“How to Quit Smoking” = A Very Crummy Question!

Judge a man by his questions, rather than his answers.” Pierre Marc-Caston

If you have been asking,  how can I quit smoking for many years and you are still smoking, that may suggest that the question itself is to blame. That question apparently has no power; it’s keeping you going around in circles.

           In his classic book People in Quandaries:  the Semantics of Personal Adjustment,  the psychologist Wendell Johnson  points out that a “vague question always leads to a vague answer. ” The question,  how can I quit smoking is a vague question because it has 1000 or more different answers:

  • I can get locked up in jail,
  • have my mouth duct taped,
  • cut my hands off,
  • have a stroke,
  • be kidnapped by terrorists,
  • keep a lemon in my mouth…

Johnson goes on to say,  “… Of his every question, the scientist asks, by exactly what procedure might a reliable factual answer to this question be found? If the scientist cannot find such a procedure, he abandons the question. That is why he is so efficient in solving problems; he confines his energies to questions that can be clearly answered.” (People in Quandaries, p 55, 56)

So if we are going to approach quitting in a scientific manner, we need to ask questions which lend themselves to specific procedures by which we may find an answer. For example, how many times a day do I kick myself for smoking? One could carry a notepad and pencil, and count the times, if not every time at least a general approximation.  Do I smoke less when I kick myself for smoking?

Another question: how much of my cigarette do I really enjoy? The first three puffs? The last three puffs?  Again, with notepad and careful observation, as scientists are trained to do, we might find a true answer to this question. And answering such a question will give us a deeper insight into our own relationship with smoking.

And yet still other questions: what part of me hurts when I want a smoke? Is it my toes? My knees? My belly button? My ears? My mouth? My brain? What part of my brain? These questions can be answered, and thus we are on our way to understanding the truth about our smoking behavior. (“Ye  shall know the truth, and truth shall set you free.”)

The point here is that we need to ask better questions if we want to get free of the smoking habit.  The question how can I quit smoking is a very weak question because it does not lend itself to simple, observable, tactile answers.

Of course, most of us have asked more detailed questions in our attempts to quit smoking:  Will Chantix help me stop smoking? Will the patch help me quit smoking? And then perhaps we investigate, we experiment.

But what questions had we been asking around these questions? For most of us, not many. To take an (artistically) scientific approach to quitting smoking, we must start questioning our questions. When we begin to question our questions, light at the end of the tunnel begins to appear.

We will need to find questions that unravel the mental and emotional matrix that we have built up around our smoking. When, with better questions,  we unravel this mental and emotional matrix, the physical quitting will be much easier.  Do you question this observation?  I’d like to hear your questions.

I intend to do many more posts about this question of questions in the weeks and months ahead.  I think it may be the key to the whole enchilada.  I would of course appreciate your questions. Contact me at:

bear (at)smokersfreedomschool (dot) com

The Happiness Experiment

People most often change their personal habits not because of health concerns or social pressure but rather because they are feeling good about themselves and want to feel still better.”

      This was the conclusion from a Gallop Poll reported in American Health Magazine. The obvious implication is that people most often find it easier, more natural to change their unwanted personal habits when they are feeling good about themselves and want to feel still better.  In other words, when they are already feeling happy with themselves, at peace with themselves, it’s easier for them to drop old habits.

So would it make quitting smoking a lot easier if we simply increased our daily experience of peace and happiness? Wouldn’t this be a fun experiment to try? What could it hurt?

So how would we—could we—conduct this experiment? How would we go about intentionally experiencing more peace and happiness in our lives, to see what happens to our smoking habit?

Based on the scientific research, here are some basic guidelines:

