So….How you doing this summer with alcohol?
When does nature seem to conspire to invite us to enjoy life extra much? Summer, of course, with abundant fire energy and seemingly endless light (at least here in Sweden). No wonder the Scandinavian festival of MidSummer easily becomes hardcore partying – or that I am currently hearing from many about concerns around alcohol and healthy balanced living. Beer bashes on the 4th of July, liberal libations of wine at family reunions and copious cocktails on holiday all await. Refrains of “Summertime…and the livin’ is easy…” echo and easy living easily translates to multiple glasses of something intoxicating.
80 – 20: Beyond Feast and Famine to Balanced Living
Let us open with the bottom line: feasts are awesome if they are balanced with accompanying fasts. Those of you who have been following the A Year of Healthy Living program know, for example, the rigors of the Spring Detox. Using the 80-20 rule, we can let the extreme feasts and fasts fill the 20%. That is a juicy five weeks of feasting to be spread out through the year and does not equate to the whole summer!
My longterm focus is the balanced and harmonious everyday living – the 80% – or ten of twelve months a year. Alcohol balance is individual and for some, following a 12 step abstinence program is the right answer. I have yet to meet the person for whom utter abandon to the bottle can be construed as their highest life path. Medical astrology can reveal who might have Neptune – Pisces challenges that can pave the road to indulgence. Alternatively, some planetary transits herald periods when looking at the bottom of the bottle might feel like the only way to deal with the pain and stress of life. Not to mention emotional issues and even blood sugar balance and diet!
Who will this help?
This spring, an unusually high number of people presented with varying amounts of alcohol consumption and consequences but with one thing in common. All were plagued by the sense that they drink too much with attendant shame and guilt. Men and women between 28 and 68, these individuals have tried to entirely drop alcohol then experienced recurrent drinking or binges after rebellious reactions and the sense of ’never again’ deprivation. All hope it is possible to drink in moderation and are motivated to evolve. None had any near or dear person suggesting they needed an intervention or to get on the wagon.
DO something different when what you are doing is not working!
Are you struggling with alcohol, resistant to deeming it a ’serious drinking problem’ yet painfully aware something needs to change? Like the people I am working with, you want to feel in control of your alcohol intake, you want drinking to be a non-issue in a so called normal (preferably extraordinary) life. In honor of the middle way, I offer the following radical approach as a first step on the path to balance.
The Program: Conscious Drinking in Three Glasses
The Work process by Byron Katie invites us to explore the truth of our accusation / statement by reversing it. Using the example of one woman I am working with: ”I should NOT be drinking several glasses of wine alone every evening” thus becomes the provocative: ”I SHOULD be drinking several glasses of wine…!” We might tap doing the cognitive work with EFT or just energetically flow through the initial process of awareness to acceptance to embracing. The adage ”what we resists, persists” opens the door to our experiment.
What if you decided you would indeed drink wine (fill in your beverage of choice)? Do it mindfully. See it as your current remedy. Let go of negative judgement but also have a program, albeit quite different from AA’s. You are always running a program, so choose a constructive conscious one! This is a therapeutic intervention and not encouraging three drinks on any day in the long run! We work with accepting what is just now and go from there.
Use the power of your intent to decide you may drink max three glasses if you are going to imbibe. We consciously program the outcome of each glass to the classic TCM / Traditional Chinese Medicine levels: Essence, Energy and Spirit.
- ESSENCE: The first ’essential’ glass deals with the physical. Acknowledge that you are downing the drinks to to feel tense muscles relax and relieve pain, to take the edge off and have permission to stop doing.* Know and feel that your body is content after this single glass.
- ENERGY: Onto the the realm of feelings and thoughts. Acknowledge you use alcohol to numb feelings or turn off the mental chatter*. Choose instead to open up to your inner energetic landscape with its mountains of beliefs and swamps of feelings. If you are alone, take a few moments to write expressively in a free form journal. In caring company, dare to be vulnerable and share responsibly. Know and feel that your heart and mind are at peace after this single glass.
- SPIRIT: Finally, the spiritual drink! Ultimately, it is a transcendent sense of release and bliss that we are seeking. Confess your drinking has served to escape the problems and dilemmas in your reality* and taste now the nectar of peace. Know and feel the spirit of love and compassion after this single glass.
Here is the kicker: no one said how large the glasses are or what is in them. This program is designed to help heavy drinkers who choose to try to live ‘normally’ with spirits rather than abstaining AA style from alcohol. Many are currently consuming copious quantities and the above represents a radical reduction. The next step might be to have the first drink full, the second half full and the third only a sublime splash. Then to replace the third followed by the second as well with non-alcoholic beverages. You may choose to have a glass now and again in the future but it will not be a need.
The magical thing? The day you are ready to have tonic water, seltzer or even kombucha (my favorite) in your glass when stressed at a party or struggling through a family reunion, you have programmed your whole self to wind down and feel at ease just like your drinking companions but without alcohol.. With the added benefit you will not wind up saying or doing anything regrettable and will wake the next day feeling vibrant and ready to shine.
The Challenge of the Middle Way
By all means jump in and take the three glass challenge on your own, crafting the phrases to suit your situation. It is early days with my trial group who are receiving coaching and counseling but all report significant reduction in alcohol consumption and delightful increase in quality of life. With or without the guidance of your medical horoscope, using techniques tailored to your needs, we can transform limiting beliefs, heal trauma and find what balance looks like in your life. Not everything is psychological – looking at natural medicine issues like blood sugar balance and how you are eating is an overlooked key to why you maybe drinking excessively.
I wish you the joy of balanced and harmonious living: at home in your body – at peace in your mind – and happy in your heart!
*These are sweeping summaries of what is often implicated in drinking. Your ’demons’ might be quite different. For example, one woman in my group does not use alcohol to numb but rather to feel her feelings! A free consultation will let you know if I am the right guide for you.