How to Bring Heaven to Earth

angel-1008397_960_720At the Smokers Freedom School we suggest that we are all on a pilgrimage to higher consciousness, and thus that quitting smoking is not the real goal, but rather the happy by-product of our unfolding maturity on this pilgrimage.  So what does “higher consciousness” look like? Where is this pilgrimage taking us? Glad you asked. Here’s one little “thought experiment” that can help us answer that question.

How to Bring Heaven to Earth:

 Just for fun, let’s say you died and went to heaven. (This is already a fun thought experiment, yes?)

And let’s imagine that heaven is all you’d ever hoped for, and better. Streets are paved with gold, beautiful flowers everywhere, lining wide expanses of green lawns, and gorgeous buildings. If you are a religious person, you are met by saints and angels, welcomed maybe by Jesus Himself, or  Mohammed, or Buddha,  and George Burns.  Everybody you ever loved is there, glad to see you again. Famous people want you to hang out with them. And of course, heaven is plentiful with virgins and/or hunky guys, if that’s your idea of heaven.

If you’re not a religious person, that’s also okay because heaven is, simply – – well, heavenly! You’re in a beautiful place with beautiful people, effortlessly moving about, your senses keen and exquisitely tuned. Maybe you play tennis (like a pro), or go surfing (catching every wave) or dancing (with the stars) or simply playing poker with old friends, and Willie Nelson, laughing and having the best time of your life. You’re in heaven, after all.

Now let’s assume that back on earth you got everything done that needed to be done before dying. You told all the people that you love that you loved them, and the ones who had done you wrong that you forgave them. You’d cleaned out your closets and got rid of your junk. You made appropriate financial arrangements for all your family and friends.  You have no loose ends, back on earth. So here you are in heaven. And life’s good, real good. Or the after-life is good, real good, as the case happens to be. Congrats on a life well-lived.

Okay, now let’s look closely at the quality of your consciousness, there in heaven, that makes it feel so heavenly.  What are the obvious characteristics of the consciousness that you are experiencing, there in heaven?

First and foremost, let me  suggest, you are simply happy to be right where you are (there in heaven), doing what you’re doing (hanging out with saints, or surfing the heavenly waves). That’s worth repeating:  you are happy to be right where you are, doing what you’re doing, with the people you are doing it with. This is the quality, the character, of one of the highest states of consciousness, the state you are in when you are in heaven.  Again, congrats on a life well lived.

So now let’s come back to earth.

If we want to live in one of the highest states of consciousness possible, which also means the most practical state of consciousness, what are the characteristics of that state?

Yes, exactly: we are happy to be right where we are, doing what we are doing, with the people who are here.  This is the quality, the characteristic of a higher state of consciousness.

And conversely how do we know we are in a lower state (hellish state) of consciousness?

Yes: When we are not happy being where we are, doing what we are doing, with the people who are here.

Here’s the key: higher consciousness is always available, no matter where we are, what we are doing, who we are with. When we intentionally decide, or simply agree, to enjoying where we are, what we are doing, who we are doing it with, we experience higher consciousness. We don’t have to be totally blissed out, totally happy with where we are, who we are with, what we are doing – as we might be when hanging out and drinking beer with Jesus. But simply recognizing that being happy with where we are and what we are doing is the nature of a higher state of consciousness, a more natural, more elevated, more graceful way of being—such a simple recognition allows us to move more gracefully, more effectively on this life’s pilgrimage, which some describe as “bringing heaven  to earth.”

We can be happy with such a challenge, and the ongoing opportunities it presents every day, everywhere, with everyone.

Or we can say to hell with it and be crabby where we are,  crabby with doing what we are doing and the people we are doing it with.

Such a simple choice, yes, between heaven or hell?

 

 

Everything We Think We Know About Addiction Is Wrong

Came across a great video on YouTube with this title, (and link) “Everyrthing We Think we Know About Addiction Is Wrong.”

Gives a great framework for why the Zoom-Love Practice actually works to help smokers walk away from the smokes. “The answer to addiction is connection.

Just saying…

Freedom from “I Need A Smoke”

ball and chainEvery smoker has experienced the inner voice,  couched in the words of the inner monologue, “I need a smoke.” In response to these inner words, depending on the circumstance, the smoker either grabs his or her smokes and lights up right there, or goes outside and lights up, or decides at the next closest opportunity, I’m going to have a smoke.

Thus, a day in the life of most smokers.

