Spring KAL ~ Let's begin + going first
Hi Knitalong friends and welcome to the first in a series of mindfulness blog posts. This one is a long one to kick things off. I invite you to join me here for a little break from your everyday life.
Before we dive into mindfulness, I want to talk about this idea of Going First. If you’ve done my KALs before, you know this one. I find I need constant reminders on it. This was first introduced to be Gabby Reece on the Tim Ferris Podcast (episode 89 for anyone interested) – the idea she mentions is the idea of going first – smile first –open up – take that first step. Not many people take this first step, especially in the busy hustle of our everyday life. But when you go first and smile or open up first, chances are the other person will too but it takes someone going first – why not you?
I realize my mom set this example for me my entire life and now reaps tremendous benefits because of it. She’s friends with everyone, almost everywhere she goes. Last year, I went to a conference in Phoenix where I knew nobody and WHEW, it was so hard to go first. I realized how often I stay in my bubble and never meet new people (maybe even more so because of covid now - we're just not used to it!). It took some courage but I tried my best to spark conversations with new people and left the weekend with a few new friends that are now 1 year later, close friends. I say all this of course to encourage you to open up and introduce yourself in our KAL group. This a perfect safe space to get to know like-minded friends. How can we apply this idea to our community for the KAL – by introducing yourself – opening up in the groups, share first, cheerlead first. Let’s make it a place where we all feel comfortable to go first and support each other. I love this idea as small as it may be. The places to share are in our private FB group and on the KAL instagram page. Using the #knitcollageKAL is awesome too!
Over the past 7 months of the pandemic in the United States, I have come to appreciate creativity as the antidote to stress even more! My knitting, creativity and fiber friends are so important to coping and thriving during this time. Knitting has so many incredible benefits, one of those being that it forces us to focus on one singular task at a time. It is an inherently mindful practice. Mindfulness, knitting and community are the perfect antidote to fear and uncertainty we are feeling right now. In fact, studies on mindfulness practices in day to day life suggest that when we put our full attention on what we are doing, we feel less stress and more ease. We knitters and creative know this inherently. We feel better when we are making :)
With all of this in mind, I knew I wanted to infuse this KAL with mindfulness in a more meaningful way. That is right when Emily Hagenmaier got in touch. Emily is a clinical social worker with a focus on mindfulness practices, who lives in Madison, WI. She is a past (and current!) KAL participant too! In this vein, Emily helped me pull together relevant resources for all of you. Of course this is for you to take or leave as you see fit and is 100% optional! If you have the time and curiosity, I encourage you to read these posts and join us.
So without further delay, I am excited to drop all of this juicy mindfulness programming and resources on you (alongside our knitting work). Each week, I will release a blog post with information on how to create and deepen your mindfulness practice as you do an activity you love, knit! Throughout the week, I’ll post prompts and stories for you to engage in in our FB group and at @knitcollageKAL.
My hope is that these activities make our Knit Collage community stronger. Please take this as your formal, yet totally relaxed invitation to…
- Lean in
- Post (we want to hear from you!)
- Share your progress, any progress!
- Take your time, there is no rush
- Experiment // Rip // Fail & pick yourself back up
- Create whatever moves you
And most importantly collaborate with your fellow members and myself as we knit beautiful projects and create this incredible, joyful, loving and creative community - we are a team, now let's do this!
So here we go -- let's start with the basics:
What is mindfulness?
Diana Winston at the UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Mindfulness Research Center, defines mindfulness as "paying attention to our present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is."
Or in other words it is the proactive practice of maintaining moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens. It doesn’t ask us to “calm down” or change our experience but rather to meet whatever is present with kindness and acceptance. The best part is, there is no right or wrong.
How can I practice mindfulness this week?
Savor the experience of receiving you yarn!
In mindfulness practice, we can use different anchors—such as breath, sight, sound, or tactile sensations. This week, when you receive your Knit Collage box of yarn, deliberately try to slow down and savor the experience of opening it! Notice the excitement you feel as you pull away the box tape, open each of the four box panels and touch the yard for the first time. Hold the yarn in your hands, feel its weight, touch its trims and consider how it was hand made just for you! Slow down and really try to enjoy this simple act!
So here we go, our knitting journey is just getting started. Inhale, exhale, savor. Here is an idea of a guided meditation Emily created for you as you receive your yarn.
Begin by allowing your body to be in as comfortable a position as possible. Take a few minutes just to notice your breath, however it falls right now. Now, when you’re ready, hold the box in your hands and decide how you will open it. Notice any sensations of excitement or anticipation in your body. As you open your box, notice sounds of the crinkle of tissue, the tactile sensations of cardboard and wrapping. Take in the colors with your eyes. When you’re ready, you may want to hold the yarn in your hands. Allow yourself to savor the textures and colors, noticing gradations and unexpected whimsical details… notice how your body feels as you touch and savor the yarn…
Now, Thinking of all the people involved in bringing the yarn to you—the sheep and farmers in Australia, the spinners and carders in India, the people who carried the yarn across oceans, the women who boxed the yarn, who wrapped it in such stunning trims, who dreamed and wrote and troubleshooted the patterns, Amy who imagined all the colors coming together in such unique ways… all the ways we are innerconnected in our creativity...
As you look at your yarn - notice, appreciate and savor the small details! For example:
- Daisy Chain or Dreamland yarn, noticing shifts in the trims, colors, flowers, sparkle (as metaphors for the shifting nature of awareness and experience)
- Wildflower yarn—appreciated the knotted connections between strands, being curious about the person who made the knots, even extending gratitude
- Spun Cloud or Cast Away: noticing shifts in thickness, the silver and gold threads, the way the fiber colors blend together.
I hope you'll join me and take the opportunity to slow down and savor your yarns this week! That is all I have for this week. Just one final note, if you see others finishing their projects super quickly, don't let it get you down. This happens with our KALs sometimes. Some participants have the time and the knowledge to race through it but the majority of us will take our time and knit the pieces over a 6-8 week time frame. Just know whatever your pace, it's all good.
As we move forward with this area of the KAL, I will shift the focus slightly onto how making things helps us find our authentic, creative voices and to some of the things I'm learning in the yoga teacher training I'm taking part in this fall. Stay tuned!
Thank you so very much,