For someone in the early stages of quitting alcohol, the struggle can feel downright miserable. It's easy to focus on the downside of sobriety when you're trying to quit drinking.
Fighting the urge on a nightly basis, missing out on the social togetherness that comes with a good ol' drink up, ending a bad day at work without a soothing glass of wine... whatever the challenges, the endless barrage makes it extremely tough to stay the sober course.
I'm going to jump on the mindfulness bandwagon for this post (cue the inner groan). I get it. We all love the philosophy, in theory, but when it's marketed in gift shops alongside the oversized wineglass that reads 'Mommy Juice', it's hard to believe that mindfulness is anything more than a gimmick to sell us more shit.
But wait, it actually does serve a powerful purpose with tremendous results. While there are hundreds of ways in which a person can become more mindful, through my own practice I've learned its greatest benefit comes from building self-awareness. No matter what your practice is, whether it includes slowing down your daily pace, meditation, or watching what you eat, it is the act of witnessing your own behaviours and thoughts as an observer that reaps the rewards of mindfulness. In other words, it's in slowing down enough to allow yourself the pleasure of curiosity.
Curiosity turns almost any experience into play because it invites exploration; it asks why? How? What? Without the rush for a steadfast answer.
In the yoga teacher training I'm currently taking, my instructors regularly remind the students to be curious about the feelings, emotions, thoughts that arise. And, I've found this has limited my usual habit of judging my thoughts or behaviours as good or bad. Instead, I take on the role of an objective observer, and on a good day, a compassionate observer.
I've used this practice in my sober journey, too. In the first few months, my habit of pouring a glass of wine every night after work was so ingrained, I had to make a cup of tea the second I walked in the door to provide a beverage to sip, as a replacement. I would also ask myself, why do I need this glass of wine so much? How does it make me feel to not have it tonight? What would happen if I gave in and had a drink right now? How would that make me feel? Over time, the answers surfaced.
Taking the time to be quiet, objective, compassionate and curious has been key. Most especially in the space between wanting to act and acting. That pause in between offers a wealth of material if we're willing to go there. When I spent less time thinking about what I was losing (alcohol) and more time exploring how this new challenge was changing me, the experience offered a fascinating look into myself, how I got that this point, and how I wanted to direct my life going forward.