Last year I taught an eight week Relax & Restore course for staff in the community Services industry in Canberra. Six people working long hours in very demanding positions, with equally demanding home lives to maintain.My plans were to deliver a course with nurturing tools, restorative yoga postures and deep relaxation. I wrote a manual with each week’s practices photographed and described, a guide to developing a home practice and a Splendour Relaxation CD.
I was idealistic that my new students would go home after the first night and start practicing their newfound self-management tools. So when the students returned for week 2, I was looking forward to hearing how they had fared with their new practices.
You can imagine my surprise when the most common practice (in some cases the only practice), that the students were practicing on a daily practice was self massage of their hands, most frequently following my suggestion that they practice in the car at traffic lights!
They reported that hand massage bought them back into the present, which stopped the endless chatter of their monkey mind. The result was an oasis of calm in the midst of the busyness and anxiety of their lives. One participant said “it was like pressing the ‘Reset’ button on her mind”.
The added bonus was that the act of massaging their own hands made them feel nurtured. A very real benefit in careers and home lives that involved nurturing others, with little time and energy left to nurture themselves.
So, here is the Hand Massage Meditation.
Hand Massage Meditation
- Sit quietly and take a three long, slow breaths.
- Rest your dominant hand in the palm of your other hand, palm facing up.
- Begin massaging along the base of your hand (at the border between the hand and the wrist), small circles with the thumb of the other hand.
- Then move into pad, continuing the gentle circles up to the base of your thumb.
- Move into the centre of the palm of your hand for a few moments.
- The, beginning from the heel of your hand, massage along the outside edge of your hand.
- Then across the pads along the base of your fingers toward your ‘pointer’ finger and back along the pads toward your ‘pinky’.
- Gently stroke along each finger and thumb, applying gentle pressure at the top of each finger and in the space between each finger.
- Turn the hand over and find the space just above where the thumb bone and the pointer bone join into the wrist. Apply gentle pressure for a few seconds then stroke up toward the digits.
- Repeat for each finger then gentle stroke across the top of the joints at the base of the fingers.
- If you have extra time you can gently massage each joint.
- Then repeat with the other hand.
- Take a moment to notice and appreciate the calm in your mind.
Now, if you are doing this at traffic lights you probably won't be able to do both hands in one sitting (unless of course you are in busy traffic, in which case you really need something to keep the road anxiety at bay), which is why we begin with the dominant hand or the hand that does the most work. In fact, you may not even finish a whole hand – it doesn’t matter!
The aim is to provide a focus for your mind that is not the constant to and fro between the past and the future, while giving yourself a bit of nurturing. Even just a few moments can reset your brain. And you can always pick up where you left off, at the next traffic light or the next few minutes of space (I know a particularly busy woman who goes in to the toilet at her office and massages her hands).
And the best thing is there is no limit to the number of times you can engage with self massage and your hands are always with you.
I love hearing about people’s experiences with these practices so please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember: if you need to press the ‘Reset’ button on your busy brain, take a few moments and massage your own hands.
Lynnette Dickinson is the author of A Journey to Peace through Yoga, and teaches yoga, relaxation and meditation in Canberra and via Skype or phone. Classes, personalised programs and yoga therapy. Visit www.splendouryoga.com. Listen to Lynnette telling her story click on www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8pNE2Qpul0 for Part 1 and www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SatGo9hV6I for Part 2, and be inspired.