Meditation, Urination and Inhibition

Some people complain that when they drink alcohol, they have to urinate several times in a short period. They think the alcohol “goes right through them.”

Actually, what really happens is that their alcohol turns off the inhibition in their brain.  Sure, you all know this, but do you know how inhibition really serves you?  The beer turns of the inhibition of the imbiber’s  speech, sexual choices and driving habits. And it also turns off their brain’s inhibition to pee.  Even with the smallest amount of urine in their bladder, their brain says, “Go Pee!”.  The brain is trying to say, “You have urine in your bladder, but you can wait.”  But since the inhibition center is turned off, that part of the brain is gagged.

The inhibition part of the brain works both on our behavior and our bodies.    I did another post on this issue called “Peeing away your cash” (which few people read, sniffle!).  But thinking further about inhibition, I wonder if it is better to meditate with a full bladder.  A full bladder activates your inhibition center which may help you to suppress the compulsive monkey mind.  Anyone with experience on this topic?  I doubt it.  Alas, my isolation is horrible.  🙂



Filed under Medicine

16 responses to “Meditation, Urination and Inhibition

  1. I was going to say that I heard once that making financial decisions with a full bladder was a good practice. But then I realized that I read it on your blog 😉

  2. Depends largely on what you drink to fill your bladder. Green tea = good idea, especially if you’re keeping a schedule that makes you deprived of sleep. Beer ≠ not so good idea.

  3. Oops! Beer ≠ good idea.

  4. Ed

    Two comments: an old drinking buddy of mine had the theory that if when you first started drinking for the evening you waited as long as possible to pee for the first time that you would do better all night in that regard… And in meditation, Steve Hagen teaches that the pain in the bladder, the legs or anywhere else can simply be noticed without judgmental comment. This technique, I have found, takes a great deal of the power from pesky urges.

  5. Earnest

    If I had to choose between meditating with a full bladder or meditating and occasionally being hit in the head with a bamboo stick I would choose the stick most of the time.

  6. Stewart Paterson

    Don’t forget too that alcohol is a diuretic, it makes your body expel more water. So you pee more. And you get dehydrated, which is a major cause of the ensuing hangover.

  7. I really didn’t know about the inhibition thing concerning going to the bathroom – I’m intrigued (will have to check this out myself sometime). I am well aware that alcohol loosens up the inhibition centre – which actually makes for more creative thoughts as well (ie: in writing poetry or music).

  8. @ Perpetual: LOL !

    @ Dan Gurney:
    You math “error” says a lot.

    @ Ed:
    Holdin’ back what comes natural can be highly instructive, eh?

    @ Earnest:
    As a martial artist, your judgement can not be trusted! 🙂

    @ Stewart:
    Alcohol has some J-curve pharmacokinetic properties where small dose lead to excitatory action and higher doses to depressed functions. Also, with drinking in a pub, the effects up front are different from the effects later.

    @ SocietyVS:
    Yeah, alcohol is a double and triple-edged sword

  9. JSA

    FWIW, I read the other post about peeing away your cash when you wrote it, and found it interesting. But I didn’t disagree with anything in it, and it seemed comprehensive, so I had no reason to comment. I think a lot of people hesitate to leave a comment saying “Yep”, because it just seems superfluous. I bet if you had a “thumbs up” button on posts, you’d find that many posts which get no comments get a lot of “thumbs up”.

    Since you asked, get ready for a long response… 🙂

    Personally, I can’t imagine any substance helping me meditate. Even incense gets in the way, IMO. I remember reading that some of the British occultists would take laudanum or smoke opium for assistance in meditation, but that sort of buzz seems opposite to what I get from meditation. It might be because I started meditating fairly young, and was able to achieve deep meditative states before I ever tried any mind-affecting substances. I always compared every new experience to meditative experiences, and found them to be very different. To me, it’s like the difference between drinking clear, pure water versus something like apple juice.

    An interesting anecdote. As you know, regular practice makes it easier to quickly enter a deep meditative state. I used to do some hypnosis in the past, and would use hypnotic triggers with some people to let them more quickly re-enter meditative states. One of my friends came to me and asked me for something quite different — he wanted me to attempt to hypnotically anchor him when he was high on drugs, so that he could use the trigger later to recapture some of the high. So it’s like the opposite of using drugs to meditate — it’s like using meditation to feel drugs 🙂 I tried to put in the anchor, but it didn’t work for him. In retrospect, I could have done it a bit differently and accomplished something, but I’m convinced that the issue is that these are fundamentally opposed states.

    So, that’s how I see it. Drugs and alcohol operate by throwing neurotransmitter levels out of whack. They can get extreme results very quickly. But your mind attempts to respond and restore “balance”. So, over time, the drugs become less and less effective. Meditation is opposite — it’s about bringing your mind into perfect balance, and it gets more effective with practice.

    Another anecdotal observation — being the very weird person that I am, when I first started experimenting with altered states, a friend and I were very interested in exploring the effects on brain performance, so we did lots of tests. How do we fare on a concentration task after 1 shot of vodka? What about 3 shots? What about reflexes? What about very difficult mental math problems? The first results were fascinating enough that I was hooked on the puzzle. I would never be the type to mix redbull and vodka, or Ambien and Adderol, etc. — that just seems to miss the entire point. It’s like drug bulimia or something. On the other hand, I can see the experimental appeal of someone like Aleister Crowley repeatedly taking heroin and then playing multiple games of blindfolded chess while high. How does the brain adapt in this scenario? It’s incredible to me. Crowley liked to pretend that this was a way to improve his willpower, but I am convinced he was wrong about that. It didn’t increase his willpower; it just proved that he could learn to overpower heroin, and left him with an expensive problem. But there is an interesting question here — the process of a person’s brain adapting to a substance is truly fascinating to me, and I want to see more research.

