The deafening machines, the shouting out of orders, and the nasty fumes are all missing. At Morrocco Method’s manufacturing center, the workplace is a healthy, peaceful environment. This is because almost all the work is done by hand, an age-old culture of therapy.
Sitting quietly in the middle are three people packaging dark brown henna. They all look up briefly and smile at me. I watch in awe as two of the people, Isabel and Nathaniel, take hand-packed bags of the henna, label them with the color and lot number, fold the instructions, and put both into the final package with the Morrocco Method logo. Their hands move swiftly, yet rhythmically and they are still smiling, looking happy and relaxed. I’m struck by how naturally they accomplish their work.
Drew, their supervisor, is supplying things to them. “This work is so much better than my last job!” exclaims Drew, also with a smile. “I was in retail management. Really tough. Here it’s much easier, satisfying work and the time passes quickly. And it’s great to go home at night and not feel tired or stressed.
What all three express to me in word or deed is something psychologists and others have been delving into deeply in the past several years: That working with your hands may be the ultimate therapy, both physically and mentally. In The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell shows how for millennia, tribes have always worked with their hands, and today in therapy, doing physical labor such as gardening or basket weaving or any repetitive physical work with the hands is very calming and soothing to the whole person.
Stress, which is hard on both the body and the mind, is a result, most claim, of working in a stressful environment with machines and computers all day, instead of with the hands. Interacting with machines feels dull and repetitive, and physical skills seem meaningless.
“Some tasks we do here require us to sit down and others that we stand up. So, there’s a great balance here in the physical stress area,” Drew points out. “This is not a fast-paced work, which makes the environment is peaceful.”
“Making things by hand,” says Anthony Morrocco, the CEO and founder of Morrocco Method, “is an absorbing task that becomes a kind of meditation. As you become further engaged, your creativity awakens, and you become more alive.”
Isabel and Nathanial were asked if they were tired or stressed at the end of the day. “No, this work doesn’t make me tired,” says Isabel. “There’s no quotas and no stress!” replies Nathanial definitively. “Tired? No!”
“At the end of the day, unlike at my last job, I feel happy that I’ve accomplished something tangible. And I don’t feel exhausted, but more at ease and calmer.” Drew adds.