Welcome to the Not-Quite Alcoholics podcast with Rory Kinsella.
In this first episode, Rory talks through his journey to going alcohol-free in 2017.
He never considered himself an alcoholic but realised the cost of drinking had long started outweighing the benefits.
After years of binge drinking and periods of drinking everyday, Rory decided to quit four years ago and since then has been using his meditation teaching to help other people moderate or quit.
Listen to his story here.
More info on We Meditate To Quit Alcohol: https://we-meditate.co/
More info on Six Steps for Not-Quite Alcoholics: https://we-meditate.co/products/six-steps-for-not-quite-alcoholics-course-meditation-package
This is not quite alcoholics with me Rory Kinsella, a meditation teacher, sober coach and the creator of We Meditate To Quit Alcohol and the Six Steps for Not-Quite Alcoholics. If you're considering changing your relationship with alcohol and are looking for tips, advice and inspiration, you've come to the right place. Not-Quite Alcoholics: how to go alcohol-free before rock bottom
My name is Rory Kinsella, and I'm a not quite alcoholic, or I was before I quit drinking in 2017. In this podcast, I will offer inspiration tips and stories for those in the process of quitting alcohol or thinking about it. And I want to show that the path to being alcohol free doesn't necessarily have to go through the rehab and week the A meetings route. I never had a traditional rock bottom moment, my life never got unmanageable, it managed just fine. But it wasn't optimal. In this podcast, I want to explore other experiences of quitting drinking and going alcohol free from people who've found a way out before they reach rock bottom. Over the coming episodes, we'll be joined by guests to share their experiences. But in this first episode, I wanted to introduce myself and tell my story.
So who am I, my name is Rory and I'm a meditation teacher based here in Sydney. And my journey to being alcohol free came not so much from going through a rock bottom experience and scraping myself off that rather through finding meditation and that allowing me to open myself up to new, more healthy ways of living. So I'm just going to talk today about my experiences with alcohol and then my journey of giving up. So where do I start? So my first experiments with alcohol were probably fairly traditional. For the UK at the time, I would steal booze from my parents liquor cabinet, and we pour multiple different spirits into a bottle and then sneak them to, you know, someone's 12 year old birthday party or something like that. And, you know, make ourselves feel very sick, or we somehow get hold of four packs of beer and sit on my friend's roof. And then looking back there was kind of a normal trajectory from that. So we had foreign exchange trips with school and there was one when we were in the fourth year, which I guess would be year 11. And we got picked out as the ringleaders and got sent to the headmaster again, but somehow got away with it because we were reasonably good students. But then continued this drinking, we started getting into pubs and just generally drinking through the sick form. And then when I was 18, in the last few years of school, my mum died. And it was this huge event for my family and everyone involved. And in terms of my drinking, because it was the end of school, I kind of kept kept drinking. And rather than I only it occurred to me years later that mum dying could have been a trigger for my for my drinking, but from about that point. I had a drink every day for at least three years, but it was very well hidden behind normal social activities.
