Sometimes my clients ask me to teach them how to meditate.
The real question is, what kind of meditation should I teach them?
These are some of the meditation methods I have used over the years:
Guided meditations of all varieties, including a meditation CD I created
Chakra balancing meditation
All forms of yoga
Standing tai chi meditation
Tree meditation, where you bond your energy with a tree
Loving kindness meditation
Power animal meditation
At the moment, I am taking a break from the Zen Center and staying home and knitting by the fire.
I first learned about the benefits of knitting for the brain when I was studying Brain Gym.
Supposedly, students in some foreign countries were taught to knit during class because doing cross lateral kinesthetic activities while learning something helps to anchor in the information being studied.
According to neuroscientist Dr. Yonas Gea from the Mayo Clinic, knitting, sewing and crochet seem to be neuro-protective and have been shown to reduced memory loss in later years by as much as 50 percent.
I remember one year, when working with a young woman in her mid-30s who was suffering from severe adrenal burnout, I recommended that she take time off from her job to lie in her hammock for 10 days. She resisted at first, but when she finally gave in and did it, she came back totally inspired, deciding a great business idea was to provide a retreat for stressed-out corporate types and teach them how to knit, weave or sew, sitting quietly.
Apparently, knitting, sewing and crochet may lower your blood pressure and your stress hormones, reduce symptoms of depression and boost your immune system.
For me, at this time of year, I like to make a fire from the wood from the old tree that used to be hanging over my roof and sit for hours. I like to think of the person I am knitting for, imagining how much they will like what I am making just for them.
I have found great success with Feza Chanel and Katia Triana yarns. You know you are really onto something when total strangers stop you at Trader Joe’s or after church service and ask you where you got your scarf!
I am always proud to say that I made it myself.
I am usually told that I should sell my creations, but it is quite the deeper pleasure for me to ponder which colors will look best on my very dear friends and make something that will surprise and delight each one.
Recently, I was at a half-day lecture about the differences between the male and female brains. The expert, Matthew Boggs, said that while men’s brains can actually go into a pause measurable by scientific devices, the truth is that women’s brains NEVER stop.
This made me feel better.
I never have felt like much of an expert at meditation. I just keep trying.
I figure that at the end of my meditation, whether it’s for 5 minutes, 20 minutes or 1 hour, I will be calmer, more insightful and brightened inside, as if I had found my own inner light again.
I remember once, after a yoga class, one of my newest students waited until just about everybody else had gone, and she drew me aside.
“I am thinking during meditation,” she confessed to me in a troubled voice.
As if she was the only one!!!
I assured her that she was NOT the only one, and that we are all just seeking to find that quieter place.
So my current favorite form of meditation is knitting.
It starts with spending up to an hour unwinding all the knots from each skein and then winding the yarn into a usable, small round ball. My mind chatter drops away just rolling and rolling.
Then I cast on. At the moment, I am doing 10 stitches on big wooden needles. And the process begins.
One year my mother sent me a calendar, “Learn a new knitting stitch every day.” I did not use it! I did not want to learn a new stitch every day. To me, that’s not the point. To me, the point of knitting is to get into a zone and allow my mind to drop all thinking. You get into the rhythm, feel the warmth of the fire at your feet, and hours drop away, totally fulfilled.
Photo: Belle and I by the fire. I was knitting a pink scarf for my niece Sarah Jane for her birthday.