“Your body is an absolute mirror of your mind. As you worry, your body shows it. As you love, your body shows it. As you are overwhelmed, your body shows it. As you are angry your body shows it. Every cell of your body is being allowed or resisted by the way you feel.”
A few days ago while speaking to a fellow makeup artist, we got on the subject of bruxism aka teeth grinding, she shared it was something she often did in her sleep. Here’s something I don’t like to tell too many people: I used to grind my teeth at night. I’m not talking an occasional thing; it was at least 3-4 times a week and sometimes even more. I’ve been grinding my teeth since I can remember. My mom would wake me up, afraid I would break a tooth while sleeping. I was 9 when I had my first sleepover. My friend’s mother told me that I had been grinding my teeth the entire night. She mentioned how painful it sounded. At that point, I thought everyone did it. Wasn’t this the norm?
As a child and adult, I internalized everything. In my dreams, I would try to fix my problems. I’ve always been a fixer; I try to find solutions for issues, and it would often manifest in my dreams. I would wake up so exhausted as if I hadn’t slept and my entire jaw would hurt. I would have tension headaches. I showed symptoms of having TMJ. It was a painful way to live, but I dealt with it because I knew no other way.
When I was 20, I decided to get braces. My teeth moved quickly. The jaw pain was more severe then the teeth grinding had ever been. My orthodontist started to ask if I was stressed, he could see the signs on my bottom teeth. I was living on my own while trying to build a career, paying bills, while trying to have fun. At times it was all overwhelming. He suggested I find some outlet to deal with my worries. I listened and thanked him for the advice but of course, continued. I didn’t know how to live life any other way.
When I met my husband, I warned him of my habit. I was mortified to have to tell him. I felt ashamed and embarrassed. I was uncomfortable and worried that I would wake him up, and the more I worried, the more it happened. There were times when my husband would gently shake me. He would whisper “you were grinding your teeth.”He was concerned for me but wasn’t sure what to do. I wasn’t sure what to do, it had become a part of me and I didn’t know how to live without it.
One day while getting a routine checkup the dentist suggested wearing a night guard. He insisted that I wear it every single night. It was so uncomfortable that I found myself removing it in the middle of the night. It also seemed to ruin my outlet. I had a weird attachment to the act of grinding my teeth. It was as if I was punishing myself. Even in my sleep, I was trying to control things. I needed to find a solution; I began to research my options. I was on the verge of severally damaging all of the expensive dental work I had done. It was sobering to realize that all of the money I’ve spent on dental work was essential being ruined by something I felt I had no control over.
I asked my dentist about botox. He thought it was a good option. A week later I was at a medispa getting botox on my jaw. The results only lasted for six months. I decided to try a more natural approach, so I tried acupuncture. Instantly I felt relief, but there were still days were I got woken up by my husband. I began to do more yoga and meditate. As I gradually learned to manage stress the grinding decreased. I let go of the need to control and attachment to the outcome. I made an effort to consciously pay attention to the thoughts and words I was saying to myself. All of the tension seemed to melt away. I was more relaxed and happy.
I’m happy to say that it’s been almost two years since I’ve woken up with a sore jaw and both my husband and teeth are extremely thankful. The act that plagued me for most of my life is now a distant memory. My anxiety has been replaced with a knowing that no matter what I will be ok. We store all of our fears and insecurities in our subconscious, manifesting in different ways. Our mind makes up different solutions and scenarios, transforming reality into nightmares. Forgetting to breathe, relax and to be. If you’re feeling overwhelmed here are a few exercises that will help you relax. When you quiet the mind, your inner voice can guide you.
To end: After this exercise, sit quietly and be with the sensations in your body and spine.
Neck Turns (1 min each)Remain sitting in Easy Pose with the hands on the knees. Inhale and turn your head to the left, and exhale and turn it to the right, like shaking your head “no.” Continue (1 min). Then reverse your breath, so that you inhale and turn to the right; exhale and turn to the left. Continue (1 min).
To End, inhale deeply, concentrate at the brow point, and slowly exhale.
Here is an article about the effects of yoga on the brain: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/psychiatry-the-people/201901/how-yoga-and-breathing-help-the-brain-unwind
Remember you are not your circumstances, anxiety or situation. Sending you so much love!