It seems like we’ve all been spending a lot of time engaging in two distinct activities lately — hand-washing and hand wringing (e.g., worrying about the future).
The latter activity —worry — has us predicting or imagining a negative future and then living with that fear as if the future has already happened. Notice that worrying is very different than thinking about or planning for future contingencies. One sends us into a downward spiral of overreaction or inaction. The other leads us into measured and productive action.
Many years ago I learned how to use the otherwise ordinary act of washing my hands as a mindfulness practice. One that helps me access a sense of calm, let go of worry and regret, and return to the present moment. When I am in a relaxed and focused state I am more resourceful, more empathetic, and my immune system is stronger.
Here’s the practice:
1) Stop at the sink and take a deep breath. Set an intention that washing your hands will be an act of self-care.
2) Begin washing and place your attention on the physical sensation of the water’s temperature, pressure, the fragrance of the soap, etc. Let these sensations be your sole focus.
3) Massage the muscles of your palms, fingers, and the spaces between your fingers. Let these sensations be your sole focus. Allow yourself this moment of enjoyment.
4) As you rinse your hands, identify a few events or thoughts that you imagine going down the drain with the soap suds. Feel them slide off of you and down the drain. Say: I’m letting this go.
5) Dry your hands gently and thoroughly as you take a few slow, deep breaths.
That’s it. It doesn’t take any more time than the requisite 20 seconds to get your hands really clean. It simply involves setting your intention and directing your attention in a different way.
Please try this today each time you wash your hands. Then at the end of the day drop a note in the comment section of this blog to share your experience.
Image credit: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash