Knitting and Meditation

Knitting and Meditation

fire and knitting

When the subject of knitting comes up in a conversation, the vision of an elderly lady knitting socks is the most common picture in most people’s minds.  However, this is not true.  The youth today discovered knitting as a method of relaxation, meditation, and a supporter of mindfulness.  Beginning meditators often start with knitting to develop a strategy of breathing and peace that they were not able to obtain through yoga or meditation practice due to focus issues.

The rhythm of knit one, purl one or knit, knit, knit, purl combined with the repetitive hand motions proves to induce similar relaxed states as meditation, lowering the heart rate and blood pressure while developing the mind’s ability to concentrate and engage the mind.  Early in learning to knit, the new knitter quickly knows that knitting requires you to pay attention to the pattern, the movement of the hands, and trains your mind to focus on the task at hand. You are directing your mind to concentrate trains the brain to learn to focus, and carries over into other activities. The concentration of the process of knitting, the pattern, the positioning of the needles assists your thoughts and worries into a higher level of meditational flow. You soon find yourself becoming involved in an activity to blinds you to the outside world and gives you peace. If your mind wanders while knitting, the result often shows up in mistaken stitches, redirecting your focus. (Having to frog back in a knitting project enforces concentration for the next try at the pattern).

The New York Times article The Health Benefits of Knitting   quoted Dr. Herbert Benson, the author of The Relaxation Response stated that the “The repetitive action of needlework could induce a relaxed state like that associated with meditation and yoga.” After the knitter moves past the initial learning curve, the relaxation and stress relief are obvious. Another benefit is that knitting helps arthritic fingers stay nimble and reduces hand pain. In other studies, knitting is being used to increase the mind function and decrease the later life mind function. This is also true for quilting and other handicrafts.

Taking knitting lessons or meeting in a knitting group develops socialization and fellowship traits. Knitting clubs are famous for having a caring sharing attitude towards helping others learn new skills or fix errors. You seldom find a depressed knitter, as the process takes their mind off their problems. It is a great method to keep your mind busy when you are dieting.  You do not have time to think about food, much less get up and get it. Before COVID, it was common for knitters to meet at the knitting shops. Most local knitting shops have a common area with sofas, chairs, to encourage people to sit and knit for a while. Of course, knitting is a solitary process also. You can knit at the park, on a bus, at a ball game, where ever there is light, and you have a few minutes.

YouTube has a wealth of knitting classes, bloggers, and process teachers for knitting.  My favorite vloggers are The Bakery Bears, Fruiting Knitting, Arne and Carlos, Cias bod, Kammebornia.  Their shows offer teaching of techniques, sharing of knitting projects, and in the case of the Bakery Bears, lots of plain fun and sharing of history.

I try to knit one hour every night before retiring, as it relaxes me, helps me sleep, and gives me a sense of accomplishment when the project completes.  My fellow knitters have given me support and allowed me to meet people to expand my circle of friends. There are knitters from all over the world in these groups with the common shared goal of knitting. Even though we meet through ZOOM now due to COVID, the friendliness and fellowship of my knitting friends are important for mental health. 

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