Up In Smoke

Roy Masters

At a recent meeting one woman asked me to help her stop smoking. The secret I shared, allowed her in just a few minutes to watch a 25-year habit fade away. The following were my instructions to her. 

Before you perform this little experiment, you need to understand what I mean when I ask you to be aware and conscious of yourself and of your surroundings. 

Pick an object and see if you can put a slight distance between you and it. For example, while you are reading this, you might become aware of traffic going by, the wind rustling the trees, or the singing of a bird.

Now, turn that self-consciousness to your hand as you pick up a cigarette. 

You know what it is like to get pulled into a good escape movie and forget you’re in the theatre. Conversely, a boring movie does the disquieting opposite. 

This awkward distancing is what to look for, so as not to be pulled in. Stand back and observe your hand holding the cigarette as if it were detached, as if it were not yours. 

Now, light up, take a puff, but don’t inhale, just hold the smoke in your mouth and focus your conscious awareness on the taste. Before this, you did not consciously taste the cigarette because the intense pleasure of inhaling drugged away the sense of taste, along with an inexplicable anxiety.

The act of setting aside consciousness cuts to the very heart of the reason why you smoke. Through cigarettes you drug away the painful awareness of how you feel and what is going wrong with your life. 

Smoking reduces the awareness of your failure to deal with the irritation of frustrated ambitions. 

"If you can see that anger and resentment are behind the need to smoke, overeat, and drink, then you might realize the truth that will make you free."

Smoking anesthetizes the painful conscience side of conflict. Behind that calm and apparently patient exterior remains an angry, impatient and resentful tiger. 

Withdrawal tends to reveal that mean and irritable side. This is the reason why any effort to break a habit is destined to fail. 

Give up cigarettes and the self-consciousness of your anxieties will emerge, interfering with your functioning. Realizing that you are not in control makes you angry. 

By using resentment to willfully break a habit, will only compound, by way of an angry internal struggle, the problem you already have with people. Every conflict that involves anger-driven willfulness intensifies all the anxieties that compel the smoking.

If you can see that anger and resentment are behind the need to smoke, overeat, and drink, then you might realize the truth that will make you free—find calm real patience (not nicotine calm) for your family and others. 

An ambitious person is a good candidate for smoking. Stop being so ambitious and irritable and taking everything so personally. More consciousness is what you need, not less. 

There is a simple principle involved here, which is that no decent person can do anything wrong while at the same time being conscious of doing it. 

The bottom line? There is something morally reprehensible about not wanting to be conscious as a means of solving a problem.