When my nails are wet I struggle to find the patience to sit still long enough for them to dry. Suddenly things involving my hands are very important, like adjusting the waist band of my pants to hold in my fupa, or rearranging the contents of the refrigerator so I don’t forget to eat something before it goes bad the next day. There is always one finger that I have to paint over and over again, despite my greatest efforts to only grab things with the palms of my hands, fingers stretched out straight. I just can’t sit still.
When I lie in bed at night, I wriggle and fidget and scratch. Some nights are worse than others, and I am overcome by an all over itch. It pricks me in one spot, and then another. Scratching to satisfy the itch only sends it somewhere else. Lower legs, middle back, left eyebrow, back of the head. It’s as if my brain is playing Simon with my body, lighting up the spots for me to get to next. Some nights are worse than others, and I know I am in for a long battle before sleep finally comes.
What is this restlessness? Is it possible that my mind cannot find stillness and my body therefore suffers? Lately I have started using an app on my phone to guide me into sleep. I’ve never really spent much time meditating before, and the silly feeling creeps in that I might be doing something wrong. Growing up I had the same question about prayer. How did people know what to do? What to say? It was not a thing I was taught to do, or that was expected of me, and so I never developed it as a habit or a practice.
But practice is what they call it when you meditate. I am practicing the quieting of my mind. I am practicing the strengthening of the link between my mind and body. “Shut up” I say. I know that’s not the greatest mantra, but it’s all I can think of, and like with prayer, I never learned how to do this. I know when I practice yoga, I feel it. With movement and breath I feel it. But something about stillness prevents me from finding peace. My mind becomes defiant, battling the quiet with obsessive and circular thoughts; my brain sends signals to my body that cause me to tear at my own skin with my nails until it hurts. To the point where I find myself at 9 pm, 10 pm, 11 pm looking for something else to do to avoid the painful struggle that is falling asleep.
Maybe I should work out more. Physical exhaustion to slow down the mind. Maybe I need to get back on the wagon of eating clean again. Maybe I should cool it with the self help and career advice books that do more harm than good. I am constantly stressed that I’m not happy enough, I’m not hustling enough, I’m not picky enough about how I use my time. Depending on where I look, I can find a reason why I am not enough, and it is wearing me down to the point where I can’t stop thinking about it and can’t sleep. I need to figure out how to rid myself of the tendency to overthink literally everything. But maybe I won’t try too too hard to figure it out. Maybe that’s the ticket.