Mindfulness is a relatively new phenomenon to the Western world although has been practiced in other countries across the world for thousands of years as a form of meditation. Thought to have first been introduced before Buddhism thousands of years ago, mindfulness was taught to Buddha as a way of alleviating suffering. Today, mindfulness focuses on helping people in secular ways to develop skills that can be used in daily life and work.
When exercising mindfulness, you start to pay more attention to the present moment; your thoughts and feelings and the world around you in order to improve your general mental wellbeing and is a popular technique in the medical world, particularly for treating anxiety, depression and stress although has proved to be beneficial for all of us.
Mindfulness, as the name suggests is turning to yourself, observing your thoughts and actions but without any criticism – changing your inner dialogue from negative to impartial and feeling compassion for yourself, something we usually never take enough time to do. As a result, mindfulness has helped people to respond to difficult situations more effectively, to become more creative and achieve balance and resilience both in work and at home. Over time, mindfulness can help to bring around really beneficial long-term changes for mood, happiness and general wellbeing – something we think everyone should strive for.
Professor Mark Williams who is the former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, articulates the purpose of mindfulness incredibly eloquently: “It’s easy to stop noticing the world around us; to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living ‘in our heads’. An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment.
Some people claim to never feel more present and in the moment than during the act of creating which is exactly what we love to do! The majority of art activities including craft projects, require a lot of focus and concentration, therefore setting aside all other thoughts and worries – the art of creating can be incredibly relaxing and calming (trust us, we know.)
Mindfulness uses the same side of the brain as art marking – your right side. This is where all the magic of creativity, intuition, visualisation, emotion and daydreaming happens. We don’t use this part of our brain anywhere near as much as we should as human beings because we’re socialised to be logical and rational. But, when we do tap into this right side of our brain, pretty amazing things happen.
Not only does using the right side of our brain give us the ability to create, it gives us an experiential and non-conceptual arena where we can live in and explore our present moment experience. As a result, when we immerse ourselves in a creative project, we lose track of time and our surroundings, feeling the minutes blend into hours and experience no other thoughts than what’s happening in the present. Arts and crafts such as sewing, patchwork square quilting etc, are very much an exercise in mindfulness.
So, how exactly does arts and crafts help you with mindfulness?
- By releasing the power of the right side of your brain through your craft project, you’re accessing the part of your brain that can help you live in the present moment and practice your mindfulness.
- When first starting out on a project, you’re giving yourself permission to begin just as you are in this moment. Rather than waiting for ‘the right time’, when you do start, you’ll learn that right now is the right time and when you get into the mindful flow of your creation, you’ll stop hesitating before you start and just start where you are any time of the day.
- Every time you add another patchwork square to your quilt, or thread another stitch into your beautiful handmade dress, you make a permanent mark of you that will affect not only you, but anyone else who sees your creation. What you make reflects your experience of the world and your life in that moment.
- We all know that change can be a challenge, despite that fact that we deal with ongoing change throughout our lives. How we deal with change is what can make it a positive or negative experience and no matter how much we strive for consistency in our lives, realistically it’s not always achievable. However, when you’re in the midst of your creative flow and intense concentration, you embrace the change you yourself are making with happy and curious attitude. Not only does mindfulness help us deal with change, but mindfulness through arts and crafts helps us express our current emotions in our creations.
We know that craft projects are a fantastic career, hobby or even just a pass time to get into for many reasons, namely the beautiful result at the end. We love encouraging people at all levels to get stuck in and create something unique and wonderful with our products, so you can imagine just how thrilled we were when we found out that our passion is also fantastic for exercising mindfulness.
If you haven’t yet tried mindfulness, we highly recommend giving it a go whilst you work through your craft project and reap in the rewards both in your craft and your general wellbeing.