I Don't Smoke

The Impetus

I am assuming that if you are reading this then you are already determined, or at least seriously considering, making some efforts to be free of cigarettes so I am not going too say much about incentives. Improved health and freedom from slavery to a foreign substance are part of most peoples reasons for quitting smoking and it is a good reason. You should however practice thinking about yourself and this bad habit as rationally and clearly as possible.

This is easy enough for me to say ".....thinking rationally....." though perhaps I should say "....thinking truthfully...." instead. The difficulties with this arise because the problem is a mental one first and a physical one second. This is partly because the original impetus to smoke, or drink or whatever, was mental long before it was physical, and partly because humans are habit forming creatures. Habits are often useful things, but bad ones can be a great nuisance. The big problem with mental habits is that they are mental, or in other words that they live within your mind and therefore have all of your mental abilities to call on to defend themselves.

When your smoking persona is at the fore of your mind it is in control and has your intelligence and your self knowledge to call on to create defences for itself. When other people suggest to you that smoking is not good for you, it defends itself by persuading you that there is no problem at all really, while at the same time convincing you that, while it is in control, you are witty and intelligent. You naturally like the idea of being witty and intelligent so you find yourself saying things like: "Its my only bad habit everybody is allowed some pleasure in life"; or, "Everybody has to have some bad habits"; or, "I'm going to die anyway so why worry about it, I might get hit by a car tomorrow". Or alternatively if you are less concerned with looking clever you may simply place the blame on work, or family stresses, claiming smoking keeps you sane.

These answers seem witty at the time because they are difficult for the caring friend to respond to, or contradict, without insulting you or getting too deep into psychology. Thus, in the living moment, you perceive yourself as being the winner in a debate, when in fact no debate existed outside of your mind, all that the other person was offering was their love in the form of an honest concern for you and some good advice.

If on the other hand some other person does initiate a debate or attack you in any way over your smoking habit your smoking persona immediately tells you that it is you, not smoking that is under attack and that to defend yourself you have to defend smoking and your rite to do it. Which naturally enough you do, getting angry with the other person if they persist and eventually accusing them of all sorts of evil they never intended.

The answers you give friends when they question your smoking are, when you think about them dispassionately, and when the smoking persona is not in control, wrong. To look at the first one critically. "It's my only bad habit, everybody is allowed some pleasure in life". This is obviously not true, you have at least one other bad habit, that of lying to yourself. You are lying to yourself every time you tell yourself that smoking is not a problem, you are also lying to yourself when you associate smoking with pleasure. Smoking is only pleasurable in that 'actually smoking a cigarette' frees you from the need to resist the inner demand for a cigarette thus releasing you from the need to fight your addiction which reduces your inner stress levels.

Most of the time when you are smoking you do not actively enjoy the cigarette, in fact you do not even notice you are doing it, it is a subconscious act. If social pressures make you aware of your actions your habit leaps to defend itself as your 'desire' for a cigarette takes temporary possession of your mind and you become temporarily convinced that you are enjoying it. But I ask you, what really is there to enjoy about breathing in the smoke from burning leaves? Smoking is harmful to your body and if you can remember your first attempts, very unpleasant. It is ultimately a form of masochism.

In this light we can see smoking, particularly in the UK, as paying through the nose for the right to cause yourself suffering. In the clear light of day smoking is a form of insanity. If you asked someone the question.

"How would you like the opportunity to pay 1,500.00 per year for the right to do something to yourself that is unpleasant, will damage your health, limit your social abilities and reduce your quality of life by damaging and dulling several of your senses and in the long run reduce your life span?"

I suspect most people would laugh at you for making such a ridiculous suggestion. Yet every time you smoke a cigarette this is what you are doing. Of course in different countries, and at different times, the exact amount of money differs but the principle is the same.

Of course cigarettes are not marketed in such a manner, and therefore you do not think of them like that, however every time you smoke you are ignoring an explicit warning by the suppliers of the cigarette to the effect that cigarettes damage your health. In a different context you would understand easily that such an action was foolish and indicative of some mental malfunction. The problem is, as I said earlier, that every time you ask this question of yourself it is your smoking persona that that answers, and it is considerably biased, it certainly wouldn't want you to have an answer that would cause you to stop smoking. This sort of problem, one which is basically a case of self deception, is inherent in every dealing we have with our own minds and the long term cure is to have a love affair with Truth.

Truth, with a capital T is simply 'that which is'. It is the base line reality of any situation. As human beings however we often develop the habit of dealing with something that is not the truth, but which is presented to us, in our innocence, as being the truth and which is much easier on our ego. There is much that can and has been said about the inherently deceptive nature of egos, and the fact that we have many of them, not just one is just about catching up with modern science, but this is not really the place for me to enumerate further this topic.

The ego I mean here is what I call the 'false ego' false because it always lives from, and maintains, an erroneous self image. It is loud and assertive which helps to distinguish it from any true ego which is normally quiet and unassuming but whose existence rests in an honest and truthful knowledge of self.

An active love affair with, and a constant desire to perceive and live from, 'the truth' is a joyous thing that brings much understanding and peace if it is practised as a way of life.

One aspect of the truth I believe in is that, deep inside yourself, you do not want to smoke, I can say this confidently because all living things fundamentally seek their own welfare and there is nothing good for you in cigarettes. I have been there and I have looked long and hard. Smoking is something that you have imposed on yourself from the outside, and how ever long you have been a smoker there is still some small part of you, deep down inside, that doesn't smoke, that knows smoking is unhealthy.

Smoking however is an insidiously addictive habit, and we modern humans are in general unaware of our true selves. I have written this small book to offer up a way of dealing with cigarette addiction that will not only set you free from the tyranny of this addiction but will also offer you greater control over your own mind and your own being.

One exercise that you can start with straight away, one that will help you prepare to give up is to observe your own responses to the suggestion that you should give up smoking. This is good introduction to getting to know your own mind, you will discover that the answers you find within yourself are not all the same. Some will be immediately negative, they will deny the need to give up categorically. These sort of answers should be remembered and thought about, are they true, where do these ideas come from, can I really believe them, why did I say that?

Do not at first try to interfere with your own answers, simply observe, record and consider. The deeper you learn to look into your own mind the more effective will be your ability to initiate change when the time for action comes. However it is important to realise that you are seeking change mediated by knowledge and understanding reflected in our conscious being rather than change mediated by force or will power.

The second major category of response is one of seeming acceptance, this goes something like. Your right, I should give up but I can't. If this is your main response then this is what you have to quietly challenge by asking yourself each time questions like, "Why do I say this when I know it isn't true?", or "How can I believe something as negative as this about myself?", or simply by affirming "I can give up you know" or " No I do not actually know that, just because I haven't given up yet does not prove that I can't".

This habit of quiet observation and repetition of these points or questions will help you to see that you are not your habit. That the ideas you perceive when you allow your habit to express itself within your mind are not your ideas. That you are a separate and distinct person, a healthy, life and truth loving person, you are not possessed by these habits, though you may be temporarily sharing your resources, even your being, with them.

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By gjramel@hotmail.com
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