One of the beautiful things about mindfulness is its adaptability. You don’t really need mindfulness exercises or activities, because you can bring the practice to almost anything you do. This is even true of activities that seem to run counter to the precepts of mindfulness — activities like drinking.
But getting out of your mind needn’t be totally mindless. There are ways to bring mindfulness to having a drink. Even spiritual guide Eckhart Tolle admits to enjoying a few glasses of wine with meals, explaining that his consciousness is elevated enough to allow it. But even if your consciousness isn’t at Tolle levels, enjoying a drink mindfully is totally possible.
To have a mindful drink, start by being aware of why you want that drink. For relaxation, to alter your state for a bit; or is it habitual? It’s important to have a sense of the reason behind the impulse to drink. For instance, at times I’ll simply take a drink to limber up my imagination when I find myself blocked in writing. Other times, it’s just because I want to reward myself for the day’s work.
Also you should be aware of what you are drinking. What kind of wine or whisky; where it is from; what attracted you to that particular bottle or can. Or you can spend a few moments connecting yourself to the grape or grain the drink is produced from, which grew in soil, was warmed by the sun, and will return to the soil, much as you and I will in time.
Stay aware as you lift the glass to your lips. Upon the first sip, notice the initial flavors, and take time to savor the taste. How does it stimulate the tongue? Really focus attention on the sense of taste.
Bring awareness to the tiny incremental buzz you get from the alcohol, the slight shift in consciousness it offers. What inside you is shifting? How deep does the drink penetrate the ‘self’?
Try not to let thoughts stray from the activity at hand, and be aware of how much you are imbibing, and the effect it is having. Have two drinks even, but be aware that the more drinks you have, the less possible it is to stay mindful. Inebriation can have its own pleasures, but mindfulness isn’t one of them.
Anything over two drinks, for me at least, is more a matter of inertia than desire to keep drinking. That’s when even with discipline, I lose any sense of mindfulness. If you can stop before the drink wants you to take another drink, you have been able to mindfully drink. An accomplishment that is its own celebration.
For more mindfulness activities, have a look here.