Knitting Meditation and The Holiday Slide…

CoffeeKnitting2.10.31.15

It is Halloween, the first day in what I have always thought of, since my children were small, as The Holiday Slide. For some time I have thought of it more as beginning at Thanksgiving because I don’t have young trick or treaters in the house but I have realized that it really does start today. From this day forward we are on one long slide from Halloween to Thanksgiving, then to Christmas (or whatever other holiday you celebrate) straight on into New Years Day. Nothing will be *normal* until after the new year. Every few weeks there is a new holiday now with much preparation and planning going on in the weeks between the whiles and it is all a jumble of busyness, for many of us an overwhelming absence of routine and normalcy, and I start to batten down the hatches and cling to what I can.

I love the holidays but as a woman with bipolar disorder and a basket of other mental health issues having a steadfast routine that I can count on come heck or high water is what keeps me balanced and as sane as might be hoped for. This time of year I start to get nervous because there are so many instances of routines turned inside out and upside down or obliterated completely. To that end I have to implement practices that keep me as calm and peaceful as possible. It is time for what I call *Knitting Without A Destination*, or Knitting Meditation. This is where I cast on a few stitches, start knitting, and keep the knitting always by me here while I work. Many times throughout the day or when I begin to become nervous and edgy I pick up the knitting and go. In this piece I only cast on 15 stitches. It could end up being a headband or some other little something or I might just unravel it, roll it back in a ball and start over. I follow the stitches with my breath, feel my whole body relax, and fall into a rhythm with the stitches as they go. Too, there are essential oils…

YarnLavender

I love working with essential oils, these days I always have a diffuser going here in the studio with essential oils, and I use them for health reasons and for relaxation. My favorite is lavender and when I am knitting in this manner I dab lavender on the yarn and put drops of it on my wooden knitting needles. As I knit my hands and the air around me are redolent of lavender and it is so soothing and relaxing it amplifies the meditation qualities. This is truly the most effective way that I have found to relax, find my balance, and come back to my center. I can’t recommend it highly enough. And a diffuser is an incredible investment. I got mine for $30 on amazon and their oils are at amazing prices as well. This brand, Radha, is one of my favorites, and you can get a big 4 ounce bottle for a fraction the price you’d pay elsewhere. This is my diffuser and it holds 300 ml of water. You want that much or it will run out of water too soon…

Diffuser

A lovely thing about the diffuser is that it changes colors (You can turn that feature off if you don’t like it.) but it is very soothing. With the diffuser running the whole room smells wonderful.

So as I have been writing to you here I have picked up my knitting a few times, added more lavender to the needles, I have breathed in and out slowly with the rhythm of my knitting and the sound of snoring pugs in the room around me, and I am preparing to have a quiet Halloween night. I turn the lights out and don’t give candy out. On this street where I live it is almost all retired and older people with very few if any trick or treaters and I would end up eating the candy myself so now I just hunker down with the pugs and watch a movie. Nothing scary!

I hope wherever you are you have a happy, healthy Halloween, and prepare your own calming strategies for the Holiday Slide ahead. They will stand you in good stead especially as we near Christmas and all the hubbub. I have even more practices I put in place as the slide slips along. I will share them as we go.

Blessings dearheart… and… BOO!

MaitriSz4.4.16.09

Make this the year your resolutions come true!

Make this the year your resolutions come true!

Comments

  1. Great suggestions for those of us who can get a bit out of balance this time of year. It truly is the start of the holiday slide, as the Christmas decorations are already in the stores! Don’t get me wrong, I’m a kid at heart when it comes to the holidays…but at 61 with health issues, I need to implement strategies like yours. I love how you share your wonderful bag of tools with us…you have helped me so very much. Thank you my dear friend and teacher…I too will be hunkering down tonight with my pups and a good, not scary, movie…who knows, maybe I’ll watch my first Christmas movie of the season on the Hallmark Channel…I’m a sucker for those! Sending love and hugs to you dear Maitri this Halloween night! ???

    • Thank you so much Donna honey, I’m about to get offline to watch a movie or two with my wee folks now. I hope you have a lovely evening… <3

      Love,
      Maitri

  2. Olive Appleby says:

    Hi Maitri……my trick at this time of years is the Witches Brew candle by Yankee Candles. Just can’t get enough of it. I feel pressured sometimes at this time of year, everyone seems so manic ………..and this year Christmas is going to be tough because of circumstances. I just cuddle up to my gorgeous Mollie Collie, get creating and all is well. When money is easier I may well invest in a diffuser. Blessing to you and your family Maitri………
    Love Olive ?????

