is going well, and you are feeling good is so important. By doing so, you are learning and practicing skills that will make you more resilient to stress when life gets tough.
Jon Kabat-Zinn refers to this as “weaving your parachute” (or in our case, knitting your parachute.)
It is much harder to try to learn something new when you are in crisis, so start practicing now.
Through a regular meditation practice, we become aware of harmful habits of mind (stories that we tell ourselves) that keep us stuck in unproductive patterns of behaviour. Once we become aware of these habits, we have an opportunity to make better and more informed choices about how we respond to our daily experiences.
Disentangling ourselves from our thoughts in this way can have significant mental health benefits:
It’s a shift from having our mental health defined by the content of our thoughts, to having it defined by our relationship to that content – and changing that relationship by sitting with, noticing, and becoming disentangled from our definitions of ourselves. – Psychologist Steven Hayes of the University of Nevada.
When we sit in Knitasana we are practicing being with ourselves and whatever arises in the moment. All sorts of thoughts and emotions will arise at some point and this gives us an opportunity to practice noticing and experiencing difficult or confusing mind states in a relatively safe environment.
You already know how to meditate, you just have to begin.
- Start by creating space in your life to sit and knit.
- Let go of the stories that you tell yourself that prevent you from starting.
- Let go of the belief that you are too busy or not good enough.
- Stop waiting for the perfect time or the perfect teacher.
- Just sit and knit and enjoy being with your Self.
- Allow yourself to relax and let your mind be peaceful.
- Watch your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgement. .
Rest assured you already know how to meditate. You just need to begin.