4 Lovingkindness Meditations

It’s not always easy to be kind to others, much less ourselves. Or perhaps even more-so to ourselves. Lovingkindness meditation (also known as “metta”) helps us cultivate compassion, as well as self-compassion. It turns out when you do that latter, it helps with the former.

Here are four from teachers I love and respect.

  • Tamara Levitt – 10 minutes: I love Tamara Levitt (I subscribe to the Calm app primarily for her content), so here’s one by her to start.
  • Jack Kornfield – 12 minutes: The man, the myth, the legend. If you haven’t meditated with Kornfield, now is the time.
  • Thich Nat Hahn Foundation – 14 minutes: This is actually shorter than 14 minutes, because there’s some explaination in there, too.
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn – 47 minutes: This is a bit long for beginners so maybe wait a while if you are new to lovingkindness meditations or meditation in general, but it’s Kabat-Zinn has a great voice and, honestly, I could listen to him all day! There’s a great article around this one, so read and learn or simply scroll down for the audio.

These might be challenging at first. Even if you don’t feel like loving yourself, do it anyhow. Even it you feel cheesy or inauthentic saying or directing the words to yourself, do it anyhow. Feeling it will come over time. You got this. 

Eat Fit Mindful Monday

How I came to become alcohol free, as well as changes I’ve experienced and some that many people enjoy and a few of my top strategies for success.

Booze break strategies, plus physical and mental health changes

On Oct. 14, the gang at Eat Fit invited me as the Mindful Monday guest for the #AlcoholFreeFor40 challenge. If you missed it, please enjoy the recording. In the video, I discuss booze breaks, how I came to become alcohol free, as well as changes I’ve experienced and some that many people enjoy and a few of my top strategies for success.

If you have trouble viewing the video, click here to visit the host site.

NOTE: Feel free to skip to about the 3:42 mark to bypass a lot of me waiting around for attendees to jump on the Zoom.

Calming Box Breathing

Box breathing is a yogic pranayama (breathing) technique that engages the parasympathetic nervous system, transitioning us from “fight or flight” to “rest and digest,” mode. Use this simple breathing method when you are feeling anxious or stressed or just need a little reset.

Box breathing is a yogic pranayama (breathing) technique that engages the parasympathetic nervous system, transitioning us from “fight or flight” to “rest and digest,” mode. Use this simple breathing method when you are feeling anxious or stressed or just need a little reset.

For breath is life, and if you breathe well

you will live long on earth.

— Sanscrit Proverb

Try this the next time you are about to lose it at your partner, kids, boss, that lady in the checkout line at the grocery or any time.

Dana

This class was given in the spirit of dana, which in Buddhism is the voluntary act of giving to others. If in that same spirit, you’d like to make a donation for the recorded offering, you can do so via PayPal or Venmo and 25 percent will go to Bridge House/Grace House, a 24-hour, 7 day a week, residential treatment facility in New Orleans that provides no-cost substance-use disorder treatment to men and women in two separate locations. But please also feel free to enjoy the class at no charge, because I want everyone to be able to participate and access the many benefits of yoga and meditation.

One-Minute Meditation

Try this meditation when you are busy, on the go or need a quick emergency breathing session. Even one minute of deep breathing can change the course of your day.

Try this meditation when you are busy, on the go or need a quick emergency breathing session. Even one minute of deep breathing can change the course of your day.

Meditation is particularly helpful during a booze break, because it can help curb cravings due to the positive impact on areas of the brain that regulate self-control.

Don’t worry if your mind wanders — that’s perfectly normal. In fact it’s physically impossible to “empty” your mind. Rather, when you notice a thought, simply acknowledge it and then refocus on the breath.

I hope you enjoy this brief meditation.

Drink Fit Club

by Melanie Warner Spencer

One-Minute Meditation

Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Gentle Wake Up Yoga Class

This 20-minute class is for all levels, including those who have never done yoga and those who don’t really even want to do yoga. Gently wake your body and mind up with a series of easeful movements that feel good and are great for you.

Enjoy this practice in your jammies from your bed, couch or mat.

