A Mindful Knitting Retreat for Peace

Therapeutic Knitting

A Retreat for Peace

From November tenth to twelfth – we invite you to join us at the Tucker House Renewal Centre. We invite you to set aside time for yourself, for your own self-care. To give yourself time to unwind, rest, explore and re-energize yourself.  We will use a combination of Mindfulness Meditation, Knitting Therapy, Nature Walks, and good food at the historic Confederation-era Tucker House, and its thirty acres of sustainable trails.

Knitting and Mindfulness

Knitting Mindfully

During this weekend, we can teach you both the therapeutic skills of knitting and mindfulness meditation. A therapeutic practice is one that heals our mind body or spirit.

Knitting can produce a host of benefits: creative inspiration, a sense of accomplishment, self-confidence, community building, and the rhythm of a relaxing activity, to name a few.  In using our hands in a rhythmical and repetitive activity, we gradually create something, stitch upon stitch.

Mindfulness meditation is about paying attention to what is right with you, some of which you might normally take for granted or ignore.  By paying attention in a new, more loving, and systematic way to what is right with you, you can discover a new capacity for understanding and growth.  The most basic explanation for how mindfulness practice fosters good health is that it lowers stress and helps with pain management, which helps the body and mind to heal.

Purpose

Our purpose is to provide you with an addictive habit – knitting- that is strongly associated with mindfulness.  Our hope is that whenever you pick up your knitting needles, you will remember to be mindful.

Register Now

Register now  or email Francine for more details.  Move fast there are only 8 places for overnight accommodation available.

Intention Attention and Attitude

Summer-time
PEI Sunset

September

Now is a time of gentle endings – saying good bye to summer time pursuits and getting ready for new beginnings. Perhaps another school year. Or just going back into your work or life with renewed vigour – brought about by the freshening winds. An opportunity to start again with new subject matter, to revitalize our knowing. It is also often an opportunity to meet new people, create new  or change our existing relationships to reflect that we’ve grown.

Intention

First, what are our intentions in going into these relationships? Are these relationships in line with our overall values; are they nourishing to our spirit?
Are we entering into these connections for a mutually beneficial outcome?

Attention

Second, am I focusing my attention on this person(s) while in their presence. Listening with full attention is a gift that rarely occurs, since we are all coping with so many distractions. Have we brought a deep and penetrating attention to these connections?

Attitude

The attitudes we bring to our life and all the moments and encounters in it critically affect how we pay attention. Try practicing attitudes of acceptance, curiosity and warmth and you may discover a greater turning towards making new relationships and deepening of existing ones.

We may find that our connections benefit from a high quality of mindfulness, and our endings are not so final. These endings in fact may lead to new beginnings, chance encounters leading to great opportunities.

It’s the Bees Knees!

The Bees are Here

Yesterday Bill and I received the bees that we are sharing with Gina LaPointe of the Orleans Community Garden and John David Reinhold.

[ngg_images source=”galleries” container_ids=”1″ sortorder=”2,6,5,7,3″ display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_slideshow” gallery_width=”600″ gallery_height=”400″ cycle_effect=”fade” cycle_interval=”10″ show_thumbnail_link=”1″ thumbnail_link_text=”[Show thumbnails]” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”1500″]

Settling IN

 I am so excited – they are already in an idyllic setting.  They have a view of the horses and a stand of birches. They are far from the road and are really sheltered by some white pines behind them, with some new poplars growing up near the hive so they can find it easily.

Last night I went to check on them after dinner, and they were pretty quiet.  The adventurous ones had found the Bee Bath, while most of the others were drinking the provided sugar water and setting up the hive household.  There were quite a few larvae already bunked into the frames when we transferred them into their new house, so the Queen is in there somewhere. I guess I’ll get properly introduced in the next week or two. 

Beeswax

The bees had the chance to make some extra beeswax while the were all packaged up on their way to our place.  This did not go into their hive since it was not on a frame, so I’ve brought it to the house. I’m going to see if I can make something with it – maybe lip balm or candles or something.  Such an adventure!

The Siren Call of Spring

 

Wild Geese
Wild Geese

Overhead the Canadian geese are chatting amongst themselves, as they move in with the warmer weather. Happily, there are a lot of options nearby for them to land and feed in. Their chatting voices are by necessity rather loud since they need to be heard above the sound of the rushing wind, and since their v – shaped flying patterns keep them spaced very widely apart. I wouldn’t think there are very many intimate conversations going on, just stories about how grandpa used to love this place or how that place dried up like a desert last year, and instructions to the young ones to note that particular landmark. I rejoice in their sound since it means that at least one other species thinks that the weather is going to get warmer.

Another sound of spring that cheers me is the pervasive sound of water trickling under the bottom of a plate of ice, of water whooshing through our downspouts, and rising in the ditches. It means that our blanket of 2 or 3 feet of snow is slowly, reluctantly, giving way to the sunshine. It is replenishing the aquifer gradually that flows beneath my farm, because we live in the country, and because this year it is melting slowly enough to be absorbed into the ground.

