Washing up is like smoking cigarettes...

One of the great things about drying dishes is letting my brain rest while doing something relatively mindless with my hands.

Or should I say, BECAUSE I’m doing something relatively mindless with my hands?

You see, without keeping the hands busy, I probably wouldn’t find the space for that special kind of thinking time.

This is not a million miles away from doing smoking cigarettes.

Let me explain…

Years ago, in a yoga class, I was given a simple meditative practice to use when I’m sitting in lotus position. Subsequently, I’ve used that same exercise to help somebody give up smoking, believe it or not.

I can hardly believe it myself. I never thought I would be in the give-up-smoking game…

You see, one of the things people like about smoking is the opportunity to take time out, and think, while doing something with the hands. (Sound familiar?)

So I said to my friend, why don’t you do this meditation instead?

And I showed her.

You start by cupping one hand inside the other – palms open but relaxed, with a bit of curl in the fingers.

The lower hand just supports the upper hand, where all the action takes place.

Pretty tiny action, mind you – almost invisible to others.

When you breathe out, move your the tip of your thumb to touch the lowest segment of your index finger. When you’re ready, breathe in.

(Never force the breath to go faster or slower. Just breathe naturally throughout.)

On the next outward breath, move the tip of your thumb up to the middle segment of the index finger. Breathe in when you’re ready.

Next exhale: move the thumb to the topmost segment of your index finger. Inhale.

Next, move across to the top of the middle finger, then the top of the ring finger, then the top of the little finger…

…and then start working your way down the little finger…

…and back across to the lowest segment of the ring, then middle fingers.

Always do a full exhale and inhale before moving on.

If you have been following carefully, you will notice that you have now done a circle around the outer segments of your fingers. Just two segments remain: the middle segments of the middle finger, and finally the middle of the ring finger.

You’ve made a spiral.

Now do it backwards from that inner segment, along the bottom to the little finger, up and across the top, and down the index finger.

You’ve gone there and back again. In your end is your beginning.

It’s probably taken a few minutes. And your breathing has probably changed a little.

That smoker I was working with had told me she only smoked to do something with her hands – and this was a perfectly suitable alternative for her.

Might work for others. I don’t know.

There are a couple of elaborations of this practice I’d love to share with you – if you want. Let me know.