    For example, I’m 99% sure that the traditional story about neurotransmitters being responsible for tolerance is oversimplified. It’s a known fact that alterations to the neurotransmitter system are correlated with increased drug tolerance. But, correlation isn’t causation. I believe that the tolerance is as much a cognitive process as it is neurochemical, and the two levels interact in a sort of vicious cycle. I can think of some simple tests that could prove my theory. You could take 200 people, and split into two groups. Administer a mind-altering chemical to the people in each group on some regular schedule. For the first group, when high, have them concentrate on some intense cognitive puzzle while high. For the second group, have them lean back and just “go with the flow”, listen to music or whatever. On average, I bet you will see very different neurotransmitter levels as well as self-reports between the two groups after a few weeks. Understanding this mechanism better would help us better investigate a wide variety of issues — eating disorders, performance under stress, recovery from brain damage, depression, etc.

  10. @ JSA
    Fantastic comment, as always, thanx — interesting stuff. I don’t feel so isolated — just a little dull, after reading that! 🙂
    Cool thoughts, thanx.

  11. Interesting tidbit. One more piece for my jeopardy game with my daughter. Though Im not sure they would ask this question. 🙂

  12. Earnest

    @ Sabio: I guess all those stick hits clouded my judgement!

    @ JSA: I am preventing myself from blurting out a 2000 line reply to your comments. Having restrained myself, here are the salient points, in no particular order:

    1. Thank all that may or may not be either sacred or profane that people like you are asking these questions!

    2. Heroin makes some people concentrate better, not worse. In fact, it makes the entire brain function in a more happy, organized and focused manner than it did in the first place. This is one of the reasons why the consumer begins to use in the first place and continues to use more and more as they spiral into addiction. This is something most people even in the addiction treatment industry simply fail to understand.

    3. Statement #2 is only true for those humans with a genetic “addictive personality” (read: undiagnosed or poorly managed psych disease of one of 6 specific subtypes).

    4. Those heroin consumers who sample heroin, and find it does not enhance their ability to advance themselves in society, generally walk away and do not return. I am speaking about those who sample heroin between the ages of 20 to 30.

    5. Those heroin consumers who are impressed by the effects of heroin are predicted to be lifelong consumers who are sucked into the vacuum cleaner of addiction by the tragically transient promise of objectively enhanced brain performance.

    6. The above statements are less true for those less than 20 and more than 30 years old.

    I could consume the bulk of Sabio’s remaining server space on WordPress discussing how I know the above is true.

  13. JS Allen

    @Earnest – Great comments. I didn’t mean to imply that the drugs make one feel “dull”. Early MDMA and crystal meth culture was obsessed by the fact that these drugs make one feel “hyperreal”; more real than reality. You might even remember that predated Errowid significantly; it was one of the first sites on the Web — and it was dedicated to the idea of hyper reality. Users of opium, heroin, and crack sometimes make similar reports about clarity and focus.

    I was simply implying that there is something qualitatively very different about deep meditation. The analogy to water was meant to imply something that is relatively boring and tasteless, but more deeply satisfying. People want to believe there is something hyper-real, but hyperreal is simply unreal.

    (Note, too, that self-reports about mental function are rarely accurate. Give someone on his 2nd or 3rd Opium ride a hard math problem and see how he does, versus sober. His actual performance is going to to be a fraction of what his drug-fueled expectations are. It’s only with experience and practice at trying to overwhelm the high that his actual performance might exceed his former sober performance, and by that time, he’s got a ferocious monkey on his back.)

    Regarding Heroin specifically, I had two friends who died from it (one was more than a friend, but whatever). Others gave up and walked away. But I also had one friend who kept with it, and is fairly powerful and wealthy now. The most important differentiator wasn’t an “addictive personality”, IMO. The difference was in how much of a killer instinct a person had. We all sort of knew that the ones who died were not “the strong type”, even before they started. They didn’t have the killer instinct, and only the good die young.

    That’s another reason I’m cynical about drugs versus meditation. When you’re age 20-30, it’s easier to have a “live and let die” mentality. You know yourself, and you know that you won’t push things beyond your instincts’ ability to protect you. So if some weak or naive people want to self-destruct, that’s not your problem — it’s their problem. That’s a really terrible way to look at life, and it’s pervasive with drug use. And, yes, it even happens with users of the so-called “empathogens”.

  14. another layer to the myth: the first time you pee after drinking is called “breaking the seal.” once the seal is broken, it seems you can’t stop peeing. love reading the science behind it!

  15. Mike

    You make a very good point. When I meditate I can fall into a drunk like stooper. Invariably, I will come out of the fog about every 45 minutes and have to pee – strong urge but very little volume. Your inhibition theory makes perfect sense. Neville Goddard, a famed Christian mystic of the last century, also experienced the same meditation/urination problem. He mused about it in some of his writings and even unsuccessfully tried to get medical explanation as to the cause.

  16. @ Mike — glad you found it interesting

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