It’s been hard to learn to wash your hands for 20 seconds and to do it properly. I’ve been struggling with standing still for the time it took.

Until last week, week two of staying almost 100 percent home, working from home, exercising in the state forest, etc. Standing at the kitchen window, washing my hands, I found myself staring out the window at the birds at the bird feeder, queuing up to take their turns according to their own social protocols. The sun was shining.

Everything slowed down, including the rapid rate at which I was rubbing my hands together as if it were an odious task I wanted to be over. When I slowed down, the tactile sense of warm soap and suds and the scent of the soap became apparent. I washed more slowly and noticed the incredibly beauty of the bone structure of the hand. I felt the bones and the joints and the ligaments that are allowing me to type right now.

I was present and aware in the moment. I took a deep breath. It calmed me down during this time when everything is making everyone tense. Ferris Buck Urbanowski, a longtime resident of Fayston who died last spring, was a mindfulness-based mediation teacher of world renown who also offered dozens and dozens of classes for local people.

Early in her classes, she would have people cup their hands, close their eyes and feel three objects she put in their hands. Then one by one, they were asked to place those raisins in their mouths and just sense them before chewing them and noticing the flavor and texture.

As we try to navigate through this incredibly difficult time, it’s hard to slow down and notice component parts and scents and sights and textures of what we’re doing because there are so many unknowns. We don’t know how long this will last. We don’t know how bad it will be. We don’t know if our families and friends will be sick.

What we do know though is that we’ve got to wash our hands and we’ve got to wash them often. So take a deep breath, get your hands wet with warm water, add some soap and slow it down.