Thinking and Sewing
Updated: Apr 7
I have thought a lot about our emotional health lately. Being at home for 4 months might make you a bit depressed. Missing friends and family, not going out, without social interaction - other than Zoom meetings and phone calls - seems a little bleak, am I right?
Here is me having a Zoom party with a few of my friends~ I pretended I was at the beach.
If you know me at all, you might know that I am certified yoga teacher. Yoga has played a large part in keeping me sane for the last few months. But I wanted to also mention a subject close to all of our hearts: sewing!
In yoga, we are taught Mindfulness. Mindfulness is just a technique that anyone can use, that basically asks us to notice what is happening right now, in this moment. We choose to become aware of our responses to situations, so if something is stressing us out, we can choose to respond in a positive way. Instead of stressing out, we take deep breaths, clear our mind, ask ourselves why we respond in a negative way and change the response to something more positive. It basically helps us cope. One of the basic processes is called pratipaksha bhavana. It is an exercise that teaches us to replace any negative thoughts with positive ones.
That is me getting my 200 hour yoga teacher certificate. I was 60 when I decided to do the hardest thing I have ever done in my life!
I have taken meditation courses. I have never been one to sit cross-legged, chant and clear my mind. My mind has always wandered toward the creative side.
I told my meditation instructor that as soon as I start to clear my mind, images come flying at me as if I were driving down a highway and I am running into billboards - one after another. You know that feeling when you jerk as your are just about to fall asleep? Imagine that!
She explained that some people are just more visually creative than others, not to worry.
It seems I liked the moving meditations better. We would go outside and walk and walk and walk…Slowly. . . one foot in front of the other…enjoying the outdoors. In my other world of art, when I am having a hard time coming up with a good idea, my go-to thing is to do something repetitive - beading, cutting card stock, tearing pages out of magazines for collage, walking … Even washing dishes helps to clear my mind.
My favorite way to clear my mind is sewing pieces of fabric together. Sewing encourages mindfulness without any effort! It reduces stress and anxiety. The act of sewing is a meditative action that incites positivity and feelings of relaxation. When our mind concentrates on ONE thing, we are absorbed into that one action and it helps us totally relax.
Sewing works in steps, from threading the machine, cutting out patterns, lifting the pressure foot, etc., etc. It makes us remember many steps. These steps keep our brain active and alert and can slow the process of dementia.
This step-by step process also makes it impossible to do more than one thing at a time. This process uses both hands… our eyes… and our feet. All of it goes together to create this mindful experience.
This is the very definition of meditation!
There are several other really great things about how sewing helps us. It increases eye-hand coordination. It is a medical fact that as we age, our eye-hand coordination can
It is important to try to improve E/H Coordination because it helps with balance, muscle tone and cognitive ability. Sewing is one of the ways to do this.
Joy is also important. When we accomplish anything, from doing the laundry to cooking a nice meal, we have a sense of happiness. Joy creates dopamines, which give us a positive attitude in life. Sewing creates JOY! Finish those projects!
Sewing also bolsters creativity - one of the things that helps the brain’s ability to produce new brain cells. As we age, mental decline is a result of loss of connection in the neurons of the brain. Creativity helps to fire those neurons. It's like aerobics for your brain. Sewing actually promotes mental growth and brain health!
Achievement is also a big deal. In some Native American cultures, everyone is given a job, from the tiniest child to the oldest in the group. They believe we need purpose. When there is purpose we have self-esteem. Working toward a goal gives us hope. When you have purpose you live a more peaceful productive life. When you make something for someone or for yourself you are a productive part of society. For instance, we can use our skills to help children who need clothing or babies who need blankets or grandmas who need to keep their knees warm. Masks are kind of a big deal now, too!
This is my cousin, Jill. She lives in Illinois and she made this mask from fabric we sent her!
Socializing is also important for maintaining emotional health. The sewing community is a close-knit one, made of people who sew together and connect. Normally we attend classes or other events that bring us together. Even during this odd time, there are still ways to connect. Online groups where we can share ideas and tips. Just google sewing groups and you will be surprised!
One of my favorite things about sewing is repairing instead of replacing. How much money do we waste on clothes that we will never wear, but that one thing you own that you wear over and over again until it is threadbare? You can fix it! Saving the planet one garment at a time! Reuse/recycle/repair! That’s what I say!
I am only touching on some of the ways sewing and quilting can create a more positive emotional response, so, keep sewing! Save the planet, help each other and yourself. We truly want all of our customers and friends to stay happy and healthy in this odd time we are all sharing. Most importantly, we want you to know that you are not alone.
Love, from your friends at Fabric Smart
Natty, Karen, Jeannie, Gini and Ryan