Hand-washing as Meditation

It’s getting more and more disconcerting out there – dystopian even. As schools and businesses close to slow the spread of COVID-19, panic-buying depletes grocery store shelves, and we all double up on our hygiene practices, how can our meditation practice support us? This is part of what we were practicing for, right? Greater stability, clarity, and strength?

Our formal practice trains us to be more mindful in our daily activities, and we can even practice some of those activities as meditation. Most, if not all, of us have become far more conscious of our hand-washing in recent weeks. What if we transformed the act of hand-washing from a reminder of the current crises – from a stressor – into a mindful sensory experience to ground us periodically as we go about our days?

Try this. Imagine yourself standing in front of the bathroom sink. Set an intention to give the act of hand-washing your full attention and presence. See the colors and textures of the sink, the faucet, the wall. Feel the cool resistance of the faucet as you turn on the water and let it run all over your hands. Notice the pressure and temperature of the running water against your skin, its force as it strikes your hand, and the sensation as it rolls off and into the sink.

Turn off the faucet and apply soap to your hands. Notice the sensations you experience as you operate the dispenser, or manipulate the bar of soap, and begin to lather your hands. Notice how the soap and bubbles feel as you mindfully scrub your palms, the backs of your hands, your fingers, and under your nails, taking time to fully experience each sensation.* Notice the scent of the soap.

Turn the water back on and thoroughly rinse your hands, again noticing all the sensations of the water as it interacts with the soap against your skin. Notice if it feels different than when you first wet your hands. Is it warmer, cooler? Does it feel different sliding off your soapy skin than it did when you first wet your hands? Hear the sounds of the water, and how the movement of your hands under the stream of water affects those sounds. Imagine your stress and anxiety washing away with the soapy water.

Turn off the faucet and carry your mindful practice into the act of drying your hands. Feel the texture of the towel as it rubs against your hands, transforming them from wet to dry.

When you’re finished, pause for a moment and take a few deep breaths. Notice how you feel. Are you surprised at how mentally and emotionally purifying the experience is when you offer it your full attention?

Try using this practice each time you wash your hands, taking a few moments to step away from busyness to rest your mind and nervous system as you ground yourself in the full experience of your senses.

Be safe out there, and take care of each other!

*This step should take at least the CDC-recommended twenty seconds.

Image credit: Matthew Tkocz on Unsplash

#fullymyself #handwashingmeditation #covid19

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