Written by Michaela MacBlake Matthews
People have been engaging in tactile creations for thousands of years, from creating clothing to weaving baskets. Initially sparked from the need for some sort of good or tool, people began to enjoy the process of crafting early on throughout history, often prolonging the process by adding decorations and adornments. Where does this enjoyment stem from? Is crafting a form of meditation?
Is Crafting Good For Mental Health?
Expert studies have shown that crafting can in fact reduce stress and anxiety! Various forms of creativity, from knitting and crocheting to journaling and scrapbooking are known to be fantastic coping skills for dealing with troublesome thoughts and emotions.
Is Crafting A Form Of Meditation?
The process of crafting can be extremely helpful to focus and steady the mind in a tangible way, and can share some of the key features of meditation, including present awareness, mindfulness, and prolonged focus.
The wholeness of meditation, to let the mind become a single continuous open channel, can be found in creative inspiration, or in the repetitive rhythm of a project. However, crafting doesn’t guarantee this outcome for those whose minds tend to wander constantly. Rather, keeping the hands busy can help rapid thoughts to settle down to a comfortable level, and gradually reduce their speed.
For this reason, crafting is something like an active meditation, just as immersive daydreaming is not quite dreaming, but shares many aspects. It can be a vital tool for those who struggle with sitting still to enjoy the benefits, and possibly work up to stillness in the long term if they desire.
Finding What Works For You
As with anything, the best solution to quiet the mind will vary from person to person. The busier and quicker your mind is, a more complex crafting type or skill level may be needed to have the desired effect. That said, though, there are benefits to both quieting the mind, and exploring it!
Quieting Your Mind With Crafts
To quiet your mind with a meditative crafting experience, you will need to choose a pattern that is both rhythmic and slightly difficult for your skill level. It doesn’t need to be a full scale reproduction of a master work, just complex enough that the process itself occupies most of your thoughts while creating it. This could be a mix between techniques and colors, shapes and sizes, or even each of them combined!
Using this technique, the crafting process draws you away from your typical thoughts, allowing a break from any brain-clutter and background noise. This process is great for people who can’t seem to slow down during the day.
Exploring Your Mind With Meditation
Contrariwise, a crafting meditation can be a great way to explore your mind, as well! For this technique, choose a project that is comfortably within your skill level, or even something you could ‘make in your sleep’. However, ensure that although the techniques are simple, that the project will take a length of time to complete. This way, only the hands are busy, while the mind is left loose and free to explore itself, and to examine any brain-clutter or background noise that is left playing while you work on the piece.
This half-active, half-meditative state can make it easier to address these thoughts, because the body is still stationed toward a conscious demeanor. This process is great for people whose minds race before falling asleep.
Crafting With Meditation
Which technique should you use if both descriptions seem to fit? Never fear! There is a surefire way to reap the benefits across the board; the imagination meditation technique. For this process, start without crafting at all, but get your supplies at the ready! Sit quietly, and think back through all of the projects you have seen, both by yourself and others.
Use the open, mind-exploring state to dream up ideas of what crafts you’d like to create, and take your time to come up with a detailed plan. While you are envisioning it, incorporate any background noise that your mind has to offer. Weave homages or solutions into the plan itself, and when you are ready, slip into the quieting phase, and begin work on the project.
This technique is a sort of bargain with the subconscious, that says, ‘we are only going to focus on what is in the present, so we will bring the distractions into the present with us.’
At the end of the day, spending time with your thoughts is the first step to befriending, negotiating with, and quieting them. Crafting can be a phenomenal method to help build that familiarity, and reestablish the continuous flow of a holistic and unseparated mind!
"Mac" is on the Lifestyle Team here at Darn Good Yarn, and loves taking a ‘teach a man to fish’ approach to creative therapy. She is certified in neuro-linguistic programming, and is also the surreal artist and author behind Surrealismac.