Monday, April 2, 2007

Zen of Electric Sanding

A few years ago when I was experiencing a brief but intense depressive episode, I was consumed by negative thoughts, which I couldn't get rid of. Since I know that natural light helps me heal, I spent three days gardening but I didn't feel better and the thoughts didn't go away.

I told my husband that I was seeking an outdoor task that required total concentration, little skill, and would afford a sense of accomplishment. He suggested that I sand our garage door and varnish it. To make the chore more enticing, he would buy me a new electric sander. This was a great idea because I like new equipment. So we purchased an inexpensive electric sander, extra sandpaper, and varnish.

I returned home, set up my work area, turned on the sander, and was stunned to find that the noise immediately drowned out my negative thoughts. Within ten minutes, my mind was totally clear. While I imagine it takes students of meditation years to reach this state, all it took me was the flip of a switch.

As I continued working that day, I also realized that the backward and forward motion of sanding had a Zen-like quality. While I'm sure that no psychiatrists would prescribe electric sanding as a way to heal, I think it's because they lack vision. And if you like this wellness activity, I'm sure you'll be excited to hear about the Zen of painting retaining walls! Stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

Love your sense of humor about all this. Wish I could feel more cheerful!

Rob Johnson said...


I just love some of the "tools" you write about. This is one that I'm sure no one has thought to use. I've added it to my mental health toolbox. I'm off to the hardware store to pick up a sander.


Wellness Writer said...

I love it that you love my Zen of electric sanding! I haven't read this essay in a long time, and it made me smile too.


iHanna said...

I'm just saying "wax on, wax off" - KarateKid! :-)

Hotbrain said...

That's a great story! It's nice of your husband to join in on the problem solving :)

Although not requiring much 'work,' I have found that listening to music on headphones makes the negative thoughts and sounds go away. At the time I was hearing a humming/buzzing sound that wasn't really there.

I've just spent some time reading your blog and I look forward to your new posts when you are feeling better! Although it looks like there is lots of old posts that I need to catch up on!


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Hotbrain,
Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate it. I've been feeling so depressed these days, that positive reinforcement feels quite welcome.

P.S. Sorry it took so long for me to moderate your comment. I've been remaining offline.

Hotbrain said...

It's OK :)

I've been feeling down lately too and I wish I could figure out why! I've gone through the list of possible reasons in my head and it doesn't seem like any of them should cause me to feel like this. I guess it is just brain chemicals.

I added your blog to my blogroll on my relatively new blog. I read a lot of your posts yesterday and it did help me get through my down-ness.. It doesn't go away, but it stays at a level that I can cope with it. I'm sure you can relate.

I hope that you feel better soon!


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Hotbrain,
Mine is seasonal, but I've been doing really well this year, and then bam! I know there are reasons, but it still "infuriates" me, which isn't the most positive response. Given what I write, I should know better than to get so angry, but alas...

I guess I should practice what I preach, but sometimes I just lose patience and perspective! Sorry you're not feeling well. I'll add you to my blogroll soon!