I was pretty sure I had this concept down pat, as my mind, it seemed, was always. full.
But it’s an interesting twist that being truly mindful means parting the waters of your flooded mind, creating space for focus and awareness.
But let me back up. This all started with an article about the serious health hazards of nail-biting. Full disclosure: I’ve been a nail biter as long as I can remember. I’m certainly not the worst of ‘em, but suffice it to say after reading this article, I was convinced that it was time to put some serious effort into quitting.
It’s not that I haven’t tried before. I’ve turned to gum chewing (which just became yet another bad habit I had to quit), attempts to wear bright, reminder nail polish (which, to be honest, just isn’t me), and even that bitter tasting stuff you can slather on them. Nothing has ever worked for more than a week or so.
I’m not sure how it’s taken me this long to apply my yogic super powers to this problem. As a yoga teacher, I espouse the many benefits of conscious awareness in all areas of life. So why had I never put into practice what I preach for my poor, ragged nails? For my traumatized cuticles?
With no answer to that question, I embarked on an experiment to put this whole mindfulness thing to the test. I set my mental alarms, sat quietly for a few moments creating the intention that I would become hyper aware every time a digit wandered perilously near my teeth. I won’t lie – the first couple of days, I nearly slipped up a couple of times. Nearly.
But the intention alarms worked. And they got stronger and stronger with each drill. And as part of the experiment, I not only became aware of my actions in the moment, I took note of my state of mind every time I was tempted to bite a nail. And, not shockingly, a very clear pattern emerged. In 10 out of 10 instances, my mind was engaged in deep thought- typically worry, anxious thought, or heavy problem solving.
With this knowledge, I could now attack both the symptoms and the underlying source of my habit. A one-two punch that has left me, three weeks later, with a healthy, growing set of fingernails and a heightened sense of empowerment.
Seems a celebratory manicure is order 🙂