At the SFS, our first and last homework is always to not fight ourselves, not be at war with ourselves;  our aim is to bring peace on earth, starting with our own immediate place on earth. Let there be peace on earth; let it begin right here, right now.

So when the inner voice announces, I need a smoke,  Freedom School pilgrims are encouraged not to fight such a voice, ( saying to themselves,  “I shouldn’t be thinking, I need a smoke).  At the same time, they need not be so quick about accepting or assuming the authority of such a thought. Rather, pilgrims are encouraged to simply give the thought, that inner voice, some space, even some loving attention. Here’s how:

When the thought, I need a smoke, rises up, simply observe the space in which it arises. Obviously, it arises in the space of awareness. There is something here, or someone here, who hears the inner voice announcing, I need a smoke.

What  so often (habitually) happens is that the something or someone who hears the words,  I need a smoke, immediately collapses in and around that thought, those inner sounds, and quickly becomes I need a smoke.

And yet, there’s a brief millisecond before awareness collapses around the thought, where there are two things present: 1.) the thought, I need a smoke, and 2.) the awareness, that something or someone to whom the thought appears.

What SFS pilgrims are encouraged to do is to extend the brief millisecond – to stay in that something, that someone, that awareness, and to treat the thought, relate to the thought, I need a smoke, gently, tenderly, even humorously, like a mother with her small child. Don’t become the child. Don’t become the thought. Don’t identify with the thought. Just be with it, lovingly tenderly.  And then another thought arises, “When is Aunt Erma going to call?”  Or, “I need to buy some new socks today.”

Whether the pilgrim smokes or doesn’t smoke in relation to the thought is not as important as the simple act of consciously, intentionally being more than the thought, wider than the thought, bigger than the thought.

Which is actually quite natural, because we are, after all, more than our thoughts. We are, after all, at root, awareness itself. We are that in which, to which, thoughts arise. It is in awareness itself that we discover our freedom. The pilgrimage we are on is the pilgrimage from thought-bound identity, which at its most basic level is a pinball identity since we have 50,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day; first this and then that and here’s something completely different.

When we collapse awareness around  the thought,  I need a smoke,  we give the thought a charge of energy, and thus it grows stronger.  As we gently stand back, cease to give the thought, I need a smoke,  such a charge, it will cease appearing so often. Thus, step-by-step, we learn to be free.  Step by step we discover our freedom from such a silly notion,” I need a smoke.”

 

Quitting Smoking is Not the Goal

goal post     The goal is higher consciousness, which means simply a more relaxed life, an easier life, a less stressful life, if only a little more relaxed, a little easier, a little less stressful. If today is a little less stressful, more relaxed, a little easier than yesterday, isn’t that progress towards  higher consciousness?
As mentioned a gazillion times, smoking is at root habit of attention. Our attention has been caught in the smoking loop, perhaps for decades, like one of those irritating computer glitches. “Wrong log-in or password. Please try again.” So we try again. Same thing. “Wrong log in or password, please try again.” Arrgh. Isn’t that how it feels when we keep trying to quit but not succeeding?
Wrong log-in or password. Please try again.”
When we put our attention on smoking or not smoking our attention is still on smoking. This is the wrong password.
So what’s the right password?Simply moving our attention away from smoking on to any of the ten thousand other things available to us– calling to us–   in our ordinary day life.

Can it be that easy?
Yes. Time and time again, when attention goes back to smokes, we simply let it touch there for a moment and then move on to anything else. Our two suggested practices– The Freedom Exercise and the Zoom-Love Prayer-– are our formal ways of moving attention, e.g. each of these practices offer a specified form for moving attention into a higher, more relaxed, more enjoyable framework. These forms—these practices—have been tested and proven to “work,” again and again.
But most of the time we won’t need a formal way of moving our attention. Most of the time we simply recognize that our attention has again gone to smokes, so we let our attention rest there for a brief moment, then move it, our attention, onto anything else. No big deal. No praise, no blame.
When we find our attention has once again moved to smoking, we don’t say, “I shouldn’t be thinking about smoking.” That’s impossible, and such a thought just keeps our attention on smoking. At the Smokers’ Freedom School we go easy on ourselves. So instead, we simply observe, “here I am thinking about smoking again. Isn’t that interesting. Hey look! The jonquil’s are blooming.
Again, smoking is an addiction of attention. Freedom from smoking is freedom of attention. We experience this freedom a moment at a time, freely moving our attention.
We are making progress when we directly observe in our own experience that, generally, when we are thinking about smoking we are not feeling deeply relaxed. Most of the time, thinking about smoking is not easy. Thinking about smoking is most often stressful. (We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.) Our thinking is a way of framing our attention. If we aren’t enjoying our attention, we can simply change the framework.
Our goal is not to quit smoking. “Quitting smoking” is the frame that keeps our attention on smoking. Our goal is a more relaxed life, an easier life, a less stressful life.
Just recognizing the simple truth about the nature of the smoking habit – – that it is a habit of attention – – is progress towards freedom from the habit. When we change our framework, change our goal, from “quitting smoking” to “a more relaxed life, an easier life, a less stressful life,” suddenly we begin to move again in the direction of freedom.

