Mezcal As a Spiritual Practice


Wait! Are you thinking, “I thought alcohol was low-vibe, something a spiritual person wouldn’t do, much less advocate as a spiritual practice.” Until recently, I would have agreed with you. But let me tell you about an experience I had that showed me something different.

A friend came up to visit for the holidays recently, bearing a bottle of mezcal. Now, I rarely drink spirits. (Interesting name, eh?) I do enjoy wine and beer, but in moderation. But I only drink distilled spirits a few times a year. But the smoky flavor of mezcal is so yummy. And my loving friend brought it. And it was the holidays, a time of relaxation and celebration. So I went for it, and shared a couple of shots with her, which was quite a lot for me. I got kind of rowdy for a little while.

Here’s where the spiritual practice part comes in. I had just had a conversation with my long-time spiritual mentor, William Rainen. He has been guiding me since the mid-1990’s, and he knows me well. He is constantly telling me that I am overthinking things, to just relax and let things flow, to trust that the flow will take me to the right place. And in that conversation, he had said it once again.

You know what the definition of an old soul is? A slow learner! Well, if that’s true, then I’m definitely an old soul!

So I was musing upon that while working a jigsaw puzzle by the fire with my friends, when shots were poured. Very soon, as the alcohol took effect, my puzzle approach changed. Instead of analyzing each piece and finding where it went, I started just picking one up that caught my eye. And my hand would take it to the right place, without my conscious mind deciding where to put it. I did it over and over.

There was a great teaching there for me. That there is something bigger than my mind that knows the truth, that is aligned with a divine flow, that will always lead me true.

I don’t recommend using alcohol on a regular basis. Most of the time it leads to unconsciousness rather than consciousness. But in this case, it led to an experience of greater trust in the universe.

I think that you can receive a teaching through anything, if you are open and ready for it. If you are constantly watching your reactions, noticing when you go unconscious or reactive, or when you are aligned with Source.

What’s probably even more true is this: life is a spiritual practice. All of life, even mezcal. It’s up to us to use life this way, and live aligned with Source.

A Time of Darkness


As the days get shorter and darker, I am reminded of this time five years ago, when I was grieving my former boyfriend’s death. The darkness of the season led me into the darkness that I was feeling.

I embraced the darkness fully. I spent many nights sitting in front of the flickering fire, with darkness surrounding me. I cried, I wailed, I screamed in pain. I felt like a crazy wild woman. But I knew to keep going, to embrace it fully. Because when I did, I would eventually pop through into a sublime state of ecstasy. I would feel merged with the light, empty, calm, peaceful.

It would be great to be able to just go straight there, to the ecstatic light. But I found for myself, and for many I have supported, that the gateway to the light is to drop the resistance to feeling the pain. It’s hard to do. It can feel so big that it threatens to overwhelm you. But the rewards are great.

A time of grieving is a window of opportunity. When your heart is cracked open, you can use that crack to pour out all the pain of a lifetime. To release far more than the current grief (which is plenty by itself). You can emerge from the time of grief reborn, healed, and whole.

It takes courage, the courage of a spiritual warrior. And it helps to have support. I often see myself as a kind of a lifeguard for my clients. They are jumping into the deep end of the pool, and I am sitting on the side, ready to throw in the plastic doughnut life preserver if it is needed. It creates a feeling of safety to have me there, a sense that it might be ok to dive into the deep feelings and release them fully, without resistance.

The holidays can be a particularly hard time if you’re grieving. You may be missing your loved one more intensely. You may not want to go to holiday gatherings where people are laughing and having fun. This is completely understandable.

I would like to offer you support to go into the dark. It’s not really a scary place, once you get to know it, just a very powerful one. I know it well, and I’m not afraid. I can hold you and help you find your way.

Many blessings to you!

Those Who Are Dead Are Never Gone


Those who are dead are never gone:
They are there in the thickening shadow.
The dead are not under the earth:
they are in the tree that rustles,
they are in the wood that groans,
they are in the water that sleeps,
they are in the hut, they are in the crowd,
the dead are not dead.
Those who are dead are never gone,
they are in the breast of the woman,
they are in the child who is wailing
and in the firebrand that flames.
The dead are not under the earth:
they are in the fire that is dying,
they are in the grasses that weep,
they are in the whimpering rocks
they are in the forest, they are in the house,
the dead are not dead.
— Birago Diop,
in The Fruitful Darkness, by Joan Halifax