Well first I have to point out that I have never read the book alluded to in the title. As I know little about either Zen or motorbikes I think I’d better revert to my original idea – Crochet as Mindfulness practice.
My understanding of mindfulness is that it is quite different from having a mind that is full. It is about being in the present moment, not worrying about the future or the past. It is about observing thoughts and learning that thoughts come and go without your control. What you can control is how you react to what your thoughts present.
Activities that require a certain amount of concentration or focus are very good for preventing you from thinking about things that are troubling. I have always found that riding and being around horses has been my escape from the ‘real world’. My focus is entirely on the horse and what we are doing for that time. If you don’t have your attention on the horse, he knows it and does something you weren’t expecting!
I find it a complete stress-buster. However most people do not have a horse available and probably wouldn’t want one if they did.
Over the past couple of years I have taken up crochet, something I used to do a bit many years ago, but that was just one style of granny squares. With the internet I have discovered a whole world of stitches and styles so have progressed from the simple to the more complex.
Basic crochet is quite easy and it is very possible to produce an array of items using just one or two different stitches repeated over and over. This repeated physical activity is very soothing. It can be done at the same time as holding a conversation or watching TV. Crochet is an enjoyable task that can be easily repetitive or can require attention. When we have to give our attention to a task it stops us thinking about “stuff” which is the mind chatter.that makes us discontented / unhappy / depressed.
Mind chatter – The Monkey Mind – is inevitable because thinking is the function of the mind. Thoughts happen all of the time and thinking does not stop unless we make the effort to stop them, and that can be quite an effort! These random thoughts can be helpful, the flash of inspiration that helps us solve a problem, but most thoughts are about the things in our lives that we don’t like or don’t want. The more we dwell on those things we don t like the more Law of Attraction draws those things to us.
You get what you think about – so change your thoughts.
We need strategies to control thought, and one of these is to practise Mindfulness because our minds are often so full of thoughts that we fail to notice what is around us. It is impossible to create an ‘empty mind’ for more than a very short time and some of us find it impossible to create an empty mind at all. We are too Mind-Full. We also use that word to mean ‘be aware’,
“ Be mindful of that step on the way out.”
So the art of Mindfulness becomes the art of becoming aware of what is in our mind and exercising some control over it. It is acknowledged that the only way to stop thinking about something is to think about something else, and meditating by staring at a flower or a candle flame becomes boring so the thoughts come back.
Being Mindful as a practice can be actively contemplating, noticing, the things that surround us at any particular time. When we walk down a street we can really look at the buildings , observe and name them. Name the trees and the flowers. When the mind chatter starts us on a walk down the path to dissatisfaction and unhappiness we can make the effort to appreciate something else.
“ I really like this jumper I’m wearing, it’s so warm and such a lovely colour”
Actually listen to that song on the radio
Plan for something enjoyable.
Which brings me back to crochet…
A really good thing about crochet versus other activities is that it is something that can be taken along almost anywhere. A crochet hook and a ball of yarn can fit in a pocket. Simple crochet designs require minimal attention while they are being hooked, more complex designs require a certain amount of attention to count stitches and work a pattern, while the fingers execute the stitches autonomously. The focus on getting the stitches right takes the mind away from the chatter.
Crochet is relaxing and purposeful
Crochet can be simple or intricate.
The more adept you are at crochet the more complex the work needs to become to create a mindful state, so skills are continuously honed.
At the end there is something useful and beautiful
And there is a great sense of achievement