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Faerenach's picture

Faerenach

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Smoking Is Meditation

So I've been thinking about smoking.  I have never done it, personally, which I guess is rare.  Many of my friends in high school smoked, but they were always respectful of those of us who didn't.  I understood the smoking-as-rebellion thing then, and I understand the smoking-as-a-craving thing now.

 

Do you remember those commercials against smoking that started off with "If you think THIS is stupid..."?  I hated them.  To me, they seemed to band together the non-smokers and distance them from the smokers.  They did not motivate smokers to quit.  Most smokers I know are perfectly aware of it being bad for them.  But they do it anyway?  Why?

 

So, I started to put myself in their shoes.  What would make them want to sneak outside for five or so minutes, and inhale burning tobacco?  Obviously, it's a break from whatever they're doing, so there's that.  But besides the nicotine addiction... there had to be something.

 

And then I realized - smoking is controlled breathing.  It's the comforting, soothing, relaxing motion of  inhaling deeply, then exhaling deeply.  It's enabled, but it's basically meditation.  I'd imagine that if us non-smokers stole five minutes to go outside to the fresh air, breathe deeply for a bit, then come back inside, we'd feel that same release and recharge.

 

Are there any smokers out there that would agree with this statement?  I really want another perspective on this.

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MadMonk's picture

MadMonk

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I'm not sure I'm following you on this one.  Most people I know who smoke don't have "controlled breathing" so much as they have the 'trying not to hack.'  Lately, as I watch smokers shivering and smoking outside the hospital in their wheel chairs hooked up to IV's, I'm not sure I see much benefit to that controlled, unless they are dying - and by then it doesn't matter.  One man was standing under the non-smoking sign with a lit cigarette.  I told him I was on my way to visit someone with cancer, and he said, "I'm a survivor."

So you are right:  smokers will defend and protect their addiction.

 

Faerenach's picture

Faerenach

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MadMonk - thanks for the reality check.  I'm in the younger demographic, so most of those I know who smoke are not hacking yet.  That's a very sad story you tell - but I guess it's an illustration of how much a crutch smoking can become.

ninjafaery's picture

ninjafaery

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As a recent ex-smoker, I concur completely with what madmonk is saying.  I don't believe it's taken anywhere seriously enough as an addiction.  The only difference between smoking and say, heroin is cost and availability.  This is no exaggeration.  I get angry since I know much too late that one puff can lead to a full-blown addiction.  I wish everyone knew this. Nothing romantic or sexy about it, unless dragging an oxygen tank around with you is cool. 

But there is something to what you say about the meditative element.  Smoking fills the empty spaces in your life as well as  creating new ones.  I smoked to be alone or to step outside whatever I was doing and take time to think and breathe.  (I actually took every opportunity to smoke, but this was one of them). Breathing was part of it.  I now kid that if a smoker can take time out from work for a cigarette, I should be able to step outside to breathe.

I'm not demonizing smokers, however -- I totally understand how powerless we feel in the face of such a strong addiction.  I'm furious that it's still a source of revenue for the government and marketed freely.  We wouldn't do this to crack addicts.  No difference -- honest.

howboy's picture

howboy

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As a smoker, I think it's a stretch to say smoking is a form of meditative breathing. One inhales for a different reason altogether, chained to niccotine; there's no freedom or contemplation in it.

That said, you are not entirely off base... and actually very right, and perceptive about taking breaks, getting some "air" as it were. We smokers are religious about our breaks and that IS as good thing. And we go outside, also a very good thing. And we chat with each other, it's a very friendly group of people who kind of have to be unprepossessing given that we are all standing there ridiculously still smoking, failed non-smokers, exposed losers.

I only smoke outside and actually like to smoke outside. Also, it's very true what they say about smoking being "a friend." Like other addictions, quite apart from the chemistry there's all kinds of emotional entanglement going on.

I don't know what to say about taxes. Cigarettes are ridiculously expensive now. I used to think that price going up would be a good thing and get me to stop or smoke less, sort of like restrictions on where you can smoke have, but in fact I have a kind of bottom plateau that I can't get below. I wish they'd cut the taxes. I don't think more people would smoke.

Anyway, thanks for your compassionate thoughts on a difficult subject.

- Rob

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

virtualpilgrim's picture

virtualpilgrim

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Dear Lady in  LIMBO --- is that near Bronte --:)

if you recall from anthro-studies, aborigals used herbs/tobacco-(even dung) to smoke; and was

a social and cultural  experience- {as well. hallucaneogens began appearing within this

phenomenon.)

In modern times, we are aware that  science/medicine  show a  co-relation to  smoking and

health  issues, namely cancer and  CODA.  Modern users such as  your   friends,  there in  LIMBO-

(near  the banks of the majestic CREDIT)-  are probably  aware  of the known  hazards  of

smoking- however  their   need  to  use  the  substance  has no connection to  a  religious

experience (that's if you infer that  meditation is  a  western/christianoriented  based 

component  of  what we  would define as  a religion --

You  may  want  to experiment  with  a  package of  Candy - cigarettes ,  whilst-sitting  in the

LOTUS- position - with  a  copy  of  the Analects - by  Confusious -- I  believe  the  Candy

" fags"  are the  POPEYE -brand - I use then  occasionally myself- What ! -SATORI --- :)

ENJOY --- you  goddess !!!!!!!!!

virtualpilgrim's picture

virtualpilgrim

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POST SCRIPT --- smoking as  meditation---

dear - secratary (in LIMBO)-  I  think my suggestion of  the candy smokes as your  personal

experience  my  be  a  ground-breaking  thing for  you  the secret  I  think lies in your  ability

to reach  a higher state  of  consciousness  merely  by thinking you  can --

PLEASE  try it  and  get back to me  your  anthropological  friend virtual-PILGRIM  :)

AKA- cheeky candy-smokin"-monkey- cercopithecus-afarencus !

Faerenach's picture

Faerenach

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ninjafaery and howboy -  Thanks for the comments.  I am very aware of my inexperience with the addiction side of it - hence the gratitude towards the feedback.  I think that for people like me who do not and have never smoked, it is easy to demonize those who do.  My insight into the more calming effects of smoking are obviously not the main reason people do smoke, but I think it helps some of us who DON'T smoke to understand the draws to the habit, besides the addiction.  As you both said, there is a fundamental social aspect to it - whether it's a moment alone or an activity shared with others.  Out of curiosity, what did you two think of the ad campaign about how stupid smoking was?

 

And ayayayay, virtualpilgrim!  Reading your posts is certainly an exercise in concentration - oh so many enigmatic turns of phrase!

 

I am completely aware of the North American/South American use of tobacco and hallucinogenics.  (In fact, they just found some compelling evidence at Machu Picchu... fascinating stuff.)  There's also the Greeks at Delphi, the burning of poppy in prehistoric Spain, and many other world cultures that used drugs faaar before modern times.  I am not saying that meditation is a religious act, but more an individualistic sensory act.  I'd say spiritual, but that word is so overused nowadays that its context here might be construed.

 

I have certainly partaken in the Popeye sticks, but there isn't a huge amount of breathing involved with them!  Meditation is something that has never come easily to me, so I doubt that it would be a proper comparison.

 

Arminius's picture

Arminius

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Hi Farren:

 

I have taken part in Native Pipe Ceremonies where the ritualistic inhaling of the smoke is symbolic of inhaling the Spirirt. This kind of smoking can be meditative, but only because the smoker and meditator has put himself in the appropriate frame of mind prior to smoking.

 

The "pleasure" which those who smoke tobacco habitually derive from smoking is placating the withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms set in powerfully after only a few hours without nicotine. The body screams for nicotine, and is extremely uncomfortable until more nicotine is inhaled and the craving satisfied. Such is the pleasure of smoking.

 

If you want to combine smoking with meditation, try marijuana. It is more meditative and  less addictive than tobacco. And there are other drugs that don't need to be inhaled, but can be an aid to meditation. Although meditating without the aid of drugs is preferable, meditating with the aid of drugs may be better than not meditating at all. 

 

It seems almost needless to say that using drugs as an aid to meditation should be done responsibly, in a sacred manner, with the appropriate preparations, as has been done with drug use for sacred purposes since the dawn of humanity.

 

howboy's picture

howboy

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I find the smoking is stupid ads offensive, also the nicorettes one with that disgusting little demon, but I think these ads are doing something else, making smoking very uncool, and that's a message that's important enough to deserve some effort. Kids still smoke, the biggest influence being parents who smoke.

I really appreciate your recuperative view of smoking. A lot of people are very intolerant and others very tolerant, so it's wierd for a smoker to know what the heck's going on.

It's quite a relief to be able to talk about it openly here. Thanks!

 

Faerenach's picture

Faerenach

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Glad to be tolerant, howboy!  I swear, no one makes a big deal out of my obstinence against drinking enough water, so why should I make a big deal out someone else's health habits?  Unless there's a lots-of-second-hand-smoke or allergy issue, I think it's up to the person smoking to make the choice.  All I am trying to do is exercise my imagination a bit, and wonder what the draws (no pun intended) of smoking might be, besides the addiction.

 

Thanks for the advice, Arminius!  While I have absolutely no desire to be smoking anything in the near future, I am certainly learning a lot about it for Hair.  Peyote, and more recently salvia, has caught my attention and I am learning as much as I can about its effects and why/how people take it.  If you're going to be miming how to smoke a ceremonial pipe on stage, I'd like to do it respectfully and intelligently.

lacey2008's picture

lacey2008

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I can kind of see your point about this on smoking. I used to smoke, but I don't anymore. I guess it is a kind of meditation. It gets you away from whatever your doing which can be stressful things. I went through my <a href="http://www.cliffsidemalibu.com/addiction-treatment/addiction-recovery/">addiction recovery</a> process, and I still wouldn't be able to tell you why I smoked. I just liked it. I still think about it too.

Faerenach's picture

Faerenach

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Thanks for sharing, lacey2008!  I love hearing new perspectives on things I don't know much about.

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