Washing your hands is an act of love.

Dori Midnight

The 20 seconds recommended to “lather up” invite us to experience gratitude and wonder. Below, we offer some ways you might enjoy the opportunity to wash your hands. Notice how you feel when you intentionally cultivate gratefulness in an activity that could feel like an obligation.

  • When you go to wash your hands, take a moment to pause and express gratitude for the opportunity at-hand (pun a little intended), remembering that this activity is a privilege and a luxury that not everyone has access to. You might express thanks for the gift of warm running water as well as the miracle of soap. You might even express thanks for the discovery of handwashing itself and the scientists credited with the discovery (Ignaz Semmelweis and Oliver Wendell Holmes). Reflect on your good fortune in the opportunity to make a truly meaningful difference through this simple activity. Rest in gratefulness for the chance to help protect both yourself and others. 
  • Embrace this opportunity to breathe consciously for a few moments. Do two rounds of simple breathing: Inhale for four counts (one one-thousand, two one-thousand, etc.), and exhale for six counts. Rinse and repeat as desired!
  • As is often suggested, singing is another wonderful way to mark the recommended 20 seconds of handwashing. A couple rounds of happy birthday is easy, but you might play with songs you love–songs that move you, calm you, and inspire you. Embrace the feeling of singing as a gateway to aliveness, whether you’re alone or sharing your voice loudly enough for others in your household, or even your neighbors, to hear. Savor the connection to mystery through music, in even the simplest of forms. 
  • While washing, reflect on the wonder of your hands. Notice the feel of your skin and palpable bones. Sense the varying textures. Delight in the dexterity of your wrists and fingers. Reflect on the remarkable ability of your hands. Consider the ways in which they serve as the body’s physical gateway to connection with others through touch and through giving and receiving things–even in times when we consciously refrain from those activities. Take a moment to thank your hands for the richness of experience they afford as well as their tireless service.
  • Use the occasion of handwashing to delight in the extraordinariness of the ordinary. Perhaps you notice the details of the space surrounding you, the shape of the faucet and the sink, the intricacies of the floor beneath you, and even the quality of the air in which you find yourself. Maybe there is a window near the sink that offers a curious glimpse of the outdoors. Consider the wonders contained within just one square foot or inch of the space before you.
  • Show extra appreciation for your hands by massaging them with your favorite lotion or oil once they’re dry. Savor the feeling of gently rubbing joints, moisturizing skin and cuticles, and playfully mobilizing your fingers and wrists. Relish this added, luxurious self-care. 

How does your experience of handwashing change when you embrace it as an opportunity to practice gratefulness?

Should you be inspired, please share your response to this question in the area below…