Today when you brush your teeth, try this challenge:
- When you’re ready to start brushing, close your eyes.
- Now listen to the sound of the brush on your teeth, taste the toothpaste.
- Stay present.
- Now, slowly, stand on one leg and keep brushing.
- You might wobble, but try to stay present and focus on the moment — the sounds, tastes and feelings throughout your body. Feel the ground beneath your foot. Feel your strength. Be present.
Be sure to try alternate legs on different days. Try this for a week every time you brush! It will quickly become a fun, healthy, daily habit.
Why Am I Doing This?
This is a mindfulness exercise that will force you to be present in the moment. It is also a balance exercise that, continued over time, will lower your risk for falls. Mindfulness is ultimately about focusing your awareness on the present moment, and taking note of all your feelings and physical sensations in that moment. There’s nothing like standing on one leg to force yourself to be present. Of course, we are suggesting this exercise as a form of meditation that can strengthen your brain. This is because meditative practices appear to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits. Some of these benefits include changes in grey matter volume to diminishing depression to reducing activity in the “me” centers of the brain to enhanced connectivity between brain regions.
What is great about this challenge is that it’s connected to a healthy habit you already have so it’s easy to do it again and again. You might want to try this challenge in phases. First, close your eyes while brushing your teeth. Now, slowly and gently try standing on one leg. It might be harder than you expect it to be. Don’t worry if you wobble, just put your foot down to steady yourself.
If you do this challenge regularly, you will get better at it and before you know it, you’ll be standing on one leg for your full tooth brushing session. If you want to alternate legs on alternate days or alternate legs as your brush one side of your mouth or the other — that’s entirely up to you! Just remember the ultimate goal of this challenge is heightening your awareness of the smells, tastes, sounds and feelings and to stay in the present moment. It is a brain healthy activity.