In a recent study from the U.K., researchers proved that engaging in a repetitive visuo-spatial activity before, during, or after a traumatic event lowered the risk of PTSD and negative flashbacks. Repetitive movements also increase the production of serotonin, lowering symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Sabrina is a good friend of mine that I met volunteering as a Buddhist guide in the Bright Hill Temple. I saw the difference in her mindset after she starts crafting. Especially now that she has become a mother, crafting provides an outlet. I think the trip to Japan inspired her to incorporate crafting into her life. She is always observant of other handmade crafts and uses them as inspiration to work on her own crafts.
When and how did you first start crafting?
We were preparing for my company dinner and dance. My colleague suggested that we make our own retro dresses. Since she had experience in sewing, she said we could do it within a day and I believed her. We took one entire day to draft, cut, and sew the entire dress. *laughs*
That sparked my interest, but I didn’t follow up with it until my son was born. That’s when I decided to purchase a sewing machine so I could sew my first taggie blanket for him.
Tell us more about Autumn Mirage and how you moved from crafting as a hobby to a business
My stash of fabric kept increasing because it was impossible for me to stop. *laughs* So in order to reduce the stash and have income to fund new purchases, I started sewing gifts for friends. When the inquiries started to come in, I thought, “Hmm, maybe I can try it out to see how it goes.”
Is crafting a mindfulness practice to you? Can you tell us more in detail about your process?
Yes, definitely. When I start on an item, I usually take a few minutes to meditate to clear my mind and visualize the final product. Every step that I take in crafting requires extreme concentration and focus. For example, a simple step like sewing a straight line; if I daze off accidentally, in that spilt second, the line would become crooked. I would have to unpick it and do it again.
Is crafting beneficial to your mental health?
Yes! It is my way to de-stress and unwind!
Tell us about your favourite craft project and what it meant to you.
It would be sewing a bucket hat (sunhat) for my son. I wanted him to be involved in the fabric selection and so I allowed him the freedom of selection. When he said he wanted Sofia the First (the princess cartoon), I readily agreed despite the fact that most people think boys cannot wear princess clothes. He was really happy to wear it when I completed it for him.
You are also a mum; how do you balance crafting with looking after your child? Is crafting your “me time” as well?
I allow my child to observe when I am sewing. He can touch the knobs and buttons under my supervision and he likes to play with my fabric. There are times when I need to concentrate and I will ask him to do another activity. Crafting is my “me time” when my husband is around to watch my child. The hours pass so quickly when I am fully immersed in it.
More and more people are using crafting as a therapy; do you see it as a hobby or therapy?
Both! Crafting allows me to be immersed in my own world, doing the things I love.
What does crafting mean to you? Do you think crafting is good for everyone?
Crafting reminds me of my late grandma who used to sew blankets for us. I adored my blanket until it was torn. Crafting in other ways like knitting and drawing run in my family too. Crafting contains memories of love and continuation for me. Crafting is good for everyone as it allows one to take time off from work to pause and concentrate without getting too stressed.
As a Buddhist, is there any commonality you can find between Buddhism and crafting?
Taking the middle path is something that I always remind myself when I craft. I have to remember not to be extreme and rest when I am tired instead of continuing. Occasionally, when the item doesn’t turn out how I visualized, I tell myself it is okay to try again instead of blaming myself for the waste of time and resources.
Do you face any challenges in your crafting projects? If yes, could you tell us how you overcome them?
Yes! Sometimes I lack the momentum to start a new project. I overcome that by turning to nature; looking at the clouds, a stroll in the park, and then a quick meditation to clear my mind.