Mindfulness Practise with Hand Embroidery

When I first began to embroider, I was struck by the relaxing effects. It was as if my mind got clearer and my body calmer with each stitch.

A sense of mental and physical presence made embroidery my go to activity whenever life got stressful. However, it wasn’t until much later that I drew the connections between hand work and mindfulness.

In fact, hand embroidery is an ancient mindfulness practise, performed by men and women throughout history. Yet, in the modern trends of meditation, mindfulness, self care, yoga and more, embroidery tends to be forgotten. But, why?

My husband @_charleshenry_ deep in concentration and mindful of his embroidery process

Hand embroidery as a mindfulness practise

When I google the term “mindfulness”, I find explanations that roughly include the following three things:

  1. Focus your mind and body on the present
  2. Disconnect from the stressors around you
  3. Let your thoughts free from judgement

Read through them and you will immediately see the connection with embroidery.

The slow process of hand embroidery, allows your mind to rest.

The repetitive movements as well as the soothing sound of the needle that pushes through the fabric, makes you disconnect from your surrounding.

Manhattan Bridge
Pour a cup with your favourite drink and let the stitching begin! Here I am with some coffee (with loads of cream!) and our pattern of Manhattan Bridge in New York – it’s a perfect design to concentrate on the repetitive backstitches that makes up all the contours (i.e. the whole pattern!). Click the image and you can try out this hand embroidery designs already today.

Charles and I often talk about how it’s not the greatest number of stitch techniques that will make you a better embroiderer.

But I’ve come to realise, that this principle of “less is more” also applies to embroidery as mindfulness art. Part of the mindfulness practise is to let your thoughts free of judgement.

Hence, if you begin to over complicate your process with unnecessarily advanced stitch techniques, you will feel everything but free. If you let me guess, you’ll most likely feel even more overwhelmed and stressed.

Instead, concentrate on fewer basic stitches that are easy to learn for everyone and anyone. You may have reasons in your mind of why you can’t start embroidery today, but lack of experience shouldn’t be one of them!

Basic stitches such as: Straight stitch, back stitch and satin stitch are easy to learn for everyone. Either you can have a look at our full article guide or watch our free video tutorials on how to do any of these techniques. In addition we also have another article that introduces you on how to start embroidery from the beginning.

Charles and Elin Academy membership
Set yourself up for success by joining the Academy membership. The membership gives you access to ALL our courses in one place at a small monthly charge. You stay on for as few or many months as suits you – so it’s the perfect place to start when you’re on the look to develop your embroidery habit.

Disconnect with each stitch for mindfulness art

To embroider with fewer techniques, will also give you more freedom with regards to how you combine and overlap them. Be mindful of the direction you make your stitch, the thickness of thread and the colour you choose. To go even deeper you can match your breathing with the rhythm of your stitches.

Breathe in – stitch up – breathe out – stitch down

How to do Embroidery
Another one of Charles @_charleshenry_ relaxing with some embroidery in Graca, Lisbon

Reduce stress and reach greater fulfilment

Stress and anxiety are two of the key problems that mindfulness practises tries to solve. What puts hand embroidery above that of more “trendy” mindfulness activities is the creative fulfilment that it brings. When you embroider a design that you love, you will not only receive the benefits of being more mindful. But you will also have a beautiful and unique artwork at the end of the road.

Your embroidered art piece will continuously remind you of the journey of self care that you are on. Hence, the mere presence of the finished embroidery, will contribute to greater feelings of fulfilment and accomplishment.

Thus, if you are reading this article because you are on the look for a practise that will help you to become more present and reduce stress and anxiety, then I hope you feel convinced to give hand embroidery a try!

We’ve got a series of online courses to get you started, as well as unique inspiring embroidery patterns. Along with each pdf pattern you will also receive a stitch guide and colour guide to help you through the process. Furthermore, we’ve got a series of free resources to make sure that you have everything you need.

Charles and Elin Academy membership
Join us in the Academy and get access to ALL our courses + future updates in one place. The best investment is an investment in your own well-being and art is simply a happiness pill for the soul!

Are you already an embroiderer?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with hand embroidery as a creative mindfulness practise!


2 thoughts on “Mindfulness Practise with Hand Embroidery”

  1. I just finished your podcast and everything you said was the way I felt during the time I was embroidering on the free pattern. I bought your book and copy the patterns. I was in Sweden (2019) and enjoyed the lovely country. My grand parents are from Sweden and we plan on returning when we can. Have a number of pictures and plan to embroider them as soon as I can.
    Please keep up your patterns, maybe some on churches in Sweden. My sister and I visited many of them and the designs are breathtaking.

    1. Hi Jo! How wonderful to hear from you and your connection to Sweden. It’s true that we haven’t done too many patterns from Sweden yet, as we live in the countryside there aren’t too much architecture around but definitely worth going around. Hope you will be able to visit again soon, Cheers! Elin

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