Every now and then, I get a little more philosophical here in my blog posts. The musings I’m sharing today were inspired by two activities that I have been engaging in on a daily basis this week: quilting (I’m up to working on back and forth free motion quilted lines for Space Arcade) and meditation. I have been drawn to meditation practice since I went on a retreat to Miraval Resort in 2011, but until this year I did not have a consistent meditation practice.
At the end of my week vacation to Miraval in 2011, after daily meditations, exercise, and other special group sessions, I felt like I had shed a lot of pain/anxiety/stress from my body. Which pretty much all came rushing back on my flight home, as I looked out the window and prepared to head back to work (I took the photo above just before reality came creeping back).
This year, I have been doing my best to carve out time every day for a short, daily meditation. I have access to the Calm app through my health insurance, and I have particularly been enjoying setting a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and following one of their breathing recommendations.
- Relax: count of 4 in, count of 6 out
- Balance: count of 4 in, hold for 2, count of 4 out
- Restore: count of 5 in, count of 5 out
- Focus: count of 4 in, hold for 4, count of 4 out, hold for 4
- Energize: count of 4 in, count of 2 out
In addition to finding it calming to so singularly focus on something as simple as my breath for 5 or 10 minutes, I’ve found that I am focusing more on deep belly breathing instead of upper chest breathing at other points during the day. The simple switch of making sure I’m expansively breathing and checking in on that throughout the day has been good for me.
My in-laws gifted me a year’s access to Gaia so that I can do yoga workouts virtually with them occasionally. We will select the same video and practice it sometime during the day. It’s a lovely way to be connected with them. The Gaia app also has meditations that I use, and one of the meditations I used in the past week was based on the opening invocation to the Isha Upanishad (shown above). The meditation asked us to consider that we live in abundance and have all the resources we need. The funny thing is that I immediately thought of my fabric stash and how even if I didn’t buy any more fabric, I probably do have all the resources I need for years and years to come.
When I am really in the zone quilting a quilt – when I have found “flow” – I find that I am in a very similar mental state to when I am meditating. I get less attached to the thoughts that come into my head. For instance, some of my favorite broken records to mentally put on repeat are about moments in the past when I have said something that I wish I had not, and I can really spiral into shame and embarrassment which leads me to feeling sad and/or anxious. I think that’s why I will often have on a podcast or music in the background while I quilt – it gives my mind something else to focus on instead of digging up those old movies. However, now that I am four and a half months into my new meditation practice, I’m finding that it’s a lot more quiet on my studio. I’m more intent on listening to the sound of my sewing machine, the sound of my deep belly breathing, and the sounds of the world outside my studio walls.
Full disclosure: I’m also finding I’m starting to turn off the radio in the car so I can focus and see better when I’m driving. So take all these musings about Zen like meditative states with a large dose of the reality that I’m probably also dealing with the normal aging reality that I’m not able to take being as overstimulated as I used to be. 🙂
Is there a particular step in making a quilt that is especially calming and Zen like for you? Are there other hobbies (gardening, exercising) where you can find bliss?