Guest Blog by Karen Luckhurst
In the last couple of decades, science has been corroborating what Zen masters have known for years; that regular meditation helps people cope with stress, illness and chronic pain as well as promoting wellbeing and a host of other benefits.
In fact, regular meditation practice is associated with improvements in attention, concentration, better cognitive function later in life, increased serotonin levels, and a range of other psychological benefits.
And the good news is that there are many paths into meditation practice – recent studies have shown that craft activities, such as knitting, for instance, can enable people to enter a meditative state.
Betsan Corkhill, a pioneer into research on the benefits of knitting and stitching and author of Knit for Health and Wellness, says: “Using knitting to achieve a meditative state of mind could enable a much wider population to experience the benefits of meditation, as it doesn’t entail having to understand, accept or engage in a prolonged learning period of the practice.”
Of course, those of us who have been crafting for years know the calming affect it has. I started social enterprise Creative Contemplations to help spread the therapeutic benefits of crafting. But actually, creative contemplations began for me when I was very young and first learnt to knit. I say knit, actually it was a ragged mess with holes and wonky edges.
I had no idea then that I was practising a form of mindful meditation – or giving myself a gift that would serve to comfort, calm, challenge and entertain me for much of my life.
When I knit, crochet or sew, I can enter a meditative state – provided that I am doing consciously – that is, I have chosen to do it, allotted it time, and eliminated distractions. When I knit in front of the TV or crochet while waiting for the kettle to boil, I am not doing so mindfully – indeed, I am not doing anything mindfully, as anyone who has ever waited for a drink in my house will tell you.
Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, one day, as my family awaited their tea, if I could devote a chunk of time to crafting and sit quietly with others doing the same thing. So, I started Creative Contemplations offering focussed crafting weekend and day retreats and free evening sessions locally. Sitting with others crafting in quiet companionship is an incredibly profound experience. To be perfectly honest, it’s my dream job. I get to do and share what I love doing as well as help spread a practice that promotes life-long wellbeing.
Karen is running three Conscious Crafting retreats in Devon and Somerset. Full details: 11 November 2016, 9 December 2016 and 20 January 2017