So after school, I got a job in a restaurant and bar in Clifton in Bristol. And it was obviously very normal for all the staff who were all like 18 To drink every night after work and to drink on the nights that they weren't working. So that was most of my year off and then saved up enough to go away. I wanted to go to Australia but none of my friends had managed to save enough so two of us went interrailing around Europe and then we spent two months in a Bheatha on the island of Bheatha. And as you can imagine that was just drinking and everything else all the way and then that merged into university and you know what? People do at university, they get drunk five, six times a week. And I didn't really notice that it was maybe not that normal to be going down to the bar and buying a cheap bottle of wine just to have in my room. It became normal for me. And I got into a habit of thinking that I couldn't fall asleep if I didn't have alcohol. This then had this effect on me where I found that I had what I think must have been like a panic attack or on the way to a panic attack where we were shopping for Super mundane things like toast a toaster or something like that in a department store. And I felt that I couldn't, I felt really overwhelmed. And I couldn't cope with being there. I had trouble breathing, we had to get a taxi home. And that was the first, I guess, indication that something wasn't right. But I kept drinking and then, but moderated a bit better. So soon, I kind of started getting jobs where it just meant I had more structure and got up in the morning. So it became much more my drinking became much more of a binge affair. But my 20s I like to describe it as being being a boozy haze, I spent most of my 20s in and around the music industry. So in Birmingham, while I was at uni, I joined a band just as we graduated, and we got to tour around the UK and, and played a few gigs in Europe. And we were, we were like the least rock and roll band ever. But I tried to be the rock and roll one. So that was all drinking me and the guitarists had a club night that we ran. And then I also ran club nights and a record label with my friends in Bristol. So it was very much a party scene. And we we made a big deal about having fun getting other people to have fun. And it was like that was our service to society or service to humanity in that we we help people forget their worries on the dance floor. And that was great fun. And then in my late 20s, I moved to London to become a journalist and a music journalist. So you know, what do musicians do they drink? What do journalists do? They drink. So it was very normal situation of everyone around me drinking. And it was obviously very exciting to get to London and experience all the stuff that's going on there. And also working in a company where everyone was young, like I was late 20s. And the two bosses were early 30s. And, you know, drinking was a very much part of it. And even a few years later, when I moved to, to Australia in in my early 30s I then moved away from music journalism to lifestyle journalism, but the drinking didn't go away. And I would get invited to things like, hey, come to this week long vodka Festival in New Zealand or, Hey, let's go and review bars in Las Vegas for five days. And it was probably around those kinds of occasions where I noticed cracks starting to appear and it got the drinking was so serious that
it was you know, the the hangovers were awful. So multiple days, getting that drunk really started to to show me that there was psychological issues that you could cause yourself from drinking too much. And this carried on until I had what I call my early midlife crisis, which was on my 35th birthday, where me and my friends that I used to put on events with here. We hosted this huge, very seedy illegal warehouse party and I did Jade and didn't enjoy what I was playing. No one was really dancing to what I was playing. And I was feeling really paranoid and didn't didn't like the life I was living and didn't like the look of the next 15 years if I carried on like I was so I made a decision that day or the day after. That was going to stop changing things. But I didn't quit drinking, that wasn't my first step. My first step was to quit smoking, which I was definitely ready to quit by then and to quit DJing because, obviously DJing was the problem. So that was the beginning of my, my journey to start turning things around. And after that, I went on a bit of a keep fit, mission and started running. And I was a terrible runner, couldn't run for more than five minutes, but kept plugging away, and started to enjoy it, and I did a half marathon. And then within the first year of running, I managed to complete a marathon. And through all that training, notice that by physically exercising, I could change my conscious experience. Like I noticed that weeks where I didn't exercise, I would feel a lot lower. And one, two, I did exercise, I'd feel I'd have energy, and I didn't, wasn't able to talk about it in terms of, you know, serotonin, or endorphins or anything like that. But looking back, that's what I was getting. And that gave me the inspiration to start looking at other areas of my life. So I was getting, getting promoted at work and really enjoying that. So I started looking down, like a psychological route. And I didn't NLP Neuro Linguistic Programming course. And I started having these revelations and insights into things like limiting beliefs, where I wasn't living my life, as well as I could have done. And then I had this amazing