Password accepted. You may enter now, your whole new life.

WARNING: About E-Mail Coaching

I’ve recently had a few more folks sign up for e-mail coachingcoach. This morning it struck me I  should offer this warning.

WARNING! :  I love to work with folks one to one via email.  I see myself as standing at the top of the high dive board. You’re ready to dive. You are crouched, head down, arms back. On your mark, get set, get set, get set, get set . . .

It’s my job to just give you a little elbow nudge.  Plop! You’re done.

Of course, folks ready to dive off the high board— ready to quit smoking – are a little worried they’ll drown if they actually dive. Afraid they’ll die or at least do a total belly flop,  break their back,  be paralyzed for the rest of their lives.  Lots of fear rises up around quitting smoking.

Of course, none of that ever happens. Ever. Not once has anyone ever died from stopping smoking. Not once, anywhere, ever. And no one has ever been paralyzed, suffering constant pain for the rest of their lives, because they quit smoking. Even though that’s the fear.

That’s why sometimes folks need a simple little elbow nudge when they areready to make the plunge. I love being the lifeguard in this scenario. It’s so fun to see the happy surprise on people’s face.

You take the plunge and— Surprise!—  you find yourself sitting in your easy chair, or taking a warm shower, or going to work, coming home, shopping for groceries, playing with the dog. After taking the plunge you find yourself just living your ordinary life, doing your ordinary thing, but now without the burden of leg shackles, the constant heavy weight of always thinking about smoking, worrying about smoking, maybe hiding your smokes, running after smokes.  All that’s gone.

Not smoking is so much more peaceful, both inside and out, than smoking. You’ll see after you take the plunge. But here’s the

WARNING:  if you sign up for the $10 a month e-mail coaching, you will be disappointed at some point. Either a big disappointment or a small disappointment. Disappointed in me, something I say, or do, or s something I don’t say or something I don’t do.  Being disappointed, either big or small,  is  just the nature of life on this planet, and our relations with each other as human beings. At some point, we disappoint each other.  Wish I could be a perfect stop smoking coach, never disappointing anyone, ever. Alas, I don’t have that much mojo. (No one has that much mojo!)

So here’s my first encouragement: even when you find yourself disappointed in me (or some other coach here at the SFS,) I encourage you to continue on, take the plunge, do what needs to be done (or more precisely,  don’t do what doesn’t need to be done. After all quitting smoking is not about doing something. It’s about not doing something. See How to Stop Smoking in 15 Easy Years: A Slacker’s Guide to Final Freedom.)

Here’s the deal: You are the one on the field. Your coach is not on the field. You are the star here.  Your life art is what this is all about. Yes, your coach, although trying  to help, will probably disappoint you at some point. But when you’re disappointed in your coach,  rather than quitting the game, going to look for a different coach, (every coach disappoints at some point) this is the exact time to continue on, take the plunge,  do what you yourself need to do, what you yourself want to do.

When you continue on in spite of being disappointed in your coach, you’ll find your own strength magnified, your own freedom more palpable, your own life artistry coming to maturity. And surprise! You quickly find yourself  free,  having done what you yourself had set out to do.

I thought it best to warn you about upcoming disappointment. Doesn’t mean we can’t work together, have fun and enjoy each other while we do it. It just makes our work together easier if we start with our feet solidly on the ground,  looking at reality straight in the face.

