Nicotine is a highly addictive drug and is considered as addictive as heroin. That means it should not be messed around with – like a dangerous trap or a poisonous snake – it’s best to just keep away – most smokers start by thinking they’ll just smoke one a day, or only at night, or what not – but for most people it gets out of control before they know it – specially as soon as something goes wrong. Knowledge of how harmful smoking is, does not seem to help a person change. I have known cancer patients who could not give up smoking even in their death-bed. One of my co-workers died from cigs after losing his voice and his tongue to cancer. So, what is it that's going to help a person kick this nasty habit? Generally speaking, any sort of change requires first seeing what is. I see time and again smokers who are utterly unhappy at smoking - as they take a puff, you can see the pain they experience - often they give a hopeless look at the cigarette and wonder if they are gaining anything in return for this pain of doing something totally unnatural. Many smokers testify that out of the 20 cigs they may smoke in a day they barely "enjoy" one or two - in fact, the rest, they may hate - can you imagine the level of conflict and energy wastage that the person goes through if all day they do what they hate? The first step is to admit you are addicted - that is a sign of intelligence. I sometimes run into a few heavy smokers who say they smoke because they want to smoke - either they are lying or they've never tried to quit to find out how hard it can be. I know people who tried everything but couldn't quit. I know a acupuncture doctor who was treating patients for smoking but was a smoker himself. There are also a class of people who smoke one or two cigs occasionally - that is not problematic.
Quitting cigs means a change in lifestyle from an unhealthy one to a healthy one. Other than that nothing will change, so giving up smoking does not mean giving up everything in life - though any change has an effect on one's world - however small. Your friends who smoke will undoubtedly be effected - that is if you are still hanging out with them - my grandmother used to recite an old poem which said good friends lift you to the highest points and bad friends drag you down to the lowest - that is not to say smokers are bad people, but you get my point - it's called peer-pressure. I think the most important thing is to understand the process of smoking and addiction. There are two kinds of dependence: physical and psychological. Let's look at them:
1. Physical dependence - this one is the easy part - the body, the central nervous system, is addicted to nicotine. Nicotine, I believe (some doctors agree), is a double edge drug: it works as a stimulant against depressants (e.g. alcohol), and as a depressant against stimulants (e.g. caffeine). So, it's a constant up and down cycle - and it becomes easier to quit if for a while one lighten or avoid the intake of alcohol, coffee, non-herbal tea, coca-cola, etc. (if you are addicted to these, it's easier on you to gradually lower your intake), some experts say even onions should be avoided too - but these are just tips which may or may not be important. The idea is to have a healthy life style: to eat right food - avoid meat, sugar and artificial food, eat some raw food, exercize, get enough sleep, and, hey, why not get a message if you can! All these things make the body feel good in itself by itself, so it doesn't crave for happiness from a cigarette. Breathing exercizes (deep breathing) also helps. The good news is that 3 days without nicotine, and it's out of your system. But be careful, the next time you drink a large cup of coffee, or a few beers, the body may have an urge for the antidote. Switching to ultra-low-tar cigs also helps ease the withdrawal. Hang in there - it only takes a bit of time to get used to the lighter cigs - but it may be better to just go "cold turkey". Know beforehand what to expect: irritability, restlessness, etc., for only a few days.
2. Psychological dependence - I believe lack of understanding of this is why smoking is so hard to kick. The key here is to observe yourself very carefully, how you are feeling, what you are thinking, when you pick up a cigarette. Cigarette plays the role of a friend who says: let me celebrate with you when you are happy, or let me help you when you are sad - but it does neither - it just sneaks in poisons into the blood stream. Seeing what you are - seeing the connection between how you feel/think and wanting a cigarette - in daily life, not theoretically - is a tremendously powerful insight which brings about its own action and change (the art of seeing is a whole topic by itself which I won't go into now - to see clearly one must look with a quiet brain, otherwise one judges what is seen based on past experience - when that judging too is seen, it can change - but as long as the judge, the observer, separates itself from what it sees no change takes place because the seer is the seen. Seeing requires being totally in the present). I know a veteran smoker who had such a strong insight that he immediately quit for good. And when a dear pleasure is ended one gains a lot of strength from having died - to a habit.
And order in life is also important. When there is order one can be at peace easier - and much of the craving for cigs or drugs is a craving for peace - so, may I suggest: clean up your room and your life, and cigs will just fall-away as a natural consequence. If your have mess in your life you do not have the energy to change. When you are in conflict with yourself you suffer so much that you are willing to pay any price for happiness so you say "to heck with it - I'll quit in the future'. Change in future is an illusion. Change can only take place now. Can we live without craving? Can I observe craving in my body/mind so fully that I bring it to an end? Can I live without any stimulation: emotionally, chemically, intellectually? The answer is yes, but you will have to find the answer yourself otherwise it is merely words.
There are a class of smokers who are mostly young, who are closet smokers - even in the street or in their car when they notice that someone is seeing them smoke they are ashamed. Why? Probably because they don't want to look stupid? A lot of interesting things happen in the "closet", the battle to quit can be a tough one. Fighting it only makes it stronger, because you lose energy in the conflict, in the friction, between what you are and what you think you should be - whereas just seeing it can bring it's own change - energy is required for change. Smoking causes stress, as caffeine does in most people, but people often try to use these things to combat stress which is a vicious circle. One young girl told me she stopped exercizing when she started smoking so that she does not feel how bad cigarettes are for her! Many people, specially older smokers, lose the flame of discontent which is necessary for kicking the habit, and helplessly give up and put up with smoking: a gradual painful suicide.
Cigarettes make your beautiful teeth dirty, make your beautiful hair and skin look unhealthy, make your clothes smell, contaminate your breath/mouth smell, are bad for all of your body: lungs, heart, and all senses: you can not taste, smell, see, hear, feel as well as you could. They disrupt the most fundamental living process: breath. You wake up and you have the residue of all the junk around your eyes and in your body. Your body has to work extra hard to keep itself pure, it has to constantly fight with the damage to the lungs, etc. (so smokers need to take extra vitamin C). You know what some smokers do? Have cigarettes and coffee for breakfast because after the body has purified itself in sleep, you get the most pleasure - when you are young you can get away with that but if this sort of regime continues it dulls the body's intelligence and makes it insensitive: the sensitivity that is required for happiness, health, and an extraordinary way of life (Leonard Cohen: "Well I've been where you're hanging I can see how you're pinned"). Many marijuana smokers say it is natural - yes, maybe the grass is natural, but the process of inhaling smoke is totally contradictory to life. And you can see what happens to these people when they get older: they become dull like a rock - like a stone - from getting stoned!
Cigarettes are expensive for your pockets as well as your health. It's better to put out the cigarette after 2 hits if you are not enjoying it than to smoke it all because they are expensive! Psychically speaking - (not scientific but interesting) - Charles Leadbeater wrote that narcotics (including nicotine), reverse the direction of energy flow in the chakras which makes you have good feeling but it damages the chakras – someone told me recently since they started smoking 2 weeks ago, they’ve had "devil attacks"! Also, a smoker's life becomes overly complicated for various reasons, including (again, not scientifically speaking) attracting negativity, because one is poisoning the system, "you attract what you are". As the saying goes, "happy go lucky" - and we can add to it: "healthy goes happy". Keep the flame alive, and Good Luck.
As the joke goes: "It's OK if you want to smoke - just don't exhale". "I love you just the way you are...". A last piece of advice: Love is the best catalyst for change - so "fall in love" - it worked for me