one of the things i did or rather i did not do during the month was consume any intoxicants – including alcohol (barring one occassion) and coffee. Chocolate however is still on the menu.

The main reason for my new found abstention is from some of the insights gained through meditation. In the last few months, I had started using alcohol and other drugs as a means of distraction – to relax, to forget, to numb, to increase confidence, to lower inhibitions, to escape. It served its purpose at that time.

With meditation however, it soon became apparent that it didnt do much to solve anything and that indeed, it exacerbated underlying problems. while intoxicated, I discovered it disturbed the new found order of my mind and my self-awareness. After intoxication, I discovered that it lessened my ability to focus while meditating and dulled the fragile internal senses i’d been struggling to cultivate. To my consternation, I also discovered that in times of stress, I had a craving for alcohol, something I was almost unaware of until I decided to consciously not drink for a period.

The last month has been pretty much a process of observing myself and my reactions to the presence of intoxicants and to other people on intoxicants. My desire varies depending on circumstance – mainly to do with stress, boredom and a more prosaic low-blood sugar driven thirst for carbohydrate rich beer (an association picked up by drinks after strenous exercise). Observing the craving and understanding the circumstances has in every case made it easy for me to not drink.

The other result of observation has been an affirmation of past knowledge that I’d once held quite close and true to myself but which in the last six months or so, I’d forgotten. I do not enjoy the company of intoxicated people. I feel alienated and disconnected from them. Understanding this, something else also emerged. While being sober in the company of intoxicated people, it seemed to me more often then not that i was surrounded by pain – all the various expressions of different intoxicants – the slack face of drunkeness, the mania of ecstacy, the inward look of dope – nothing more than different grimaces of agony. Of course, I am probably projecting my own experiences of my reasons for taking intoxicants onto others but I dont think i’m completely wrong.

Mind, I do not intend to be strict about abstention.

At dinner at a friend’s last night, I brought a bottle of red and shared it with her. I did it without wanting the alcohol but wanting instead to bring a nice bottle to share, one which would complement the food, one that would show my appreciation of the effort she’d put into making dinner. It was my first drink in some weeks. I enjoyed the wine, I stopped well before feeling drunk. Will this mark the end of my abstention? Likely it would end my complete abstention from alcohol but I’m hoping it will also mark the start of a healthier relationship – one that does not lead to intoxication, distraction and dependency.

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