mentor at work, who suggested I look in to meditation. And I read a couple of books, I read one called the Untethered Soul, and I read another one called the power of now. And I was like, wow, like, I really like this way of thinking about things and understanding that we're not our thoughts. And just because you have a thought about something, it doesn't mean that that is exactly what you are, we are bigger than that. So then, I wanted to learn, I wanted to learn more. So I did a mindfulness course. And I practice mindfulness meditation for about six months. And then I discovered Vedic meditation, which is a mantra based meditation. That's the style that I now teach. And it had such a profound effect on me, like I felt good after the mindfulness meditation. But when I learnt Vedic meditation, it felt a lot more tangible. And I could feel myself letting go and falling into these very deep, peaceful, calm states of awareness. And on the third day of the four day course, I literally skipped down the street on my way home. And I'm not a skipping kind of guy. And it just felt like I remove this heavy weight I've been carrying around. And later, as I learned to teach this technique, I learned how to talk about that as being removing stress was removed that baggage of stress that I was carrying before. And I immediately noticed starting started noticing differences, including around my drinking, and I can be so precise about this, because I've been keeping a journal from about,
about the time that I started running. So a couple years before I learned to meditate, and then ever since and in the journal like a week after I learned Vedic meditation, I started saying things like, went out for work, drinks tonight, didn't feel like drinking, so didn't have to soft drinks and went home. Felt felt great the next day, this is definitely the way forward. And although I continued drinking for another, I think, four years, I started to become to get a lot more freedom around my drinking. I got so into the meditation that I decided that I wanted to teach it, I wanted to share it with other people. So two years after I learned to meditate, I became a teacher. And then I had a year of being a teacher alongside my, my regular job, where I was still a drinker. And then I was it started becoming more and more clear to me that this this didn't feel right. I didn't feel right, walking into the meditation studio and teaching people when I had like, alcohol in my system, it just didn't. It felt jarring and I felt like a bit of a fake as a teacher like that. And then So this was the year of my 40th birthday. And I decided to go on a meditation retreat in the States. So my older sister lives in the States. So I had Christmas with her in Boston. And then a Vedic meditation teacher called like Watkins was running a retreat in Mexico. And I was like, you know, this is classic. What the single 40 year old midlife crisis people do. They go on a meditation retreat to Mexico. So I turned up in in Mexico, and ended up being put in a room with these three other guys who were all who'd all turned 40 That year, all single, and had all had this idea of, yeah, that's kind of meditation retreat over New Year, which was, which was hilarious. And obviously for the retreat, there was no, no drinking coffee, no drinking alcohol. We meditate all day, every day. And the the yoga instructor on the trip was a lovely Kiwi lady called Claire, Robbie. And Claire was talking about her her alcohol free journey, I think she'd given up drinking about a year before. And she inspired me to quit drinking, I hadn't really thought about it before, but she was giving me this picture of someone who, who was like this called normal kind of person who decided to give up drinking. And I was started toying with that idea in my mind, and then when I got back, hadn't decided 100% to give up drinking at all, I actually had leaving to have some friends who were moving into state and had to decide on that afternoon, whether I was going to drink at the pub, or not. And it could have gone either way. And I decided, look, I'm just going to give this a go. I'm going to go and have soft drinks, I'm gonna treat myself to like a fancy bottle of sparkling water and see how it goes. And you know, my friends are big drinkers. And there were a few and encouragement to drink. But it wasn't that hard. At all. It was an afternoon thing. And I said no to invitations to the after party, so I thought that would be too much to handle. And then I went home and then I actually went on a date later that night, like a third date with my now girlfriend and then had this you know, successful, sober day and then only having been back for two days. I was like, Okay, well hang on. This this not drinking malarkey is is okay, maybe I could push this a bit further. So I decided this was January the sixth January the seventh 2018. I decided to push it for the month. And I got through the whole of January in Australia. January's prime summer. So there were plenty of events to test my resolve, like Australia Day. And things like that. And I got to the end of the month, and I was like, oh, okay, well, that wasn't too hard. Maybe I've tried to do two months, or actually, I want to do 100 days. 100 days is a nice, round number. But I didn't set it to be any longer than that. So there were a couple of other things I had to get through during that 100 days, including
