For a group of four or more: …one person serving as guide, pausing appropriately along the way in order to give ample opportunity to mindful consideration –
Get comfortable in your chair, with both feet firmly on the ground, and close your eyes,, resting your hands in your lap palms up. Notice your breathing. No need to change it, just notice the pattern of the breath coming in and going out.
Relax any tension you notice in your body as you breathe.
Become aware of the air at your fingertips, between your fingers, on the palm of your hand.
Experience the fullness, strength and maturity of your hands.
Think of the most unforgettable hands you have known – the hands of your father, your mother, your grandparents, a friend or lover.
Remember the oldest hands that have rested in your hands.
Think of the hands of a newborn child, perhaps your nephew or niece – of the incredible beauty, perfection, delicacy in the hands of a child.
Once upon a time your hands were the same size. Think of all that your hands have done since then. Almost all that you have learned has been through your hands – turning yourself over, crawling and creeping, walking and balancing yourself, learning to hold something for the first time, feeding yourself, washing and bathing, dressing yourself.
At one time your greatest accomplishment was tying your own shoes. Think of all the learning your hands have done and how many activities they have mastered, the things they have made. Remember the day you could write your own name?
Our hands were not just for ourselves but for others. How often they were given to help others. Remember all the kinds of work they have done,
the tiredness and aching they have known,
the cold and the heat, the soreness and the bruises.
Remember the tears they have wiped away, our own or another’s,
the blood they have bled,
the healing they have experienced.
How much hurt, anger, and even violence they have expressed,
and how much gentleness, tenderness they have given.
There is a special mystery that we discover in the hand of a person we love.
There are the hands of a doctor, a nurse, an artist, a conductor, hands which you can never forget.
Now raise your right hand slowly and gently place it over your heart.
Press it firmly until your hand picks up the beat of your heart,
that most mysterious of all human sounds,
one’s own heartbeat,
a rhythm learned in the womb from the heartbeat of one’s mother.
Press more firmly for a moment / and then release your hand and hold it just a fraction from your clothing. Experience the warmth between your hand and your heart.
Now lower your hand to your lap very carefully as if it were carrying your heart.
For it does.
When you extend your hand to another, it is not just bone and skin, it is your heart.
Think of all the hands that have left their imprint on you.
Fingerprints and hand prints are heart prints that can never be erased.
The hand has its own memory.
Think of all the places that people carry your hand prints and all the people who bear your heart print. They too are indelible and will last forever.
Now without opening your eyes extend your hands on either side of you and find another hand.
Do not simply hold it but explore it and sense the history and mystery of this hand.
Let your hand speak to it and let it listen to the other.
Try to express your gratitude for this hand stretched out to you.
With eyes still closed, slowly release your hands and bring them back again to your lap.
Experience the presence of that hand lingering upon your hand.
The afterglow will fade but the print is there forever.
When you are ready, open your eyes.
Share your thoughts and feelings of this experience with those around you.
Many thanks to AHP of SF for sharing this powerful exercise from their program. As a facilitator of 12 week support groups at AHP, I found this to be a powerful way to end the last session.