  1. Give peace a chance. Give happiness a chance. If we intend to increase the amount of peace and happiness we experience in our lives, let’s admit it probably won’t come about by accident. So for just one month—to start—let’s make experiencing more peace and happiness in our daily lives our highest priority. Research shows that we must decide to make experiencing peace and happiness the most important thing we are doing this month, no matter who we are with or what else we are doing or where we are physically. Let’s experiment to see if we can experience peace and happiness in every experience! Let’s give peace and happiness a chance to show up in our lives!
  2. We will test the hypothesis that we can only experience peace and happiness when we are at peace with the stories we are telling, happy with the stories we are telling, to ourselves and others. We will assume that it will not be possible to increase our own experience of peace and happiness if we are telling stories we do not enjoy, or with which we are not at peace. Thoughts make up our stories. So we will experiment with thinking thoughts and stories we enjoy, which do not disturb the peace!
  3. Since experiments require testing, for one month let’s continually test our thoughts and stories. Whenever necessary or appropriate, we’ll quietly ask ourselves, “Do I enjoy this thought, this story, yes or no? Am I at peace with this thought, this story, yes or no?” Here’s the scientific standard we’ll use: If it’s not an immediate and spontaneous yes, it’s a no. (We want this experiment to be easy to conduct.)
  4. In our regular tests, if the answer is yes (we enjoy the thought or story we’re telling ourselves or others) perfect. If the answer is no, (we are not at peace with the thought or story we are currently entertaining) then it’s time to do the experiment, be brave and take action. We have two options: A. Change our story, or simply drop the story, and find or create a story we enjoy more, which does not disturb the peace; or
  5. Decide to enjoy the story that a moment before we were not enjoying, or at least not fight it, to be at peace with it. WHAT’S IMPORTANT IS NOT THE CONTENT OF THE STORY BUT WHETHER OR NOT WE ENJOY OUR STORIES, WHETHER WE ARE AT PEACE WITH OUR STORIES. If we are not at peace with the stories we are telling ourselves or others, if we don’t enjoy our stories, we are not obliged to tell them, no matter how true they may seem to be. Experiencing more peace and happiness is our highest goal for this month! We have to be brave to experiment this way, because most people do NOT consciously make peace and happiness their highest goal, (though subconsciously it is always the highest goal.) Our experiment this month is to find a way to enjoy our happiness, enjoy our peace, if only a teeny tiny bit more than we otherwise might. Here’s good news: Teeny tiny bits of happiness, of peace, do count, and they do add up!

Isn’t this an experiment worth trying, just for a month? Even if it fails, we have a happier, more peaceful month than we would otherwise have had. (If it doesn’t work, you can have your unhappiness back for free! The experiment doesn’t cost a dime.)

Based on my own experience, however, I’ll bet a nickel that the experiment  WILL work! Will it be much easier to walk away from smokes when you are feeling happy, at ease, at peace, than if you’re not?  Science has already proven that it is. But isn’t it worth taking up the experiment in your own life?

Let me know how it goes:  bear@smokersfreedomschool.com

Nicotine Addiction Is a Lie!

       In my experience, the whole stop smoking industry, although with very good intentions by mostly very good people,  is doing a very louzy job helping people quit smoking, primarily because they (we) have been told that nicotine addiction is the problem. But nicotine is NOT the problem.

How can we know? Because only one or two, sometimes three out of ten people actually quit smoking when following the “nicotine replacement” approach to quitting.  In my view, if your operation fails  7 out of 10 times,  (or, more often 8 or 9 out of ten times) you might want to question your approach, and for sure keep an open mind about what’s happening in your world.

My experience tells me that such consistent failure to help people quit smoking, not only here in the U.S. but across the world, continues to occur– regarldess of new drugs and devices– simply because currently our whole treatment theory is based on the false assumption that the smoking addiction is a nicotine addiction. Again, IT’S NOT! Research and direct personal experience have shown time, and time and time again that nicotine is NOT the culprit we professionals wish it was.

I go into detail about this in Chapter 11 from my new book, The Smoker’s Prayer The Spiritual Healing of Tobacco Addiction with or without Chantix, Nicotine Patches, Hypnosis, Jail Time or Duct Tape. .

But you don’t have to read the book. Here’s the chapter, in its entirety.  I’d be interested in your feedback. Hope you enjoy.

*  *  ***        ***

CHAPTER 11

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.   Proverbs 4:7

In the last chapter I encouraged you to stop believing that  you were wrong, or bad for experimenting with tobacco in the first place. I encouraged you to stop beating yourself up about that, to love the kid you were, and carry on.  I trust this was useful advice.

Next, we need to look at the false belief that nicotine is the devil, and is what keeps us smoking. This will be the longest chapter in the whole book because, after all, if we’re going to fight the devil, we need lots of ammunition.  You’ll find more than enough ammunition here in this chapter.

Often spiritually inclined people believe that their “metaphysical” prayers for freedom from tobacco have not been answered simply because they cannot resist their own physical cravings for nicotine.  They have been led to believe that it is their physical addiction to nicotine that keeps them smoking. They believe this, not because of the physical evidence, (again, we want to stay on solid ground)  but because this is what they have been told for decades by the well-intentioned “high priests” of the medical materialist belief system. And as the old saw goes, “What you believe is what you get.”

