24 February 2012

Crochet as Spiritual Practice: Silence

In case you missed it, here's a summary of the four previous posts about Crochet as Spiritual Practice:

A spiritual practice is an activity that you do regularly which either pulls you into your inner space or connects you with the greater universe. Try spending 10-15 minutes each day crocheting and only focusing on the yarn and pattern in front of you, pushing other thoughts aside.

Incorporate some special breathing to help relax yourself at the start.
1. Breathe in deeply and let it out slowly
2. Count your breaths up to 10 and then start over.
3. Alternate nostril breathing. (see how here)
4. Three short breaths in, one slow breath out.

Three is a common part of many religions, faiths, and spiritualities, as well as quite pervasive in our culture. In crochet: shells of three, repeats of three stitches or rows, three loops or pull throughs for a stitch. Think about how you can incorporate 3 into your crochet practice and how it already is a part of your crocheting habits. More examples on the original post.

Remember to keep your hands and wrists happy while you work! They carry our intentions from our minds & hearts into the work.
Some suggestions: warming them up before you work; stretching before, during, and after; taking regular breaks; stopping if they hurt; giving yourself a massage before and after an especially large or difficult working.

Reflections on Silence
The silent spaces between musical notes and between the words we speak are what give them meaning.Continuous noise does not carry a message and often hurts our heads with the overload of information. Many groups recognize the importance of silence. Quaker meetings are based on the importance of silence and contemplation. Many sporting events, school days, and special events include a moment of silence.

It can be very difficult to find true silence in our world. Modern life involves many machines. Those for communication, entertainment, and convenience all make noise at us, some of them constantly. If you manage to be quiet in a room by yourself, you'll hear the fridge, a clock, cars going past, the neighbors. Many people turn to nature and solitude in order to find silence. There's nothing so loud as a pond in the evening, a forest in the morning, or a thunderstorm in summer. Winter is the quietest season, with many plants and animals resting, but even then you may hear snow crunching, owls hooting, bats flying, or trees bending and breaking.

All of these sounds can be beautiful, but our minds need some quiet time. Imagine your brain like a water bottle. It's about 1/4 full with daily thoughts, worries, and tasks. Something wonderful happens, you're excited, and you think about it. Now the bottle is half full. You learn something new, your friend has a problem, and you do the grocery shopping. Now the bottle is full. There's no room left for any more thoughts. We've all experienced that "my brain is too full to do anything else" feeling. That's when we really need to take some time to quiet the mind and release some of those thoughts. Pour them back out into the universe.

Meditation is highly useful for resting and emptying the mind. However, sitting still, being quiet, and thinking of nothing can be very difficult. It's called practice for a reason. Many people feel they don't have time for meditation. One way to help give your mind some quiet while still being productive is to use your crochet as a meditation. Concentrating on the pattern, the yarn, and the hook allows you to do something repetitive (maybe even relatively mindless), while still giving your brain down time.

Spend time this week noticing the silences around you. Take some quiet time and realize how many sounds are still happening. Practice being quiet and stilling your mind while crocheting. If possible, spend some time being quiet with other people. There's a big difference in the feeling being quiet alone, with one other person, in a small group, or in a large gathering.

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