In today's fast past society, individuals are realising that they need to spend more time disconnecting from the distractions that technology has created. We live in an era where the distinct line between work and relaxation has blurred into one. The problem with today’s technology is it is constantly with us 24/7, it is the first thing we look at when we wake up and the last thing we check before we go to bed.
Mindfulness has emerged as a new alternative to help us detox and relax our bodies and minds. We are in a constant state of stress, where we want to impress everyone in our virtual and real life. This is where a new trend has emerged where people are using pre-technological methods to help ease and unclutter their minds. When adult colouring books were introduced, they soon became a cult relaxation method. To the extent that at one-point suppliers were worried that there were not enough coloured pencils to keep the market saturated. Another ancient practice that people are starting to employ to help them relax is Origami.
Origami originated in Japan soon after the invention of handmade paper had been created. The word itself is made up of two segments, “Ori” meaning to fold and “Kami” meaning paper. This tradition which dates back to before the 16th Century was not just made in Asia but also in Europe as well. When you are making Origami, your mind is not able to focus on anything else besides the paper in your hands. Each fold, each crease has to be perfectly aligned in order to craft the beautiful creation. It is this level of deep concentration that allows particular areas of our brains to produce different endorphins, that enable us to breathe and relax. When you are concentrating your breathing becomes deeper and slows, which in turn brings down your heart rate while oxygenating your blood supply. There are various levels of difficulty to Origami designs, but if you start somewhere and practice, in no time those challenging designs become a breeze.
Throughout the world, many cultures use different types of paper to create their origami. Washi paper is traditionally a fine handmade paper, with many artists preferring to use this medium. The Washi paper is made from renewable long fibred crops, which mean even with the delicate thinness the paper is highly durable and absorbs ink easily. Chiyogami is also a traditional Japanese hand-screened origami paper. The unique patterns were traditionally made with wood blocks but today Chiyogami is manufactured using silkscreen techniques. The unique designs and bright colours make it a popular choice for children and adults alike. Italian paper has also become a popular medium to use equally as traditional origami design. This speciality paper has a unique marbling effect that makes pieces look beautiful when they are finished. The distinctive designs of this paper make it attractive to artists and novices alike.
Origami is a great way to clear your mind of stress and unwanted tension. It is an activity that can be done individually or in a workshop setting with other people all wanting to achieve mindfulness. To obtain a level of peace, you have to learn how to switch off from all the distractions and focus on achieving something made from your own hands. It is always nicer to receive gifts that are handmade as you know someone has put in time and effort to show their affections for you. If you are feeling stressed, Origami is a great solution to allow your mind the downtime it deserves, while creating something beautiful.
Kids will collect nearly anything.
My six-year-old daughter got into the odd habit of collecting finished toilet rolls, and she managed to accumulate quite a substantial number. Instead of letting them go to waste, or letting them pile up, we did various art projects, recycling them.
With the rapid approach of Christmas, I thought I'd share our experience creating the "25 Days Christmas, Advent Calendar" using the rolls, and in true Kami fashion, we decorated the rolls with Chiyogami Strips from our store to give the project a fresh look and because those strips are just so unbearably pretty.
The idea was for her to open one "gift" every day, leading up to Christmas, and act on the note found inside.
It was important that the calendar be more than just another gift-giving opportunity, because the point was not to get more store-bought gifts, so I turned the 25-days into a gratitude exercise that I could share with my daughter.
This needed planning, and a small amount of soul-searching, to work out the note to be prepared for each day, culminating at the end of the calendar, where she will have earned a present on her wish-list.
In thinking through the notes that are put in each tube, I also found that feelings of gratitude would wash over me as I sealed the ends by folding inward. When you reflect, you can really "see" how we live our lives rushing from task-to-task, and take a lot of what we already have for granted.
Try it. You'll see.
While you think about that, here are some of my notes as an example:
- Write a thank you note to 3 friends, and think about what they have done for you in the past year that you would want to show your appreciation for.
- Pick out 3 toys from your toy box and donate them to children who need it more than us (they must be in good condition and still valued to make the point stick).
- Take a walk around the house, look around, list 5 things you are grateful for.
- Help mummy with a house chore of your choice.
- Give daddy a 5-minute massage, and thank him for being the best daddy.
You can obviously create any note you wish to fit the values you want to share with your own kids, and remind them, as well as ourselves, about the true meaning of Christmas spirit in a way that should stick around the rest of the year.
It's the season to be merry!
With Christmas around the corner, you might be looking to do something nice for the tree that's not just another purchase from the store. With Kami Japanese paper, some round pins and a styrofoam ball, you can make a Christmas Ornament to go with a Christmas note for a special friend.
You will want to thread the ribbon through the center of the styrofoam ball with a knitting needle or similar. This makes for a nicer finish and a more secure ribbon for hanging.
I borrowed my daughter's craft puncher from Daisoh (it's only $2.80 and comes in a variety of shapes) and invited her to punch out all the Sakura flowers while I pinned them to the styrofoam ball.
The pins I found at home worked but were a little too long. A quick search online informed me that shorter pins can be bought on eBay for few dollars.
We were quite pleased with the result and our joined effort.
For variety you can try different combinations of ribbons, flowers, and shapes, or you can make your tree extra memorable by having everyone in the family contribute one for hanging!