If addiction to nicotine is what keeps us smoking, in spite of our prayers, or in direct opposition to our prayers, then nicotine must be the devil, yes? Or at least a representative of the devil.  (Nicotine is the supposed force interfering with our prayers.)

So, as Jesus did, we want to put this devil behind us. (Matherw 16: 23 “Get behind me, Satan . . . you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns Get thee behind me.” )

Again, as we’ve already discussed,  we’re not necessarily asking Jesus to put the devil behind us. We ourselves, in our daily walk around mind, must have the certain confidence to know, without doubt, that nicotine has no power over us.  Only then can we put it behind us.

The Hot Dog with Ketchup and Mustard Addiction

Okay, so let’s get confident, get sure about “nicotine addiction, to a depth that we are no longer afraid of it, we can simply stop being cowed by nicotine, love the new freedom this knowledge gives us, and then carry on.

In order to do that we need to have the courage to look this “devil addiction” straight in the face, and see him— see it— for what it is.  And even more important, what it isn’t.  (This chapter is one of the longest in the book because the belief that “nicotine is the devil” is a widespread, faulty belief that keeps millions of smokers hooked.  We need to dismantle the belief one step at a time.)

Here’s the story, in a nutshell, about nicotine: Instead of cigarettes, let’s pretend you are addicted to hot dogs, with mustard and ketchup. You love ‘em. Morning and night. Seven days a week. But you know that so many hot dogs with mustard and ketchup are probably not good for you, so you go to the experts on hot dog addiction and they tell you: it’s actually the mustard and ketchup that makes hot dogs so addictive.

They convince you, based on their research into the brain’s bio chemical properties, that your brain has “mustard and ketchup receptors.” Because of your long habit of eating hot dogs with mustard and ketchup your “mustard and ketchup receptors” now crave even more mustard and ketchup. They tell you that the “mustard and ketchup” combo is the devil behind your hot dog addiction.

Then they tell you that the pharmaceutical companies have developed the remedy: mustard and ketchup patches. And mustard and ketchup gum and lozenges, so you won’t have to eat all those hot dogs. And even if these remedies fail (which, alas,  they most often do),  you can then try a powerful, quite expensive psycho-active drug (with suicidal side effects) that will block your mustard and ketchup cravings.

So on their advice you try the mustard and ketchup patches, and it works, sort of. But you still crave a hot dog. As the days go by, even though you’re wearing the full strength mustard and ketchup patch, you can’t get your mind off hot dogs. So you cave, eat a hot dog, with mustard and ketchup, even while wearing the mustard and ketchup patch!  (Ahh, boy that tastes good!)

Is it your fault that you still wanted a hot dog? Or was it the faulty diagnosis about the cause of the addiction?

 

OUR CURRENT INSISTENCE THAT NICOTINE IS THE CAUSE OF ADDICTION IGNORES THE REAL MEAT!

As we’ll explore more fully in later chapters, you smoke because at some level you actually enjoy it, and, more importantly, you’ve learned to use smoking as a way to manage your daily attention. Thus, you smoke because you receive some rather basic, maybe even healthy (meaty?) mental and emotional benefits from it, just like you did when you were a kid.  Makes sense, yes? Why else would you still do it?

Obviously, from the medical materialist world view, the idea that you may receive some real “meaty” benefits from smoking and use your smokes to make your day run smoother, even if this should prove to be true, is not a politically correct diagnosis. In our materialist culture it is simply wrong to enjoy smoking, and it is wrong to use smoking as a way to manage your attention. Maybe even evil!  And healthy benefits? Ha!

But again, give yourself a little credit! Give nature a little credit. Give God a little credit. You are not evil or stupid or weak. You are a wonderful being, mysteriously and beautifully made.  If you  weren’t, at some level, getting something real and necessary, something even  life enhancing from the habit of smoking, (something meaty!) you wouldn’t do it!  Please, give yourself some credit.

Back to the hot dogs with mustard and ketchup: The materialist approach insists that ninety percent of the reason you smoke is because your body, and in particular your brain, and even more particularly the nicotinic  acetylcholine receptors in your brain have become addicted to nicotine. This  false belief, insisted upon by well-meaning authorities, posits that nicotine is the devil.  (The devil is the ketchup and the mustard.) It’s this nicotine devil, they insist, that causes all the misery.

From this materialist viewpoint, what you need to do is wean yourself from nicotine–fight the devil, run from the devil, somehow free yourself from this nicotine habit. They suggest you need to dismantle your brain’s nicotinic receptors, rewire your neurons, overhaul your psyche, either gently or forcefully. You need to replace your nicotinic receptors with—oh, celery receptors, say. Or maybe root beer barrel receptors.  Tooth pick receptors!

This medical materialist approach understands you primarily as a bio-chemical machine, in fact a bio-chemical robot.  Their diagnosis is that, due to both personal deficiencies and corporate villainy,  the bio-robot that that is you somehow became badly programmed with the devil nicotine (mustard and ketchup) now at the controls. Thus, your robot machine needs an overhaul, an exorcism.

Unfortunately, as we hinted at in the introduction, even with the best exorcism methods available in the medical materialist doctor’s bag, this approach does not offer much hope for success. Statistics show that only one or two of every ten robots that undergo re-programming for nicotine addiction (exorcising the devil) will actually find freedom from their smoking habit.

Could that be because the “nicotine addiction” diagnosis—that we smoke because we crave nicotine, that nicotine is the devil behind this whole tragedy– is itself simply wrong? Is there any actual empirical evidence that such a diagnosis (that nicotine is the devil) may in fact be wrong?

Yes. Over the past fifty years scientists, clinicians and smokers themselves have all accumulated literally tons of evidence (if we include the weight of all the smokers who took part in the trials)  that nicotine is not the devil. This proof,  here in plain sight, goes mostly unnoticed.

The “solid ground” proof that nicotine is not the devil appears not only in the research reports about nicotine, but most especially in the millions (and millions) of smokers who have tried unsuccessfully to quit based on this “nicotine is the devil” diagnosis.

The Evidence Against the Nicotine Diagnosis                   

If your body craves nicotine and that’s why you smoke, then it must follow that when your body has received adequate levels of nicotine you would not smoke. But this has proved not to be the case.  First, and very simply, every smoker has experienced those yucky moments when it’s clear, “uggh, I’ve smoked too much.” Maybe at a party or a work session or a cross country road trip.  If the nicotine diagnosis was correct, the body would send signals to regulate nicotine intake (more or less) as it was needed— and we would never have the “uggh, I’ve smoked too much” experience.

But maybe we just weren’t paying attention. Maybe the body did send its signals: “enough nicotine.” But for some reason, we kept smoking.  But what reason could that be if, as the authorities insist, the nicotine (mustard and ketchup) craving is the engine driving why we smoke?

Okay, you admit you sometimes smoke too much, even when you obviously have taken in enough nicotine. That’s proof number  one, a direct, repeated experience in your own life, that a “craving for nicotine” is not necessarily the cause of why you continue to smoke.

Next, google “nicotine patch.”  At the top of the search, Wikipedia will tell you that clinical trials have shown that the patch approximately doubles success rates for quitting over placebo treatment

Wow, that sounds good.  Clinical trials! Double success! And then it goes on to state,  “Dozens of  placebo tests show a 5.9% success rate, in comparison to the 7.2% blind active tests, and the 10.8% open tests.“

What? Wait. That means without the nicotine patch six out of every hundred smokers can quit. But when using the patch, only seven, or sometimes maybe ten or eleven out of a hundred will quit.  If nicotine is the problem, and the answer, what’s the deal with the other ninety nicotine patch wearers who don’t quit?

This is not just faulty information put out by Wikipedia. Researchers at Vanderbilt University, doing a study on the difference between placebo patches and nicotine patches, found that, after 24 weeks (six months)  three people out of a hundred quit by using the placebo patch, while eight out of a hundred quit using the nicotine patch.  (See http://healthpsych.psy.vanderbilt.edu/health-patch.htm )

Although the pharmaceutical companies point to these types of studies when they advertise that the patch “doubles your chances of quitting,” as do stop smoking programs around the world, any honest outside observer might easily and wisely conclude that neither the patch nor the placebo are effective methods for quitting. In this test, fewer than one out of ten patch users found success!

A survey of all the studies of the effectiveness of the nicotine patch and other nicotine products by the United States Department of Health and Human Services found that the nicotine products work less than twelve times out of a hundred.

IF NICOTINE WAS THE REAL CULPRIT, THE NICOTINE PATCH, GUM OR LOZENGE WOULD BE THE REAL CURE! NINE TIMES OUR OF TEN!  BUT NICOTINE REPLACEMENT NEVER COMES EVEN CLOSE!

Yes, in some studies, especially if counseling and other remedies are used, the patch will work for as many as two or three people out of ten. That means “the nicotine cure” might work as much as 20% or 30%  of the time. Still, if the “cure” only works three times out of ten, at best, it’s not a cure! We must assume that the diagnosis of what is causing the problem must be wrong!

The evidence against the old diagnosis is inarguable: it’s not the nicotine that keeps you smoking. Chances are that you yourself have tried to quit using one or more of the nicotine products, but still you smoke. If so, then you yourself are part of the huge body of evidence proving that “the nicotine is the devil” diagnosis is not accurate.   IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT YOU DIDN’T QUIT SMOKING WITH  NICOTINE REPLACEMENT. YOU, WITH MILLIONS OF OTHERS, WERE MISINFORMED ABOUT THE NATURE OF THE PROBLEM!

Even though such empirical evidence shows that nicotine is not the problem,  “nicotine addiction” (mustard and ketchup addiction) remains the cornerstone of the medical materialist world view in regards to smoking. The sad part is that smokers themselves have been led to believe, by the common materialist medical diagnosis, that their own “smoking problem” comes from their addiction to nicotine. But the medical materialist view is an extremely narrow, dangerously wrong diagnosis! (Focusing on the purple when in fact there’s a whole rainbow!)  Again, it’s not the nicotine!

An example in my own work was with a client I’ll call “Dan,” a fifty-five year old blue collar worker who smoked at least two and often three packs a day.  Dan was convinced if he just wore enough patches and chewed enough nicotine gum and lozenges—which, through our materialist medical government program we offered–  he could quit.  I tried, apparently not very skillfully, to convince him there was something else happening.  In our private sessions we would have quite animated, fun and inspired discussions. Still, at the end of each session he would beg for twice the allotted number of patches and other nicotine products than was normally allotted.

Dan felt he needed to wear two full strength nicotine patches, one on each arm, plus regularly chew nicotine gum and suck on nicotine lozenges. All this nicotine—much more than he was normally getting from his heavy smoking—allowed him, he said, to cut back from his two or three packs a day to just one  pack.

He smoked a pack a day even while wearing twice the recommended number of patches plus chewing nicotine gum.  He felt that “only” smoking one pack a day was a sign he was making progress.   Dan simply refused to believe—or was not prepared to believe– that there was something other than nicotine itself that was at the heart of his smoking behavior. “I think I must have a death wish,” he’d say, trying to understand why he still could not stop smoking.

This is one of the sad and dangerous side-effects of the erroneous materialist belief that smoking is simply a bio-chemical addiction to nicotine. Not only does such a belief not lead to freedom from tobacco, it also leads to a false estimation of our own self-worth, and life-affirming core.  “I must have a death wish” is simply not true! (Did we have a “death wish” when we snuck behind the barn to first try out smoking? No. It was a “more life” wish!)

Dan would enroll in the program for many months, and then, when  his “free patches” ran out, and he was asked to start paying a small amount for them, half or less of what he would pay retail,  (we subsidized the cost) he would drop  out.  Six months or a year later, he’d be back. “Can I get some more free patches?”

After I retired, Dan signed up again, with my successor. He still hadn’t quit. His faith in the “nicotine diagnosis,” and his certainty that he must have a death wish, kept him trapped. But it was simply a wrong diagnosis of the problem.

If you keep taking your chugging car in to the shop and they keep fixing the carburetor, or even give you a new carburetor, but the chugging problem doesn’t go away, might this be a clear sign that the problem was not in the carburetor?

Again, as we’ll see in more detail in the following chapters,  the reason you smoke is simply because at some level you enjoy it, and more importantly you use it to manage your daily attention. So you are  getting something very real and even healthy from your smoking routine! When you recognize  what it is you do crave, and regularly receive from smoking, and learn to find it in other ways, smoking falls away naturally. It’s simply no longer needed.

That nicotine is not the culprit— the devil— behind smoking is actually very good news! It frees you from the medical materialist faulty diagnosis and lets you see the simple mechanics (the real hot dog) much more clearly. “Oh, the problem if the problem is not in the carburetor, maybe it’s  the radiator!”

This doesn’t mean that you can’t use the patch or gum or lozenge when you are moving away from the smoking addiction. Of course you can, if that’s where your inner wisdom leads you.  But do so with the clear, and this probably new understanding that nicotine is not the problem nor the solution!

Although my client Dan is an extreme example, the millions of smokers who have tried to quit smoking but failed with nicotine replacement show how dangerous it is for smokers to accept this diagnosis. The problem is they blame themselves, rather than the faulty diagnosis. So when they try again, they often try nicotine replacement again, or some other more powerful and dangerous drug, like Chantix, based on the same diagnosis. (“Nicotine is the problem. Chantix will interfere with nicotinic receptors.”)

Okay.  Enough of that. Let me simply encourage you to stop believing that nicotine is the problem, love the new possibilities this idea opens up so that now you can carry on to the more fun parts of the healing process. Let’s put the “nicotine is the devil” diagnosis behind us, and get some much needed fresh air on the topic.

Quitting Smoking and Phantom Pain

     Was reading Donna Eden’s wonderful book, Energy Medicine, — Balancing Your Body’s Energies for Optimal Health, Joy and Vitalityand came across her discussiu9on of phantom pain. Most everybody’s familiar with the phenomenon: an amputee who has an “itchy” leg (that isn’t there), or the arm that is no longer there that nevertheless still aches. Eden gave many examples. One that stood out for me was of a fellow who had his finger amputated and then kept the finger in a jar in his mother’s heated basement. A year or so later he felt his finger – his absent finger—being very, very cold. He went to the doctor to ask about it. The doc suggested checking the basement. Sure enough. A window had broken, and the jar with his ex-finger in it was sitting in the jar in the cold breeze. When they fixed the window, and the room again warmed up, so did the phantom finger. He was once again comfortable.

Eden explains phantom pain —with many more examples—as the “energy body” communicating to us. (Energy Medicine is a book worth reading. I had to set it down for a year or so, in order to “grow” into it—give up my own metaphysical biases before I could read it with an open mind.) Eden says we each have an energy body—actually, she suggeests we had an energy body before we had our physical body. The energy body mirrors the physical body—or actually, it’s the other way around. “Heal your energy body first,” she recommends. “the physical body will soon follow.”

Reading about phantom pain , it suddenly struck ne that much of the “jones’n “ that comes with quitting smoking is due to the “phantom pain” experienced in the energy body, rather than any discomnfort in the physical body. The physical body itself is quite happy to be without the smokes. And as I’ve covered in depth, (see chapter 11 in The Smokers’ Prayer) the addiction is not basically an addiction to nicotine. But even people who are using nicotine patches or gum or lozenges—or all of the above (even nicotine toothpicks these days!) often report that they still feel the jones’n.

To say the jones’n is psychological or emotional is accurate, but often that’s not specific enough to help ameliorate the condition. So what can do we do about it? How can we deal with it?

First, just knowing it’s the “energy body” that feels a little short circuited is a useful intellectual tool to have. We have created energy circuits—energy pathways—in the energy body over many years by our daily smoking behavior. When we no longer send energy down those channels, we feel blocked up, and at the same time, empty, somehow un-right, un comfortable. Our energy body is wanting to “complete the circuit”—release the energy– by having a smoke. The physical body isn’t all that interested in completing that circuit (It knows what’s good for it, and what’s not.)

One exercise to bring a feeling of “wholeness” and peace back to the energy body (in addition to the basic Zoom Love exercise encouraged as the “go-to” strategy) -is to:

  1. First, rub the hands together for ten seconds or so.
  2. Separate the hands and feel the energy flowing between the palms.  And then
  3. Place the hands on top of each other and then about four inches above the heart.
  4. Slowly move the hands in either a clockwise or counter- clockwise circle—whichever feels best.

This simple little exercise first brings the energy out of the head and then into the hands, and then centered again in the heart. The “phantom pain” of quitting smoking is generally located in the head. . In the heart, there is no pain. So we are basically moving attention, (energy) from the head to the heart. We are bringing awareness (energy) again to the heart, the “fulcrum” of all energy systems. It helps us balance our energy, it helps the energy to flow more smoothly. .

Check it out, even if you haven’t quit yet, or even if you quit a year ago yesterday.

And as always, I’d like to hear about your personal experience.

Keep the faith. More light is on the way.

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.”