It’s now time to slow down and focus on the present. Enjoy and appreciate this very moment and you will experience the calm and quiet.
Well, this is not your typical article about gratitude and mindfulness. Our focus here is how knitting encourages mindfulness. First we’ll talk about mindfulness in general and then quickly discuss knitting and its benefits to reducing stress.
It’s about present awareness. Although the essential practice can be traced back centuries ago, mindfulness is becoming popular and entering the mainstream just in the recent years. But why now? Our busy, fast-paced and chaotic lifestyles demand something for us to slow down and keep our sanity and focus.
Our modern living has made us focus more on the past and the future. We’re becoming more regretful of the past and more anxious about the future. We’re now used to thinking more about what’s left behind and what’s ahead. Think about the countless hours you’ve spent planning about the future and coming up with scenarios that probably won’t happen. And yes, most of us sometimes spend our hours asking ourselves “What could have been?” if we did things differently.
If we think about it, we’re actually causing unnecessary suffering to ourselves. We focus on things that are already over or things that could never happen. And in this very moment, we actually don’t have a problem unless we’re in physical pain. The stress only comes from thinking about the past or the future.
What does this have to do with knitting? Well, knitting encourages us to focus on the present moment. We let ourselves focus on what’s in front of us instead of thinking about the dinner later or work tomorrow. Our attention is on the needles, yarn and pattern and how our project slowly unfolds in front of us as we do the motions.
Whether knitting a small beanie or a full adult sweater, the hobby allows us to slow down. We’re used to speeding things up and getting things done both in our work and household tasks. It’s a bit different in knitting where the pace is quite slow and you cannot rush things. Although experienced knitters can knit fast, the activity is still slow compared to what we’re used to especially at work.
What about meditation?
Why not just meditate instead? To get the most benefit from mindfulness, meditation is indeed the way. Being still and being aware of our own thoughts, bodily sensations, feelings and the immediate surroundings can really make us focus on the present moment. It’s about forcing or letting our minds be more aware and more present. This practice helps us become more focused as well as reduces our stress. Remember, most of the stress comes from thinking about the past and the future. If we pay attention to the present, we take our minds off from the past and future (the source of our stress).
However, staying still doesn’t seem attractive to some people. It’s just impossible for some people to stay still for longer than 2 minutes. They prefer staying active and productive. For example, some practice mindfulness by jogging or even while doing the laundry. They squeeze in a minute here and there to be mindful of the present. Some also do this by knitting where while performing repetitive motions, they focus on the present moment and how their hands move.
Being mindful while staying active seems to be conflicting and contradictory to each other. But they actually complement each other because it’s a lot similar to learning a new skill. Notice that when you’re learning a new skill, your focus is on the present moment and what you’re doing. This is also a form of mindfulness. Perhaps this reminds you of the time when you’re learning how to ride a bike or drive an automobile. You paid close attention to every movement you make and your immediate surroundings. But as you get good at the skill, the movements become automatic and then your attention can now drift off to something else.
That also happens when knitting. The difference is that the pace is a lot slower and you stay still in a corner or your favourite spot. The environment is less chaotic and you know this is your time for yourself. You don’t have to think a lot about other people during this quiet and rewarding hobby. In addition, you also accomplish something tangible through knitting.
Many knitters have made it a part of their daily routine to knit as a way to organise their day and to slow down. They also use knitting as a way to be mindful of the present while staying active and productive. Indeed, knitting encourages mindfulness by slowing down the pace and focusing more on the moment.