There are many opportunities I am intensely grateful for in 2016. One of them was an online course beamed from Pema Chodron’s Abby in Nova Scotia. Another is spending the last few weeks in a group contemplating fearlessness. It all feels like preparation for turning the calendar.
No matter what side of the sociopolitical divide, I can’t think of a more resonant title for 2017 in the midst of global and personal shifts than this book of Pema Chodron’s. (click image to order)
Absorbing teachings and humor allow me a deeper understanding of ways to work with uncertainty. Plenty of opportunities ahead to practice remaining fluid and not getting too rigidly stuck in worry and anxiety about potentials for disaster during a time period many people are sensing is apocalyptic to scary to plain sad.
My body certainly tenses every time I read the news, and my mind spins to what if I lose my health insurance subsidy and cannot afford to insure my child, etc. And what if leadership of the largest energy consumer on the planet speeds up climate change to the point there is no more chocolate or coffee in my lifetime? I personally cannot imagine a world without chocolate or coffee, but I do understand these are extremely selfish reasons to want to slow climate change. Thinking about such dietary fallout is one way I am able to laugh at myself and my first world problems and keep tragic real-life consequences for millions of people and beings from ruling my inner life.
Since where we focus grows, I am receiving a strong intuition to work on peace generation in 2017 and attempt to host a few groups on this topic. How few of us actually know what peace means to us? What peace feels like inside our body? To contemplate how to be a peace generator even without a master’s degree in communication skills or military training. Is it possible to be a peace warrior without embodying hatred and anger toward the “other” and/or take decisive action while being peaceful?
Examples I see of peace warriors are Black Lives Matter, Water Protectors, and feminists. Fear and backlash against these organic movements arising from imbalance in a larger system is to misunderstand their intended meaning. Where in “black lives matter” does it say any other lives don’t matter? Where in “a belief in equal rights and opportunities for women and men” does it indicate men must be demeaned? What in water and earth protection threatens human life?
All I know is, after a decade of working on this topic inside myself and being barraged with many occasions to practice, I have finally turned a corner where things make sense that never made sense before. I am able to have strong emotions and let them go quicker, sprout ideas for positive action to shift my situation from fear to equanimity.
Knitting as a Path to Peace?
In 2016 I knit more than I ever have before, (and crocheted for a young child my first ever stuffed critter – Totoro). And I feel more peaceful. I imagine any type of creative endeavor can harvest similar results. In a 2014 survey of over 3,100 knitters/crocheters, people reported:
- Feeling of accomplishment (93%)
- Reduced Stress (85%)
- Improved Mood (68%)
- Sense of confidence (56%)
Very similar to reported results of regular meditation. It’s pretty difficult to be an agitated, angry knitter, though I suppose needles might come in handy to defend yourself in a dark alley if necessary. Other writers on trends have commented about a rise in knitting post 9/11, a sort of “nesting” phenomenon.
Possibly not all knitting is docile. There is yarn bombing, a not-so-peaceful moniker for a trend started by this artist who prefers to be referred to as a street artist, not yarn bomber. She took traditional home-bound work to the streets and inspired many others. If past trend is any indication of future, I imagine 2017 will see one more spike in knitting demographics.