Warning - this post might be triggering. I don't aim to be triggering generally (as well as with this topic in particular), but rather I like to approach topics as an invitation for considering a new way of thinking. Let's see if I can pull that off with this topic. My sense is that people don't really want to be challenged on their alcohol consumption, and possibly that is just a projection of how I felt about it before I gave it up. However, I do think it's a topic which deserves attention and examination by each individual, because it's something as a society we take for granted. If an adult doesn't have a “problem" with alcohol, they should carry on consuming it as desired, according to social custom.
I listened to a really interesting episode of the Rich Roll podcast, featuring guest Andy Ramage. Andy has created a movement he calls One Year, No Beer. It is aimed at a segment of the population not usually targeted for quitting alcohol: moderate drinkers. Most people who don't consider themselves addicted to alcohol have created a life which is infused with it, and because it's such an integral part of their lives (and the lives of those around them) they don't consider the implications of its regular use. I highly encourage you to listen to this episode to hear how he embarked on his journey, the trial and error he underwent, and the benefits he received - which are very persuasive!
I was a moderate drinker as long as I have been old enough to drink (maybe even a little longer than that - college happened!), until almost a year ago when I stopped drinking entirely. As I got more integrated with yogic teachings in an effort to deepen my meditation experiences, I learned about how alcohol dulls our energy/energetic field, and the impact of this on our meditation and our efforts to get more in tune with our energy. I was living in Italy, and alcohol was an integral part of my social life. Italians are not big abusers of alcohol - it's unusual to see someone fall-down drunk there, as opposed to, say, England or the US - but a couple of glasses of wine with dinner is normal, if not expected. Entire regions are obviously dedicated to wine production - our region sat next to Tuscany, for instance. I really wasn't interested in going dry while living in Italy, and as the concept of doing so to go deeper in my meditation journey was new I didn't really put too much thought into the prospect.
When we moved back to the US, I began giving the idea of going sober more thought. More suggestions began working their way to me - I would stumble across an article, perhaps, or hear about moderate drinkers quitting alcohol on podcasts. I had dinner with a dear friend of 2 decades who told me she was no longer drinking. All of these little incidents coalesced to propel me forward into giving quitting a try.
Because my motivation was to do with my energy and how it relates to getting even more out of meditation, I didn't really pay much attention to the other benefits I have gotten from not drinking. That's one of the things I liked so much about that podcast episode I mentioned, as Andy breaks down those physical, emotional, and productivity-related benefits so well. One of the things I have noticed more and more since I stopped drinking is the amount of people I know who are really interested in their health, to the extent that they have been on special diets for a long time to promote their health, but they make no change in their alcohol consumption. Alcohol is toxic to the body. Conventional wisdom suggests moderate drinking doesn't damage the body, but science says differently. Studies show shrinkage in the brain even for light and moderate drinkers. This seems obvious considering the primary benefit the vast majority of people are seeking through drink is the chemical change that happens in the brain while drinking. Other benefits to quitting are better sleep, increased productivity as you are not dealing with coming out from under the fog of alcohol the next day, greater clarity even when not under direct alcohol influence, weight loss, and financial gain as funds are freed up from purchasing alcohol. It was a pleasant surprise I hadn't considered when our dinner bills suddenly dropped as I stopped ordering wine with my meals!
Why not try it for yourself and see what benefits you notice? You really have nothing to lose. Check out the website for One Year No Beer and take one of their challenges to give it a try. You don't even have to try for a full year, but could just do it for 28 or 90 days. And of course, you don't have to use a specific program like this (by the way, I'm not affiliated with this program at all - I haven't used it or been paid by them but just see the potential of the movement) and could do your own experimentation. I can definitely see the benefit of approaching it with a community such as this. One of the biggest reservations I had about giving up alcohol was what I felt the expectations were of me socially. I was nervous about how I would be perceived by not partaking in the social norm of imbibing. Once I took the plunge, I personally found people to be supportive and a little curious as it comes up. As I was considering doing it, it really helped to discover that friend of mine who had recently stopped drinking. The conversation with her really gave me the push I needed to stop.
In that spirit, if you would like to consider this change and want to know more about it or would like some support, please reach out to me! I would be happy to discuss it and help you explore this step on your journey.
I am an Ananda® certified meditation teacher. I am passionate about meditation and embrace a yogic lifestyle for greater wellness physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
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