Content warning: This post discusses my psychological reaction to being asked to temporarily abstain from alcohol. I write from the perspective of a person with the privilege of never having had to personally address a substance abuse problem. This content could be triggering to some readers.
Yoga teacher training starts tomorrow and I feel like it’s the first day of school – only a first day of school that’s more intentional and authentic than I’ve experienced before. I feel like I’m doing exactly what I should be doing.
I never really understood the concept of manifesting. I felt like it was silly, or even lazy – “Oh, if I just think about it, it’ll happen.” But then I started meditating, and I started connecting more directly with my thinking, and my life started to shift toward something that felt more authentic, and opportunities started to present themselves more easily – like this yoga teacher training. I’ve semi-seriously said for years that I was going to be a yoga teacher when I retired, then meditation led me back to yoga, which led me to a studio and teacher that felt right and that I felt connected in, and then that teacher and studio were offering a training that worked with my full-time work schedule. And while all that was happening my work responsibilities were shifting to more social emotional learning, and that was something I was passionate about and made me feel more like my work self and non-work self were less fragmented. My values are reflected in my life are reflected in my work – so maybe there’s something to manifesting after all. Maybe when you start to connect with yourself you inevitably begin to connect with the universe and things start to fall into a natural and appropriate place.
But there’s this one part that I’ve been struggling with – the training requires that we abstain from alcohol for the duration of the training, which is a year! I get it. I respect it. We should be fully present in this experience, not numbing our minds.
And I’m not even much of a drinker, but I’ve become accustomed to a glass of wine with dinner, and on infrequent occasions, a second glass. It seems like it wouldn’t be that difficult to forgo, right? I didn’t think so either. But it is. I’ve known about this since late April, and knowing that I wouldn’t be able to drink for a year, I’ve been drinking more than usual. Knowing that the wine would be taken away made me want it more. As a former chronic dieter turned (mostly) intuitive (but occasionally faltering) eater, I saw exactly what was happening. Last supper syndrome. The way you eat that night before you start a new diet, or the day you fall off the diet wagon and figure since you’ve blown it for today, you may as well blow it good and start fresh tomorrow? I know at least 75% of you know what I’m talking about – I’ve read the depressing statistics.
(Check out NPR’s Hidden Brain Podcast Episode “You 2.0: Tunnel Vision,” which discussed how scarcity impacts our thinking and decision-making.)
So here I am, mindfully and introspectively enjoying my last glass of wine for a year, wondering if the hiatus will be ultimately positive or negative. Will I leave the experience not wanting to go back to my nightly glass of wine, or will the psychology of scarcity lead me to over-drink when it’s over? Did my history of dieting create or contribute to my reactions, or would I have felt the same without that history (because I am stubborn and sometimes resent being told what to do)?
I’ll revisit these questions next year.