A client confessed recently that he could not envision himself as a
non-smoker. He had cut down considerably over the time that we had been working together, but was not able to “get over the hump” to completely walk away. “I’ve been smoking for over forty years,” he said. “I don’t know who I’d be without these smokes.”
His complaint is not unusual.
So together we looked more closely at where we were going with this whole “quit smoking” business. How would it actually look to be a non-smoker?
From the outside, of course, what a non-smoker looks like is obvious. We were sitting in my office. He was not smoking. Physically, what a non-smoker looks like is exactly how he looked: just like anybody else. A non-smoker looks like anybody—fat, skinny, tall, short, old, young, beautiful or more natural. Just no smokes in hand!
So what does a non-smoker look like on the inside? It took a while to let the smoke clear (so to speak) until we came up with this: a non-smoker is free of the necessity (habit) of always thinking about smoking and not smoking! That’s what a non-smoker looks like inside— same as everybody else, but not thinking of smoking or not smoking. A non-smoker’s mind is at peace in regards to smoking or not smoking.
So what would that be like? Eureka! Every smoker already knows, hundreds of times a day, the peace of not thinking about smoking or not smoking. In the shower, or laughing at a joke, doing the laundry, talking with a co-worker. Every smoker already knows what it looks like, feels like, is like, to be a non-smoker, e.g. to be free of thinking about smoking.
Most smokers assume that “not smoking” is something they will do sometime in the future. But in fact, not smoking is something that happens hundreds and hundreds of times a day. We interrupt our “not smoking” by smoking. “Not smoking” is not something that happens in the future. It’s already everybody’s natural state of being
Quitting smoking is not something we do. Quitting smoking is ceasing to do something. Not only outside, but inside. Outside, we cease to pick up a smoke. Inside, we cease obsessing about smoking, and not smoking, or anything to do about smoking. We simply remain in our natural state, our natural peace. We cease breaking the peace!
So what does it look like to be a non-smoker? What does it feel like? Every smoker already experiences this, every day. But it is so simple, so obvious, so right in front our noses, that we overlook it. “So what do I do?” the client asked?
“Just stop breaking the peace,” I suggested.