Meditation is an ancient practice where the individual trains their attention and awareness to achieve a clear and peaceful state of mind. The practice reduces stress, anxiety and tension, improves focus and enables relaxation. Studies are showing links between knitting and meditation and how actually, the benefits of knitting are akin to meditating.
What Does it Mean to Meditate?
Meditation is a major component of many Eastern religions and there are endless ways to meditate. Essentially, the key is to place one’s attention on something, whether this be the breath, a candle or a mantra. Through this direct attention we are at one with the present moment. It is normal for thoughts to come and go through the mind, however the practice teaches not to attach to these thoughts and instead to keep returning to the focus of our attention. Through this we become less fixed to our ‘monkey mind’.
Knitting & Meditation
So how does this relate to knitting? The act of knitting is in itself a very meditative process. We dedicate time to sit quietly into a chair, and focus our attention on the project at hand. The rhythm of the needles and the concentration required of the craft bring us right into the present moment. There is simply no room to worry and knit simultaneously! The breath rate slows down, the heart rate slows down, we feel soothed and calmer.
The Harvard Medical School monitored brain activity of meditation practitioners. The results showed that meditation increases alpha brain waves which are the relaxed brain waves. Herbert Benson, the president of the Mind/Body Medical Institute, calls this the ‘relaxation response’. This is the opposite of the ‘fight or flight’ response, which someone suffering from anxiety or high stress levels may be experiencing. Studies are now showing how knitting has the same effect on soothing the nervous system, lowering cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and increasing dopamine (the happy hormone). The wonderful consequence of this is that knitting can be considered a meditative practice that can help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders.
We would love to hear your thoughts on this article. Do you find knitting is a meditative practice? Does knitting help you feel calmer? Get in touch….
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Image credits: Laura Metheney