I realize that the majority of you who live in cities probably miss a lot of these water sounds. So much of the ground is “developed” and paved over that the spring runoff goes directly to storm water collection systems.

The smaller birds are getting noisy too – calling as they gather in large groups and then whizzing in twos to a new feeding patch.  They’re getting ready for mating season, gathering energy for the frolicking ahead.

Spring is a wonderful season full of anticipation and excitement. Around our place it also comes with mud and lots of winter hair, given up by its original owners and now sticking fiercely on every piece of clothing I own.  I will take the good with the bad, the hair with the sun.  I will appreciate every small intimate change in my surroundings! Spring is here!!!!

 

 

Mindful Knitting Essentials

Mindful Knitting
Mindful Knitting

Healing 

For those of us who knit, it will come as no surprise that knitting can be used as a therapeutic practice.  A therapeutic process is one that heals our minds, bodies, spirits, or some combination thereof. Knitters will recognize that healing –  in the joy we derive from most of our knitting experiences.  Whether you are planning a project, fondling yarn, selecting just the right materials from your stash, or actually knitting, many steps of the knitting process bring about a sense of contentment and well-being.  After all, that’s part of why we do it, right?

Benefits

Knitting can produce a host of benefits: creative inspiration, senses of accomplishment and self-confidence, community building, and the rhythm of a relaxing activity, to name a few.  However, more depth is possible; adding the concept of mindfulness can enrich the experience of knitting and promote peace, contentment, and healing.  Mindfulness is about paying attention to what is right with you, some of which you might normally take for granted or ignore.  By paying attention in a new, more loving, and systematic way to what is right with you, you can discover a new capacity for understanding and growth.

Mindfulness for Deeper Healing

Mindfulness is well-researched and well-known to promote physical and emotional health.  Techniques such as mindfulness meditation are widely used in treating cancer patients, anxiety, depression, and many other physical and emotional illnesses.  The most basic explanation for how mindfulness practice fosters good health is that it lowers stress and helps with pain management, which helps the body and mind to heal.

 Why This Course?

Why this Course?
Why this Course?

I’m offering a course on 3 essential aspects of mindful knitting for a few reasons. The first reason is because I think that combining mindfulness with a hobby that you love will encourage you to practice mindfulness more often – whenever you pick up your knitting needles. And it is the frequency of practicing mindfulness that ultimately provides the greatest benefit. The second reason is because the standard way that mindfulness is taught is in an eight week program – and that is a huge time commitment that many people do not wish to make.

So this course is intended to distill some of the essentials of mindfulness into a 3 part course taking place over a one month period.

I’m offering 2 different timeframes- Choose the one that best fits your schedule:

Course 1:
January 23rd – Enhancing Your Awareness 10 am—12:30 pm
February 13th – Dealing with Difficult Emotions 10 am—12:30 pm
February 27th – Self – Compassion   10 am—12:30 pm

Course 2:
February 20th – Enhancing Your Awareness 10 am—12:30 pm
March 5th – Dealing with Difficult Emotions 10 am—12:30 pm
March 19th –   Self – Compassion   10 am—12:30 pm

3 Essentials

Enhancing your Awareness – deals with focusing on your skills of observation and awareness. Here you learn how to practice that focus again and again.

Dealing with Difficult Emotions – our natural tendencies are to ignore or repress unpleasant and difficult emotions. Here you learn how to approach and accept difficult emotions and thoughts – being curious about them. This can often lessen your fear of them.

Self – Compassion – our tendency to be critical of ourselves is harmful yet persistent. Here we learn about enfolding ourselves in loving kindness.

 

[btn text=”Register Now – Save Your Seat” tcolor=#FFF thovercolor=#FFF link=”http://www.twinwillows.ca/events/mknittingess/” target=”_self”]

 

Beginning a New Year

Resolutions

For me, every new year brings me the hope that I can build on the wisdom that I have gained in the last year. The hope that I will remember that each tiny moment can be beautiful. The hope that I will be aware of the choices that I do have – the choice to select a right, measured response to pleasant and unpleasant events.

The understanding that each and everyone of us suffers, and that we are also connected and thus stronger for it.

I will remember this.

Finding a New Normal

Reflecting
Reflecting

We are all human beings and thus subject to the ups and downs of living – because not even the richest or the smartest or the most positive can avoid suffering.

Suffering is our reaction to what we perceive are negative events. Our reaction is often to run away from and ignore these negative events or thoughts in the misguided hope that perhaps they won’t follow us or will get bored and move on to someone more deserving. Unfortunately, these things seem to have the tenacity of toilet paper on the bottom of a shoe.
Once we turn around and acknowledge the negative event, and really look at it with curiosity, it can lose its hold on us and its ability to make us suffer.

