Christina Rae is a breathwork instructor, somatic healer, and life coach based in Miami, Florida. Psychedelic Water had the pleasure of sponsoring Primal Awakening, a women's retreat Christina ran last October. Since then, we've stayed in touch. Christina is sober, and in honor of Dry January we asked Christina if she'd like to share her story. This is our interview with her.
What's your history with alcohol? What was your relationship with it like before you decided to make a change?
Growing up as a Mexican American, I didn't feel a sense of belonging and often felt alone. I've experienced sexual trauma and was diagnosed with PTSD. I was very disconnected from my body and started to have health problems.
In college, I was prescribed medication for ADD and an anxiety disorder paired with medicines for sleep. I was what one would call a functioning alcoholic and addict, though no doctor ever actually treated me or diagnosed the root issue. I was taking over 100 milligrams of medication daily and felt like a zombie. On the outside, my façade was convincing, I looked okay, but it required drinking a lot to feel normal.
Eventually, I decided to stop taking everything. It was a shock to realize I had become physically dependent on some of these medications and was plagued with withdrawals and seizures. The doctors told me I needed rehab. At that time, I wasn't ready to hear it, and it was a long journey until I finally got the help I needed.
When my addiction was on the verge of spinning out of control, I started having seizures. In many ways, my mind had given up, but my body never did. The truth was that I had become disconnected from my body. My body has always been there for me. It has always told me exactly what I need to do.
Through my work as a breathwork coach, I now know that the body, particularly the breath, is the source of healing and innate wisdom.
Through community support, breathwork, and will —years later, I find myself sober, happy, about to launch a new business, and living the life of my dreams.
What led to you deciding to change your relationship with alcohol?
Looking back at my experience, I see the seizures as divine intervention. While today I am on medication for epilepsy and haven't had episodes in over six years, this experience made me rethink how doctors prescribe medicines in our society.
There was no one thing that "woke me up" there were many small steps I took that led me to discover the breath, the body's medicine. I took a yoga teacher training. In this program, I connected back to my body for the first time, and I would often cry as pockets of emotions released, and this led me to take the step to attend outpatient rehab. This was the first phase of my sobriety.
The next turning point came in 2020 when I experienced my first deep breathwork journey. I had a profoundly transformative experience that allowed me to revisit past traumatic experiences and release the emotions surrounding the events. I connected not only to my body but to my breathing on a deeper level than I ever had before. However, this just made me realize I had more work to do, so I put myself in a 30-day intensive rehabilitation center where I worked on the root cause of my addiction and my trauma and committed to a new way of life.
I have now been sober from all substances, including drugs and alcohol, for almost two years.
Breathwork has been a big part of my healing. It is the signal to my brain that everything is okay. Since that first breathwork journey, everything has changed. It was like a switch flipped, and I was able o connect to myself more deeply and feel things I was scared to feel previously. As I dove deeper and began integrating more breath practices into my daily life, I returned to life, going from a shallow breath to a conscious deep belly breather. I realized that with my breath, I could control my heart rate, blood pressure, and emotions. The breath has become my medicine, and I know that it can help so many more.
What did you hope to get out of altering your use of alcohol?
By getting sober, my hope was to live again. Though what I gained through my journey of healing trauma and addiction was much more than that—I found the courage to experiment with practices that nourish my body and soul, and, in the process, I found a profound power and purpose.
I became a breathwork coach and led retreats; I built a meaningful community. In sharing the rituals and breath practices that once saved my life, I can now help others in my community with the same struggles.
Has choosing to be more mindful about your drinking affected your life? If so, how?
The physical and emotional impact that addiction had on me is something I used to hide, but now I'm speaking out to help others. After almost two years sober, I realize each day can be better than the last.
Now, I'm on a mission to become a force in the service of breathwork! There are prominent male figures in the field already. I want to represent women as a leader in the breathwork community.
I am writing a book about the personal experiences and insights that led me to create the Rae Rituals portal and build this community to make breathwork more accessible to people.
Do you ever feel pressured to drink by other people? What do you do in those sorts of situations?
People often think it's strange that I don't drink. We live in a society that drinks for all occasions. Our world drinks when we are up and when we are down. So when you go against the societal norm, people will always have an opinion. However, I don't really encounter situations where I feel pressured to drink because I have surrounded myself with people who respect me.
I know that I am powerful and that I don't need anyone or anything but myself to connect and feel good. At the end of the day, our bodies are our most powerful tool—you are the medicine.
Many capitalist industries are trying to take that away from us. The alcohol, the pharmaceuticals, for-profit medicine, and even some coaches. They say, "you need to follow me," or “you need to take this."
I'm saying no. Follow yourself. That's what I want people to realize, how beautiful and unique we all are. You don't need all these different things or people and industries. They are just trying to take your money. It's just greed.
What do you do in situations where drinking is expected, such as parties, etc.? How do you deal with people questioning why you're not drinking?
To be honest, my ideal situation has fabulous non-alcoholic substitutes. The best scenario, we have Psychedelic Water on tap! However, most restaurants and parties aren't that woke yet, so I bring my own if I can.
It's also a great idea to have your narrative prepared for when people ask you why you aren't drinking. Get yourself comfortable answering that question, so you aren't caught off guard.
It's great to bring a sober buddy, and if you don't have a sober buddy that you can bring, it's important to have a strong community of people doing their own inner work somewhere in the world who know the courage it takes to commit to this path.
Christina is currently building a platform called Rae Rituals, a community space for people to find their support system of people who are on a similar path. Rae Rituals is launching in Spring 2023, head to the site and sign up for a free breathwork practice today and be the first to know when the platform launches!