Healthy Mind

The Surprising Mindfulness Benefit of Writing With Your Non-Dominant Hand

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Photo: Getty Images/Alys Tomlinson
Given the pandemic, growing racial tensions, political strife, and so much more discord, life on planet Earth has hardly been easy during this most recent journey around the sun. And while a person might turn to any number of coping strategies to heal and self-soothe, meditation and mindfulness activities like journaling and reciting affirmations can be super-effective. They use the senses to draw focus to your most raw and honest thoughts and allow for personal growth in the process. And by combining those two specific coping strategies—journaling and calling upon affirmations—you can practice the mindfulness exercise of writing with your non-dominant hand, which allows you to zero-in on that focus even more.

It’s a tip that spiritual activist and speaker Rachel Ricketts outlines in her new book, Do Better: Spiritual Activism for Fighting and Healing From White Supremacy that people can use to bring attention to their anti-racism and racial healing efforts. During the recent virtual book launch event co-sponsored by Well+Good, Ricketts—along with actor and activist Kristen Bell and Well+Good news writer Kara Jillian Brown—discussed the calming and centering power of the exercise for helping a person be able to process what they are reading and doing. And it’s not even really about the writing itself.

Just as meditation can teach you breathe with intention, mindfulness writing with your non-dominant hand can help you write with intention.

“You really can’t read it,” Brown said during the virtual event of her experience of writing with her non-dominant hand. “It’s not full letters—it’s lines. You actually have to put the care in to get something that resembles a word using your non-dominant hand and have that word mean something to you.” Basically, just as meditation can teach you breathe with intention, mindfulness writing with your non-dominant hand can help you write with intention, and the potential payoff is that the words you write will resonate with you on a deeper level.

How to practice mindfulness writing with your non-dominant hand

To introspect about apprehensions you have surrounding racial justice using this exercise, Ricketts asks you to find a quiet space to reflect and to ask yourself this question: What is my biggest fear or frustration about addressing white supremacy? During this time of introspection, if you feel comfortable and safe, you can lower or close your eyes.

Take note of the words, images, and emotions that may arise from this question, and after reflecting, open your eyes and jot down what came up for you. If you can, use your non-dominant hand to write these thoughts, because doing so can help you get out of your head and abandon any needs for perfection as it relates to the exercise or thoughts that come up.

Ricketts highlighted this exercise as a tool for addressing anti-racism work, which is one great application of it. You may also find value in applying this exercise—of thinking on a question and then writing down your thoughts with your non-dominant hand—to other topics as well. For example, What is my biggest fear related to my career trajectory? Or, What phobias do I have surrounding romantic relationships?

Whatever focus to which you apply the exercise, its value rests in it providing you the time and space to slow down while remaining intentional in your everyday practices. It’s a must-have for your mindfulness and spiritual activist tool kit.

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