Dana

This class was given in the spirit of dana, which in Buddhism is the voluntary act of giving to others. If in that same spirit, you’d like to make a donation for the recorded offering, you can do so via PayPal or Venmo and 25 percent will go to Bridge House/Grace House, a 24-hour, 7 day a week, residential treatment facility in New Orleans that provides no-cost substance-use disorder treatment to men and women in two separate locations. But please also feel free to enjoy the class at no charge, because I want everyone to be able to participate and access the many benefits of yoga.

Alcohol Free Toolbox

Willpower is a finite resource. When we lean on it repeatedly while breaking habits that no longer serve us and forming new ones, willpower eventually wears out and we cave in. Instead, make it easy on yourself by finding the right tools and planning ahead .

  • Keep healthy snacks and meals at the ready and eat throughout the day to help regulate blood sugar. This helps with moods and cravings.
  • Stay hydrated! This one is more important and helpful than we often realize.
  • Find replacement drinks with flavors similar to your favorite alcoholic beverages. For example, club soda with bitters for lovers of an Aperol spritz, try some of the good alcohol free beers and zero proof spirits on the market now (if it isn’t a trigger for you), teas, flavored bubbly water and ingredients for yummy mocktails kept at arms length can give us what we want at a moment’s notice.
  • Journal about your thoughts, feelings, triggers and witching hours to get your thoughts out of your head and better tune into patterns.
  • Alternate activities like a walk, hot bath or meditation, listening, to a podcast, calling a friend, doing yoga, cooking or baking can all distract you just long enough for a craving or a bad mood (which often helps create the craving) to pass. Create a list of comforting activities and things you’ve been wanting to try and pick something off of the list. Knitting? Hiking? Painting? Gardening? Give it a whirl!
  • Take a nap. Yep, sometimes we just need rest or to hit the reset button. Naps can accomplish both.

Tune into your body and emotions. Treat yourself with the same care and compassion you would treat a friend and fulfill those basic needs like rest, hydration, eating, sunshine, fresh air and fun.

Willpower will only get you so far, but if you have the right tools for the right job, you can cut down on the time and effort being expended on forming new habits. Be kind to yourself.

Treats and Rewards

At Drink Fit Club, we are are #TeamTreatsAndRewards when it comes to alcohol free challenges. These are the little things that help us through the tougher days, offer a bit of self-care or recognize a milestone.

At Drink Fit Club, we are are #TeamTreatsAndRewards when it comes to alcohol free challenges. These are the little things that help us through the tougher days, offer a bit of self-care or recognize a milestone.

When we are used to using alcohol as a reward, it can be hard to think of alternates. We also have to re-train our brains to get excited about things other than wine o’clock and get those fabulous little hits of dopamine we used to get from a cocktail from a place that’s more healthful. Truth be told, we are also often stingy with ourselves when it comes to life’s simple plesaures and allowing our own enjoyment. There are a lot of things that we love to treat ourselves with, so we’ll share a few to get your gears turning.

  • Fancy coffee drinks or a pound of fine coffee
  • A yoga class
  • Artisanal tea
  • Books (especially quit lit — we love a story of triumph or useful tips and advice from people who’ve been there)
  • Dark chocolate
  • A meal at your favorite restaurant or takeout
  • A soft, cozy scarf
  • Fresh flowers
  • Yummy candles (that we actually burn and don’t just “save” for some other time)
  • New music
  • Trying a new NA beverage
  • A long, luxurious hot bath with all of the yummy bath things
  • Nature (usually in the form of hiking)

This is really about whatever you love and decide is a treat or reward. Create your own list in your phone notes, journal or on a notepad to keep handy. Add items to it any time you think of them. Pick an item or activity from the list as a weekly treat, when you hit a milestone or when you are feeling low or having a craving. Treat yourself, often and with zeal! You’ve got this!

What are your favorite treats and rewards? Share, so we can get more ideas!

Changes and Benefits at Four Weeks Alcohol-Free

What happens when you abstain from alcohol for four weeks? Your system is functioning at a much higher level pretty much across the board at this point. Let’s break down changes and benefits you might be experiencing at four weeks alcohol-free.

