I took my first knitting class back in 2000, when I was communications assistant in the office of the president of a large, Fortune 500 multinational CPG (or “consumer packaged goods”) company. It was a high stress job for a prominent and wealthy man and was nothing if so much as working in a fishbowl with sharks swimming around, waiting for a mis-step. Add to that, my mother died a month after I started the job and let’s just say it was a stressful year and leave it at that.
I remember when I first had the epiphany that knitting is like Zen. I was on a bus, late at night, going home after one of my knitting classes. (And as an aside – let me just say, there are some weird people on the bus that time of night. ~shudder~) I was knitting away and kind of zoned out. I knew where I was, and I wasn’t about to miss my stop or anything, but I blissed out. All I was doing was knitting – quite literally, in fact, as the pattern was in stockinette stitch, which is knit down and purl back. I wasn’t doing anything fancy at this point, just zooming along. If memory serves, it was my first sweater. I stared out the window, at the city whizzing by bathed in the amber glow of the streetlights, and it hit me: I’d been meditating.
I’ve tried traditional meditation. I can no longer sit in the lotus position because of my knee, and being on the floor for prolonged periods makes my back complain. I like savasana, or “corpse pose,” in yoga, but I am usually too stressed to let myself lie down and just be for a while. But knitting… Knitting is like doing something while doing nothing at all. What could be more Zen? The tactile pleasure derived from playing with soft, cushy fiber is a bonus, as are all the many things that have come from my needles: lace story shawls, medicine pouches, socks, sweaters, doilies, afghans, prayer shawls, stuffed balls, ornaments, bookmarks, camera bags, garlands… The list is endless.
What about you, Dear Reader? What do you do to unwind?