Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Knitting as a Spiritual Practice

When I was in fourth grade my friend Angela taught me how to knit. The process was an easy one for me to grasp. For years I made head bands and scarves, because they were quick and easy to make. Gradually, I learned to read knitting patterns and my skill level increased. I found that I could sit for hours letting my hands work while my mind slowed down and relaxed.

I didn't know it at the time but what I was doing was a kind of meditation or form of mindfulness.  According to Wikipedia "mindfulness practice, inherited from the Buddhist tradition, is increasingly being employed in Western psychology to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and in the prevention of relapse in depression and drug addiction." Actually, you can bring mindfulness to anything you do, and find yourself less stressed and more grounded in the process.

I have found knitting to be a wonderful way of practicing mindfulness. The repetitive process of knitting makes it ideal for this purpose. Knitting gives the hands, eyes and mind something to focus on, but does not impose rigid demands on one's attention. While one is knitting the mind can remain alert to what is going on around it while being actively engaged in the present moment. It's similar to what happens when a person prays with prayer beads.

Once you have decided on what to knit, begin the process by gathering the necessary materials. Having done this begin your spiritual practice by deciding on a scripture, word, mantra or idea that you want to focus on. Cast on and start knitting. As you are knitting quietly repeat your scripture or mantra. Slowly and with concentration focus on the words allowing your mind to fully absorb the idea and meaning.

Practice being an observer.  When negative thoughts or worries enter your mind simply observe them.  Imagine them floating by like clouds.  This technique can quiet the mind.  Be kind and loving to yourself.  Try to suspend all judgment. Recognize yourself as being one with the Divine, worthy of kindness and respect.

Engaging in this process you should begin to relax fully into the experience. Allow your heart to open to the presence of the Divine in you. Relax and let yourself experience Oneness with all of life. Speak freely and openly as if talking with a trusted friend. Allow for quiet moments of listening for ideas or inspirations. Be grateful for the time spent in quiet contemplation, and for the opportunity to create.

Know that just as any craft requires effort so too will your spiritual practice.  As you use your knitting time to connect with the Divine your spiritual practice will grow richer. And, since you are sitting, quietly knitting anyway you may as well make the most of it.

This is an article that I wrote for  To read the original article click on the link below.

Read more: How to Knit as a Spiritual Practice |

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