Lucidity is Brilliant | Losing the Booze (and Chemicals) for Awhile
“A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.” – James Allen
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Involuntarily, many of us tend to opt for a sort of cloudy alter ego/mush brain resonance – dulling with alcohol, medications and drugs, instead of choosing deep presence, clear-headedness and juicy reality. The choice is rarely blatant, and the motivations aren’t mysterious: life is inherently prickly and challenging. But what drugs, alcohol, mind-altering substances or any practice that we use to mentally escape also do is seditiously lure us away from the incomparable benefits of the undosed highs of life, the sublimity of the in-betweens and even lows, and the seamless connection we have with everything when we’re chemical free – people, ourselves, nature, you name it. Our preponderance to “dulling down,” as I refer to it, has been studied for so long – whether we’re talking food, booze, sex, whatever your pleasure cocoon. We humans are messy, complex beings, but are often driven by similar aims – sure, our pleasure centers – but mostly fleeing from truly feeling all our messy complex being-ness, really meeting life on life’s terms.
I’m guilty of it. To retrain my neural pleasure centers to NOT believe that a nice boozy beverage denotes a hard-earned finality to my work day or will make an evening of dinner with friends that much more pleasurable takes a lot of work. I’ve not planned to completely quit drinking alcohol, but examining our beliefs, our impulses, and the addictive nature of substances and medications is one of the best acts we can undertake for ourselves right now in such globally confounding times.
With the proliferation of what some call the “yoga mind” – an umbrella term for a focus on mindfulness, gratefulness, and high vibe-ing – the lucid brain isn’t discussed all that often and I think that’s a major MISS. A heightened focus on internal health, wellness, and feeling good inside and out are central tenets of the “yoga mind.” With a clear mind comes the ability to truly “be” in moments, not looking towards the next one. With a clear mind comes decisions and actions that align handsomely with who we truly are, not who we are when our senses are dulled down, our minds are taxed, and our bodies are tired. So let’s talk about the real payoff of the “yoga mind”: the “lucid mind”, the clear-headed approach to life. Is it about high vibe-ing all the days? Hell no, that’s another seditious marketing ploy. It’s about experiencing the lows without chemical curtains and enjoying the highs with full clarity, and it’s truthfully about a lot of staying in the in-between places with grounded presence. This extends to other actions we take in life towards escapism (too much TV and entertainment, conversation avoidance, etc., but we’ll reserve that exploration for another post.)
I’ve lived my whole life exposed to the thievery of mental acuity of those afflicted with mental illness, and as my work in this realm and within sobriety grows I’m unmoored by how many of us (myself included) graced with any sort of intellect select dulling down instead of mental thriving. But like I said, it’s not perplexing, just unfortunate. A drink to me is a treat, a respite, and in simpler terms a great taste when it’s one of my favorite “drink” profiles. But it’s also been a way to keep myself down, to subconsciously thwart the full expanse of my capabilities. I’ll share this with you, for me, it’s been a way for me to not achieve my full potential and therefore not know what I could really gain…or really lose.
“Although we have the potential to experience the freedom of a butterfly, we mysteriously prefer the small and fearful cocoon of ego.” – Pema Chodron
This is a great time to mention that for many people around the world choosing to diminish substances for a while and enjoy on special occasions or minimally is simply not an option. Addiction and substance abuse issues affect millions and millions of people globally. I really appreciate my sober friends’ perspectives on this and encourage you to speak to someone who is, if you acutely identify a strong draw to dulling down within yourself. Get their perspective on being lost in a substance haze and the life effects of maintained sobriety. Also, congratulate these folks; sobriety is a staggering accomplishment.
Here’s something for your pleasure center: There’s an extra level of attentiveness to my needs, my TRUE desires – not ones that flit to the surface and pass just as quickly. When I’ve spent some time not drinking anything and eating as cleanly as possible, I awake refreshed, and my brain acclimates to waking life relatively instantly instead of grasping for coherence and order. Our body truly is a vessel, and at times messages can only pass through when we’ve attended to the body in this manner. Our body’s chemistry can teeter totter, and the brain is not excluded. Furthermore, pureness of body is increasingly unplundered for most of us, as we’re born into a medication seeking society.
- Do I drink or ingest chemical substances to relax? To be able to sleep? To escape stress? To escape several elements of life?
- Are there natural ways I could be achieving this rest or respite?
- Does reality increasingly seem too challenging to face without some sort of numbing aid or extreme form of escapism of my choice?
- Is being present, really in moments, getting more difficult?
Dipping your toes in the lucid pool…
Defining casual drinking and over medicating is personally held and getting more challenging for society to delineate, as over-the-counter drugs, self-medicating, and alcohol and drug usage in general are on the rise. I dare not say ‘let’s start simply’, as almost any substance we suspect is dulling us down most likely is and contains addictive elements. Following are some steps I’ve taken to feel more connected and clear-headed in my life.
- Step 1: Cut out all alcohol, drugs and any medications that aren’t life saving or prescribed for a particularly important purpose for a chosen amount of time. You should know this information best, but if not consult your doctor. Three days, a week, several weeks – choose an amount of time that will allow you to detox substances in your body and replenish them with whole foods and healthy liquids.
- Hone in on a morning routine that suits you during these days, allowing for some time between alarm and getting ready for work and rushing out the door…or whatever form of morning rush you might usually have. For me, I like to set my alarm so that I have enough time to wake up a little slowly and recall my dreams as best I can before they flit away. I then open the doors to the fresh air, let my dog out, start my ritual of making some breakfast and warming water for coffee and alkaline tea to counter balance the acidity of the coffee and grab my herbs for the day. I sit down and either meditate for 10 minutes… I’m still a super novice at this. Headspace is a great place for suggestions, or an ancient meditation is just sitting in stillness, imagining cocooning yourself in white light or love-light for the day– a protective and loving and open force field, if you will.
- Return to quiet in your mind at the end of the day right before you go to bed, sipping on some therapeutic tea to signal to your body there’s a high priority of self-care. Do not fall asleep to music, the radio, or television. Fall asleep in silence and perhaps even jot down a few acknowledgements of emotions, situations – anything you became aware of that day – before you turn out the lights. Sleep, and repeat these steps days in a row so that your body can enjoy the routine and focus.To be continued in more posts soon…