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.

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