Week 1 Update:
Day 7, I made it, phew! I’ve been wanting to write a blog post on this particular experiment for a long time. And I don’t want to simply label this as an “experiment” because it’s so much more than that. This is the first time, in a LONG time, that I’ve really challenged myself…to say NO to something that I always say YES to and to commit to sitting still for at least 15 minutes a day. This can only change me for the better, right? And I’m ready to change, I’m ready to grow and expand in a meaningful way.
This blog idea has probably been on my mind for at least year and I kept coming up with excuses not to do it…I had a party coming up or a show or I was bored and wanted some wine. Something interesting that I’ve noticed this week is the panic that I experience around saying no to an ingrained habit. There’s almost a sense of dread when saying no to something that you always, ALWAYS, A L W A Y S say yes to. Exploring that gap, that dreaded gap, I believe, is the space where we have the power to make huge, sweeping changes in our lives. I’ve never had the courage to explore it until now…
Sitting has been easier for me, as I have years of experience with it and have done it for hours at a time. The tricky thing is…I’ve never done it for 30 days straight because I always let myself off the hook. It’s not that I forget, I just choose to get lazy. I watch Netflix instead (usually with wine;) or just say that I don’t want to do it. One of the things that I love about a consistent meditation practice is how sharp my focus and attention becomes and it’s certainly something that I’ve been enjoying the last couple days. This combined with not drinking has definitely cleared up my thinking, I’ve become noticeably more patient and perhaps the biggest place that I notice a difference is, is in my teaching. There are intelligent and philosophical words and thoughts flowing out of my mouth and I’m not really sure where they came from. When I put my hands on my student’s bodies, I feel as if I’m able to mold and hold them with just the right amount of pressure and in just the right way. I feel as if my ability to read my students has helped me to care for an nurture them in a way that feels honest and genuine. Everything feels more…potent.
Next Friday, I leave for Oakland for 10 days to start my 300-hour training with Annie Carpenter. I’m scared, nervous and excited about the rigorous schedule and also what I might learn about myself, what sort of depth I may uncover. I *knew* that I had to be sober for this training, I knew that I had to give this everything I possibly could because it is such a privilege to study with someone that I look up to in a million different ways. I’m also scared, nervous and excited for 7 another days of saying no to my habit and saying yes to unearthing another layer of my sanity.
Until next Friday, I can’t wait to update you…
Week 2 Update:
I just arrived in Oakland and feeling eager to start my training tomorrow. I must say, week 2 of this 30-day challenge has been noticeably easier than week 1. The first week was hard, breaking habits is hard. I felt left out in a hand full of situations where people were drinking. I looked at them longingly as they appeared to “loosen up” and relax. I craved sugar and ate as much as I could get my hands on. I felt annoyed that I had put myself in this situation, that I had made this commitment for the sake of a blog post.
All the while, I was experiencing some pretty awesome changes in my teaching, my focus had become more dialed in, I felt overall “more sensitive”. I dunno…something was happening, but I was kind of vague on what.
This last week was better, saying “no” to drinking became easier. I started to question my cravings more (which are decreasing in intensity) and have been trying to use this new clarity of mind to contemplate my relationship with alcohol (Why do I do it? How will I feel physically and emotionally about it at the end of this 30 days? Will I drink less?). The sugar cravings are still there, but also becoming less loud, less physical.
I’ve really enjoyed sitting lately, I can tell that my ability to explore the spacious gap between my thoughts is becoming more and more attainable. The gap is growing. I’ve been experiencing my feelings more intensely, they more refined- like I’m able to describe them with laser-sharp detail, I’m able to assimilate them with a more fine-toothed comb.
Tomorrow begins a very physically (and I’m sure emotionally) arduous journey. “No expectations” is my mantra…easier said than done.
Week 3 Update:
As I expected, this training is by far the hardest thing that I’ve ever done physically. And because I’m edging up to my physical boundaries, I’m starting to feel the effects emotionally. I come home every night feeling like a I had a “really long day at work” and the desire to reward myself is definitely there. I feel like I just want to relax a little bit knowing that I’ll have to endure something just as challenging the next day.
All in all though, I’m not around people who are drinking, which is always helpful. In an effort to get 8 or 9 hours of sleep, I’m trying to go to sleep around 10pm and I’m seeing that my ability to sleep through the night and wake up with more ease has improved immensely. I feel like good quality sleep is so underrated and I’ll definitely have to take into account whether this is worth losing to just “relax a little” the night before.
In this particular training, our focus is on really getting clear about how to do asana safely, which means long holds in poses while making small adjustments to ultimately make the spine “happy”. This is a test of endurance unlike what I’m used to. THIS is where I’ve noticed my mediation practice come into play the most. When I feel my body fatiguing, when I feel my muscles shaking– that’s when I use my mind training practice, that’s when I steady my gaze, soften my eyes, allow the breath to flow with more ease and find just an overall sense of becoming more relaxed form the inside out.
After week 3, I am truly proud of myself. I feel empowered knowing that I’m capable of saying “no” and also of creating and maintaining healthy habits. The changes I’m noticing are becoming less loud and more subtle. I’m not sure if I’ll have any big breakthroughs in the next week, but I sure am going to try and keep an open mind about it all.
Week 4 Update:
Day 29! I never thought this day would come. I feel a new sense of self-control and self-awareness that was well worth the work and the wait. This week has been tempting since I’ve come home and found myself back in situations where I need to say “no” to social drinking. I’ve found this week difficult to sit as I’ve been experiencing a little bit more stress than normal; I’ve found it difficult, actually DAUNTING to sit with my anxiety and I have done more Yoga Nidra instead of actual sitting meditation.
One thing I’ve noticed about week four is that I find I’m able to connect to my inner child more! I’ve found myself being more silly, the kind of silly that I would expect from myself when I’m drinking. I actually joked and said, “I think I’m getting sympathy drunk with you guys” because I really felt like I was letting go in that way! The one difference though is that I was more aware of my words, my filter was still in tact;)
During week 4, I also have begun to see changes in my body, extra “stuff” seems to be melting away and I feel overall lighter and more agile.
I am rewarding myself (for completing my training and these 30 days) with 10-day supergreens Purium cleanse, which I’ll begin on Monday. I’ll be continuing on alcohol-free for another10 days for my very first cleanse EVER. I’m nervous and excited, but I know if I can do everything that I’ve done over the last month, I can do anything.
Thanks for taking part of my journey!