  • The tissues in your skin are hydrated, giving you that plump, soft glow and diminishing pores. If you have rosacea or red, rashy skin, alcohol can irritate it, so you’re likely experiencing fewer flare ups. 
  • According to the CDC, “Drinking any kind of alcohol can contribute to cancers of the mouth and throat, larynx (voice box), esophagus, colon and rectum, liver and breast (in women). The less alcohol you drink, the lower the risk of cancer.” Look at you lowering your risk for cancer! 
  •  Additionally, you’ve lowered your risk for stroke, heart disease and hypertension,
  • Your immune system is no longer being suppressed by alcohol. 
  • Your kidneys are functioning better. 
  •  Your liver is the happiest of all, because this hardworking organ is no longer focusing on ridding your body of alcohol and can process everything else with a lot more efficiency. Also, if you had developed fatty liver, which is caused by alcohol, that plus inflammation have gone down considerably by week four. 
  • Your tolerance to alcohol has diminished, too, which is a good thing! Just be mindful of that if you are transitioning back to having drinks at the end of your challenge. 

You’ve accomplished so much in a short period of time. That said, if you aren’t actually seeing or feeling the benefits discussed in week one, week two, week three or even now at four, don’t get discouraged. We are all different and even if there aren’t visible or noticeable changes, there are immensely beneficial changes going on in your body and brain.

Changes and Benefits at Three Weeks Alcohol-Free

Are you at week three of being alcohol-free or thinking about taking an alcohol-free challenge? Week three is where things really start to get interesting. Many people will experience better memory, for example. Here are a few other things that are happening right now.

  • Lower blood pressure – Drinking more than one unit per day for women and more than two units for men can, over time, cause a rise in blood pressure. After three to four weeks of abstaining, however, blood pressure will begin to lower. Additionally, consuming fewer calories can cause weight loss which also can lower blood pressure.*
  • Improved vision – You may notice whiter, brighter eyes and clearer vision. The latter of which is due to an easing of hypertension and hypertensive retinopathy, known to cause of damage to the blood vessels in the retina. Circulation improves when we stop drinking, which translates to more oxygen and nutrients reaching the yes, helping to prevent disease and damage, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration.**
  • Lower risk of stroke and heart problems – Lower blood pressure and healthier weight lowers our risk of stroke and heart disease.
  • Maybe a little weight loss (especially if you swapped a boozy happy hour for a fitness-based happy hour — it is so a thing!

What if you still aren’t seeing these or any changes? We keep saying this, but only because it’s true: Be patient. We are all different and will see changes on our own timescale. Stick around, it only gets better!

For anyone who has had a slip up, please be kind to yourself. Every step — even those that seem to send us a little backwards — is an opportunity to learn a trigger and better plan for it next time. Keep going!

Use that better memory you’ve achieved at week three to remember that you are strong and you’ve got this!

*Pirory Healthcare

**Stephen Hannan, Clinical Services Director at Optical Express,  Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Changes and Benefits at Two Weeks Alcohol-Free

In today’s post, we’re looking at the changes and benefits most of us experience at week two of an alcohol-free challenge.

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In today’s post, we’re looking at the changes and benefits most of us experience at week two of an alcohol-free challenge. If you are at week two of a challenge, congratulations, rockstar! (Or perhaps you are thinking about taking an AF challenge and looking ahead to see what to expect, in which case you are going to be so psyched. Or of course if you’ve already done a challenge lasting over two weeks and you want to fondly remember a time when you were younger and not such a salty pro, there are some solid reminders here for you, too.)

If you thought the week one benefits of going alcohol-free were lit, check out week two (Sources: UK-based Priory Group behavioral care and Alcohol Change UK):

Changes and Benefits

  • Whether you have a solid exercise routine or you are a couch potato, now is a great time for getting in that movement. Alcohol can inhibit muscle growth, reduce metabolism and decrease our ability to burn fat. Maximize your booze break with a focus on fitness!
  • Are you thirsty? It probably only seems like it, because you are better able to sense your body’s needs. Mmm, water.
  • If you often suffer from heartburn, aka acid reflux, you’re probably experiencing it less over the past few days or week.
  • Energy and clarity should be up by now. We bet it’s easier to get up in the morning and if it feels like your brain is functioning better and faster — it is! You smarty, you.
  • It’s possible that you also may have started to see some weight loss.

If you still aren’t feeling any of the benefits, don’t get discouraged! It just takes a little more time for some of us to reach homeostasis (or physiological stability). Keep at it and you’ll start feeling better soon.

What benefits have been your favorites so far? Share in comments or email us at drinkfitclub@gmail.com.

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