Getting back in touch

I love this little progress keeper from www.littlebittydelights.com

I’ve got some thoughts for you today that have been rolling around in my mind for a while.  I hope that it isn’t taken as an anti-internet rant, because it’s not.  I love the communication ability that we have, now.  It makes me so happy to be able to talk with my kids who live far away from me and know that they are there and doing well.  We can talk with someone halfway around the planet in real time – with video, even!  Is that not mind boggling?  Sometimes, though, a vaguely distant feeling creeps in.  Floating through the day, just checking things off the to-do list without really feeling like you’re accomplishing anything at all.  Without feeling anything at all.

I think that people today are experiencing more disconnect than ever before, even with a constant stream of information and communication. The danger here is in becoming so fascinated with all of the stuff on the internet that we let it take up more and more of our attention.  Pretty soon, we can find ourselves disconnected from the physical world around us and from the people we love the most. 

It can creep into our daily routine, and even take the place of healthy habits that we know we should hold onto, but suddenly we’ve run out of time.  Have you ever found yourself looking for an inspiring yoga flow video and then realizing that you just spent an hour watching other people do yoga while you haven’t moved at all?  I’m preaching to myself, here.

So, I like the internet, I don’t want it to go away, but I need to be careful with myself and use it responsibly.  Yes, just like alcohol.  Some people handle it better than others.

So, what am I to do with all of this?

I have been focusing lately on getting in touch with my physical environment.  In order to do so, I am going back to what I learned in Kindergarten about the five senses.  You know, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching.  I’m really focused on touch right now.  It just seems appropriate to focus on touch when you’re in danger of feeling “out of touch.” 

I know this sounds like I don’t do anything with my hands, but that’s really not true.  The point is that I do SO MANY things with my hands.  My hands are constantly working, but I rarely pay attention to the feeling of those things.  It’s hard to explain.

closeup detail photo of lace shawl knitted in dark brown alpaca and silk laceweight yarn.
One of my favorite projects: the Vernal Equinox Shawl.

I do a lot of very tactile things.  I knit. I knit a LOT.  I would like to focus on the feel of the yarn as it slips into position on the needle and appreciate each stitch.  I would like to feel the time and love that I have put into my project and hope that some of that love sticks to the stitches to be felt by whoever gets to wear or otherwise use it. Not all knitted things are wearable.

As a mom, I wash a lot of dishes.  I would like to take half a moment to feel the sensation of the warm, soapy water and contrast it to the clean, clear rinse water.  If you have a dishwasher, you might like to handwash a load, just to enjoy the sensation.  I know, the thought of spending all that time standing at the sink does not sound enjoyable, unless you are determined to make it an experience instead of a chore. 

I want to play my cello more and pay attention to the feel of the strings and the bow.  To feel the vibrations of the instrument.  I have been working on this and I have found that it really does improve my playing and also brings me closer to actually making music.

Freshly roasted coffee – life doesn’t get much better than this!

I roast coffee by hand in a stovetop popcorn popper, which is a very hands-on activity that requires a lot of focus. I take meticulous notes on every batch that I roast in search of that perfect combination of heat, airflow, and rotation of the beans. There is a balance between art and science, here. I’d like to think that one day, my coffees will become artistic.

I am in search of ways to make my experience more tactile.  I’m focusing on silly little things like the way different pens feel in your hand as you write.  That does require that I actually write things down, by the way, instead of tapping notes into my phone.  I know, it’s more work. I have to actually locate a pen and paper, but it just might be worth it. I have been working on sketching a little bit, just to focus my thoughts better and improve my drawing skills.  Feeling the scratchiness of the pencil makes it easier to analyze the areas in my drawing that need adjustment.  Focusing on the feel of it, helps me improve my skills.  It’s interesting.

To take it a step closer, I occasionally remember to focus on my breathing.  Focusing on the direction of my breathing: front to back, side to side, up and down and then all of the above at the same time.  It gives me a starting point for feeling the rest of my body.  It’s so easy to forget about your own body! Am I holding tension anywhere that I need to release?  It also reminds me to correct my posture and use my abs rather than my back, which definitely helps to relieve tension.

Relieving tension is a good thing.  Relieving tension reduces stress.  Less stress means more calm.  A calm mind is easier to focus on good things.  Focusing on good things helps us to create beautiful things.  It’s so important.

Most of all, this search for tactile experience is about slowing down and taking the time to appreciate my world, my body, my family and my blessings.  Staying focused on the good things that I have in my hands.

I hope all of this gives you some food for thought.  I’d love to hear what you think.  You can either leave a comment below, or email me directly. wende@clineart.com

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