My life has been somewhat different from that of so many persons I know, persons who drift around in the mainstream. I’ve never been drunk, for instance. Just never had any interest. It was always sad, at best, to observe persons I knew getting drunk, and being drunk, and being hungover. And recovering from being hungover. I’ve never liked being around people who are drunk, or are in the process leading to getting drunk, or who frequently end up drunk. But what can you do? It’s such a common problem, drinking. All of my life I’ve mostly simply avoided socializing and forming close friendships with people who suffer from this problem, people who think they are enjoying their life of being alcohol dependent. People who do not have a higher level of quality of awareness and a higher vision of who they are and where they’d like to go and how they’d like to get there, safe and sound, with their brain and mind intact.
All the real fun, the real fulfillment, the real growth in life, lies in a naturally more comprehensive, heightened state of restful alertness, a more enlightened state of consciousness that is at the other end of the scale in terms of real greater quality of enjoyment, compared to the drunken state, the drugged state, the intoxicated state. But most people’s ordinary waking state experience is so unfulfilling so much of the time, that I realize why so many of them so often wish to get drunk and/or stoned at least from time to time. I’m all for freedom from an overwhelming sense of stress, depression, boredom, anxiety, overwork, sorrow, pressure to maintain and succeed in every area, etc. I just do not see that drinking or stoning actually helps this situation in any lasting, healthy way. The opposite is obviously the case. The immediate effects of alcohol dependency are questionable at best and the cumulative effects are ultimately quite problematic. It’s pretty much the same with frequently taking any strong drugs to get high and to blunt or obscure feeling the burden of one’s ordinary waking state experience and situation.
It is possible to deepen and elevate the quality of one’s life to a sublime degree of happiness never imagined by most people. But not by drinking and drugging. In fact, abusing substances is merely abusing oneself, literally: it damages the delicate higher neurophysiology of the brain. Full use of a healthy brain, enjoying natural optimal functioning, is the basis of living a spontaneous continuum of higher states of consciousness, the experience of profound inner freedom and happiness. The fully stable natural experience of the ongoing optimal functioning of one’s neurophysiology is the obvious basis of clearer thinking, wiser decision-making, more comprehensive assessment, engagement, and enjoyment of life.
It is in this state of effortless clarity that freedom lies, that freedom is lived in a natural, spontaneous state of inner joy and fulfillment. It is not only possible to live such a quality of daily enjoyment, with some initial guidance it is easy. But it usually requires effective instruction in the effortless procedure for systematically unfolding the natural potential for higher functioning present within everyone. Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a scientifically verified natural procedure for unfolding and stabilizing the experience of optimal neurophysiological functioning and enjoying a higher state of consciousness. It is a most effective tool for overcoming alcohol and drug abuse and dependency, and for healing the damaging physical and mental effects of such abuse.
As someone who has practiced TM virtually all my life, I never suffered the specific problems encountered by those who drink. But at another place on the scale of life experience, there is this UK woman’s story:
A moment that changed me: realising, aged 16, that I couldn’t handle alcohol
“I did drink quite a bit more after that. But that night in Alicante was the first inkling I had that my relationship with alcohol was a dangerous one.”
Friday 12 May 2017 03.00 EDT Last modified on Thursday 1 June 2017 13.38 EDT
I was 16, on holiday in Alicante on my own – my Aunty Sue was due to join me the next day. So in preparation for her arrival, I drank almost a litre of vodka, hit the town and passed out. A Spanish stranger called an ambulance and the local hospital kindly pumped my stomach. “Olé! Olé!” as they say (translation: Oi! Oi!).
I was in a foreign place, didn’t speak the language, and had no idea where my hostel was. I thought I was streetwise but I was a street idiot. Like many people my age, I was a turbulent sea of emotions: a mix of hormones, some unprocessed family happenings, and a classic case of a broken heart. Because of this emotional maelstrom, the male nurse thought he could drop me back to my hostel via his place and have sex with me, since I was too low on self-esteem, and way too out of it, to put up any sort of counter-argument. Turns out he was right. Muchas gracias, maaate!
