These three mindfulness crochet exercises are excerpted from Kathryn Vercillo’s book Hook to Heal: 100 Crochet Exercises For Health, Growth, Connection, Inspiration and Honoring Your Inner Artist. Note that although these are crochet-specific, you can adapt them to work as mindfulness knitting exercises, too.
There are so many different things that cause stress in our lives. In the era of Covid, it might seem like so much is out of your control. However, no matter what stressors are going on, there are things that you can do to reduce the impact of that stress on your daily life. You can improve your health and wellbeing with attention and care. Mindfulness practice is one key way to help yourself during times of stress.
What Is Mindfulness Crochet?
Put simply, mindfulness is the act of focusing non-judgmentally on what is happening in the present moment both internally and externally. You settle down enough to see your experience, thoughts, and emotions. Moreover, you come to a settled place inside where you don’t have to react in ways that you don’t want to despite those experiences, thoughts, and emotions.
Mindfulness crochet is the art of using crochet to access mindfulness. Mindfulness is a process. It’s a strength that you grow day by day. Practicing it through crochet (or knitting if that’s your preferred craft) helps strengthen it.
Benefits of Mindfulness Practice
Studies and anecdotal evidence show that mindfulness benefits include:
- Less rumination, which means a calmer mind and can reduce depression and anxiety
- Increased ability to enjoy daily small pleasures and truly savor life
- Improved ability to handle difficult events and experiences
- Assists in reducing impact of chronic pain conditions
- Reduces problems with insomnia
- Strengthens the immune system
- Enhances working memory as well as cognitive flexibility
- Makes you more appreciative and more satisfied with life and relationships
- Stress-relief, which is associated with countless mental and physical health benefits
- Generally improved quality of life
- Increases self-compassion, allowing you to access your inner artist!
Mindfulness Crochet for Holiday Stress
Plus mindfulness crochet brings back the joy of crafting for the holidays. If you find yourself stressed about all the decor, gifts, and sales items you need to craft during the holiday season, then mindfulness crochet especially helps you reduce your stress. You’ll get present with the craft and remember why you enjoy doing it in the first place! This is also true during non-holiday seasons when you find yourself losing your “crojo”.
Mindfulness Crochet Exercise 1: Basic Practice
This is a beginner’s exercise to get you started with mindfulness crochet. Read through the exercise first then find a quiet space in your home to practice the exercise.
Select a crochet hook and yarn that are both easy to work with. Sit still with your work in your lap. All that you are going to be doing is making a long crochet chain. You will slowly work each loop of the chain, counting each loop as you make it. Focus all of your attention on making one loop at a time and not allowing any other thoughts to creep in. Every time that you notice a thought, frog the chain and start over.
So, for example, you will start your chain … One loop, two loops … (I have so much to do today ….) … Frog, re-start the chain … One loop, two loops, three loops … (I forgot to download the app for that Zoom meeting tomorrow ….) Frog and start over.
Try to continue this exercise until you have successfully focused on the loops at hand and let all other thoughts pass to the length of a ten-loop chain. When you are first learning mindfulness, you may only be able to achieve a chain length of five or six. That’s okay. Be gentle with yourself. Mindfulness isn’t easy. It isn’t a thing that you achieve; it’s a thing you practice.
Mindfulness Yarn Exercise 2: Notice Each Aspect of a Stitch
One of the simplest exercises to explain (although it can be surprisingly difficult in practice) is to try to be mindful of every single part of every single stitch that you create in your work.
Instead of just working a double crochet stitch, try to pay attention to every micro-motion involved in working it … from the slight twist of your wrist to the way that you are holding your fingers to the almost imperceptible friction between the yarn and the hook.
How many little actions can you notice in just one double crochet stitch? With each stitch that you work across a row, try to notice one more action than you did in the stitch before.
Notice your breath as you work. Notice the slight split of the yarn fibers. Notice the contrast between your hook color and yarn color. Be truly mindful of the tiniest parts of your work and you can’t help but become completely immersed in the entire process of your craft.
Tip: You can do this one even if you aren’t actually crocheting at the moment. You can close your eyes anywhere, anytime, and visualize the act of crocheting a stitch that you’re familiar with.
Mindfulness Crochet Exercise 3: 60 Second Observation
This is a great exercise because you can practice it any time that you are crocheting or knitting, whenever it comes to mind to do so.
Simply pause anywhere in your work and stay still for sixty seconds. During that time, consciously observe your project. Just look at it and take in the saturation of the yarn’s color, the details of the stitch work, the overall project and how it breaks down into its small components. Notice what you can see through the holes of the stitches and what it feels like to switch your gaze from the work to the point beyond the work through those holes. Just sixty seconds of mindfulness crochet practiced regularly can be very healing.
As your practice improves, you may incorporate longer periods of observation. You may begin and each crochet / knitting session with three or five minutes of observation. Whether or not you practice longer periods of mindful crochet observation, it’s helpful to keep this 60-second tool in your toolbox for regular use because the simplicity and brevity of it allows you to utilize it more often than longer practices.
Have you ever practiced mindfulness crochet or knitting for stress relief? Ask your questions in the comments below or over on social media!