ABCs Minute


I just read that is takes about 20 seconds to sing the English alphabet song. This is the amount of time you are supposed to wash your hands to achieve perfect hygiene. When I teach this concept to the grandchildren, I learn quickly that a child will wash their hands under running water as long as there is running water.

As many times as I wash my hands in the course of a day, I realize I can have Mentastics Minutes throughout the day.

The first time, I sing the ABCs out loud because I am home alone, it is morning and I feel adventurous. It takes about 24 seconds. I notice I am smiling by the end, and somewhere in the back corners of my memory, my body recalls the feeling of play. My legs remember the thrill of movement, skipping, running. I take the rest of the 60 seconds to walk around in the house with a new feeling in my legs that is connected to a distant memory of ease and fun.

When I remember to have a Mentastics Minute later in the day, I’m washing my hands under warm water because they are cold. Gloves and mittens, once wet with snow, don’t offer as much insulation against the weather. Thinking about the ABCs, I notice my arms and hands are weary, they ache from the work I have been doing. Lifting one hand up slightly, I flick my wrist shaking droplets of water into the sink. The ripple of the movement travels up to my elbow. Dropping my hand to my side and repeating the movement I can feel the ripple release my whole arm and shoulder.

Vegetables are cut and sautéing. Washing my hands at the kitchen sink I hum the ABCs.  I have at least 30 seconds to notice my body. Shoulders are forward, raised slightly. I wonder how it would feel if I surrendered them to gravity. Almost immediately there is an exhale. I pause to notice my ribs rising with a deep in-breath.

There is room to breathe.

Mentastics Minute: Use the minute you are washing your hands.
– flick your wrist shaking droplets of water into the sink – feel the ripples of movement
– drop your hand to your side and repeat the movement – feel the ripples of movement
– notice your shoulders, surrender them to gravity as you exhale