If you’re at the point where you think you could benefit from a healthier relationship with alcohol, it can be difficult and intimidating to know where to start, especially if you don’t want to quit entirely. That’s where this thing called meditation comes in. I know—it sounds a little weird. You might be thinking it’s got “hippy” or “religion” written all over it, and that you’re supposed to sit cross-legged, eyes closed, and silent for who knows how long.
The truth is that it’s easier than you think. Mindfulness is achieved by simply being aware of the present moment while acknowledging your thoughts and feelings. It actually only takes a few minutes of mindfulness everyday to improve or conquer your relationship with alcohol and drink better. To get you started, let’s debunk some of the myths that might be running through your head about meditation so you can clear your head and begin to practice mindful drinking.
Meditation is too difficult.
This myth is rooted in the fact that we’re concentrating too hard, or we expect certain results. You don’t have to be a meditation expert on the first day, first week, or even the first month. I’ve been practicing meditation for almost three years now, and I still have days where I can’t focus. Sometimes, I just want to sit on the couch and binge-watch The Office.
I’ve learned that patience is key in the beginning. This also applies to drinking. You may not be able to limit yourself at first. But guess what? That’s okay. Beginnings are hard, but eventually you adjust and come out on top.
It’s also good to remember that you’re training your brain to do something it’s not used to. With constant entertainment at our fingertips, it’s difficult to slow down. By redirecting your thoughts to a single point of focus, you’re actually strengthening a muscle—your mind.
It takes years of practice to receive any benefits.
It only takes 11 minutes for your drinking habits to reap the benefits of meditation. A recent study by University College London found that heavy drinkers consumed 9.3 fewer units (or 3.2 fluid ounces) of alcohol in a week when they practiced mindfulness techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and yoga.
Meditation actually helps you become more aware of your feelings and thoughts so you can manage them better. Let’s say you came home from a long day at work, and your first thought was to crack open a beer. You can still have the beer, but it also might be helpful to take a moment and tap into why you’re grabbing a beer, or how you’re using alcohol to address emotions you’re feeling. Your breath might be short and quick, or your chest might feel tight from hunching over a computer all day. Acknowledge it. Sit with it. Then, move on. And, remember, it’s okay to enjoy that beer.
I’m not doing it right.
There isn’t a right or wrong way to practice meditation. It’s about focusing on your breath, listening to the sounds around you, or counting to 10. The same goes for mindful drinking, and may look or feel a little different to everyone. Meditation is simply a guide to help you learn how to acknowledge your thoughts and then let them go with peace.
This same principle applies to drinking. Let go of all the self-doubt you have about what you can and cannot do during a night out. Even if you wake up with a pounding headache from one too many glasses of wine, that’s okay. It’s a new day with new intentions and goals. Start again. You got this.
The point, for many, is not to abstain from alcohol to reach the pinnacle of sobriety. It’s about being able to have a healthier relationship with it so you can live your best life. Start by setting aside just 5-10 minutes every day to focus on your breathing. If you feel you can meditate for longer, try it out. The mind is a powerful thing—use it to your advantage.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Briana Galbraith is a freelance copywriter and social media specialist. She also volunteers for TeamWomenMN, an organization that encourages and supports women in leadership development. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and yoga. You can follow her travels on Instagram here.