Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Higher Part 3: Fibre Arts Meditation and Moving Inward

We sit on our cushions.  We meditate.  We spin.  We knit.  We're not looking for particular results, but it's in our nature to wonder: does any of this have practical benefits?

Fibre artists donate their time, efforts and money to many worthy causes.  Whether it be to premature infants, people struck by disaster or hapless penguins, crafters are always willing to donate hats, blankets, sweaters, whatever is needed, when they are needed.  The action can be political, too -  as witnessed by knitting support for the Occupy Movement.

Do more subtle changes occur as a result of our practice?  Given time, yoga and mindfulness can provide a shift in our perspective, a change in thought that may deepen our connections to other beings and the planet.

You won't be far along your spinning path before you realize the commitment and skill required to spin a good piece of string.  Spinning gives us new respect for the materials we use.  Instead of  always reaching for yarn that represents the best bargain for us, we may begin to think about the processes involved in supplying that yarn.  Just how can the $5 skein of yarn from across the world provide a living wage for its makers?  Would we be willing to make $5 yarn, even if we kept all the profits (never mind the numerous middlemen set to take their cut)?  Would it make more sense to buy locally?

If these questions arise, they are more likely to manifest slowly, subconsciously, rather than hit you over the head with moral dilemma.  I knit dozens of pairs of socks before I realized that I hadn't purchased myself a pair of Big Box Store socks for years.  Now that I understand the costs required to produce a pair of $3 socks and the likelihood that sock producers see very little return for their efforts, I no longer have the urge to buy cheap socks.  Apart from the ethical issues, sock knitting provides meditative moments in my busy days.  Besides, hand knit socks feel and wear better than inexpensive house brand footwear.

A word of caution: becoming aware of these connections among sentient beings and deciding on a course of action isn't a license for self-satisfaction or judgment.  I may no longer buy BBS socks, but I do stock up on winter tights every few years and I refuse to knit my own underwear.  We also never know the effects our actions have on others.  I may believe that knitting my own socks will contribute to the decline of sweatshops and child labour, when what I'm really doing is depriving someone of desperately needed income, no matter what the working conditions.

All we can do is live our lives in good faith and hope that we leave the planet a bit better, or at least, not make things worse.  Meditation practice brings us to awareness and connection.  It's a good place to start.


This week's knitting: working through my sock yarn stash

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