Why elective sobriety might be the next spiritual practice you need.
I stopped drinking on January 1, 2017, as part of an experiment. At the time, I was in the midst of a massive spiritual awakening (coupled with the completion of my Saturn Return — yay!) that was rocking my world.
At this point, I’d been on my spiritual path for a few years, frantically absorbing any new-age spiritual teacher or text you’d put in front of me. By the time I hit 30, my Audible library looked like the who’s who of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday.
By all accounts, I was checking the major boxes of what it meant to live a spiritual life. I was studying, praying, meditating, doing affirmations…you name it, I was willing to try it. While all of these actions created positive results in my life, I wasn’t quite feeling the miraculous transformation and sense of connectedness that my spiritual teachers were talking about.
At first, I touted this inexplicable discontent up to something I wasn’t doing right…maybe I wasn’t praying hard enough, meditating right, or using the proper affirmations…something simply didn’t add up.
Then, I started looking at the possibility of elimination; maybe living a spiritual life wasn’t about doing more, but doing less. After all, some of the greatest gurus chose to live a rather simple life. When I looked at my modern lifestyle, suddenly a lightbulb went off: alcohol. It had to be alcohol.
As a single, social, thirty-something, this epiphany that alcohol might be the thing getting in the way of my spiritual enlightenment didn’t sit well. I tried several times to talk myself out of sobriety as a plausible path. After all, people who didn’t have a problem with alcohol didn’t just stop drinking, did they?
So, I did what any spiritual-ish person would do: I asked for a sign…and the Universe delivered. Slowly, I began to realize that many of the spiritual and self-help teachers I’d been drawn to — from Wayne Dyer to Gabrielle Bernstein to Brené Brown lived sober lifestyles. Yet, I still hesitated, the only examples of sobriety I could find were rooted in addiction work. Because I wasn’t addicted (I did take the online assessment and consult my therapist to be sure, by the way), I was resistant to these recovery-based approaches. To be clear, I absolutely support addiction and recovery, but the approach didn’t feel like a fit for my particular situation.
Yet, I couldn’t ignore the examples of people I admired who genuinely seemed to be happier and more fulfilled without alcohol in the picture. I decided sobriety was less about the approach and more about the outcome. So, hesitantly, I decided to give it a try. I started with a 30-day commitment that quickly turned to 90. And, somewhere within those 90 days, I got my sign…
While taking my morning shower and listening to a podcast, I heard a distinct message from my Inner Guide, “Amanda,” it called, “I see you doing big things in this world, but I can’t see you doing them with alcohol in the picture.”
This was the second or third time my intuition had clearly tried to get my attention in recent months, and each time the effect was the same: An intense warmth rolled over my body coupled with the sensation that I’d been punched in the gut. I crouched to the shower floor as tears welled in my eyes. The message was loud and clear, I absolutely could not unhear it.
From that point forward, continuing my alcohol-free lifestyle became a non-negotiable. I decided that I’d use the free mental and physical space to throw myself more earnestly into my spiritual study along with the pursuit of my dreams and passions.
Fast forward almost seven years and, today, I am living the life I read about all those years ago in all the spiritual books. I’ve tapped into my intuition and embraced my energetic and gifts. I have a connection with a higher power of my own understanding. Through this connection, I have felt more grounded, supported and resilient. I’ve also become incredibly magnetic, easily attracting desires and experiences that I once had to struggle for.
Over the last seven years of exploring the intersection of sobriety and spirituality, I’ve recognized more deeply the spiritual effects of alcohol — and how sobriety can help you expand more deeply into your spiritual connection:
The Spiritual Effects of Alcohol
Before we get started, let me caveat this conversation with the notion that alcohol is not immoral or unspiritual. You likely know of many spiritual practices that integrate alcohol into ceremonies. However, while Jesus did alchemize water into wine, I don’t think he and the disciples were playing slap the bag with a box of chillable red or throwing down a bottle while studying the good word.
The following observations are not intended to make you feel shame or guilt (fear tactics are very unspiritual, IMO), but rather to open you up to experiences you may be having if you are on a spiritual journey and feeling somehow disconnected from the process. In my work as a spiritual teacher and coach, most of my clients feel a sense of clarity and affirmation when they are presented with the realities of the spiritual effects of alcohol. Hopefully, you will, too.
