Using socks to meditate

“Sadly, my socks are like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike.” ― Graham Parke

I bet the title of this blog post made you stop and do a double take for a moment.

“Using socks to meditate? How”, you ask.

There is a large discussion that goes on as to whether you wear certain items of clothing when you meditate. Loose clothes; whether you sit on the floor, or on a cushion; whether you lie down and last but by no means least, whether you wear shoes and socks. I’m not going to get into that discussion here, rather, how I used socks to help some young people.

Outside of work, I help with a local scouting group. Imagine a hall with 24 teenage children, boys and girls, that are all trying to talk at the same time, engage and get involved in an activity. The noise level can be extraordinary. Last Monday evening, I helped out and halfway through the evening, felt as if my ears were shutting down, due to the excessive noise level. There are many different techniques to support managing such a situation; including using whistles or raising your hand. However, I had heard of one that really stood out for me.

Raising my hand to indicate silence; the room eventually quieted down. I asked the scouts to remove their shoes, take off their socks and make them up into balls. Strange looks and sniggers followed, but they did as asked.

Next, I asked for them to lie down on the floor, away from each other and place the sock on their stomach. Next, I asked them to close their eyes and imagine the socks going up and down as they breathed in and out.

For approximately ten minutes there was complete and total silence. Not a noise at all. Can you imagine 24 teenagers being quiet for more than a minute? I was amazed.

More than that, when I asked the children to open their eyes and put their shoes and socks back on, there was a noticeable calmness amongst the children.

Now would I suggest doing this in a work environment? It Depends?

For many people in a work environment; the thought of lying on the floor, the idea of taking their shoes off, let alone their socks, elicits looks of horror. You can imagine the thoughts going through their minds; ‘Lie on the floor near a work colleague? Do I have holes in my socks? Are my socks clean? I’m wearing tights, what do I do? Etc. Etc.’

It is rare to see work colleagues lying on the floor, and most practices I have been involved in have taken place sitting on chairs. However, I have seen practices in the workplace with people on the floor, using hand small hand sized bean bags or even a book. The weight is more than a pair of socks; alleviates the embarrassment of “sock removal” and for adults seems to work better.

The simple focus on the breath coming in and out for a short period of time does help – for scouts, as well as adults.

Go on, give it a go? What have you got to lose? Nothing.

By the way, apologies that I have not posted since August. I decided to take the summer off from writing blog posts, which then got extended into September and October due to work and personal commitments. ‘Normality’ has returned, so I will be posting on a regular basis.

Finally, the picture is of my socks! I do like to wear loud socks at work. Perhaps that was another thought going through someone’s mind.

I leave you with the following quote which made me smile. I love the works of Terry Pratchett.

“There should be a word for that brief period just after waking when the mind is full of warm pink nothing. You lie there entirely empty of thought, except for a growing suspicion that heading towards you, like a sockful of damp sand in a nocturnal alleyway, are all the recollections you’d really rather do without, and which amount to the fact that the only mitigating factor in your horrible future is the certainty that it will be quite short. ”

Terry Pratchett, Mort