Ruby Warrington, founder of the online magazine The Numinous, wants to bridge the gap between the mystical and the mainstream. So naturally, when she got the idea to throw a dance party in New York, she wanted it to be mindful, but fun. CLUB SODA, a sober-curious event series, was born. And after selling over 1,000 tickets to these alcohol-free events, Warrington knew she was on to something.
In her new book, Sober Curious, Warrington explores how mindful people can create a new relationship to alcohol—one that’s thoughtful, and still fun. “Sober Curious is not about recovery. It is about finding your own path to a healthier relationship with alcohol, yourself, and the world around you—and radically transforming every area of your life,” says Warrington.
We caught up with Ruby to learn a little more about her journey to sobriety, how alcohol can impede our ability to tap into our intuition, and what we can look forward to by crowding alcohol out of our lives.
Many empathic, sensitive, and intuitive people turn to substances to ease the intensity of their feelings. Can you speak a little bit to why that might not necessarily be a good thing?
All people use numbing substances like alcohol to ease the intensity of their feelings, period. I believe that if this were not the case, many more people would realize that they too are more empathetic, sensitive, and intuitive than they may have believed or experienced. But for anybody who is already connected to this part of themselves, the raw realities of the world can sometimes feel too difficult to bear - and the lure of these substances can be even stronger. The problem with using alcohol etc. to numb the intensity of our feelings - versus seeking ways to face, accept, and integrate them - is that the feelings don't go anywhere. Then when the anesthetic wears off, they can feel even more overwhelming, with the physical pain of a hangover layered on top.
What are alternative ways to manage that intensive sensitivity?
There are many ways to process intense feelings, ranging from traditional talk therapy, to more numinous practices such as sound healing, energy work / reiki, hypnosis, and shamanic healing. It's worth trying many things to see what works for you. Meditation can help create a space between your Self and whichever thoughts are causing the intense feelings, meaning you're less likely to fall into a negative spiral, and yoga is a physical practice of sitting with difficult feelings, trusting that whatever discomfort we may be experiencing will eventually pass. Personally, I can never overstate the power of vulnerably sharing my more intense experiences with a trusted and empathetic friend. But only when we do this sober - when both parties are able to feel everything fully - can it aid emotional catharsis.
How do we thoughtfully abstain from alcohol and substances when we chose to be sober, as opposed to when people choose sobriety in response to addiction? Do we need to make a differentiation?
Some would argue that a person stopping drinking because they are addicted is not a choice but a necessity, and in cases of severe alcoholism (where a person's drinking is causing them to be a danger to themselves or others) this is absolutely the case. But for a habitual social drinker, who's drinking may fall into the category of "alcohol dependence," then simply noticing the subtle ways it is stopping you from showing up fully in your life can be motivation enough to make a conscious choice not to imbibe.
In your opinion, what’s the easiest way to broach this sober-curious conversation? It depends very much who is having the conversation, and the forum in which it's taking place. For somebody who wants to experiment with not drinking, but who's friends and family are all drinkers, for example, then there's no real need to make a big deal about it until you're asked. I do think though, that it's important to always be honest about your reasons for not drinking, rather than making up excuses like "I'm on antibiotics" etc. In my experience, when approached from a non-judgmental standpoint and anchored in personal experience, most people are curious and want to learn more about this unconventional choice. My book also contains many sober curious conversation starters!
What’s been the biggest benefit to being sober for you? Emotionally, physically, spiritually?
There is the increased energy and enthusiasm for life. No more IBS. The greater self-confidence. The deep, restorative sleep. But for me this has really been a journey of cultivating radical presence and connection. It was only when I cut out alcohol that I realized how much I'd been living on the surface of life, and how ultimately this had led to me feeling unanchored and disconnected from the people I am closest to, and from the whole truth of who I am.