I’d like to say that this was the moment that changed me, but I still needed another 117 occasions just as murky to decide that maybe drinking wasn’t for me and that, rather than saving me from my problems, it might have actually been causing quite a few of them, or certainly giving them some fertile ground in which to blossom.
A year later, when I was 17, I was working as a bartender in one of the roughest pubs in Margate. To give you some idea, a lot of the clientele had the latest jewellery in electronic tags, and some of the customers were working as local concubines. It was run by a couple called Pam and Bob and they, as you can imagine, had seen all sorts.
The establishment let you accept drinks as tips while you worked. Big mistake, Pam and Bob, big mistake. I’d had some super-strength lager on the bus over, so the double whiskies really topped off the trouble. By 10pm, I had burnt the arm of my jumper, I had one foot stuck in the bounteous fag bin, and I had smashed a whole dishwasher tray full of drinks into a wall. I was not winning any bar-staff awards that night and, of course, got asked to leave. Later on I found out that I was so drunk my bosses thought that I couldn’t have just been intoxicated – I must have been on drugs. I was not on drugs – well, not that night anyhow.
Around this time, I was also arrested for drink-driving. I was driving at 5mph, so as not to arouse suspicion. Then when I realised the police were tailing me, I thought I could trick them by indicating left, and, you guessed it, turned right. They saw through my plan and pulled me over, but drunk me had another scheme; I downed a bottle of lemon grass aromatherapy oil and told them I was “in a rush, so must be getting on”. Needless to say I was prosecuted, and quite right too.
I have lost count of the incidents through the years and the number of times I gave up drinking. But I did get better at controlling it. When I was younger I used to wet myself and pass out, and I’d often come to with a “friend” who had decided that he would try to remove my clothes and insert his penis in me. It’s a shame judges sometimes blame the women in these scenarios, because if a woman was passed out drunk and someone started punching her in the head (another physical violation) would they say – “to be fair she was drunk, so she was asking for it”? She was only asking for “it”, if “it” is a fully clothed snooze, thank you. Or indeed a nudey-snooze if she so fancies.
Anyway, I cleaned up my side of the street and bit by bit became stronger and started working on the trauma and shame. I do believe that if you are lucky and meet the right people, some horrific situations can be an opportunity to grow stronger, and every single person has a spectrum of events happen to them, which don’t have to define them. I’ve forgiven all the people who used me and abused me when I was drunk because, really, they were just as unconscious as me – just in a different way.
There was no knowing when the beast would be unleashed. But, at some point, the beast was always unleashed
I thank them for all the lessons they brought with them – through their “teachings”, as they all helped me to reach that well-documented rock-bottom, so that all I could do was build upwards. And year on year, slowly but surely, I built a rock-solid foundation. I’ve also forgiven myself for everything in the past (I think), and I hope that all the people who I’ve inflicted my pain on have forgiven me too.
Giving up drinking was a slow and gradual thing. In my late 20s, I drank a fair bit, and was for the most part a big, fun drunk without incident. But there was no knowing when the beast would be unleashed. And, at some point, the beast was always unleashed. I had so much shame and guilt that I drank to forget it. Which is a bit like saying you crave exercise so much that you cut off your legs.
Now, finally, I love not drinking. I love the clarity and simplicity of it, but it’s taken a long time to get here, via many, many mistakes. I used to think I was missing out, so inevitably I would always, slowly, creep back to the wine. Then, through a combination of being in the right place at the right time, meeting the right people and finally being ready – I gave up for good. I also read a great book called The Easy Way to Stop Drinking, by Allen Carr (not that one). It somehow made me realise that I wasn’t missing out; in fact, I would only be missing out if I started drinking again.
The word sober sounds so serious. I still love dancing till 2am and talking shit. I still love all the enjoyable things I did drunk, but there’s choice and power in my decisions now. And I’ve also given up drinking lemongrass aromatherapy oil; that was the big one for me.
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Even moderate drinking can damage the brain: