Bead-weaving as Mindful Meditation - Can Bead-weaving Reduce Stress?

Nov 17, 2011

I've been interested in things such as yoga and meditation ever since I took a stress management class in college. (I tend to be wound rather tightly at times!) For years, I used writing as my primary practice when I was looking to do something meditative, but I always had some kind of craft project sitting around, too-knitting, crochet, jewelry making, or handmade papers and books.

When I started learning how to do beadweaving during my last two years of college, I felt like I had suddenly found the ideal craft for my stress-management needs. And when I got my copy of Carol Huber Cypher's Mastering Beadwork, I was absolutely tickled to see her referring to beadweaving as "mindful meditation" -that's exactly what it is for me!

And why not use beadweaving as meditation? Beads have been used for thousands of years to focus our intentions and our attention when praying. Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and followers of many other religions have used beads as symbols of faith in their daily devotions. (There are even a number of us in the beading community who attend beadweaving workshops on Sundays and refer to it as "Bead Church"!) If there is one thing that most religions can find in common, it's their use of beads as a way to make their beliefs tangible.

Each off-loom beadweaving stitch has its own rhythm that feels like a meditation or a chant. Breathe in, stitch a bead, breathe out. That's probably why I turned to my beadweaving when I got home from the office after a hard day. Not only was it soothing to handle those shiny, beautiful little beads, but being able to sit down and focus on something else for an hour was the best way for me to set aside my problems and relax.

Learning how to do peyote stitch was really the first time I recognized the connection between beadweaving and meditation. As I started each new piece of peyote stitch, I repeated a little mantra in my head: "String one, skip one, pass through this one." And it worked! I still find myself repeating that little phrase when I start a piece of peyote stitch, and I have other little sayings that I use for right-angle weave, herringbone stitch, and square stitch. They remind me of the little mantras we chant at the end of yoga class when we're all feeling refreshed and relaxed.

Beadweaving also has a transformative quality to it that just seems like magic to me. It's like spinning straw into gold when you take a pile of seed beads and some beading thread and turn them into a stunning piece of beaded jewelry. So now I'm relaxed and happy, AND I have a knockout piece of jewelry to show off!

Are you ready to become a beadweaving master? Carol Huber Cypher's Mastering Beadwork covers fourteen essential off-loom beadweaving techniques, plus bead crochet basics. Whether you are a seasoned beadweaving artist or someone who is just starting to explore all that beadweaving has to offer, you'll want to have a copy of Mastering Beadwork handy for both reference and inspiration!

Make sure you take a few minutes to read our new Beadweaving Topic Page here on Beading Daily, too. You'll find great information about basic beadweaving materials and tools, handy tips and techniques, ideas for beadweaving projects, and a little background about each of your favorite off-loom beadweaving stitches.

How did you get started with beadweaving? What about bead-weaving keeps you coming back for more? Share your stories and your thoughts by leaving a comment!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer


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Comments

kraftymax wrote
on Nov 18, 2011 4:09 AM

I also find it relaxing.  When people ask how I can have the patience to do beadweaving, I simply state, "I only have it for my beads, not my kids, just my beads, they keep me sane"!  I started at about age 5 (just like my kids) and have never stopped!!  ~KM

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g33kgirl59 wrote
on Nov 18, 2011 5:29 AM

Thanks for your blog post! I'm always telling folks that I find off-loom weaving soothing and relaxing.  They look at me like I have 2 heads and tell me I have a lot of patience.  I find it keeps my hands busy but still leaves enough of my brain available for me to be sociable.  

Eileen

MaryLouH@3 wrote
on Nov 18, 2011 7:38 AM

To me, beadweaving has become like second nature. I used to do a lot of cross stitching, and my first introduction to seed beads was when one of my kits came with some little packets of Mill Hill beads.  There were some left over, and I just had to figure out something to do with those tiny bits of sparkly glass!  I didn't start beadweaving until 2005, after attending a Bead and Button show, but I haven't stopped since.  I still love playing with those beads, and much like you, Jen, I have little mantra-like things that run through my head as I work.  :-)

SusaninNJ wrote
on Nov 18, 2011 8:20 AM

My 89 year old Mother died in August after years of poor health.  After coming home from seeing her and caring for her, I'd sit down to bead.  Even at midnight, it was calming.  It helped me to gather my thoughts and regain a feeling of serenity.  I now have lots of lovely things for my church fair, plus a few to keep.

lkolker wrote
on Nov 18, 2011 8:47 AM

I love this post. I find beadweaving soothing and centering, and for me it's more about the process than the final finished product. Years ago, when I learned how to knot pearls and was knotting a necklace, I felt connected with all the women in the world who knotted pearls. It was lovely.

Miannda wrote
on Nov 18, 2011 10:40 AM

Wow, just spoke to someone about beading yesterday and described it for myself as meditation. Pulling a needle and thread through a bead gives me such a feeling of peace and wellbeing! The last  time I had such a feeling, was when I was a child with all my family around me.

LauraH@79 wrote
on Nov 18, 2011 10:50 AM

I find it very soothing, before you know it it's 1 O'clock in the morning and have to work at 9. Oh well I can't put it down.  Oh by the way Jennifer I saw your beading mat on this page, where can a person get one of those? I like how the edges are rolled. Thankyou in advance. Laura

Mary.korbe wrote
on Nov 18, 2011 11:39 AM

I find beading a relaxing occupation especially peyote.  I noticed the bead tray you have pictured on this discussion.  Can you tell me where you got it.  It looks very portable.

SandFibers wrote
on Nov 18, 2011 12:47 PM

Beadweaving has kept me (relatively) sane for years now. I've spent an inordinate time not able to bead these past few months, and I have most definitely noticed the difference in my mental well-being.

on Nov 20, 2011 6:16 AM

Bead weaving is truely part of a mindfulness meditation, stress reducing and relaxing and using the creative flow. I have followed the tradition in my family for the past four years... and am still learning. My German grandmother was a needlewoman of considerable skill, and made beautiful beadwork for me when I was a child and for my mother when she and her sister were children. My mother is a needlework designer and at the age of 90 still produces amazing work, and I have found some of my granny's tiny beads and that started me off. love it and would strongly recommend it to other beaders and needlepeople to pass on to their descendants.

aaren wrote
on Nov 21, 2011 3:52 AM

I found this blog has very useful information bead-weaving and their benefits really it is worth to read. Thanks. Keep going...

korbem wrote
on Nov 26, 2011 10:57 AM

Thank you for your comment about the benefits of beading.  I find beading very relaxing.  I would like information on the beading mat that you show in your blog

Thank you in advance for this information.