Seven years ago, the summer solstice arrived a day earlier than usual due to a unique complexity of the leap year calendar.
At exactly 11.59pm on the 20th June 2008, the Earth’s axis tilted the North Pole towards the sun, the days of winter drew to a close and summer began to unfold before us.
Also at exactly 11.59pm on the 20th June 2008, I was savouring the last drop of wine that was to ever pass my lips again, the winter of my life was drawing to a close and the journey of my summer lay ready to unfold.
This year, the summer solstice falls on the 21st June 2015, which marks 7 years of my beautiful, challenging sobriety and also the inaugural U.N. International Yoga Day. The combining of these three wonderful occasions brings about a great sense of convergence and I can’t help but feel that there is a little more than simply coincidence at play.
It is said that Buddha walked 7 steps to his birth, the Menorah has 7 branches, the Jewish year has 7 Great Holy days and the Christian God is represented as the 7th ray within the 6 rays of creation. The number 7 also holds special arithmetic values, being the only number within 1-10 that can’t be divided or multiplied by the other numbers within the group and still be below 10.
There are 7 days in the week, 7 musical notes and 7 directions – up, down, right, left, back, forward and centre.
For the past 7 years, I have mainly been focused on the direction of forwards. The world felt so bright, so raw, so jagged without the soothing effects of intoxication that ploughing ahead into the unknown seemed much less of an ordeal than stopping to cope with the actual reality of the here and now.
How many of you have ever been on a first date without a little tipple? Have you ever attended an office party, made a speech at a wedding or experienced intimate moments with a new partner without some dutch courage?
There is something intrinsically British about drinking alcohol. Pretty much any social event you can think of has an association with some sort of boozy beverage and hangovers are often worn as badges of honour.
Every year on the anniversary of my first clumsy steps into abstinence I take some time to reflect on what it’s like to live without a social crutch, to give gratitude to the people who helped me in those early days and to appreciate the amazing trajectory my life has taken on.
This year, I am making a commitment to stop focusing on the direction of forwards and start really living in the centre. I want to be in the very thick of my life, experience everything each day has to offer me, the good, the bad and the ugly.
One of the greatest gifts of sobriety is clarity. By being fully awake and present at all times, you can choose to mindfully make your way through every waking moment and find beauty in the imperfect impermanence of it all.
The summer solstice signifies the triumph of light over darkness.
This year, as the sun hovers in her highest ascent, as the hours of darkness retreat and the long days of summer burst through, I invite you to turn to the light and begin your own eternal summer.
“Now I will tell thee, O Arjuna, of the times which, if the mystics go forth, they do not return, and at which they go forth only to return. If knowing the Supreme Spirit the sage goes forth with fire and light, in the daytime, in the fortnight of the waxing moon and in the six months before the Northern summer solstice, he will attain the Supreme. But if he departs in gloom, at night, during the fortnight of the waning moon and in the six months before the Southern solstice [winter solstice], then he reaches but lunar light and he will be born again. These bright and dark paths out of the world have always existed. Whoso takes the former, returns not; he who chooses the latter, returns. The sage who knows this passes beyond all merit that comes from the study of the scriptures, from sacrifice, from austerities and charity, and reaches the Supreme Primeval Abode.” – Krishna, The Bhagavad Gita
If you would like to join me in helping to free people who are still caught up in the chains of their addictions, please visit my fundraising page: