Working With Your Hands: The Bipolar Question of the Week

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Okay, I know you must be sick of hearing about the didgeridoo by now, but I beg your indulgence - one last story ...

     

    Last week, I decided to make my own didgeridoo. Minor correction: Last year, actually, I decided to make my own didgeridoo. I even went so far as to acquire my raw didges - four desert yucca stalks. I stacked them in a corner of my place, and there they sat for more than 12 months.

     

    Last week, almost on impulse, I grabbed one of the stalks and split it lengthwise with a kitchen knife, then began hollowing out the pith with a paring knife. I had better luck the next day with a chisel purchased from the local hardware store. 

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    I will spare you all the details. Right now, my didgeridoo is drying out on the balcony, from its first coat of epoxy resin. The thing is sitting upright on a stick shoved into the soil of a plant pot (no plant). 

     

    Side note: Prior to the resin coat, I glued on a photo of Nikola Tesla. I also glued on this great quote: “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration."

     

    Anyway, the effort got me thinking: Isn’t doing stuff with your hands a form of therapy? We know that art therapy and craft therapy have long been used in mental health settings. We know that hobbies such as cabinet-making, pottery, gardening, home repairs, and knitting and sewing help induce a certain flow, that enviable state of energized calm where we seem to experience a higher awareness and sense of feeling alive.

     

    If mania is the opposite of depression, then flow is the opposite of both mania and depression. Perhaps even more important: It is also worlds apart from merely existing.

     

    I manage to achieve a state of flow through my writing and by playing my didgeridoo and other activities, but my latest project seemed to add this twist: Maybe, I thought, by working with my hands, I was recruiting new parts of my brain to participate in the flow.

     

    The more neurons I engaged, in effect - the more neural networks in sync - the greater the benefit.

     

    I have no idea how my didgeridoo will turn out. But I do know the sense of inner peace I am feeling at this very moment. And I also know exactly how I got there.

     

    Question: Working with your hands - tell us about your experiences. What hobbies do you engage in? How have you benefited? What insights can you share? 

     

    Comments below ...

Published On: May 28, 2014