Working with my hands … for the sake of my mind

I’ve often noticed that my favorite hobbies are ones that involve using my hands to build, shape, repair, or re-make something.  When I am too busy to make time for these hobbies, I find that my mental faculties just aren’t as sharp as they might otherwise be.  When I read this quote below, it put some things together for me that I was missing:

There’s something about the rhythm of the hands being busy and then your body falls open to absorb and concentrate on what you’re listening to, but not completely, because you have two concentrations. And then from that, that sort of cultivates a kind of attention.
—Ann Hamilton, in Making, and the Spaces we Share.

I’m familiar with kinesthetic learning, but Hamilton’s concept of “two concentrations” seems to go beyond that.  It is more like “kinesthetic attention” (if such a term is defined anywhere).  This is engaging the body in movement, and aiding concentration in the process — even if it is concentration on something not directly related to the physical task at hand.

If I need proof for myself: some of my best “thinking” and “ah-ha” moments happen while I am mowing the lawn.


1 Response to “Working with my hands … for the sake of my mind”

  1. 1 Jennifer Ellingwood December 20, 2014 at 10:47 PM

    Yes! I find that knitting helps me stay engaged with other activites , like long meetings. And so long as the pattern isn’t too complex, I can have quite the “brain cleaning” going on while keeping my hands occupied.

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