So my dentist told me I grind my teeth in my sleep. Something my husband has told me, yet I dismissed his observation.
Isn’t that funny how we can “hear” something from one person yet totally ignore it? Then someone else comes along and tells us the same thing and we finally hear them.
My dentist tells me I need to relax. HA!
Here I am, a practicing yogi and yet I grind my teeth.
News flash, Holly. Having a personal practice of self-reflection and self-realization does not mean that I don’t have my own shortcomings.
It’s so damn hard for my perfectionist leaning personality to…
Not strive for perfection.
Not beat myself up for my mistakes.
Not overanalyze a situation.
But this constant ego-driven thinking is what is causing me to grind my teeth.
After my visit to the dentist, a new awareness arose–pay attention to my mind and body as I fall asleep.
First observation: Damn, I do clench my jaw a lot.
Second observation: I replay interactions with people.
Third observation: Damn, there’s my jaw again.
I even began to notice myself clenching my jaw throughout the day. Holy F*$k!
So I took a step back and asked myself, “What happens before I clench my jaw?”
There’s reflection mixed in, which is likely the gatekeeper to my rumination.
But as I dug deeper, I realized I ruminate over situations—especially work situations.
Fast-forwarding, rewinding, pausing, you name it, my mind goes there.
Until I place awareness there.
On a scientific level, besides being a cause of my teeth grinding, this ruminating is causing me to age quicker.
I randomly, or some may say coincidently, came across an article titled, “Could your thoughts make you age faster” by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel on Ideas.Ted.Com.
The article examines what factors affect the aging process and discusses the question of, “How can one person bask in the sunshine of good health, while another person looks old before her time?”.
And guess what. The shit that runs through our head can impact the aging process—for better or for worse.
“One of the keys to enjoying good health is simply doing your part to foster healthy cell renewal.”
It has been scientifically proven that we can lengthen our telomeres, which are “repeating segments of noncoding DNA that live at the ends of the chromosomes. They form caps at the ends of the chromosomes and keep the genetic material from unraveling. Shortening with each cell division, they help determine how fast a cell ages.”
Think of telomeres like the plastic tips on shoelaces. They keep chromosome ends from fraying and sticking to each other. This fraying and stickiness is what destroys and scrambles our genetic information.
Longer telomeres = Longevity.
As I was reading through the article, I found examples of people in my life who fell to the pull of the described mental patterns.
And then…I found my example.
It’s a slippery slope from actual reflection to rumination.
Reflection is the introspective analysis about why things happen a certain way. It helps us see ourselves and the world more clearly.
Rumination is compulsively replaying and focusing on shit, basically. Focusing on shit and never discovering how to deal with the shit.
“When you ruminate, stress sticks around in the body long after the reason for the stress is over, in the form of prolonged high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, and higher levels of cortisol. Your vagus nerve, which helps you feel calm and keeps your heart and digestive system steady, withdraws its activity — and remains withdrawn long after the stressor is over.”
Negative thoughts seem to storm into my mind space without even knocking! They’re usually exaggerated and very controlling.
My mind is programmed.
Well, that’s a tricky question. Who have I unconsciously allowed to be the programmer for most of my life?
A few of them include society, my parents, and the media.
But, what about me?
God is within me, therefore, I am the creator.
And each time I intentionally decide to act with love, I am reprogramming my mind. I am creating new neural pathways.
So I practice awareness, observing my thoughts without attaching myself to them.
I say to myself, “That’s just a thought. It’s not me.”
I don’t need to believe everything my thoughts tell me.
I reach into my kind mind and ask myself, “What would love do?”.