I Quit Alcohol- A Yogi's Journey
It wasn’t an accident, but quitting alcohol wasn’t really on purpose either.
I was about to do the 4th of a series Tantric Yoga Workshops and in the lead up I wanted to clean up my body so that I could experience the full effects of this powerful practice that I had, by then, been doing for a couple of years. I decided for those 3 weeks I would stop drinking alcohol (and coffee... more on that in another journal post!) It was something I had been resisting for some time, it felt as though there was a pull in two directions. In the one corner was Sian the dedicated yogi, who had found this Tantric path and wanted to dive deep. In the other corner was Sian who loved to dance, have fun, connect and be part of the party- and who certainly didn’t want to alienate anyone or lose friends by suddenly quitting drinking.
But a few weeks before this Tantra training I had a private session with my friend and teacher Elise Carr. She looked at me and said :
“Sian, you are wanting to sit in a high vibration and you are still surrounded by people and circumstances that are vibrating low. You have two options- you can continue to drop your vibration and continue to drink and party to meet the vibration of those around you. Or you can resolve to vibrate high, and allow all those around you to rise to meet you.”
These words created the space and the motivation I needed to make a very drastic change in my life.
Facing Sober Reality
The first 3 weeks I didn’t even really notice it- I had a goal- and in any case, I never thought of myself as a big drinker and I doubt anyone around me did either. So when the 3 weeks finished I decided to continue with my abstinence and was fascinated by what arose.
As the weeks went by I realised that my desire to drink was very strong. And it would arise in moments where I felt intense emotions such as:
- and Loneliness
It also came up when I was feeling
- Really Tired (which was a lot then)
- or Bored (either by myself or with my circumstances)
Discovering the link between my emotional state and the desire to drink was a big surprise. Having done yoga for so long I thought I was already all over this sort of thing. But actually, I wasn’t. So I decided to do something drastic.
When emotions and feelings arose I would simply FEEL THEM.
If I was tired, I would go to bed, rest or meditate.
If I was feeling lonely, I would sit in it, watch it, analyse and meditate on it’s validity.
If I was feeling bored, I would make my own fun, or leave the boring situation.
It was a revolution.
The Good Parts
Soon I started to notice all of the positive effects that quitting alcohol had:
- I was NEVER hungover.
- I calculated i would save $4000 every year!
- I stopped dating idiots I thought were amazing when I was drunk.
-I eradicated a lot of drama, bad decisions and conflict from my life.
- My eyes were always clear and bright and it helped my skin clear up.
- I lost this layer (it’s the only way to describe it) of weight that I had no idea I was carrying, until I lost it.
- My fertility was jammin and my hormones started to balance out.
- My practice, my teaching, my vibration suddenly lifted to next level proportions of greatness.
- I felt radically in control of my own existence, powerful, alive and awake to it all.
- I realised that I could go out easily without drinking, but also that drunk people can be really super annoying. (So sorry to everyone I was a drunk person to because I am pretty sure I was extremely annoying.)
I also realised that everyone in my life was there to support me, literally nobody challenged me on this decision and I only received encouragement. That was a pleasant surprise. In fact when I met up friends, even if I hadn’t mentioned my new sobriety, they didn’t suggest drinking. I was also dating men who didn’t really drink much either. And I suddenly realised it was probably me who had been encouraging the people around me to have that Wednesday night vino. Oops. Sorry (again).
Most importantly, I felt authentic as a Yoga Teacher. When you spend your days encouraging people to sit in their bodies and feel their emotions in yin postures and meditations, you want to be authentic, and living your teachings too. In my life I have always aimed for the highest, had the desire to fulfil my greatest potential. I did this as an architect and an artist, so now it felt the same with Yoga Teaching, I wanted to be in the fire, feel it all, dive as deep as I could to be the best Yoga Teacher I could be. I knew that numbing myself with alcohol was stopping me from the transcendent states my practice could achieve both personally and for my students.
Challenges and Tips
CHALLENGE: Living in a culture like Australia, you realise that the main form of entertainment your culture has is drinking. So when you stop drinking you realise there isn’t much to do.
SOLUTION: Get creative and radical and step out of your comfort zone. I started hosting dinner parties for my interesting friends. I searched for conscious meet ups and interesting things to do. And when I couldn’t find them I started creating them myself- hence the birth of The Full Moon Yoga Practice and also The Light Collective.
CHALLENGE: Loving the taste, wanting something to drink that wasn’t bloody soda water.
SOLUTION: It was 2016 so I got super into making my own/ buying Kombucha and I took it with me everywhere I went. It made me feel like I had something yummy and special to drink, it created some sort of ceremony for me. I still find that kombucha helps me with the odd taste craving especially in Summer.
CHALLENGE: I had zero interest in hanging out in bars, they stank and felt low vibration. The problem with this was that it was really hard to get a date!
SOLUTION: Responsible app dating. Despite my 2 year resistance it proved to be the only way.
CHALLENGE: At times it felt lonely. The people around me sometimes went partying without me and some friends drifted.
SOLUTION: To call said friends up on a Sunday at 7am fresh as a daisy. Kidding. In time, the people around me started to really lift themselves up vibrationally. I met new friends. I learned to be ok spending time on my own. And surprisingly some of the people around me also quite drinking! Not because I told them too though… just because they saw the change they needed to make.
So it’s now been nearly 3 years. In that time I went back to occasional drinking, but it was a slippery slope. I would do it and realise I just didn’t need to drink and it felt like a waste. So I am back on the sober train.
The thing about it is, that when you make a big change like this in your life it has follow on effects that you can never measure.
You can never measure how many people’s lives you will affect or inspire. You are a mirror for those around you, maybe it will be confronting for them, or maybe it will be inspiring.
How it affects your life and your relationships and your choices changes for ever. In fact your whole view on the world shifts.
Luckily for me, my enjoyment of alcohol stemmed from my Irish blood and Australian upbringing, rather than a result of any trauma. For those whose habitual drinking comes from this place the work to sobriety requires more help, including Rehab, Counseling and Therapy. There are a whole lot of support groups out there (it’s not just AA) and in Australia some that the government even pays for. There’s also a load of online groups and blogs and books you can get into.
I used my yoga, breathwork and meditation practice, my friends and my therapist (although it didn’t come up much with her.) I also have a really strong focus and will, this is something I was born with and have cultivated over my life through Tantra and Kundalini. I also did something that worked for me- I never said never. As in, I will never drink again. I have just left it as an open exploration, without judgement or shame. A constant journey I am resolved to be present to.