Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Heart Like a Wheel: Spinning and Fibre Arts as Meditation Practice

I was playing around on the computer this morning, exploring what's required to build a blog.  Somehow, before realized what I'd done, there it was!  A blog. Imagine that.  So I'm in and here it is.

I've been exploring fibre arts for several decades and working on a meditation practice for nearly as long.  In the past few years, I've been working to combine the two.  Meditation uses the tools we have, the talents and skills we develop, to teach us how to enjoy this present moment.  The tools are not important, but the journey is.  As fibre people, we practise skills which engage all of our senses.  These skills connect us to human experience and our own growth.

We don't have to do this, of course.  It's perfectly acceptable to spin or make cloth and never take your hobby or profession beyond that; however, if you're here, reading this, I suspect that you are interested in learning to use your fibre work to develop your self, beyond physical talents, into the realm of something meditation practitioners call "mindful awareness."

Because spinning is the basis for most of the cloth produced through the ages, let's start there.  Without spinning, humans and their histories would be very different.  Yarns provide the building blocks for textile production.  We can use our spinning knowledge to develop a practice of mindfulness meditation.  What is "spinning as meditation?"  If we practise it, do we need to abandon our usual spinning habits, the ones which relieve our stresses and bring enjoyment to our lives?  If we give up "thinking" about the yarns we make to focus on "awareness,"  will we lose the technical skills we've worked so hard to develop?

Using spinning (and weaving and knitting) as meditation has not only improved my meditation practice, it has expanded my technical spinning skills as well, although improved skills are not my goals.  Learning "awareness" teaches you to understand each step of the spinning process and how it affects the yarns you make.  Awareness points you to possibilities which expand the range of your yarns.  Awareness allows this to occur without judgement, so that you develop clarity about what works and what does not in your spinning, with no need to chastise yourself for processes and results you see as mistakes.  Learning to live without judgement can alleviate those harsh criticisms we direct at ourselves and others.  We find joy in our ability to simply spin.

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