Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Friday, 15 June 2012

Come. Come As You Are. As You Were. As You Wanted To Be.

People are asking lots of questions about the yoga/meditation classes at Olds Fibre Week. Questions are good; I welcome them and you can not have too many of them, so ask away. The thing is, there is not much I can tell you about what will happen because, like spinning, yoga/meditation is about doing.  

Think about how you learned to spin.  You many have talked to people about the process, done some reading about spinning's history and techniques, watched DVD's or YouTube videos, but it wasn't until you held spindle and fibres in your hands or sat down with fibres at a wheel that your adventures with hand spun yarn began.  Spinning may have been exactly what you expected.  It may have been something completely different.  Your skills may have been there right off the mark or you may have struggled and struggled.  None of that mattered.  You were curious about spinning, wanted to learn and so you did.  You may have discovered that spinning your own yarns didn't suit you, but at least you learned more about how yarns were and are made than most people know.  Somehow, with intent and practice, you became a spinner.

Yoga/meditation is that.  Jon Kabat-Zinn encourages anyone who is curious about meditation to make the effort to practise because, he insists, that if you are drawn to meditation even a little bit, it's no accident.  Something is calling you and you should pay attention.  There's no magic in meditation.  We're not looking for anything.  We don't have to practise in any particular way, except to put sincere effort into what we do.  Meditation may help you.  In fact, sustained meditation practice likely will help you, but there's no guarantee.   

If there's nothing to do and nowhere to go with meditation, why work with a teacher?  Again, think of spinning.  Traditionally, you would learn to spin by sitting near a spinner, watching her and imitating her movements.  You did this over and over and over until something clicked and you had moments of spinning clarity.  You can learn to spin on your own. Many people have done this, but I have yet to meet a single spinner who wasn't helped by a teacher in a workshop or class, no matter how much self-guided study she had.  

You can learn to meditate on your own, but I find it's much easier to sustain practise and attention if you work with someone who also practises.  It's not that your meditation teacher is a better person than you or knows more about anything than you do-I certainly do not!-but, sometimes, it's easier to take a journey if you have a bit of companionship.

Spinning involves much twisting and whirling of whorls.  With too much twist, your yarn becomes tighter and tighter until you can't straighten it and, potentially, it becomes unworkable (but fixable). It's easier to work with balanced yarns. Meditation is like that.  You're not broken, but sometimes the mind won't stop twisting and turning.  It needs a bit of balance.  In meditation we work with whorls of whirling mind, rather than whorls of string.  Like spinning, meditation is simple, although sometimes it's not easy.   

If you're at all curious about this combination of spinning/yoga/meditation, I encourage you to drop in to a session, despite any hesitancy you may have. In reality, you can only come as you are and start from there. Here's another thing that Kabat-Zinn points out about meditation: in order for the practice to have benefits, you don't have to like it, you just have to do it. 

Practice won't add to the heavy workload some of you will have during Fibre Week.  You won't give up meals, shopping or any of the social events scheduled there.  You may find that you'll be refreshed and raring to go after a session.  You may be relaxed and more focused for the homework you must submit in other courses.  You may experience none of these things. We may not attain Nirvana with meditation, but we may find moments of peace and quiet.

Or not.  Namaste.

P.S.  This must be one of the reasons the "Straw into Gold" tales came in existence.  I'm spinning 80/20 silk/Merino top which I dyed last summer with dried marigolds from Richard's garden:

P.P.S.  Spellcheck keeps insisting on changing "spinners/spinning" to "sinners/sinning."  Hmmmm.


  1. Ah that fiber is gorgeous! It definitely looks like gold!

    1. Doesn't it just?! You should see it IRL. It just glows.

  2. Straw into gold is right! Gorgeous!

  3. Love the straw into gold!

    I have been reading a collection of essays on shikantaza ("just sitting") and they all point to it being useless and, its very uselessness is the main point. It is taking me years to understand what that might mean and I know it will take a lifetime to possibly get close to understanding.

    Or maybe I won't ever know! And that is the wondrous and useless thing about it!

    Wish I could take your workshop.....!

    1. Exactly so. Spinning is not meditation. It's just a tool I use to experience these moments, now. One day, perhaps, everything will fall away and there I'll be. Or not.
      I'd love to be with you in a workshop. Your approach to yoga and meditation is wonderful.

  4. Ooooh. That definitely looks like a gold thread! I agree, each person will have a very subjective experience with meditation and yoga. :-D

  5. Looks like honey! Gorgeous. Really, really amazing.