Going Clear (and Not the Scientology Kind)

Sobriety may reap more benefits—and be easier!—than you think.

Most of us have been there: Drawn curtains darkening the bedroom, pulsing headache, and an empty promise to ourselves that “last night was the last time I’ll ever drink.” But let’s be real—it’s far more the social norm to drink than to abstain, and many of us may often find ourselves playing this scenario on repeat.

Don’t get us wrong. After a killer day doing SUP yoga (at Wanderlust O’ahu, for example) we’re certainly not ANTI savoring a craft beer while watching the Hawaiian sunset. But the glass is tipping (pun intended): Sobriety is starting to gain in momentum, particularly in our community. This is certainly true for Mary Beth LaRue, who found herself thriving both on and off the mat after embracing an alcohol-free lifestyle.

Removing Substances from the Picture

As for many of us, alcohol was always present in Mary Beth’s life. From a couple of glasses of wine in the bathtub disguised as “self-care” to a night out dancing, booze presented itself as a non-negotiable frenemy that always paired well with hangovers, a lack of awareness, and a less-than-present state than Mary Beth wanted for herself. Alcohol, she says, kept her small. Its nasty side effects didn’t align with who she wanted to be in the world.

While an increasing number of individuals are stepping away from alcohol and finding alternative routes to forge connections with others, it can be challenging to cut the initial ties to substances. Each road to sobriety is unique. Whether it is through movement and breath—or finding mindful events and communities like Wanderlust that encourage intentional lifestyle choices—it may not be easy. An important step on the journey is to honor yourself for choosing to dive deeper. And then work to enjoy the space of presence and awareness that going clear provides.

Intentionally Create Your Life and Relationships

Maybe you chose to start 2018 with Dry January, or you’ve decided to completely cut booze from the picture for good. Regardless of where you are at, the space and opportunities that come from going clear can majorly shift your perspective of self and your surroundings.

Sobriety, Mary Beth says, allowed her to step into a place of creation rather than reaction. From being featured on the cover of Yoga Journal to fostering a beautiful baby boy with her husband, Mary Beth’s life went from black and white to technicolor when she made the empowering personal decision to cut out alcohol. As Mary Beth found, ridding the mind and body of alcohol expands your time in so many ways. With sobriety, you are the master of your days and can sculpt them without the dark cloud of a hangover—or even a slight mental fuzz—holding you back. That morning yoga class you always miss? Not today! That deep conversation you had with your partner last night? Remembered and stored in the memory vault.

But OK. Let’s be real. It’s not easy to have a night out without drinking. So just what does sobriety mean for your social life? Here’s the thing: While sipping a cocktail on the dance floor may seem necessary to get your groove on, alcohol can actually separate us from our true nature and hold us back from stepping into our full presence and power.

Here are some ideas to make a booze-free night a bit easier:

  • Order a drink anyway. A seltzer with a lemon even looks like alcohol. This may help you feel more comfortable and gives you an excuse to deny a drink from a stranger at the bar.
  • Tip like you normally would. Bartenders love a sober tipper.
  • Remember, no one else knows! You might think you’re sober Sally, but the chances of anyone else picking up on it are slim. Feel free to cut loose, dance hard, and enjoy yourself knowing that you’ll actually remember the fun you’re having.
  • Put your phone away and people watch. Not to be ego-tripping, but how often do you get to watch people sloshing around a bar or club and think, “I am so glad that’s not me!” From spilling drinks to watching failed first encounters, people watching is a great activity to relax into the environment.
  • Plan your favorite activities for the next morning! When you’ve got something you’re excited for the next morning, who needs a drink anyway?

Exploring the Space of Sobriety

It isn’t always easy to face problems or emotions head on, but by creating space and allowing ourselves to sit with emotions and thoughts, we are given the opportunity to build mental—and emotional—strength and awareness. With sobriety comes clarity, and often in that clear state of mind, we are able to shed excess baggage that does not push us closer towards our true north. We can pursue those meaningful relationships, our kula, and live with intention, passion, and vigor each and every day.

Similar to the lessons we learn on the mat, going clear provides us with the extraordinary perspective of the perfectly imperfect power of the present moment. Breathing through the burn of holding a posture for a long period of time teaches us contentment and awareness. While sober, we call on that same yogic philosophy by being able to stay present with the emotions and feelings that arise rather than escaping through the numbness of alcohol.

Mary Beth found that channeling her energy and emotions through reading, writing, meditation, and yoga proved to be a supportive path on her journey to sobriety. As Benjamin Sáenz says, “If you can quit for a day, you can quit for a lifetime.” You don’t need to have a bad relationship with alcohol to give sobriety a shot. The next time you feel like drinking, ask yourself, “Is there something else I’m craving?” Often times, becoming aware of our impulses provides an opportunity to redirect our focus and energy in a more productive and healthy way so we can truly thrive as humans—on and off the mat.

Ava Pendl is a freelance writer and digital-marketing guru based out of San Diego with passions in self-health, yoga, and beauty. As an avid yogi beginning the journey as a registered yoga teacher, she spends her time in between downward dogs blogging for her local yoga studio, designing websites and social media campaigns, and managing her own blog. A majority of Ava’s free time is spent planning her move to South America, where she’ll be traveling, blogging, and yoga-ing around the continent. Follow her journey on Instagram.