I am often asked: “why do you not drink?”, “is it for religious reasons?”, “you are missing out on all the fun!”, “a night out is not fun if you remember it the next day”, “How can you live in London for almost 10 years and not drink!”, “You need alcohol to drop all inhibitions and have a good time”, “Research now suggests that you should drink wine everyday.”
In the last 10 years, I have been asked this at least plenty of times. My responses are worded differently based on reflections at that moment..
1. “Research now suggests that you should drink wine everyday.” – I can show you extensive research suggesting drinking and not drinking alcohol and positive and negative implications of either.
I would not comment on medical and health implications of alcohol because the medical industry themselves don’t seem to agree on it. The only thing that remains true and in alliance with Bharatiya scriptures is anything in excess can only be detrimental to our body.
2. “is it for religious reasons?” – Religion is a means of mastering over our mind. Bharatiya scriptures compare mind to a monkey. why would I feed alcohol to the monkey, when I am trying to tame it?!
One conversation can change your life. I have had several such a conversations with Brni. Nidhi Chaitanya ji of Chinmaya Mission. And one such conversation was when I was 13, sitting in a corner of a jewellery shop while parents were shopping, discussing changes I was seeing around in friends and choices being made, where Nidhi ji very tactfully made me derive it myself that if the nature of alcohol is intoxication (because without that it is not a hard drink), then even to the smallest extent, why should I let anything control my mind? Bharatiya scriptures compare mind to a monkey. why would I feed alcohol to the monkey, when I am trying to tame it?! As if I don’t have enough challenge in taming the mind! Thank you Nidhi ji for letting my Guru Swami Chinmayananda express through you in being my moral compass throughout my life to date, and not spoon feeding me but empowering me to make those choices!
3. “Everyone drinks!”, “You can’t network and socialise if you don’t drink along the London pub culture” – That option was just not there for me, so I never let myself feel any pressure
So why would I drink? Peer pressure? – I somehow have always attracted friends who love me for it and have never pressured me to drink! Ofcourse, also because that option was just not there for me, so I never let myself feel any pressure either. I was never going to do it and I think they knew. Thanks to wonderful friends all my life!
My jobs have involved networking, glamorous night outs, fashion awards and parties. But how would I build a relationship, business or personal, if I am not 100% alert and can’t find any other common ground to communicate and bond on? And if I do then why do I need that drink in my hand, that alcohol again?
4. “A night out is not fun if you remember it the next day” – I really don’t need alcohol or anything similar to be fun.
Being fun? If I have a fun night, why would I not want to remember it? I want to capture every memory of it and cherish it! And I think any of my closest friends will give enough evidence that I CAN be absolutely crazy and fun, but on my terms, if and how I want to be. I really don’t need alcohol or anything similar to be fun, because if I need something external to be anything, it is not natural to me, it is not me.
5. “You need to have a drink to sing in that karaoke” – To truly drop my inhibitions, I don’t need alcohol, I need vivek (discrimination) and vairagya (detachment).
To drop my inhibitions? I don’t need to have a drink to sing in that karaoke, to race down the millennium bridge, to build that crazy memory I will be telling you kids. I can do all the crazy things that people do and be even more innovative with it, but without alcohol. To truly drop my inhibitions, I don’t need alcohol, I need vivek (discrimination) and vairagya (detachment). Being in the Bharatiya culture lineage, the Chinmayananda lineage, how can the standards not be the highest!
Having said that, I wouldn’t dare judge any of my friends for drinking or making choices that I wouldn’t make. Each one is on their own journey, own goals. Different strokes for different folks. And I love them all for who you are.