From time to time I have wondered about my relationship with alcohol and thought this was as good a time as any to explore just exactly how important drinking a glass or two of wine is for me. So, I gave up alcohol while taking this 8-week mindfulness course. I wanted to see how much I would whine about not having wine.
This isn’t the first time I have abstained. I’ve done this for Lent. I’ve done it while on special diets to cleanse my body. I’ve done it just to lose weight. I had no problems giving up my wine each time, but I remember thinking, “I can do this because it is only for a certain amount of time. Then I can have my wine again.”
The difference now is that I’m taking the time to explore what’s going on while I’m doing this instead of just waiting for it to be over. I’m paying more attention to what’s happening for me in my body, in my mind, when I feel like I want to order a glass of wine, or similarly, when I think I need to go to Starbucks for a cup of coffee, or I just have to watch violent cop shows on television instead of reading a book before going to bed.
And what I’m discovering is that I am often avoiding something, a bad feeling, a chore I want to procrastinate, or a connection with someone, usually myself. Having a glass of wine tastes good, but it isn’t always necessary to enjoy the company and have deep conversations. In fact, I often eat too much and talk even more when I drink. That makes it even harder to connect because I’m focused more on the food and the wine – I’m not as good a listener for the person I’m sharing the meal with. And there’s nothing wrong with a cup of joe unless going every day drains my bank account and the caffeine upsets my stomach and gives me the jitters. And watching Law and Order SVU is not going to allow me to fall asleep quickly and get a good night’s rest.
Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. Mindfulness is being fully awake in our lives and lets us gain immediate access to our powerful inner resource for insight, transformation, and healing.”
I’ve become more aware of how I use wine, food, caffeine, television even talking too much as ways to avoid really connecting with others or myself.
None of these things are bad. And often they can be quite enjoyable. But I’m learning that for me, choosing the wine, the trip to Starbucks or to watch TV can be something I choose more wisely, more consciously, not absentmindedly. I’m enjoying getting out of my ruts, making choices based on what I authentically feel I want at the time, not what I have always done.
I’m not whining about not having wine. I’m finding more joy even with meals without wine and mornings without coffee. I’m letting my light shine while accessing my own powerful inner resource for insight, transformation, and healing.