MY LAST CIGARETTE
The first step towards quitting smoking is to learn how to enjoy smoking.
And in order to learn how to derive supreme enjoyment from smoking one must first master the art of smoking.
Seems absurd – a paradox – isn’t it...?
I stopped smoking more than seven years now and I know I shall never smoke again.
Let me tell you how I quit smoking. Maybe someone out there may benefit from my experience.
I got my clue from an apocryphal teaching story I read somewhere. I reflected upon it, carrying it my mind for a long time, until I fathomed the story’s inner depth and meaning.
A seeker asks the master, “Can I smoke while meditating?”
“No!” scolds the master angrily.
Another seeker then asks, “Can I meditate while smoking?”
“Yes!” says the master knowingly realizing that this seeker is on the path to enlightenment.
This is the key, the first step.
If you really want to stop smoking, first learn to meditate while smoking.
Here’s how I did it.
One evening, I take one cigarette, just one, and walk down to Marine Drive and sit down on the parapet, at the southern tip near Nariman Point, in the cool sea breeze watching the sun being swallowed up by the Arabian Sea, crimson-yellow petals being thrown high up in the distant sky gradually devoured by the enveloping twilight. Soon it is dark, quiet and tranquil, and I feel calm and relaxed.
I take out the cigarette from my pocket and hold it in front of me, look at it lovingly and close my eyes. You must close your eyes – it accentuates your other senses, makes you more conscious of what’s going on inside you.
I hold the cigarette near my nose and breathe in the rich aroma of the tobacco, gently moving the cigarette as I take deep breaths, savoring the sweet fragrance of the tobacco tinged with the fresh scent of the paper and filter, until my olfactory system is truly and fully satiated.
I then put the filter between my lips, taste it and suck in air deeply through the unlighted cigarette. It feels good. I then open my eyes, light the cigarette, close my eyes, get ready and take a deep drag, focusing on my breath as I inhale, allowing the smoke to permeate deep within me, infusing a sensation I cannot describe, and watching carefully with my inner eye as I exhale – slow, long and relaxing.
Is my system being energized or depleted – I do not know – but I continue my unhurried meditative smoking, eyes gently closed, my inner senses fully conscious, aware, observing attentively, till the cigarette is over. I open my eyes, come out of my trance and instinctively I gulp in a huge amount of the fresh sea breeze and rinse my lungs and system.
As I walk back I decide that this is how I shall smoke each and every cigarette from now on – meditative mindful smoking – the only way I shall smoke.
Most “smokers” haven’t learnt how to enjoy a smoke. We keep puffing away every waking moment of their lives without even noticing it. You grab a quick smoke in a hurry, you smoke when you are bored, you smoke while talking, while working, while doing something - smoking and multitasking: You smoke unconsciously, cigarette after cigarette, without even realizing it. Is it worth it? Why smoke if you don’t enjoy it?
I decide. Whenever I feel like smoking I shall stop everything and prepare myself for a meditative smoke. Go to some quiet place where I can sit undisturbed, alone. Yes I must be alone.
Meditative smoking is a solitary activity.
When I smoke, I shall only smoke – no multitasking. No more smoking with friends, with tea or coffee, no more smoking in the office feeling a guilt conscience that non-smokers don’t like it or at home with my wife nagging me, no more hurried puffs, no more mindless unconscious smoking – only meditative, mindful, conscious smoking in glorious solitude, maintaining inner calm and tranquility, and total awareness.
I follow this religiously, and soon I discover that the number of cigarettes required to satisfy me have drastically reduced and soon I am smoking only one cigarette a day – every evening, at sunset, just as I described it. For me smoking is a special occasion requiring solitude and a congenial ambience, and if I cannot create the right atmosphere, both internally and externally, I shall not smoke.
When you have mastered something it’s time to let go and move on. One day I feel I have mastered the art of smoking, derived all the enjoyment I wanted to from this activity, and reached a state of contentment and satiety. It’s time to let go. At sunset I go to my favourite place on Marine Drive, enjoy my final meditative smoke and toss the cigarette butt into the sea.
It’s been more than five years now and I haven’t had a smoke since nor have I ever felt the urge or craving to smoke. I know I will never smoke again – I have quit smoking forever.
Quitting smoking is easy.
You must ensure you don’t start smoking again. You have to break the habit forever. For this it is best to use techniques like Force Field Analysis and NLP. And don’t worry about withdrawal symptoms – it’s a myth!
I’ll write all about it here in my next article on “The Day after I Quit Smoking”.
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
VIKRAM KARVE educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU and The Lawrence School Lovedale, is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, a Human Resource Manager and Trainer by occupation, a Teacher by vocation, a Creative Writer by inclination and a Foodie by passion. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. His delicious foodie blogs have been compiled in a book "Appetite for a Stroll". Vikram lives in Pune with his family and pet Doberman girl Sherry, with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.
Vikram Karve Creative Writing Blog - http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com
Academic Journal Vikram Karve – http://karvediat.blogspot.com
Professional Profile of Vikram Karve - http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve