Is it possible that the Ahh of that first puff might be a Portal to Freedom?
Let’s say you’ve been wanting to quit, and you’ve actually been doing pretty good. But now, doggone it, the craving is so strong that you’re really tempted, and in fact, you’re going to have a smoke. You tell yourself you really need a smoke, maybe just a quick, sneaky one, to help you get beyond this stupid craving. So you cave.
You find a smoke, be it near or far, find a match, quickly light up, take a deep first inhale, then exhale. Ahhh…back home again. What a relief!
Let’s freeze frame this moment, this feeling, this relief after the first exhale, because it’s this that you’ve been wanting. So let’s look at this moment, this feeling, this relief more closely.
In that moment after the first exhale, you feel relief. Why? It’s not the nicotine, because the amount of nicotine you get from one little puff is quite minimal. In fact, many people who are using the nicotine patch, or nicotine gum or lozenge still have the craving for a smoke. Yet they, too, get that same relief from the first puff. Their nicotine levels are already quite sufficient! So it’s not the nicotine that provides the “first puff relief.” It must be something else that makes us go, “ahhh.”
Let’s move now to the second puff. With the second puff, if you’ve been wanting to quit, you start to beat yourself up again. “Oh shoot, here I go again. I’m smoking! What am I doing? Why am I doing this? I wanted to quit so bad…thump, thump thump.”
Back to the “freeze frame” of the first puff, or more precisely, the exhale of the first puff. In that moment after that first exhale, you are no longer wanting a cigarette because, (duh) you’re now smoking one! In fact, you don’t want anything. In that brief half moment, you are happy to be right where you are, doing what you’re doing. We mistakenly assume that the relief came from the cigarette. In fact, however, the relief is a relief from wanting. Again, after that first puff, you are no longer wanting.
Alas, starting with the second puff, or the third or fourth, the “wanting” starts up again— this time, wanting to quit! So the relief from the smoke is no longer so sweet. So what often happens, you have another one, and another one, trying to get that “first puff relief,” that first “ahhh.” Again though, the relief did not come from the cigarette. The relief came because of the momentary absence of wanting!
Curiously, this is what we truly “crave”: the absence of wanting! We want to be “want-less!”
Sounds goofy, but isn’t absence of wanting what we also want when we envision being rich, or being in love, or being famous or in perfect health? We’re envisioning a state where our wants have all been met! We envision lying on a tropical beach in our perfect body next to our perfect lover, supported by our perfect bank account which came from our perfect job. And of course, our perfect family and perfect friends are all watching on admiringly. In such a scenario all of our wants are met! Ahh, success.
To succeed in quitting smoking we make it easier on ourselves if we magnify—and multiply– our other ordinary “ahh” moments. Ahh, a new day. Ahh, a warm shower. Ahh a cup of coffee.. Ahh, a glass of water. Ahh, a phone call from a friend. Ahh, time to go to bed.
As we practice being at ease with where we are in this moment, doing what we’re doing— not wanting something different than what is right here—our wants get light, more friendly, and effortlessly dissolve and flow away. Our “wants” will continue to come and go, rise and fall as long as we walk the earth. But maturity comes when we directly experience that what we are looking for is the “ahhh” itself, the want-less courage to be happy where we are, right here, right now. (Ahhh….) When we clearly recognize—indeed, experience—that the “relief”— the “ahhh” that we get from a smoke is relief from wanting, and that the smoke is only secondary, we begin to sense the true nature of freedom. Sensing the nature of freedom, freedom itself begins to grow. Ahhh….