So, now, don’t say you haven’t  been warned. Let’s get started…

Confessions of Love from a Stop Smoking Coach

Was in the coffee shop with half a dozen old and new friends yesterday, after a nice hike in the woods. Someone mentioned that I had gone back to work. “What’s your work?” one of my new friends asked.
Oh-oh. The cat is about to be let out of the bag.
One of the problems of being head coach at the Smokers Freedom School is that many of my old and new friends who still smoke, when they hear what I do, get worried, back away, think I’m going to judge them harshly. Thus, they often quickly change the subject. They worry I won’t like them. Or worse, that I’ll try to coach them. Being head coach can sometimes be a damned lonely job.
(Other times, when a friend hears what my day job is, their eyes light up. “I need to talk to you,” they say.)
Here’s the deal: my mom smoked. (May she rest in peace.) She smoked even though I was a full time, government employed stop-smoking coach. She still smoked after reading my first two stop smoking books.  (I’ve written three more since she passed on.) She smoked even though she understood intellectually what I was up to. (I’m happy to report that she did finally quit smoking, after fifty years of trying, four or so years before passing on at the age of 84. Alas, my great stop-smoking wisdom probably had very little to do with her finally quitting.)
Again, here’s the deal: whether mom smoked or not, she was still my mom. My dear sainted mom. That was my destiny, our destiny, and my good karma.
Same deal with my friends. Whether you smoke or not, you’re still my friend. That’s our destiny. Our mutual karma.
And here’s more of the deal: I often learn more about smoking from my friends who smoke then they learn from me about not smoking. I got the happy end of the stick.*(*In Roman forts a “communal outhouse” had a likewise “communal stick,” – which was a stick with a sponge or rag wiper on one end. Thus the origin of the common phrase, “short end of the stick.”)    My friends keep me honest about the stop smoking biz, what works and what doesn’t. Friends help us keep our feet on the ground.

Still, I can sense when a still-smoking friend backs off when the topic of stop smoking comes up. So be it. Such is life, and destiny, theirs and mine.

Guilt and shame are the shirt and pants issued to smokers in our era. I see my work, at least in part, as helping smokers choose a different wardrobe. Guilt and shame are never in style. I help them to take off such garments and put on something more practical.
The tobacco culture is a huge 500 year old, 500 pound guerrilla waiting for any kid born after 1900. What is a kid supposed to do when meeting a 500 year old 500 pound gorilla? Of course we started smoking. What kid can stand up to such a cultural beast?
Fortunately, when I fell out of the Smokers Family Tree—a tree into which I had been born and to which I stayed loyal for many decades – – when I fell out of the Smokers Family Tree I fell on my funny bone.
Whether they believe me or not, I was left with absolutely no condemnation , no harsh judgement, for family members who still smoke. Nor do I have any urge to convert them. Of course I’m happy to share my experience if they’re curious. But I have no sense of “no-no, you shouldn’t smoke.”
But many of my smoking friends, especially those who don’t know me well, don’t believe that. They think because I am a stop smoking coach that I will want to convert them to non-smoking. “ MOM,’ I want to say, “just chill. I love you. Just the way you are. And thanks for being my mom. That’s more than enough for this lifetime.
Most of my still-smoking friends find that hard to follow. But it’s true:
I love you dude, dudess, mom. Just the way you are. You can accept that I love you or not.I’m still going to love ya. That’s just the way I am, the way I am built.
By the way: You are built that way to. With love. And love just happens to be the portal to freedom. But that’s a post for another day.

How to Stop Smoking: With or Without Chantix, Nicotine Patches, Hypnosis or Duct Tape

The tips, articles, essays, jokes, guffaws, double-dare ya wisdoms and insights that you will find on these pages come from thirty years of working with the smoking conundrum (smoking both tobacco and/or weed, marijuana.) The main tip: Relax, take a deep breath, let’s find a way to make this quitting biz a lot more fun, and a lot easier than what the well-intentioned “professionals” generally make it. Please feel free to contact me with any additions, subtractions, questions, disputes, comments, corrections, personal stories or breakthroughs. I’d love to hear from you. With great respect: Bear Gebhardt, Head Coach, Smoker’s Freedom School. Contact me at: bear@smokersfreedomschool.com

How to Quit Smoking in 5 Easy Seconds with the Quick Love Practice (Prayer)

Step 1: Just be your ordinary self.

Step 2: There is no step 2. So just repeat step one.

Disciple: What is enlightenment?

Zen Master Huang Po: “Your ordinary mind.”

“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God [love, peace, beauty] he created them; male and female he created them.”  Genesis 1-27

Most of us most of the time are unconsciously running away from our ordinary selves, and are habitually at war with our ordinary minds. We run away from our ordinary selves by running after more money, more fame, more sex, more security, a clearer house, better friends, faster car, and/or peace and justice for the poor and overworked. There’s lots to run after, here on this planet.

