Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Try a Little Tenderness: Compassionate Fibre

My understanding of mindful compassion is that compassion is a deep sympathy for the suffering of others, coupled with the desire to ease that suffering.  Compassion differs from sympathy in that it requires action along with feeling. 

If we see others suffering and do nothing to help them to the best of our ability, we may be sympathetic, but we are not necessarily practising compassion.  Of course, because mindfulness is simple, but difficult to practise, there is always the possibility that doing nothing is the required compassionate act.

Expressing sympathy while acting contrary to our words is hypocrisy.  If, for example, you claim to be sympathetic to the plight of the homeless, yet insist on taking actions which limit housing opportunities for the poor, you are being hypocritical.  (I'm looking at you, city councillors and the mayor of a certain city.)  At best, ignoring your beliefs will make you a shallow person with your hollow words.

So what does any of this have to do with fibre?  We may not be able to change the world, but we can act compassionately, one handmade item at a time.  I've talked about Random Acts of Knitting, still my favourite way to distribute fibre work to people who may need it.  If you've been using fibre arts as meditation practice, give away the things you've made.

The acts of spinning, knitting, etc. can express compassion.  Volunteer to demonstrate fibre practice at a home, a shelter or a school.  If you have more time, teach someone to knit or spin.  Give away some of that fibre stash to a person who may not have the means to build her/his own stash.

Be mindful in your actions; if someone isn't interested in accepting your beautiful scarf or having you demonstrate your craft, don't push the issue.  Don't attach conditions to what you do.  Give freely and quietly, without the expectation of a positive outcome, for you or the recipients.

Never think that your small actions will not make a difference.  You may never know whether that gift of a warm winter hat kept someone safe from the cold, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.  Your few hours spent knitting can save lives, so do the best you can and give from the heart.

We never know what footprints we leave behind.


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