I love watching the moment someone’s awkward movements with a needle and thread transform and become natural. They gain confidence, they find their stitching groove, and, suddenly, they are in flow. It’s a beautiful sight to behold.

~Stephanie Dyke

Creative instigator Stephanie Dyke provides this week’s guest blog post. I’ve seen for myself how Stephanie guides even a very inexperienced beginner into learning the craft of embroidery. She makes learning a new skill the kind of fun that makes me want to persist!  Here she shares her thoughts on mindfulness, flow, and slow crafting.

Meditation Zealot

Once upon a time I was a meditation zealot.

I had found my own mental health salvation and I was certain that everyone’s woes could be solved if they would just spend a few minutes a day on the cushion. I’m pretty sure I annoyed everyone in my life with my insistence that no one ever died from sitting quietly for 10 minutes.

I’m still a firm believer in the power of meditation but I know it isn’t a magic fix for everyone. Luckily, there are other ways of tapping into a healing state of consciousness. I came to this realization by way of flow and watching the magic of flow happening in other people.

Flow is a challenging thing to describe. But you know it when you see it… or have seen it. Ironically, when you identify that you are in a state of flow, you fall out of it.

If you’d like to learn more about the science and psychology of flow, check out the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. But the Cliff’s Notes version is this: flow is a highly focused mental state. Similar to a good solid meditation, flow is when an activity brings you 100% to the present. Everything falls away: your self-consciousness, your fears, the past, the future.

Flow Brings Calm and Joy

In my experience, flow can bring calm, joy, satisfaction and lessening of the effects of stress.

Unfortunately, our modern, digital lives inhibit flow. In fact, our modern, digital lives are the antithesis of flow. [CLICK TO TWEET] But all is not lost! We can find and carve out opportunities for flow.

Even before I began meditating on a regular schedule, I enjoyed handcrafting activities for the sense of calm they brought me. I would knit, not following a pattern, but just enjoying the repetition of stitches to alleviate anxiety. I would rip out the stitches and then start over again the next time I felt overwhelmed.

Crafting by hand doesn’t have to be a pointless activity the way my knitting “projects” were. In fact, the joy and satisfaction of creating something beautiful (and even useful!) by hand is one of the main purposes of crafting.

While I may not be an awe-inspiring knitter, I do sew extensively and teach hand sewing. My own immersion in the flow of hand sewing didn’t become a lightbulb moment until I saw a similar state of flow in my students.

I love watching the moment someone’s awkward movements with a needle and thread transform and become natural. They gain confidence, they find their stitching groove, and, suddenly, they are in flow. It’s a beautiful sight to behold.

Lots of people craft and make stuff. I’m all for that. The makers movement is a wonderful thing. But my point here is about the slowing down. The doing it by hand.

It doesn’t have to be sewing. Or knitting. Carving wood with a hand tool is an option. Small, inexpensive looms allow anyone to try hand weaving. Manipulating clay, leather or metal by hand works too. Wood, clay, fabric, yarn, thread, metal. It doesn’t matter what the medium is. It’s the doing it by hand.

Making Time

Taking up handcrafting in search of flow requires making time to allow it to happen. It requires ignoring the clock. In requires divorcing yourself from the outcome – at least for a little while – and just experiencing the steps involved in making.

If you think of yourself as “not crafty” or “unartistic,” toss those labels aside! [CLICK TO TWEET] Take a class, pick up a book, or buy a craft kit to make something that intrigues you. You literally have nothing to lose.

Be open to learning and know it won’t be perfect. Start a handwork project only with the goal of finding flow.

If you are interested in exploring the state of flow, I challenge you to give slow crafting a try. You may find a new hobby that rewards you in many unexpected ways!

Stephanie Capps Dyke is an artist, writer, meditating nerd & e-learning developer. She sews, makes quilts, and helps other creative peeps with challenges like time management and productivity.

Find more of her on Instagram or the Creative + Mindful Events page!

Photo credits: Stephanie Capps Dyke





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