Cutting my nails to slow down the day
Mastering the art of mindfulness by paying attention to one fingernail at a time
It was one of those intense work mornings, when the time between 09 am — 12 pm was a blur. Between calls, WhatsApp messages and rapid email replies, all that was left was room to drink water and wiggle in my chair, without standing up. What began as an alarmingly fast pace of work came to blinding halt with one action — cutting fingernails.
I got up from my chair, walked to my dressing table, picked up the nail-cutter and sat on the rug to chip away a new batch of extended nails. The act of cutting them was slow and attention-oriented. Unlike what the monkey-mind demands, I could not risk thinking of anything but focus on the nail cutter lest it should cut through my skin. One by one, I cut my nails, while the world danced around me.
I decided to cut my fingernails in the middle of a stormy morning, as a mechanism to return to a state of calm.
My inbox swelled. The slack messages increased. I was sent calendar invites. And yet nothing moved except the blade of the nail cutter. The gentle tick of its edge as it bit through my nails, acted like a barrier between me and the world around me.
As I finished the task, I folded the nail-cutter, disposed off the nail clippings, washed my hands, and gazed at the fresh skin lines appearing under my newly trimmed nails. Soft, clean, and damp, my fingernails now had my full attention. I gazed at them for 2–3 minutes, like one does after a new haircut. Gently, I allowed myself to step back into the stormy world of work.
The remaining part of my work day would derive peace from the pit stop I’d taken earlier. And, nail-cutting would be added to my list of to-do-habits to walk away from the storm of distractions on any given day.