There are all sorts of programmes and support groups, both online and in our communities, to help us cut down or quit alcohol. One such website is one year no beer, whose aim is to encourage people to have a dry January through to December oneyearnobeer.com . Another – club soda – is a mindful drinking website joinclubsoda.co.uk They both work as membership organisations and there are different packages available to support those who want to quit alcohol.
I have found myself on a largely unplanned break from booze. I always do dry January, I’ve been doing it before it even had a name in the mainstream media. This slowly built up to often being dry January and February. Then last year it finally happened – I had a few weeks when I had a glass or two of wine but then found myself wondering why bother?
This heralded an unprecedented voluntary dry six months punctuated only by a trip back to my old home Madrid and my favourite bar in the world the sherry bar. That and a gift token to a honey beer tasting were pretty much my only adventures in alcohol of 2017.
I did Christmas sober and had my second New Year’s Eve sober. Yes, I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself but I’m also mindful that having a moderate glass of wine can be great fun, a pleasure with a meal. So I’m not sure where this dry spell will take me, I quite fancy doing the full ‘one year no beer’ which would take me to September 2018 and then I’ll just see how I feel.
I was lucky – my mindfulness practice and research into addiction meant I was very aware of what tricks the mind plays on us when we give something addictive up. I didn’t need to sign up to an online group or challenge but they are useful resources and thanks to raised awareness around dry January and a small but growing acceptance that living a sober life is a wonderful liberating step I think there will only be more and more people taking this journey.
Whether you are choosing to drink every month of the year or taking a break for January it’s always good to reassess alcohol use. One year no beer gathered together the data below from Professor Kevin Moore’s research (Royal Free Hospital, London) into stopping alcohol for four weeks and the benefits are very compelling.
What happens when you take a break from booze?
Today’s total practice time: 1 hour (30 mins movement, 30 mins seated)
If I were to make any new year’s resolutions, which I’m not sure are even that useful (see a previous musing on this here thismindfullife.net/2016/01 ) they would be drawn from the learning that happened during the retreat late last year thismindfullife.net/…7/12/21/retreating-3 along with less sugar and more creative writing.
Part of this drive to unleash more creativity will involve The 52 Lists Project which I hope to work through as the year unfolds.
This book appealed to me as it was weekly rather than daily, which felt a more realistic aim. And it’s a book rather than staring at a screen which pledging to do a blog post everyday for a year or whatever would entail.
I guess that means a new year’s resolution might also include, if I decided to make them, less screen time, less busy-ness in general.
One day I hope to find that elusive work-life balance and so for the most part more than anything else less busy-ness resonates most with me if I were to pledge to do anything differently in 2018.
Belated happy new year – in the spirit of less busy-ness it has taken me a week to write a new year’s blog post!
Today’s total practice time: 30 minutes movement and seated practice
This is the time of year when we reflect on the year that’s just passed and plan for the year to come. It’s tempting, as I’ve written before, to attempt to rip up the old me and bring in a fresh new, improved version of ourselves. But as Jon Kabat-Zinn so wisely wrote: Wherever you go, there you are!
Often there isn’t really a need to create a new year, new me. Instead we can just work on who we already are and get more in touch with what will truly make us happy.
In that wilderness week in between Christmas and new year, when those of us lucky to be at rest might easily forget the day of the week, it can be tempting to reflect on the year that has just passed. And I found myself doing just this when people asked me for me highlights of 2017.
For This Mindful Life CIC the highlights were as follows:
- This Mindful Life CIC was successfully and officially formed as a not-for-profit company committed to delivering quality mindfulness training to diverse communities.
- This Mindful Life delivered more courses in partnership with The Everyone Project, who’s aims of widening the reach of mindfulness sit well with This Mindful Life CIC.
- This Mindful Life CIC successfully opened an ethical CIC bank account with the co-op which was a lot more challenging than it sounds!
For me personally as a mindfulness teacher, highlights of 2017 were:
- Being accepted onto and included in The Mindfulness Network’s list of recognised Mindfulness teachers UKMN_2017_18_MAY
- Attending the Mindfulness Association’s annual conference which included trans-formative workshops with Sharon Saltzberg and Vidyamala Burch and getting to meet my supervisor in the flesh after two years of working together.
- Attending a day of practice and CPD session with the God father of secular mindfulness: Jon Kabat-Zinn. Truly inspiring to hear him guide meditations but also to see him lead an inquiry after each practice.
- Realising the direction I would like to go in as a teacher – working with client groups who have experienced trauma and/or addiction alongside mainstream teaching work.
- Completing a course on addiction and the impact this has on the brain as the first step in this journey.
- Signing up to train in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) as the next tentative step in this journey.
For me personally as a human being the highlights of 2017 were some golden moments with much loved family and friends. While on retreat thismindfullife.net/…7/12/21/retreating-3 I realised that while teaching, training and day job stuff are all very important to me, it would also be useful not to take on too much in order to ensure there are further plentiful golden moments with loved ones in 2018.
Today’s Total Practice Time: 1 hour (mostly movement and a short bodyscan)