“Out, Damned Spot!”


Oh my goodness. I am SO.


of washing my hands.

I think in part because of the whole “Out, damned spot! out, I say!” aspect to it. My trip to the sink usually is propelled by some undercurrent of dread—fear that the contagion has made its way onto my skin (you know, from the “contaminated” mail or takeout delivery) and must be eradicated, pronto.

And yet, it is possible to transform anxious scrubbing into a moment of presence and calm. One simple approach is to pair handwashing with the 4-2-6 breathing exercise. Two cycles of deep, mindful breathing can get us to the recommended 20-second mark.

A second approach is to stop and connect with your senses as you wash your hands. Bring your awareness and curiosity to the sounds and sensations you are experiencing. How does the water sound right now? What do the water and soap feel like on your hands? How do the muscles of your hands feel? Perhaps you can use this time to gently massage any tension out of your palms or the backs of your hands.


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