You may not be surprised that beading is used by many organizations as part of therapy. From promoting eye-hand coordination to mood stabilization and elevation, the magic of beading helps us. ……And I DO self-medicate!
Why does beading affect us and our moods? Well, really, who cares as long as it works! I do however have a few theories. The first relates to that old-tried-and-true advice to count to 10 before you speak when you are angry. Simply counting provides a discipline and rhythm that calms us. Extend this theory to beading, and then recognize how often you are counting as you bead and you can see how performing beadwork can have a calming effect. It is difficult to count and concentrate and hold on to strong negative feelings.
Another theory I have relates to tension. Good beadwork always has an aspect of the proper measured tension in it. Some methods like free form peyote are best with a tight tension, while other stitches like right angle weave are more measured and firm and others want looseness. Regardless of the stitch, it is US, the beader, who controls the tension. Hey, wouldn’t you love to be able to control the tension in the rest of your life? Beading provides us with a unique opportunity to do that.
Music is often recognized as being able to affect how people feel which brings me to another one of my theories. Music has lyrics, melody and the rhythm. While performing beadwork doesn’t have any lyrics, there is a poetry to the colors being used and an undeniable rhythm to performing the beading. We can relax into the rhythm and enjoy the visual sensation of the colors. Those who also knit or crochet will chime in here about the relaxing effect of the rhythm of those tasks.
Let’s not forget that beading also allows us to Play with our toys. Looking at and stroking all those beads whether they are bright and shiny or matte and mysterious is fun. We can imagine all the possibilities of what they can become, or just enjoy their current state. The point here is that you can adjust your mood without even picking up a needle. Simply “visit” your beads, enjoy their company (they never talk back, insult you or criticize you). Touch them, stroke them, introduce them to other beads you have and you may even come up with a design you hadn’t thought of before. Beads accept us, gotta luv em.
This example is about working through a negative issue, but remember that beading can also be used to celebrate a wonderful event too. Reward yourself for a promotion or other achievement. Engage in the joy of a wedding by creating some jewelry for the wedding party.
Along this line, I recommend Heidi Kummli’s new book The Spirit of Bead Embroidery. This is excellent for showing how you can experiment beyond the beads, and end result… you can design a deeper meaning into your beadwork.
As she says in her intro, “a feeling of healing peace and tranquility flows through me. My spirit is at one with the universe and the beads.” This is a wonderful goal.