Exercising the Hands

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

  • Psalm 19:14

My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
    the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.

  • Psalm 49:3

May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    as I rejoice in the Lord.

  • Psalm 104-33-35

I wrote yesterday about my wife having a few medical issues.  The one regarding her one hand not getting enough blood flow is still a problem.  She squeezes a kidney to exercise her hand.  No, she does not reach around to her flank and squeeze.  The doctor gave her a stress-relief squeeze ‘ball’ in the shape of a kidney.  She rarely squeezes the thing other than when she is at the center.  So, I doubt if it is helping.

I suggested some Baoding balls.  I have two pairs of Baoding balls.  They are meditation balls from China.

The idea is that you take the two balls in one hand and rotate them clockwise without the balls clicking into each other or touching.  It is not easy, but once you are well practiced without too many clicks, you then reverse the direction, going counterclockwise (or anticlockwise for some people).  The pinky finger to thumb, or vice versa, handoff is the hardest part for me.

Do Baoding balls work?  According to studies, Baoding balls can reduce anxiety and pain, but let’s focus on what they really accomplish.  They aide in recovery from surgery and injury when hand/finger mobility is impaired.  That is rather obvious.  They improve hand/finger dexterity even without the injury or surgery.  Since the exercise works those joints, it could help with other hand/finger pain, like osteo arthritis.

But as for meditation, the Chinese say that the focus of the conscious brain is on keeping the balls moving and no touching – freeing the subconscious brain to meditate deeply.  As a result, distractions from external sources are reduced.

If that is all there is with regard to Baoding balls, they indeed work.  I have rolled those things around in my hands a lot.  It is good exercise, and you must concentrate.  In a way, you must devote your mind to that and just that.  My problem is that I am a klutz, and the balls are constantly clicking, and my failed hand dexterity ruins any attempt to clear the mind of the daily issues.

But when the Baoding balls are spun properly, they sing.

If you shake them, they sound like bells or chimes.  There is a video of a man and his son who seem to get paid to fly all over the world and cut things open to find out what is inside.  They cut open a Baoding ball.  Inside, there is a hefty spring wire welded to the inside of the steel ball and a small marble-sized steel ball welded to the spring.  In their zeal to destroy, the father/son duo failed to ever hear the Baoding balls sing.  Yes, they heard the chime when a sharp shake of the ball produced the chime, but if you can roll the ball in your hand properly and quickly enough without the proverbial clicking, the spring will begin to vibrate.  The spring will make a sound similar to Eastern meditators, who say “ohm-m-m-m”.

I suppose that the forces acting upon the spring would cause the spring to try to compensate, but the spring is changing position while the ball is rolling in a circle and the center of gravity, acting upon the steel marble inside will cause the marble to add stresses to the spring, causing it to compress and stretch.  All this done just right produces no chimes at all and no clicks of the two balls touching at all.  It produces, rather, an odd groan from the Baoding balls.  Having accomplished it so rarely for more than a second or two, I find it a great accomplishment.  Of course, as soon as I shift my mental focus from doing it right to rejoicing for having done it right, the balls click together, and I am starting from scratch again.

When I suggested that my wife could take the red Baoding balls or the blue ones, she grabbed her squeeze kidney and said, “Too much work.  This kidney may not work, but it is a lot less effort.”

The Scriptures above are the three instances of the word “meditation” in the NIV.  But God does not want us to clear our mind during meditation, as much as He wants us to focus on Him.  If Baoding balls help to remove the distractions of this fallen world for the goal of focusing on God, then they may help.  I only use them for exercise and the challenge of getting them to sing, just for a few seconds at a time.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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