I mentioned a few posts ago that I was going to begin training to become a yoga teacher this month. Now I’m a couple of weekends in, and it is helping immeasurably with the urge to drink. In fact, this time around I’ve had almost zero cravings. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that I left my job and my routine is different, that I’m actively trying to care for myself, and that I’m being more honest with others about what I’m going through. But there’s also this idea our yoga teacher introduced us to on our first day of training (also my day 1, and first day of teacher training!) that is simple, yet has stuck in my mind since then as a kind of mantra:
“You become what you repeat.” He referenced the yogic spiritual practice called Abhyassa when talking about this idea, and also called it “brain plasticity.” Isn’t that so much of what we’re talking about here, with our attachments around alcohol consumption? We practice consuming alcohol with dinner (wine), in social situations, to celebrate, to mourn, to relax, after work, etc. We repeat this behavior because it’s the norm, and then that behavior sinks into our private lives as well, and the more we repeat it the more we become it.
The opposite is also true. This time around is markedly easier because of the things I’m doing to support myself, but also because I got some sober time under my belt on my previous rounds. Each time I abstained, even if only for a week or so at a time, I added days that are like extra muscle fibers helping carry me now. It is easier to divert myself to something else when I feel my urge to have a glass of wine coming on. I’m getting better at rewarding myself with other things. I’m practicing repeating positive behaviors and trusting that the more I repeat them, the more they will become my life. Maybe it really is that simple. It helps when I’m having a tough moment to pause, breathe, and remind myself that I’m practicing right now, and practicing can be hard. But that with enough practice, this will become natural. I will make it look easy. It will be my life.
And today, I rewarded myself with tulips and dark chocolate with almonds and sea salt. :):)