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Mindful Drinking

MINDFUL DRINKING…OXYMORON?

LATELY THERE HAS BEEN A LOT about mindful drinking.

Everyone from meditation experts to ex alcoholics are putting their opinions on it – out there. Personally I believe drinking is partly a spiritual experience and can heighten our spirituality….

Until about the third.

I personally practice mindfulness and believe it is an important piece of health in body, mind and soul – including drinking.

I have gone through many different practices and classes, to get to where I can kind of pop in and out of this or essentially stay in the observer mode most of the time. Kind of a walking meditation/two places at once thing. I try to do this through out my day so when I have a glass of wine, it is habit.

Mindful drinking has many different meanings, but basically it is taking a moment to check back in with your self before starting, and while drinking.

The biggie is to remember, pull back, stop and reflect before and while drinking. Be the observer, so basically I check back in with myself and remember I am a soul living in a physical body/world. I do this on the way out, when I first sit down or order and before my first sip and each additional drink.

Here is an excerpt I like that talks about how many of us live – not being mindful, from MindfulMuse.com

Mindfulness acts as a well-lit mirror turned upon the self.

When we overly identify with the external, our sense of identity is fragile and subject to change.  Imagine if someone places the foundation of their true identity on their education, profession, family, marriage, or hobbies.  While there is nothing “wrong” with feeling a close connection and alignment with these aspects of life, the danger lies in over-identification with them.  This is so dangerous because all of these things are found externally and they are all impermanent”.

This is how many of us live in our teens and twenties and also in fast paced, crowded, cities where we don’t get much down time or even private time.

If we go into a social situation, in this mode, like after a long stressful day where we have been in one meeting or dialogue after another and then rush out to drinks…

Chances are, we will drink faster and more. Because unconsciously, we are trying to escape our monkey mind and physically, the body & mind wants to lower our cortisol. We are not present because we are just too stressed and our energy and focus has been pulled in every direction and now is OUT THERE, not IN HERE.

Psyblog calls it “Alcohol Myopia”, and says:

“According to a growing body of evidence collected over the last three or more decades, people’s Jekyll and Hyde behavior while drinking can be understood by a simple idea which has some intriguing ramifications.

The alcohol myopia model says that drink makes our attention system shortsighted and the more we drink, the more shortsighted it becomes. With more alcohol our brains become less and less able to process peripheral cues and more focused on what is right in front of us. It’s this balance between what is right in front of us and what we don’t notice around the edges that determines how alcohol affects us in different situations.”

Which is one of the great things about alcohol – we forget our problems for a bit and can just enjoy the moment. Until we overdo it.

So Mindfulness, as a habit, even if only for a minute or less when we first arrive and after every drink, can help us to pull back, be the observer, check in, and feel how we feel.

If we are having fun, it can help us appreciate the moment and say I am giving myself this gift of fun (and remember to take our vitamins) if we are getting bored, tired or irritable, it can help us pull back and feel this – and decide if it’s best to leave or eat something or change the conversation or company.

Just like taking your vitamins, it is a habit that you can develop and will make your life better in so many ways – not just drinking.

You can read PsyBlog’s article, “What Alcohol Does to your Mind: Attentional Myopia” points out a few effects of this short-sightedness:

And remember although I don’t agree with the entire articles here, but some excerpts are good to keep in mind.

CHEERS & TO YOUR HEALTH!

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