I have a somewhat strange spiritual-religious exercise for you.
Doing (or not doing) it can offer learning in the following three areas:
1. Following direction
2. Dealing with change
3. Forgiveness and letting go
The exercise: Brush your teeth differently tonight.
I want you to heed my words as though they have the force of divine law – this night, thou shall brushest the ivory of thy mouth with thy non-dominant hand.
I am ordering, commanding, dictating that you brush your teeth with the opposite of your normal tooth-brush holding hand.
Now take note of the following:
1. Right now, what is your reaction to me telling you this is something you must do?
How do you react when someone (let alone a religious officiant) tells you that you MUST do something? Your reaction here is interesting. Are you rebellious? Resistant? Excited? Compliant? Or something else?
2. Tonight, notice how you deal with the actual change.
How do you feel when you’re brushing your teeth with the other hand?
For me, brushing my teeth the “wrong” way felt so unnatural. It happened by accident the first time. I was with my son, Emmett, and we were both brushing our teeth together. I was encouraging him to start with the bottom teeth like I do. He wanted to start with the top. I was reticent to do so, but realized there is no “proper” way to brush… and that led me to try using the wrong hand. That’s how I came up with this exercise.
Heraclitus wrote, “Nothing endures but change.” Change is the only constant. Change can feel so disturbing. How do you react to it?
3. Tomorrow morning, observe how you feel when you realize you either did or didn’t follow my sage counsel.
Did you remember to brush your teeth the wrong way? Or did you forget? If you remembered, do you feel smug and better than the people who didn’t remember? If you forgot to brush your teeth wrong, do you feel guilty?
This week’s spiritual-religious advice:
Practice being with change.