I'd kind of grimace on the left side of my face and bare my teeth like a wild animal with Bell's Palsy. I'd do this repeatedly. It looked something like this:
Although I was aware I was doing it, I was unaware of what it must look like to the outside world. I was mainly preoccupied with getting the side of my mouth off of a painful metal hook on one of my back molars. I also have a stack of composite material on my molar to keep me from closing my mouth entirely. I'd taken to chomping on it and grimacing as you see Senator McCain doing in the photo above.
Because I have moderate OCD-like tendencies, I became fixated on that side of my mouth. I'd chomp compulsively, I won't lie. And then after chomping violently and constantly for a few minutes, I'd jab myself in the cheek with the metal hook and then grimace to get the hook out of my cheek.
My husband started making the same face. At first I thought he was teasing me and I yelled at him for it. Well, if by saying, "Hey, quit making fun of me!" is considered yelling. He'd look all shocked and dismayed and say, "I'm not!" And then a few minutes later he'd be making the face again too:
Thus afflicted, we set out on a family trip to California with my seven-year-old son and our baby daughter. We rented a large family crossover, a Chevy Traverse, and more often than not I wound up in the middle seat between the two kids. Understandably, the seven-year-old got tired of having to care for the eleven-month-old's various needs and I had to give the poor kid a break.
So there I was, sitting contentedly in the middle seat, watching the scenery go by, chomping compulsively on my back molars and grimacing every few miles or so. You can imagine my husband's view in the rear view mirror:
Of course I could see his face in that same mirror as he peered at me. He'd look into my face and make the same face back at me, completely unaware he was doing so. Any cars passing us on the freeway would have seen this in our car:
"No!" he'd say and look shocked.
"You're making the face."
"I didn't realize it!"
And so it happened over and over again. It came to be that the only time I'd realize I was chomping and grimacing was when I could see my husband having sympathy tics. He seemed unable to stop. I finally had the moment of awareness that the only way I could stop the both of us from looking like complete snarling freaks was to stop the chain of facial tics myself.
I applied the skills I've learned in meditation on the tic. Every time I would realize I was grimacing, I would simply stop. I repeated this hundreds of times on our journey, and soon my husband was commenting on it.
"Hey, you're doing that thing with your mouth as much!"
"Neither are you," I said.
And that is how it came to pass that I saved both myself and my husband from a lifetime of facial tics and general freaky behavior in the mouth region. The moral of the story is that meditation basically makes you a superhero.
Then we lived happily ever after.