We all know what Mandalas are, right? Those pretty round pictures that come in mindfulness coloring books? They have a number of interesting historical meanings, they are said to be a visual metaphor for the innate order and beauty of the universe, as well as metaphors for political, psychological and social statements. Buddhists, who patiently create them in coloured sand tend to use them as a metaphor for transformation and enlightenment.
It’s the transformation and enlightenment aspect that has grabbed me today, though not in that particular order. It’s fascinating to me that this little enlightenment has come through the form of the mandala, which has made me reflect on transformation. Sometimes the universe sends what we need 🕉️
Below is the link to a video that was shared today by the lovely Lene – please do follow her @TheSeatedView , you won’t regret it! It starts at 7m32s so you can see the exact segment we were viewing, which very beautifully shows hand exercises in the form of mandala shapes – clever and easy on the eye.
However… I watched, then went back, paused, watched again and all I could think was ‘are they really bending their hands that far?’. Yep, I can confirm they are, I’ve viewed it verrry closely. And what hit me was that they hadn’t searched the country for four models with “super-hand” abilities, this was how other people’s hands move. All the time, without them even thinking about it.
I tried. And my hands can’t do these movements, and trying hurt. I’ll be honest, I welled up for a moment. The enlightenment here is that I’ve simply failed to consciously notice over the past couple of years just how bad my hands have become. So in a way it was like a sudden… revelation. Almost a shock. Weird huh?!
I think a lot of that is down to the very gradual nature of the transformation (you knew I’d get there!). Had I gone to bed last night with my hands of three years ago, and woken up with my hands of today I’d have been screaming for doctors to fix me. Over three years I’ve slowly made adaptions, changed the way I do some things, stopped doing others, used tools to support etc.
A mish mash of coping methods that has added up to my odd ignorance of just how bad they’ve become. It’s mostly that the RA damage to my tendons and enthesitis have massively restricted my movement, leading over time to loss of hand agility and strength. So I wanted to review exactly what coping methods I use… And to share the extent of how much RA has changed a myriad of small daily tasks to raise awareness. They might even help you, bonus 🙂
- Changing the bed – my cleaner does it, I can’t even put a quilt cover on or stretch on a fitted sheet
- I have no grip strength – earlier I needed to open a flat plastic tray of bacon, I made the mistake of trying to grip the corner & pull the plastic film up – rookie error, that finger thumb grip kills me. Its like opening a yoghurt pot or a carton of milk, teeth or knives are needed
- Kettle – I no longer can use one. I have a Breville One Cup, and when I fill it with water I have to use a plastic jug half filled and use both hands to hold it to pour
- Tin opener – can only use electric one, the other was binned long ago
- Jars etc – I have an amazing rubber square from my OT which will grip much better than I can, but occasionally I can’t even open with that & I give in or grab a neighbour
- Cooking – am slowly giving it up, I last peeled & chopped veg a few weeks ago, then sat down & ordered some pre prepped food & some ready meals. Of course I also can’t move hot saucepans, another reason to keep it simple & safe
- Cleaning – getting a small stubborn stain out of the carpet recently lost me the use of my wrist & elbow completely for three days – from now on my lovely cleaner’s job if needed
- Sewing – not that I do loads, but machine only, small movements for hand sewing & even pinning hems really hurts
- Reading – my biggest love but damn, holding a book is hard. Moving more & more over to my kindle app on my tablet
- Dressing, washing, doing my hair… the only way I can can dry my hair is to drop my head down and use my knee to support my arm holding the hair dryer. It’s complicated 🙄😅
- Writing by hand for longer than about three seconds… 🤣
I’m sure there are other people things that will occur the minute I publish this, but frankly I’d bore myself, you get the picture. Yeah, so my hands, pretty crap and mostly painful. So I definitely won’t be doing the Mandala hand workout anytime soon.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the very clever beauty of it. Namaste 🙏💜