Meditation in Motion
You can feel it when you sit down and begin.
Press the treadle, throw the shuttle, beat, beat repeat. There’s a soothing internal meditation that weaving, knitting and spinning evoke. If you’ve ever felt a lightening of spirit, seated in front of loom or spinning wheel, you’re not alone. This creation through repetition engages the hands while freeing the mind. And we unwind. We breathe easier. We meditate with our entire bodies, eyes wide open.
In her Introduction to 4 Shaft Weaving, Deborah Chandler shares that warping her loom is one of her favorite aspects of weaving. Threading through reed and heddle can be time to quiet the mind and relieve stress.
Mindful by Design
At Red Stone Glen, fostering that feeling of community and fellowship is a large part of our business philosophy. “We want to create a space where people feel welcome to stay and participate,” explains owner Sara Bixler. There’s no mistaking her intent when visitors arrive at the Glen. Tucked away on more than 50 acres in York Haven, Pennsylvania, Red S Stone Glen provides a wealth of sensory experiences both inside and out. Surrounded by woods and built into the side of a hill along the creek, Bixler’s property is open to Glen class participants to enjoy. The peaceful environment, complete with resident pups resting by the fire, chickens delicately pecking seed on the patio, and teapot bubbling inside, build the perfect foundation to experience the very best in mindfulness weaving and spinning can offer.
Grandma was Right
Nowadays, modern medicine is promoting what our grandmothers and great-grandmothers always knew: the very act of handcrafting creates a sense of inner well being, or what psychologists call flow. We become completely absorbed in our creativity, according to psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, and enter a state of contentment removed from our everyday stress.
Weaving Helps Both Body and Soul
Anecdotal research here at the Glen finds our staff and students embracing the idea of flow, calming down, making real-life connections with each other. In addition to an increased sense of mindfulness, health benefits of handcrafting can include lower blood pressure, and a greater ability to manage chronic health conditions.
Fiber work such as knitting and weaving encourage community, which in turn, fosters a sense of belonging. Research shows that even small, everyday connections encourage this sense of being part of a greater good. The opportunity to come together and participate in a shared activity has far reaching benefits, as documented by a well-known UK study. Not only are there immediate benefits such as elevated serenity and increased social connections, the study found that knitting led to decreased cognitive deterioration, which can help stave off the effects of both dementia and Alzheimer’s. Subsequent research shows that fiber work in general, as well as board games and puzzles, engage and improve cognitive function.
Why Color Matters
And it doesn’t stop there. Color psychology comes into play as well as weavers and knitters report uplifted spirits by working with bright colors. While more research is needed, we are all influenced by color, and creatives certainly have ample opportunity to choose.
Try Mindful Weaving for Yourself
Given all the benefits of this ancient artform, it’s not surprising that fiber work is enjoying a revival as more and more individuals, from baby boomers to millennials. If you’re interested in learning more, consider taking a peek at our upcoming class, Mindfulness in Weaving. Or stop by for a visit and see a little of our everyday mindfulness in action. There’s always room at the loom.