David de la Paz teaches mindfulness through yoga, Pilates, and knitting. Being a happy knitter himself, he has turned his hobby into a meditation practice. His class, Knitting for Wellness, is open to all experience levels.
I’ve always suffered from cold feet, so my grandma knit a pair of sleeping socks for me when I was a kid. When my grandma passed away, no one knit socks for me anymore. At that time, I lived in Canada, and I was going to bed at night with cold feet. I will never forget the first pair of socks she gave me.
I decided I might as well learn to make socks myself. I went into a public library and took out a book named, Learn How To Knit On Your Own or Learn How To Crotchet and Knit On Your Own, something along those lines. I followed the pictures in that book to figure it out.
My class, Knitting for Wellness, unfolded on its own because the yarn has the natural ability to quiet your mind. While creating the stitches, I realized that it resembled the same movement as meditating with a mala. The mala are prayer beads that some monks use for meditation. When you pass a bead in the mala, you repeat a mantra. So, I started knitting and repeating a mantra with every single stitch, and it took me to the same place as the mala bead.
I choose words that have meaning to me, and so often, I would just say, “Yes.” So, my mantra is, “Yes.” Meaning yes to this present moment in whichever way this present moment chooses to be for me. I welcome this present moment. By saying yes, I say yes to the light, yes, to the sounds, yes, to my breath, yes, to my thoughts. Yes! Another mantra that I use is, “Thank you.” With every stitch in the silence of my thinking mind, I say, thank you, thank you, thank you.
The colors of the yarn represent a mandala, a colorful symbol, and a ritual in some Asian cultures. I thought, “Okay, this is indeed a meditation practice.” Hence, I wanted to build something resembling a mandala but still honor the idea that originated it all: making socks. So, I started creating these multi-colored socks that resembled, in a way, a mandala. And to me, they are blessed because every single stage has been interwoven with a mantra. It’s like there’s a mantra in the weaving of every single stitch.
During class, I ask guests not to overthink the colors, choose them randomly, and mix them without too much concern about whether they look good together. At the end of the day, when the project is complete, you want to see a ton of different colors that remind you of a mandala. I encourage guests not to be too judgmental, not to set expectations, have fun, and enjoy the moment regardless of the outcome.
Most people have never picked up a hook and ball of yarn because they feel intimidated. Not because they cannot do it, but because they fear failure, which keeps them from trying. It is worth celebrating that anyone would take that first step here at The Ranch. It’s an environment where they can feel comfortable and safe and know they can make mistakes, and it will be okay.
I teach single needle, so it’s really crochet. Knitting would be with two needles. Only those who already practiced any yarn work know what crochet is. If we called the class, Crotchet For Wellness, nobody would know what it means. Crochet allows us a simple method to build many different projects. But most importantly, I believe is that the guests take the first steps to feel confident with the yarn, the hook, and themselves.
I believe the greatest success is to feel confident with what you’re doing.
The benefit of mediation (and knitting) is that it clarifies your thoughts that were not there before. It’s almost as if your thoughts are now more spaced out, and within that space, you find silence and stillness. You can see your own thoughts from a distance. This allows you a certain empty space between your thoughts and your awareness. It grants you time before you react to an impulse or a stimulus.
Learn more about our Mindfulness Program.