ALCOHOL a barrier to AHIMSA
A wellness, wholeness, nowness conversation.
Are you a conscious and contemporary Yoga teacher, Yoga studio owner, or wellness professional? This article is a spotlight on non-violent choices that embrace courage, self-love, and compassion for others.
We don't know what we don't know but when we do know we can do better.
I remember the first time I saw the American advocacy film and documentary Forks Over Knives which illustrates the benefits of a low-fat, vegan diet to avoid and reverse chronic diseases. Its founder Brian Wendle heard something that made sense to him while attending a nutrition conference that forever altered the course of his life for the better. Once that happened, he committed himself to research and then spreading the word to others. The Fork over Knives movement sparked national change with its movie and accompanying book. Brian began, others got curious, tried it, and one by one, people understand and adapt their lives to feel its benefits. Now, there are meal planners, cooking courses, a phone app, and more.
WOW! It all began with a profound change for one person who then had the courage to share it. This inspires me- a lot. I am a yoga teacher. I have been a Yoga Teacher since 2013. Yoga was an unexpected detour providing a scenic view of life; slowing me down, and giving me the opportunity to live in this world in ways I never expected. Now, I get to train Advanced Yoga teachers and encourage my students towards stronger connections to a yogic lifestyle.
An important part of making Yogic lifestyle choices is a simple concept that I learned from Annie Grace, the Author and founder of the This Naked Mind movement, which champions living alcohol-free as a pivotal lifestyle change for anyone and everyone- it is an empowered choice wellness movement just like Fork Over Knives is.
Growth is a process that begins with awareness. Just because you learn something doesn’t’ mean it is an immediate line in the sand. We seldom go to an immediate I used to do this and now I do this instead. Awareness begins the process. I still eat meat but much, much, much less. I feel better when I eat clean and plant-based. My husband is a BIG meat eater, so it’s in the house and sometimes it becomes the path of least resistance. As well, I grew up eating a lot of farm-raised cattle, pork, and chicken so it’s very much ingrained into what’s “normal” for me.
What’s happening here is another simple concept of cognitive dissonance. I am learning and experiencing one thing but my beliefs and life are keeping me in habitual patterns of what feels safe. There are vast gray areas to all the yogic wellness “should” of the past few decades. It's ultimately up to me to do what I feel at peace with. What will make me happy? For me, slowly climbing the ladder to a plant-based diet is working, and I am going to keep going on that.
The key here again is awareness. I am becoming more aware of what does and does not feel good to me. There is a lot I did not know about Alcohol when I decided to take a break from it 4 years ago. Drinking wine was how I relaxed, and I believed it enhanced living, especially in a delicate long-stemmed crystal wine glass. I believed that alcohol was an essential component of gathering with others. It was “the” offering of being a good host. For me and for so many people, it accompanies all celebrations or mournings, holidays, and social events. I took a few breaks from alcohol while in grad school and in each of my yoga teacher training- always feeling a significant shift in my energy, skin, weight, and overall aliveness. In my 50s, the regular routine of coming home for a few glasses of wine began to zone me out from experiencing my evenings and I began to look forward to it more than not. Over time, my 2-3 glass habit was the bottle gone, more and more often.
I never hit a rock bottom, but I was not happy about how important alcohol had become to my daily routine and celebrations. It was depleting and lowering my vibration. After 90 days AF, I lost 10+ pounds and was jumping out of bed in the morning, excited to take on the day. Feeling and looking better is not the sole reason why alcohol-free living is the new way of life for me or the main purpose of sharing this data and story with you.
If you are a wellness professional or business owner you know exactly what it feels like to become passionate and connected to something that radically changes what you think, how you act, and treat yourself. I believe that we are always doing the best that we can and that " We don’t know what we don’t’ know until we do, and then – we can do better, which implies that everything and anything can happen on the other side of awareness. Once I understood the science and all its effects on my complete health-physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual- then it was game on. This one giving up alcohol lifestyle change empowers me beyond any other of my lifestyle changes. So hear me out and then check it out for yourself. Poke around, do some research, and consider it as much as Fork Over Knives, Sean Corn’s-Off the Mat Into the World, the All Bodies Movement, or Black Lives Matter. Each born from awareness, these movements have changed our world for the better.
It's crazy to me that, alcohol is the only substance we still must explain why we are not using. "I gave up Sugar!" - the response is, "Good for you!. "I gave up Gluten"- awesome, I bet you feel great. I gave up soda pop, coffee, nicotine, fried foods, etc. When you tell someone, you gave up alcohol- the most common reaction– Are you sick? I even had someone say- WHY would you do that?
If you want to find out exactly why my response was, "Why wouldn’t I ?" and learn some simple, not shaming or blaming unmarketed truths about alcohol then please keep reading!