being human,  embodiment

Soul + Fabric

I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe everything has a wider design than we realize, and this post, to me, confirms this fact. I have been a yogi for over twenty years and a meditator for at least ten. In that span of time I’ve come to realize many things about both practices; mostly I see that both point to a larger state of being. The practices themselves are not (necessarily) the point.

I came to yoga in a volatile time of my life. It calmed my nerves, gave me an outlet and helped me see there was a better way to live. Meditation is a subtler and deeper level of the practice and over the last decade, I’ve learned lots of other mindfulness practices and have settled on those that are best for me and my temperament. I’ve also come to realize that there are other activities outside of traditional mindfulness practices that create similar results. Hiking, art journaling and recently sewing, are three such practices that, when done mindfully, also become sources of calm and centering for me. I’ve hiked regularly for a long time now, began art journaling about a year ago, and sewing is my ‘newest oldest passion’ that I’ll speak to in this post.

As a kid, I sewed all the time with my grandma, and while I enjoyed it greatly, I didn’t have a lot of patience. I learned a lot of basic skills but sewing was a means to an end. It wasn’t about the process itself; it was about the end product, the takeaway. Now that I’m back at it, I liken sewing to a lot of the mindfulness practices I’ve learned over the years. It brings me a sense of peace and calm as I focus my mind on the task at hand. Yesterday I realized that sewing IS yoga for me. Let me explain.

As a yogi with an overactive mind, it is critical that I find ways to create single-pointed awareness, and yoga’s 8 limbs teaches this perfectly. Without going into full detail on the 8 limbs, you can read about them here, limbs five (Pratyahara: drawing the senses inward) and six (Dharana: concentration) are the two that get activated in activities like hiking, art and sewing, when done mindfully and with focus. In limb five, we begin to work with our minds in practice; we learn to exercise control of the mind instead of allowing the mind to exert it’s control over us (because it will and does when left to its own devices) and limb six simply takes this step further forward. We are fully submerged in the activity at hand.

While sewing, I’m focusing on the task itself but I’m also practicing somatic meditation and pranayama (breathing), paying particular attention to my body, posture and breath. Lately I’ve caught myself smiling as a sew … a sign that I love it so (sew, lol). It’s an embodied, somatic connection to my past and ancestry. Sewing is a tactile way to re-connect my soul to the souls of my past.

Many years ago I created this blog as a simple outlet to write about the things I love most. The tagline, “Living, Loving & Learning + Musing about Being a Soul in a Human Body and the Ways We Are Woven Into the Universe,” seemed appropriate. As a yoga teacher, I always feel like I have to bring it back to that, but maybe not. Yoga is a huge part of me, but like all of us, I’m a human with many facets, sides, interest and preferences. I find it interesting that I chose the name ‘Soul Fabric’ for this blog prior to rediscovering my love of sewing (and fabric).

YOUR TURN: How do you find calm? What practices do you enjoy that connect mind, body and spirit? Are there other practices that are yoga for you? What might it be like to reconnect with your ancestry? What is tugging at your soul today? Are you listening?