“Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.” ~ Carl G. Jung
We live with more technology than ever before. In a world full of more visual and audio stimulation than we could ever dream of, the impetus to engage with activities using our hands is far less than it used to be. We are arguably much less tactile these days. Physical ‘trades’ are less present in the workplace, and our forms of entertainment are, in general, far less hands-on and less connected to the world and other people. This has an impact on our wellbeing and effects our general and professional resilience.
The act of engaging in a hands-on activity is the perfect gateway to mindfulness. In a noisy and distracting world, it can often be difficulty to find time to tap into a moment of mindfulness. Weather the task be mundane or super creative, working with your hands is proven to give your head the quiet it needs to be present and to look after your wellbeing in general.
Here are a few activities you might want to try…
Let’s start with a glamorous one! Cleaning and tidying are things we all must do from time to time. The great thing about tasks like this is that they have a clear beginning and end, and don’t have to take up a great deal of time. They are perfect opportunities for mindfulness and for mulling over things in your head, and they can be easily scheduled into your day. Just remember to take care over whatever it is, concentrate on whatever the required action happens to be, and you will feel lighter and enormously satisfied by the time you are done. Struggling for an odd job to do? Try one of these: Folding clothes, washing up, scrubbing the bathroom, sorting out a kitchen cupboard, vacuuming, dusting, reordering a bookshelf… there are loads to choose from!
Gardening is one of the ultimate calming activities; a moment of mindfulness is never far away when you have a trowel in your hand. Not only is this a great activity for mindfulness, but it also has the benefit of being a bit of a project. Once you have started to grow, let’s say, a tomato plant, you must look after it! If it becomes a bit of a project, an obligation, then mindfulness becomes an obligation by association. Just 30 minutes gardening a week has been proven to significantly reduce stress and improve one’s general mood and outlook.
3. Kid’s Stuff
Puzzles. Lego. Train sets. Drawing. There is a reason adult colouring books are doing so well these days. All this stuff is just as good for kid’s creativity as it can be for your wellbeing and resilience. ‘Play’ is not the reserve of the young, it has a significant positive impact on adults. The simplicity of these tasks fosters a clear mind and a chance to sort your thoughts out.
4. Arts and Crafts
This ‘play’ also extends to more creative endeavours. Engaging in a specific art or craft can also play into the regularity and project like nature of a growing a plant in your garden. Why not try out a pottery class, or painting group? Why not upgrade your Lego play and build something for real; a table, a shelf, a model boat, a shed? Find something that you can return to regularly… a safe, quiet, creative space that allows you to be mindful and present.
5. Musical Mindfulness
Playing an instrument as any level takes focus, so already this plays into the qualities afforded my mindfulness. If you are an accomplished musician take some time in the day to just enjoy your abilities. Sit at the piano or pick up the guitar. Play a song you know well and let the music calm you. Notice the notes, connect with the effect your hands have on the voice of the instrument.
If you are new to playing an instrument, then great! It is another example of a great project to take on. The learning of an instrument demands that you engage with this single action. Use the time you take to practice as time to also be present, connected and mindful.
These are a mere few activities that are proven to improve your outlook and wellbeing. What tactile hobby can you find to bring mindfulness into your life?
By Chris Thomson
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