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Handy Work, Calm Mind

Posted May 19 2008 5:03pm

I’ve never been one to work with my hands. Structured arts and crafts were never for me. Coloring books bored me, and I never saw the point of pipeline, glitter, and glue. Truth is, I still don’t. But this week I’ve discovered that working with your hands can become a meditative experience.

I’m currently on a short vacation to my moms house. For me, a good vacation means being active and productive in some way. Changing my schedule is great, but having nothing to fill the slots will drive me mad. I started reading, happy for the greater chunks of time allowed to dive into some great material. I picked up Body & Soul, a magazine I’m subscribed to that still makes its way to my parents house.

In the April 2008 edition of Body & Soul I found 25 Green Ideas For Under $25 that I had to check out. A few ideas struck me, and I got to work. With my hands.

The first thing I did was make candles. I found small old flower pots and old ugly candles. It was simple. Wash the pot, melt the wax, and pour. Voila - something new out of something old and useless.

The second thing I did was far more accomplished (for me). I reupholstered my parents old dining room chairs. With old sweaters. For $20. It was simple. Go to thrift store, find matching patterns. Unscrew seat cushions. Cut fabric, staple gun it, and screw the seat cushions back in. Here’s my first attempt, a before and after picture:


It only took a few hours, and the benefits of completing such a task are plentiful.

I had fun, and found a new way to meditate. Doing a task that requires repetition can work as repetitive mantras do. The repetition clears your mind, so you can think clearly or leave your mind free and “empty”. At the end of the day, you (or your mom!) will have something new that was cheap, made with love, and eco-friendly.

I’m not telling you to go out, buy old sweaters, and have fun with a staple gun. But I’m sure that there is something you can do around your house to make old things new, fuel your creativity, and relax your mind. Try this out on your next Sunday, day off, family day, or three day weekend:

1. Go around your house collecting (or listing) items that you no longer use/need.

2. Make a list of house hold jobs that you need/want to be done. Include those that you don’t think are within your budget.

3. Cross reference your list and be a little creative. What do you have in list number 1 that (with the help of a trip to the hardware store and/or thrift shop) could become something new and accomplish something from list number 2?

Other ways to work with your hands: Sew, knit, garden, bake, cook, do the dishes, fold the laundry, clean something, arrange a bookshelf, iron, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc…….. Please notice that I’ve included house hold chores. Try approaching them with a new frame of mind and let them be an opportunity for you to be with yourself.

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