    • Olive,

      I know so well about the money issue Olive, it’s why I am making gifts, but then, somehow, handmade gifts seem more special to me anymore, or books — used it just fine — and I too cuddle my dogs and knit and all is always well. Take care of yourself dearheart…

      Love,

      Maitri

  3. Dear Maitri, Thank you for putting the description “… an overwhelming absence of routine and normalcy…” to the next couple of months. I thought I was the only one! Love Meg x o

    • Meg, you are not the only one! It’s The Holiday Slide! Here’s to finding things that ease the way! And thanks for stopping in…

      Maitri

  4. i just returned from a four day dances of peace camp, and i learned this beautiful song. if only you could hear, thru these typed words, the melody — brings tears to my eyes

    May all beings be well and happy
    may all beings be free from strife
    may all beings return to love
    peace be with you forevermore

    when i sing this, as a mantra, all quiets and i am filled with spiritual tenderness toward myself and all “beings”

    love and hugs
    xo
    ka

    • Ka,

      Thank you dearheart, this is just beautiful. I can see why it brings you so much comfort. I felt that way just reading it through. Glad you had such a lovely time…

      Love you,

      Maitri

  5. Roberta Jones says:

    Friends, perhaps another possibility is . . . instead of deciding that two months out of every single year will be dreadful, disruptive, unsettling, depressing, a pain in the arse, only for our children not for us, etc. . . . what if we broke those patterns? What if–especially those of us who are single, and/or who live alone, revel in the fact that we are free to redefine the holidays exactly as we wish?

    As blessed relief from broiling, endless days of heat and humidity, stinging insects, sticky sweat, and searing sidewalks and car seats? As a time to welcome fresh, cool breezes to clear our heads and our homes? As a time to be thankful for the bounty of delicious harvest vegetables– and pumpkin spice lattes?

    As a time to decide what Thanks Giving means to US. What the ancient three-day festival of the dead, Samhain (Halloween, All Saints Day, All Souls Day) means to us to honor our beloved ones who have crossed over before us. As a time to rejoice in the turning of the seasons, and to find in Yule a time of blessed rest for our souls in lazy, cozy winter days. As a time to enjoy gatherings with our family and our friends with an open heart, rather than (as commercials tell us) just with an open pocketbook.

    Yes, there is (for most of us) shopping, parties, and such. Others of us may hide in fear and weariness from such obligations, because they feel like burdens we just cannot face one more time. But if we can try each day of the holiday season to approach just ONE person in a spirit of fun . . . perhaps we can tell a quick joke to a visibly overworked and frazzled cashier in a shop, or a person waiting in a checkout line with us, just to see him or her smile. Maybe give a friendly wave to a cop or a group of overladen shoppers out the car window. One Christmas, the fast-food worker at the drive-thru I stopped at wistfully complimented the ring I wore as I reached out for my bag. She looked tired and heavy-hearted. I slipped off my ring and pressed it into her hand, smiled, and drove off before she could protest. Her look of dazzled, delighted amazement and disbelief made my whole day, even though I am far from home and the family members who loved me are long dead, and I have no one to go home to except my two cats.

    One Thanksgiving, I met a single neighbor by the mailbox who confessed she had had nothing to eat that day but a granola bar. I made her come to my apartment and we had a roast chicken from the grocery store and made some squash casserole with Stove Top stuffing. It wasn’t a burden. I surprised myself into giving, before my threadbare heart could say No.

    Each New Year’s eve, I write or e-mail one person from my past . . . a high school friend, an old college boyfriend who was a decent guy, a distant relative whom I haven’t seen since that boring family reunion back in the 90s. Sometimes I get an answer. Sometimes not. So what? The pleasure is in the writing. In saying, Here I am. And remembering: Yes, Here I Am. I matter. So do you.

    Can we not find holiday happiness salvation in such small acts of grace?

    Roberta

    • What an absolutely delightful post Roberta, thank you so much for taking the time to type it all out, you have given me much food for thought. I think what you may have missed is that this was written from the point of view of someone who is bipolar and for whom the regularity of daily routines is what makes me feel safe and able to cope and while I love the holidays — and I do — they are hard for me in other ways. It was by no means meant to be a down on the holidays post, but the fact is there are quite a lot of people for whom the holidays are a hard, lonely, sad time of year. This is a shame and I see much magic and grace in the time ahead. I was speaking from a different voice than is usually heard this time of year, but I appreciate your post very much and shall delight in reading it again and again.

      Blessings to you dearheart,

      Maitri

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