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Healing in Many Forms

Posted 10/8/2015

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  Healing and meditation and mindfulness come in many guises. The goals are the same: being fully present, peaceful, relaxed, occasionally a glimpse or a glimmer of another way of being. I am thinking about this because of an article from Cure Today, which I will share later, about knitting. Full disclosure time: knitting and sewing and really anything involving careful needle or hand work is the very opposite of soothing for me. Rather than becoming relaxed, my hands begin to sweat, my head to throb, and all I can do is note my poor technique and errors. When I was a child, my mother offered to pay me $10 (a fortune) when I learned to use a thimble. I never collected it.

  I am a good observer, however, and I have noted the soothing power of knitting for many people. There are several women in my groups who are experts and produce items of great beauty. Their fingers fly while their minds are otherwise occupied. or cleared. I know other women who quilt and describe similar joy and healing from those projects. I am especially grateful to many women over the years who have donated beautiful prayer shawls and scarves and warm hats and even quilts that they have created. These become holy gifts to our most ill patients who are healed by the gift itself and, even more, by the love behind it.

 A valued form of meditation is walking mediation. I have participated in this ritual several times during retreats at Wonderwell, and I am not so good at it either--too busy making sure I don't trip in my tiny steps or get too close or too far from the person in front of me. Sitting meditation works much better for me.

  It does not surprise me that I have limited success,actually no success, with these more creative versions of mindfulness. I don't think I have a creative bone in my body. Fortunately for the museums and galleries and concert halls of the world, lots of other people do.

  This likely will speak to some of you.

Stitch by Stitch: The Healing Power of Knitting
Author: Dee Wieczorek
"Ooh! What are you making?"
My name is Dee and I’m a knitter. A cancer survivor, yes, but also one of those people who is absolutely, and completely, obsessed with making things with sticks and pretty string.
I knitted my way through chemo, while waiting for my turn on the radiation table and for CT scans. I purled in exam rooms, before blood work, after speech therapy and while I spent five days in ICU. My surgeon came in to see me and there I was, knitting a sock.
My bed and table were covered with patterns and sock yarn and stitch markers and I had a knitting needle jammed behind my left ear. I looked like I’d just wrestled a Muppet and lost. Badly.
“I think you’re ready to go home.”
I made a pretty fabulous pair of wool cabled bed socks while I got chemo and a lovely cowl in a gorgeous silk blend yarn as I waited for my morning radiation treatments. I finished another pair of socks in my post-surgical haze, half listening, to the nurses at their station.
And I understood the power of it, this knitting thing. Of course it was about control; that part I got. During a time when I had little say over anything that was happening to me, I could pick the pattern and choose the prettiest yarn and create something beautiful.
What I didn’t yet know about all this sticks and string stuff was how transformative it would be. Many knitters mark time by how quickly they can finish the sweater or the shawl, but this wasn’t about how fast I could knit that pair of socks or if I’d get a chance to wear the cowl this winter if my neck was still red and raw from the radiation.


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