Zen knitting mindfulness
One winter evening I was listening to an audiobook about zen buddhism while knitting and had a youtube fireplace crackeling softly in the background. It was very cozy and peaceful and mindful and suddenly it was very clear to me how much knitting has in common with zen! It was so fundamentally obvious and I really felt I want to share this with you.
Zen is an ancient asian buddhist tradition mostly known as being in practice in Japan. When you decide to follow the zen principles your life will be more mindful, your mind clearer and you will find yourself uplifted with new energy and positivity. This can be achieved also through knitting if we choose to look at it the zen way!
So, let’s give it a go as every journey starts with a first step!
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My first step of zen knitting is about breathing. A powerful breath is important to let your whole body be filled with energy. Make sure to sit comfortably and while knitting start focusing on your breath. Take a slow deep breath and let it fill up first your stomach and then your chest. Keep it for a second or two and then slowly exhale first from your chest and then from your stomach, and feel your shoulders relax. Try to make the exhale a little longer than the inhale. With every mindful breath you will find yourself a little more relaxed and focused.
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It is very easy to take consciousness for granted and believe it is just there and needs no attention. Well, the thing is that very often we are too conscious about too many things at the same time. When having our knitting time in the evening our mind is occupied with how our day has been, making plans for tomorrow, watching television, answering to an email or an sms, having a quick scroll through Facebook and Instagram. Do you recognize yourself? I do, much too often.
To find zen consciousness in your life you need to be conscious of only one thing at the time. Switch off the television and the phone and let go of yesterday and tomorrow for a while. Pay full attention to your knitting only. Be concious about every one stitch at the time. Feel the needles positions in your hands and the yarn flowing over your fingers and creating a stitch. Stitch by stitch, row by row. Let the process of your knitting be in your focus and feel your mind relax and become clerarer.
Feel the power of consciousness!
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When I first wrote the post about smiling, I was sitting in a comfortable sun bed overlooking the clear blue Red Sea and having been on a morning swim and gorgeous snorkling with thousands of different amazing colourful fish on the coral reef beneath… well, it is very easy to be smiling and feeling the zen wibe. In everyday life it might be more difficult sometimes. However, keeping a gentle smile on your face will actually help you feel more relaxed and more positive! The muscles used for smiling triggers the parasympatethic nervous system and helps the body reduce stress and anxiety and activates the zen mindfulness.
Focus on the joy of knitting with a smile!
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As a dedicated knitter I keep lots of knitting related things around my favourite knitting space. Pattern books, baskets with yarns of different kinds and colours, half-finished projects, needles and scissors and measuring tape and… yes, a trillion things indeed. Do you recognize yourself? Have you noticed how much energy all this things consume? Well, to find the zen mindfulness you should simplify and declutter your knitting space. Put aside the books in the bookshelf, the baskets with yarn and ufo’s all in one place and all those small notion stuff into a beautiful little box. When you clear up your knitting space, you will also clear up your mind and get rid of stress and negative energy. You will find it easier to focus on, and keep concious of, your knitting process.
Declutter to get into the zen knitting mindfulness!
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When you think about meditation maybe what comes to your mind is sitting completely still on the floor or your yogamat with eyes closed and trying to keep your mind very empty. Well, did you know same areas in your brain is activated through traditional meditation and through knitting? As a fact, you can say knitting is meditative and this is due to being focused on repetitive motion. To get even more into this wellbeing meditative state there are a few things you can do while knitting.
🧶 Remember to stay conscious of your breathing and your knitting process.
🧶 Perform a body scan while knitting. For a number of stitches place your focus on your right foot, then your right leg, then your left foot, then your left leg and continue shifting your focus through your body until all body parts have been in mindful and conscious focus.
🧶 Counting. Make a decision how to count your stitches. It could be all stitches on every row, all stitches in a pattern repeat, all stitches on every dpn, or counting to 10 and back to 1 over and over, or any kind of counting of your own choice.
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TAKE A BREAK
Yes, I know, knitting is sooo addictive and I can easily cuddle for hours in my sofa corner just keeping on knitting. But, when doing so my body gets stiff and and I do feel pain in my neck and shoulder after a while. To avoid this I really need to take a break now and then, and a great way is to do a qigong routine for stretching neck, back and shoulders. Enjoy!
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I hope my Zen knitting tips will give you lots of peaceful knitting!