We run after these things because we have been led to believe that more of these things will make us happier than we are now. And they do make us a little bit happier when we get them, for a moment.  But the happiness from these things fades very quickly, so we’re off and running again.

Not only do most of us run after all these things be most of us are also at war with our ordinary minds simply because the mind itself always running, first here, then there, chasing after one thing, running away from another, angry with this piece of life, wanting more of that piece.

So to give ourselves a little rest from all this running we stop, take a break, have a smoke, just trying to relax a little, enjoy life a little. Who can blame us?

But the habit of running, running, running is so ingrained in us that we most often keep running, running, running, mentally, emotionally and physically, even while stopping to have a smoke. So since we didn’t get what we were looking for, we need yet another smoke.

So what can we do to break this habit? (Not the smoking habit, — the running away from our ordinary self habit.)

 

Step 1: Stop, for just a second, what you’re thinking, feeling and doing

Step 2: Relax, let go, of the tension, just be for a moment.

Step 3: Just love  (just be, just enjoy) your ordinary self, your ordinary feelings and thoughts, ordinary challenges appearing in this moment. Just love your ordinary relationships, ordinary circumstances. Just love your ordinary self for whatever it is thinking, feeling and doing here in this moment,. Enjoy what’s happening, if only a little, if only for a second. Right here, right now.

Step 4: Disappear, just for a second. Let your ordinary self just disappear for a moment. What remains? Life itself, awareness itself remains. Awareness itself is your ordinary self. This “impersonal awareness” is what we’ve been  looking for in our smokes and all that running around. We want just a simple moment of life, of love, of rest, peace.

Step 5: Carry on. The last step of this quick little exercise is to do whatever it is you were doing before you did the exercise. Just continue on.  Go wherever you need to go. Be who you normally are, after gifting yourself this quick little refresher.

This “Quick Love” exercise takes just five seconds or so (one second for each step.) If you can stretch it out to 10 or 15 or 20 second, so much the better. But five seconds will do.  This exercise is not (at first, or necessarily) a replacement for your smokes. Rather, as you do it, you will discover that it eventually makes the smokes unnecessary. Here’s why:

Your ordinary self—the one that’s relaxed, at ease, at peace, enjoying the moment–  does not need smokes. Or even simpler than that. your ordinary self doesn’t even think about smokes! Doesn’t care about smoking one way or another.

The more your practice being your ordinary self, the easier it will be to let the smokes fall away. Again: 1. Stop 2. Relax 3. Just love 4.  Disappear. 5 5. Carry on.

You are free to do this little exercise (prayer) 5 times a day, or 10 or 20 or forty times a day— two or more packs worth. This exercise absolutely NOT hazardous to your health! On the contrary, it’s the absolutely best thing you can do for your health, day after day, year after year. Try it.

“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1-27          contact: bear@smokersfreedomschool.com

Dying for a Quit Date

“I probably won’t quit until the day I die,” one old Marine guy grunted during one of our classes. We were talking about setting quit dates. The old guy had tried to quit a “hundred times,” he said, and was now trying it again. He was new to the class.

“How do you know you’re going to quit even after you die?” a lady in the class asked.  The old Marine looked at her somewhat dumbfounded.

“What do you mean?” he said.

“I heard that after you die you still have all of your old habits and all your old desires and everything. You just can’t do anything about them.”

“Oh geez,” the old marine said, or words to that effect, as he slouched back in his chair.

Whether one is free or not of the tobacco habit after one has gone to one’s reward, (the research is still sketchy) it’s nevertheless clear that many smokers have learned to think of their “quit date” as their “death date.”

“I don’t want to set a quit date. I don’t want to even think about it. It’s too scary,” one lady who had been smoking for forty years confessed.
“What’s scary about it?” one of her classmates challenged.

“I don’t even want to think about why it’s scary,” she said. And the class laughed.

Many smokers have set quit dates for smoking and then, as the quit date approached, found themselves more and more anxious, more and more fearful.  For many of these smokers, when the quite date finally arrives, they may actually try to quit but then, encountering the strange jitteryness of not smoking, quickly tell themselves they’re not ready, they’ll quit later, and then, with a sigh of relief, resume their smoking, be it in an hour, a day or a week after their quit date.