a skiing trip to Japan, which is amazing. And everyone else was drinking. But it was okay, I still managed to have an amazing time. And I was like, Okay, if I can do this, what else could there be that I wouldn't be able to do? So when I got to 100 days, I thought, right? I want to write about this. So I I haven't been a journalist, I thought this is a good thing to write about. And I've been writing about meditation for the previous year or so but not really getting much cut through. And I wrote an article that's called What, what it's like to give up drinking for 100 days. And we published it on the website that worked for and it went amazingly well. And it got picked up by Apple news. And within a couple of days, over 100,000 people had read it. And I was like, Wow, this there's something in this you know, not drinking for 100 days is not that exceptional, but so many people seem to be interested and I got lots of interest as a meditation teacher, although I barely mentioned meditation in it. I started getting all these people coming to me saying I want to learn to meditate on you know how what you're having. So that made me think Alright, I'm going to pursue this. So I kept going each time only aiming for the next milestone. So I started with a week, and then it was 100 days. And then I said, Okay, well, I'm going to go to six months now. And it's six months, I was like, okay, year could be possible. And there are a few other milestones within this, like my first sober wedding. So big gigs with with the band that I was in. And they were all okay, like, I still have fun. So then a year, and it was probably way before a year, I was just like, well, I can't see myself going back from this, and I'm enjoying it. And I'm not feeling bad. Like, before I did it, it really didn't appear as a choice to me, I'd always thought that it was either you're an alcoholic, you go to rehab, you ended up joining an AA, and that's it. Or you were, quote, unquote, normal drinker, and you didn't need to do that. And then you just kept drinking forever. And then Claire was really the inspiration for me to say, Well, hang on, you can you can just change it. If it's not working for you change it. And looking back I'd, I saw that. So many of the times that I'd felt the worst in my life, you know, from the panic attack example that I gave uni, but also just regularly, like every week, every couple of weeks having these horrible, horrible hangovers. And I don't get, I didn't get physical hangovers, but just psychological ones. So feeling weak, and uninspired and noticing that I was wasting so much of my week, like I'd knocked myself out on a Saturday night, Sunday was a write off. Most of Monday would be a write off Tuesday would be kind of getting back in there. Wednesday, slightly better. Thursday, feeling good Friday, feeling good. Saturday, hi, come back down again. And I realized that I was just losing momentum, every every time. So I had all these projects that I wanted to do outside of work, and I just didn't have the energy or, you know, took me I had half my week living in this semi zombie state from the hangovers and just thinking that probably 95 of the 100 times I'd felt worst in my life were from alcohol. So it was kind of a relief to realize that after a month, or so it was probably a month in where I was really thinking that this was a possibility. Going forward, it was kind of a relief to go or look at it to drink anymore. I don't, I don't have to drink, I get to not drink, I get to have all my weekends back where I'm not just suffering all day. And it was amazing. So having done that for probably two years.
I started to think how can I bring my meditation practice that was so useful to me? How can I use this technique to help other people so I was getting people to my in person Vedic meditation courses, who were in a similar position and had read my articles and wanted to quit. But then I decided I wanted to create something for people elsewhere. So I created my we meditate to quit alcohol course. And started seeing people from all over the world, doing this course and finding that even through meditating for 15 minutes a day, it really made a difference. And like it had me when I removed stress from my body, it just made it much more easy for me to stick to my goals. Now, I had to have that goal, and that inclination not to drink in the first place. But then meditation, put the I described it as it put the wise version of me in charge, so that if I didn't want to drink, I could more easily do that. And the rubber arm that I used to have was no longer there. So that course has been going for a couple of years now. And I've just put together a another course called six steps for not quite alcoholics, which I'm launching this month to give people a bit more structure as well as the meditation. So what we will be doing in this podcast is I'll be talking to various people about their experience of quitting alcohol to inspire you the listeners, if that's something that you're looking for to see that giving up alcohol or moderating alcohol. Changing your relationship with alcohol is not only within reach, but something You can start doing now so I will look forward to seeing you in the coming weeks
If you're looking to change your relationship with alcohol check out my guided meditation series we meditate to quit alcohol my six steps for not quite alcoholics program, which offers motivation, meditation and accountability to help you achieve your drinking goals. If you found this useful or interesting, please give us a rating and review before you leave so that other people like you can find us and share with any friends who may also find it useful.