Alcohol amplifies the voice of the ego
The ego is the internal voice of fear, lack, anxiety, judgment and separation. The ego thrives on your discomfort and stagnation and inner turmoil. The ego is discrete in its tactics, convincing you that it has your best interests at heart when its only concern is its own survival. In this sense, alcohol is a fantastic tool for the ego. Alcohol — a depressant — naturally exaggerates existing feelings of fear, lack, anxiety, judgment and separation.
Think about why you drink in the first place. It’s typically to help you shift into a state that you perceive to be “better than” your natural sober state. Then, consider the types of activities you participate in while you are drinking, in my experience, even higher-vibe activities could go south quickly. Finally, consider how you feel after drinking alcohol. Most commonly, I imagine you feel lackluster, anxious or even hopeless. All of these negative states delight the ego because they allow the ego to stay in control.
It is tremendously difficult to live a spiritually-guided life when you are being heavily influenced by the ego. You’re likely to feel hopeless, frustrated or broken — as if the spiritual connection you desire is available to others, but not you (this is how I experienced it, at least). The ego delights in this sense of confusion and discontent. This is precisely why, if you’ve ever considered changing your relationship with alcohol, you’ve felt uneasy and come up with a laundry list of reasons sobriety would be an epic failure. The ego is doing what it does best by filling your mind with fear to keep you stuck in behaviors that ensure its survival.
Alcohol muffles the voice of the Inner Guide
The Inner Guide is the internal voice opposite of the ego. The Inner Guide is the voice of love, abundance, peace, forgiveness and connection. The ego thrives off of your success and happiness. Unlike the ego, which is loud and obnoxious, the Inner Guide is gentle, yet persistent. It is the Inner Guide that encourages you to pursue your dreams, desires and passions. Yet, in a world where we glorify materialism and hustle, the Inner Guide’s messages can seem too good to be true.
It doesn’t hurt that as alcohol amplifies the voice of the ego, it simultaneously muffles the voice of the Inner Guide. Drinking alcohol is like giving the ego a state-of-the-art iPhone next to the strongest cell tower and giving the Inner Guide a 1990s flip phone in a tunnel. Although you are always able to connect with your Inner Guide, you can see how this communication would be more consistent with a clear connection.
It is the voice of the Inner Guide that nudged me towards changing my relationship with alcohol all those years ago. Your Inner Guide will always encourage you towards paths that will support you in living out your truest potential. Even when the encouragements of the ego seem fantastical, please know that the Inner Guide does not whisper to you at random. If your Inner Guide reveals a dream or possibility, it is meant to be yours.
In a world where we’re constantly conditioned to turn to the voice of fear, it is a rebellious and expansive choice to lean into your Inner Guide.
Alcohol dilutes energetic gifts
We are all deeply intuitive beings, the level at which we are all called to tap into that intuition in this lifetime may vary. Your intuition can come in the form of a gentle sense of knowing or even manifest as one of the clairs (such as clairvoyance or claircognizance). Your intuition and intuitive gifts are like superpowers.
In addition to intuitive gifts, you may also have energetic gifts such as being an empath or a highly sensitive person.
In a world where we’ve been taught to operate by tuning out and disconnecting so that we can better participate in the hustle-and-grind culture, it’s likely that you’ve never been taught about or encouraged to tap into your intuitive and energetic gifts.
What’s more, you may have been made to feel weird, strange, or different for these gifts. Therefore, it’s likely that you’ve invested a great deal of energy in shutting these gifts off or diluting them.
One of the most effective ways in which we can tune out intuition and energetic gifts is through drinking alcohol. Why? Alcohol alters the chemistry of your body, effectively disrupting every natural process that exists within your body…alcohol is indiscriminate about which process it interrupts. So, if you’ve been drinking regularly and consistently, even in a moderate amount, you can bet that you are not operating at full capacity mentally, physically, or metaphysically.