Other smokers, of course, set a quit date, and then, simply, quit. (After all, a million smokers a year do succeed in moving beyond the smoking habit.)

What’s the difference? Why can some smokers set a quit date and succeed, while others set a quit date and don’t succeed?  Some smokers, although sincerely wanting to quit, are not even successful about setting a quit date, let alone actually quitting on that date. They don’t even want to think about a quit date.

Here’s the secret: How a smoker thinks about his or her quit date determines whether or nor that quit date will be successful. Thinking about the Quit Date in a fearful, anxious, uptight manner is an habitual way of thinking for many smokers. And it is this habit of thinking that makes the quit date, likewise, fearful, anxious and uptight. This is not the natural way for a human being to feel, so the smoker does something to get back to feeling “natural.” The habit kicks back in.

When a smoker begins to train himself, or herself, to enjoy thinking about his or her quit date, then the reality of the quit date likewise becomes more enjoyable. The secret is in the joy.

When smokers think about quit dates they have set in the past, which did not work, these thoughts are most often thoughts they do not enjoy. To consciously change one’s perspective about previous quit dates, and consciously change one’s perspective about upcoming quit dates, is the most important “ground work” that can be laid for successful quitting. It’s not a matter of what one is going to do or not do at some future date, but rather what one is doing, what one is thinking, right now, in this instant. It’s perfectly fair, and right, and useful to set a quit date, as long as one remembers that it is right now, in this instant– not in the future– that the “work” of changing one’s thoughts, feelings about quitting begins.   It is “right now,” that one dies to the habit of unenjoyable thinking. When that habit is broken, quitting smoking is a snap.

“Yea right,” the old marine harrumphed,  holding on tight to his old unhapppy marine way of thinking.

Your Smoking = Your Privacy?

One of the quirky challenges of helping people get free of the smoking habit is the intense privacy of this habit.  On occasion, at social gatherings, I’ve experienced a smoker’s immediate withdrawal and defensiveness if I’m introduced as a stop smoking coach, as if I had been introduced as a pick-pocket or tax collector.  My very presence seems to be an immediate threat to that person’s well-being.

 

Here’s why: the smoking habit, as with all addictions, is first and foremost a habit of attention. And as Michael Goldhaber pointed out in his seminal essay, Attention and the Net , our attention is our last bastion of privacy. (The goons might herd us at gunpoint into a stadium and broadcast propaganda at us, but we could put our attention on our shoes, denying them their audience.)

Curiously, the smoking habit is often a generally unconscious attempt at reclaiming and re-asserting privacy. Such reclaiming of privacy  is in itself a very healthy and necessary activity!  Smoking, obviously, is neither a very efficient nor sophisticated way of doing that.

For mature smokers, smoking has also become a tool for simply managing daily attention– — in one instance helping them keep attention focused on a particular project, or in another instance giving their attention a needed break from a particular project, or in yet another moment helping their attention to smoothly transfer from one project to another.  The smoking habit is simply one way that smokers have learned to manage their daily attention.

The basic recognition that one’s personal, private attention  is the operative force of the smoking habit is a large step in becoming free of this habit. After all, the basic “sign” that one is free from the smoking habit is that one’s attention is no longer caught, drawn, ensnared by these silly cylinders. With such freedom of attention, smokes no longer collect tax on the person’s daily attention,  no longer pickpocket, first here then there, the personal wealth, the personal attention, which is valuable beyond  measure.

I want to quit…don’t want to quit..want to quit…

In the “quitting season,” it’s useful to recognize that the mental and emotional energy for quitting–indeed, even interest in quitting–comes and goes, waxes and wanes. One day you’ll be very excited, passionate, determined to get the job done, to be free, sooner rather than later. The next day, or even the next hour, the interest, or passion, is low, or even non-existent. So it goes.

Simply recognizing this pattern in your own experience is itself a useful recognition, a useful step. This pattern appears in very short time periods– I really want to quit at 10 a.m; at noon, I couldn’t give a hoot about quitting. And it appears over much longer periods. I quit several years ago, but started again, so maybe next year I might quit again.  Again, simply recognizing, admitting to your own experiencing of this obvious pattern can be a useful step.

