Since I first began to embroider, I was struck by the relaxing mental and physical effects. It was as if my mind got clearer and my body calmer with each stitch. A sense of mental and physical presence made embroidery my go to activity whenever life got stressful. However, it wasn’t until much later that I drew the connections between hand work and mindfulness. In fact, hand embroidery is an ancient mindfulness practise, performed by men and women throughout history. Yet, in the modern trends of meditation, mindfulness, self care, yoga and more, embroidery tends to be forgotten. But, why?
Hand embroidery as a mindfulness practise
When I google the term “mindfulness”, I find explanations that roughly include the following three things:
- Focus your mind and body on the present
- Disconnect from the stressors around you
- Let your thoughts free from judgement
Read through them and you will immediately see the connection with embroidery. The slow process of hand embroidery, allows your mind to rest. The repetitive movements as well as the soothing sound of the needle that pushes through the fabric, makes you disconnect from your surrounding.
Charles and I often talk about how it’s not the greatest number of stitch techniques that will make you a better embroiderer. But I’ve come to realise, that this principle of “less is more” also applies to embroidery as mindfulness art. Part of the mindfulness practise is to let your thoughts free of judgement. Hence, if you begin to over complicate your process with unnecessarily advanced stitch techniques, you will feel everything but free. If you let me guess, you’ll most likely feel even more overwhelmed and stressed.
Instead, concentrate on fewer basic stitches that are easy to learn for everyone and anyone. You may have reasons in your mind of why you can’t start embroidery today, but lack of experience shouldn’t be one of them! Basic stitches such as: Straight stitch, back stitch and satin stitch are easy to learn for everyone. Either you can have a look at our full article guide or watch our free video tutorials on how to do any of these techniques. In addition we also have another article that introduces you on how to start embroidery from the beginning.
Disconnect with each stitch for mindfulness art
To embroider with fewer techniques, will also give you more freedom with regards to how you combine and overlap them. Be mindful of the direction you make your stitch, the thickness of thread and the colour you choose. To go even deeper you can match your breathing with the rhythm of your stitches.
Breathe in – stitch up – breathe out – stitch down
To be one with the embroidery process allows you to feel fully relaxed and present. Often times I forget about the time and let the stitches carry me away. If I embroider an architectural or street scene design, I may even let my thoughts wander off to the location of the design. It leads me to questions of “who walked this street?” or, “Who lived here?”.
All in all, it is a process of disconnection. Thus, if this is what you’re looking for then be sure to turn off any digital device that may interrupt you. We often don’t realise how much a single notification throws us off balance. Furthermore, if you’re going through a rough time with a lot of stress and anxiety, notifications can be very toxic.
Reduce stress and reach greater fulfilment
Stress and anxiety are two of the key problems that mindfulness practises tries to solve. What puts hand embroidery above that of more “trendy” mindfulness activities is the creative fulfilment that it brings. When you embroider a design that you love, you will not only receive the benefits of being more mindful. But you will also have a beautiful and unique artwork at the end of the road.
Your embroidered art piece will continuously remind you of the journey of self care that you are on. Hence, the mere presence of the finished embroidery, will contribute to greater feelings of fulfilment and accomplishment. Thus, if you are reading this article because you are on the look for a practise that will help you to become more present and reduce stress and anxiety, then I hope you feel convinced to give hand embroidery a try!
We’ve got a series of online courses to get you started, as well as unique inspiring embroidery patterns. Along with each pdf pattern you will also receive a stitch guide and colour guide to help you through the process. Furthermore, we’ve got a series of free resources to make sure that you have everything you need.
Are you already an embroiderer?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with hand embroidery as a creative mindfulness practise!