What is Sobriety?
There is one definition that many of us are all too familiar with: The abstinence from alcohol, drugs and any mood-altering substances. Thus, the term “sobriety” is often thought of as the opposite of being “under the influence” of some form of mood and mind-altering substance.
I would like to talk about another definition of this term. Wikipedia offers one definition of “sobriety” as “the natural state of a human being given at birth”. From this perspective, true sobriety exists only when we are not “under the influence” of the world around us. True sobriety lives through the eyes of an individual who can remain untouched by life’s stresses, traumas, and struggles.
We are all born with a sense of purity, untouched, unharmed. We all breathe, move, cry, laugh, crawl, walk… If we are lucky enough, we are loved, we hear hands clapping when we succeed, we get treats for learning new tasks, we are held without having to ask. This is the beauty of childhood, or one would hope.
As time passes, we are often faced with a rude awakening. We learn that we can’t always have our way, that we can’t please everyone, that we won’t always have people clap their hands and cheer us on for all that we do. Life as we knew it had changed.
It is not surprising that so many of us learn very quickly that there are coping strategies, albeit very unhealthy coping strategies for the long-term. Nonetheless, the focus is on getting through now.
We learn that there are so many ways to escape our reality, be it through the traditional substances like alcohol, drugs and pain killers, or through dissociation, anger outbursts, sex, food, etc… We feel damaged, as we can never return to the natural state of purity we were once born with. We feel saddened by the harsh nature of the world. We feel poisoned by our inability to cope with life’s challenges. We feel sensitive, vulnerable, overwhelmed…
How is it possible, then, to return to that natural state of being, after experiencing the imperfections of our world?
We step onto our mats. We attempt to come into our own. We allow ourselves to laugh, to cry, to see the world through sober eyes – eyes that are not influenced by hurt, anger or fear. A difficult task, of course, but it is a work in progress, and we are accepting of that.
What would the world look like if we could walk through it with the sobriety of a newborn child?
We might be able to see ourselves for who we are: vulnerable, sensitive and beautiful.
We might be able to see others for who they are: vulnerable, sensitive and beautiful.
As a result, we live, we breathe, we practice yoga, in our efforts to regain that feeling, that state of being… that freedom…
True sobriety is freedom…