Paradoxically, a zen-like way of quickening the freedom process, once this pattern has been recognized, is to intentionally think and act in direct opposition to your current “phase” or mood of quitting. In other words, sometime when you feel very strongly about the need to quit smoking, turn it around: in direct opposition to your feeling, consciously speak and act as if smoking is your best friend and you will never give up your smokes!  Intentionally  double your intake of smokes (contrary to your feeling that you need to give them up immediately! )

And then, on the other hand, when you recognize you seem to have no interest or energy at all to give to the quitting process, in these moments intentionally think and act in direct opposition to how you are feeling, e.g., speak and act as if you have complete mastery over this habit, are perfectly free to take it or leave, to smoke or not to smoke. And so choose, without any effort at all, not to smoke.

The smoking habit it first and foremost a habit of mental and emotional patterns, and only secondarily a physical habit. Simply playing with these patterns in the way described above as they rise up in your awareness helps loosen and dismantle these patterns. By intentionally moving in the opposite direction of the “want to, don’t want to” patterns, the patterns become more obvious, more graspable, more manageable, less controlling.

Isn’t this the main idea?  Playing these types of games, at some point, you will discover you have mastered these mental and emotional patterns, and they,along with their physical expression, simply dissolve, disappear, done in by their own silly weight.

 

How to Quit Smoking: The Basic Physics 101

     If you are addicted to smoking you have what might be called a “charge,” like an electrical energy charge, infusing and surrounding your smoking identity. As with any electrical charge, the” smoking identity charge” maintains its presence through a continual balance of both positive and negative qualities, i.e., “I want a smoke, I don’t want a smoke.” Sometimes the positive comes to the surface, sometimes the negative, but both “sides” of the electrical charge are always present. That’s the nature of the bio-chemical electrical process.
      Traditional approaches to quitting smoking would suggest that it is your duty, your responsibility and challenge to give more energy and attention to the negative side of the charge— I don’t want a smoke – and less energy and attention to the positive side, I want a smoke. (Actually, which side is positive and which is negative continually flip-flops, depending on the day, the time, the company, who’s judging, how many beers you drank, etc. But for our purposes here we’ll simplify.)
      Trying to quit smoking by giving more energy to one side and less to the other is why most traditional approaches fail. That’s like trying to charge up just the negative side of the battery. The law of physics will not cooperate with such a strategy, even though the strategy is approved and recommended by most “authorities.”
      To free ourselves from the smoking habit we have to release ourselves from the “charge” surrounding the smoking identity. It’s a bit like getting outside a force field, or turning off the electro-magnetic field, or finding a place where there are no “bars” on the cell-phone. The identity itself will probably continue, at least for a while, depending on how long you’ve been smoking. Thoughts and feelings about smoking will still come up. But the “charge” is gone. Like with the no-bar cell phone, you can’t make connection. And thus the necessity to act on your thoughts and feelings about smoking is likewise gone.
      So how to release the charge? The good news is that understanding the process itself can do it. Attention itself, awareness itself is the “force” that gracefully releases the electro-magnetic current, the “charge.” It’s useful, however, to see exactly how this charge around the smoking identity comes into operation in the first place.
      While reading a Buddhist meditation and healing book, which on the surface had nothing to do with the “smoking charge,” a paragraph jumped out at me that explains it quite well. Here’s the paragraph.
     “. . .pride is actually the cause of all problems, all of the suffering. If you shot the arrow straight at pride, you don’t need to shoot your arrow at your anger, your greed, your aversion, your restlessness, your craving; all of it is rooted in pride. So it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but if you go straight for the jugular then you can save yourself an awful lot of tap dancing. You try to pin the problem on, “Oh well, it’s my aversion,” or “I’ve got an addictive personality,” or “I’m a restless person” [or “It’s the nicotine,” or “It’s the tobacco companies,” or “My whole family smoked,” etc. etc.] All of these [excuses] are actually rooted in pride, i.e., how much self you smother your experience with. And as you clear the mess [charge] around you which is a reflection of your idea of self, then there is no mess [charge] around you, no sense of self, just an awake being engaging with what’s going on . . . Once you let your pride go, as you break down the attachment to self, then all of this stuff that was caused by this attachment to self falls away with it.” (Burgs, The Flavour of Liberation, Vol 1 &2, p.248) (Emphases and parentheticals added.)
     The “charge” around the smoking identity is a charge of pride. We smoke because we are “prideful.” (It’s me against the world.) More pride, more self-will is not going to break the charge. To “not smoke” we have to swallow the bitter pill— swallow our pride, and simply allow the world to be what it is. Allowing the world to be what it is, is the end of suffering. The charge dissipates. We are awake beings, engaging with what’s going on.