In my life, I desired a deep connection to my intuition. I wanted to tap into my energetic gifts — embracing rather than rejecting them. Most importantly, I wanted to learn to anticipate and call upon my intuition and energetic gifts. With alcohol coming in and out of the fold, I never had the opportunity to truly master these gifts. Even now (again, nearly seven years alcohol-free), I’m still learning how to embrace and manage my gifts. It’s an ongoing process, but it’s been made so much more manageable and predictable with alcohol out of the way.
Alcohol hinders manifestation
Here’s where things get interesting. One of the most awe-inspiring spiritual practices of our time is manifestation. With the rising of techniques like the Law of Attraction, many are fascinated with the notion that they can become a magnet for their dreams and desires. Let me be clear, you are always manifesting (just like you are always in connection with the Universe and your Inner Guide). Simply put, the effectiveness and consistency of your manifestations can be deeply hindered with alcohol in the picture. Here’s why:
Everything is energy. And every person, place and object has its own energetic vibration that ranges from low vibe to high vibe (this is a radical simplification of the process, by the way). Unfortunately, the energetic vibration of alcohol is low (it is a depressant, after all). Therefore, when you consume alcohol (even with the best of intentions), you lower your personal energetic vibration.
When it comes to manifestation, you can most easily manifest that which you are an energetic match for. Therefore, if you are constantly lowering your energetic vibration with a substance like alcohol, you can manifest your desires, it is just a heavier lift for the Universe.
In my experience practicing manifestation, I was absolutely able to manifest as a drinker. The frustration was that my manifestations were not consistent or reliable. The process seemed sporadic, at best. Once alcohol was out of the picture, I began to manifest consistently and with ease. Alcohol’s impact on your ability to manifest is actually pretty deep (and something I’ve studied at length. I explain this process in much more detail in my program Stop Drinking, Start Manifesting which I created for women interested in exploring the intersection of sobriety and spirituality.
Alcohol opens leaks in your energetic and auric fields
The word “alcohol” is said to come from the Arabic word “Al-kuhl” which translates to “body-eating spirit” (ew). Although I don’t claim to be an expert on the history of alcohol and spirituality, I do know that many believe drinking makes you susceptible to disruption from dark entities.
Think about it this way, when you drink alcohol, you start to become relaxed, often causing you to let your guard down. Likewise, when out drinking, you’re frequently in mixed atmospheres, exposing yourself to the various vibrations and energies of others. For those, like me, who are hyper-sensitive, highly intuitive or empathic, drinking can make you vulnerable to picking up lower-vibe energies.
This might contribute to a feeling of over-emotionality when drinking or feeling extra drained, depleted, or anxious the day (or even days) after drinking. For me, as a non-drinker, I am often reminded how sensitive I am to the energies of others when out in public spaces (particularly those that are crowded). I once explained this as a general anxiety, but now realize that one of the ways in which I used to make bars and clubs more tolerable for my sensitive disposition was to drink. Now, as a non-drinker, my level of tolerance for these same environments is short-lived. I realize (after more study and understanding of energy) that my system is hyper-sensitive to the energy of others and that I don’t dig hanging out in places where I’m more susceptible to picking up wonky energy from others.
For me, electing to be sober has been part of my spiritual experience. I am able to make better use of the spiritual tools and connections available to me as a non-drinker. Does that mean you should stop drinking if you want to be spiritual? Absolutely not. However, if you’re like me and you have an intuitive sense or inner knowing that alcohol is holding you back from the spiritual connection that you desire, exploring sobriety is something I absolutely recommend.
For me, that looked like removing alcohol from the equation entirely. Why? Because after I achieved a sustained period of abstinence and had the space to really do my inner and spiritual work, I started to feel so connected, supported and magnetic that the thought of drinking alcohol — even casually — was no longer appealing. Whatever route you take, my number one recommendation to experience the true spiritual benefits of sobriety is to take a substantial, uninterrupted, non-negotiable break from alcohol. In my years of practice as a coach, the initial time period that has seemed to be most beneficial is 90 days, with room for reflection and reevaluation thereafter.
If you enjoyed this article and resonated with my observations on the spiritual effects of alcohol, I’d love for you to support this post.