Controllable versus Uncontrollable

Negative events can often be divided up into those that are largely controllable and those that are beyond our control.
Where we can exert some measure of control – then a problem-focused coping style is most effective. Thus if you tend to be late for work then doing something to solve the problem, such as getting up earlier, arranging your clothing and lunch the night before; is the most effective coping strategy.
Where the negative event is beyond our control, then an emotion-focused coping approach will be more effective. This approach will help us deal with the emotions the stressor brings up; since we can’t change the situation itself. Thus if we are waiting for hours in a doctor’s office, the best approach would be to notice our emotions, and choose how we wish to respond and deal with our uncomfortable feelings

Therapeutic Knitting

In our Therapeutic Knitting Group, we have recognized the wonderful ability of quiet knitting to fill up the hours of waiting time with productive and creative knitting.
Soothing
Soothe yourself with knitting
It is one of the tools that you can use to soothe and distract yourself in such situations. Another tool, that complements knitting, is the skill of Mindfulness.
Mindfulness allows you to become aware of your emotions, to reduce your stress and become better able to regulate your stress and emotions, if that is your intention. It allows you to adapt to rapid change; to know yourself better, and to transform yourself in the face of uncontrollable life events. Over time, it can adapt to your changing intentions, and allow self-exploration and ultimately transcendence. beyond the self to occur. It can strengthen your resilience.

Well-being
Well-being

 

 

We don’t offer you mindfulness as a cure for your disease. Rather it holds the possibility of vastly enriching your  life, helping you cope with symptoms and side effects, and improving the quality of your days. Mindfulness may also enhance your immune system’s performance and help reduce harmful levels of stress hormones in your body, changes that can only be beneficial.” (Ref: Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery, by Linda E. Carlson and Michael Speca)

Warmth for Yourself

Prairie Smoke
The Pasque Flower an early spring flower

Waiting for Warmth

Spring in Eastern Ontario has taken its time in coming – the frost sank deep into the soil this past winter. We waited a long time for the days and nights to be consistently warm – so that the soil temperature could support new growth. It is much the same with our inner environments, many of us spend decades chilling our hearts with critical self-talk. In order for fundamental change to take root within ourselves, we need to warm up our hearts with a gentle acceptance of ourselves. No, we are not perfect, but that is what inspires creativity and variety in life.

One of the first steps in being kind to ourselves, is remembering how we speak to our own best friends. We are thoughtful, we want the best for them, we consider carefully before speaking potentially hurtful things.  Consider forming an intention to treat your Inner Self as your best friend. She’s known you all her life, she moves when you do,  she doesn’t walk away when the going gets tough. Who better than that for a best friend?

So forming this intention to be your own best friend, say to yourself:

May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I live in peace
May I live in safety
May I live with ease

Persistence – Invaluable

All sewn up!
All sewn up!

Our lap blanket really does exist! I am weaving in the loose ends, then the Maplesoft Therapeutic Knitting Group can present the finished product to their recently opened Multi-faith Chapel.

Weaving in ends in knitting and in life takes persistence, returning focus again and again to one object. In our fast paced lives many other distractions compete for our attention. I accept this work happily, knowing that the effort will benefit many. This is my meditation.

Mindfulness Skills for Well-Being

Benefits

Benefits of Mindfulness
Benefits of Mindfulness

This 8 Week Mindfulness Program is intended to teach you the practice of mindfulness through meditation, so that you can ultimately develop a mindful awareness.

Mindfulness can:

  • reduce overall levels of anxiety and depression
  • reduce harmful levels of stress
  • enhance your immune system’s performance
  • enhance clarity of mind and creativity
  • boost your quality of life

 Program Details

This Mindfulness Program is an 8 week introduction to mindfulness through practical instruction, meditation, mindful movement, direct observation and home practice. It is designed to help you increase your sense of well-being.

The program includes 8 sessions of 2 hours each, a full day of meditation at the mid-point of the program, guided meditation recordings, and supplementary materials to reinforce the weekly sessions.

Dates: Thursdays 10:30 am – 12:30 pm starting May 7 2015 through to June 25 2015 including a day-long Meditation Retreat on June 6 2015

Location: City of Ottawa Archives; James K. Bartleman Centre; 100 Tallwood Drive; Room 115, Ottawa, Ontario

Fee: $150 for 8-week course, 1 day retreat and all required materials [ec_addtocart productid=”248″]

Nicki Benton will  facilitate this program with Francine Portenier’s assistance.

Francine Portenier
Francine Portenier

Francine
My first career in Systems Design Engineering focused on “making things better”. Now  I focus upon communicating and being with people to help make their lives richer and fuller.

 

Francine founded Twin Willows Farm to initially offer Equine-assisted Therapy. She now facilitates the first Therapeutic Knitting Group in Canada and Meditation Practices, assisting in Mindfulness Programs. Francine shows you how to cultivate well-being as an individual and to boost resiliency – your ability to bounce back from setbacks.

Nicki Benton
Nicki Benton

Nicki

Nicki Co-founded the Ottawa Peer Recovery Centre, and also facilitates recovery programs, empowering individuals to find their voice and walk their unique recovery path with confidence. She has been practising mindfulness in her own life for five years.

 [ec_addtocart productid=”248″]

Site Upgrades

Singing Bowl
Singing Bowl

I’m trying to upgrade my site to allow you to register and pay online for our new Mindfulness Skills for Well-Being course starting May 7th. I apologize for any delays in signing up.