How I Quit Smoking

How I Quit Smoking

“You must unlearn what you have learned.” -Yoda

Learn a New Behavior

As much as I love Yoda the only way to unlearn is brain damage. And even that’s not a guaranteed fix. Not something I would recommend anyway.

New behaviors are gained by forming new pathways in the brain. The old behavior remains. Forgetfulness is not erasure, but lack of recall. It is better to focus on learning something new than to struggle with unlearning.

Motivation

I quit smoking at twenty-eight. When I was twenty-seven my three year old daughter said, “Look daddy!”, as she puffed on a weed stem. Instantly, I became highly motivated. I soon found motivation was not enough. I quit four times over a one year period. The runner up method was acupuncture needles in my ear. I didn’t smoke for three months. Then I went drinking…. I learned through trail and error that quitting smoking would take a multi-layered approach.

A Multi-Layered Approach

Finally a combination of the patch, changing behaviors like not hanging out with smokers or smoking environments like bars, and mental reprogramming by repeating phrases like I am becoming a former smoker and I am former smoker, worked to shift my identity away from that of a smoker. The reprogramming part is thanks to Anthony Robbins. According to Robbins congruency with identity is related to honesty and trustworthiness in our culture. A change in behavior can be perceived as being
incongruent, and therefore, untrustworthy.

My Part Approach to Quitting Smoking:
1. Chemical – The patch
2. Behavioral – Not being around smokers or smoking environments.
3. Mental – Affirming a new identity.

My approach was to establish and reinforce new neurological pathways rather than erase old ones. Those the old neurological pathways that formed my identity as a smoker are still there along with their related physical responses even after twenty-two years. They are a lot less intense. I don’t crave a cigarette when having a drink, but there are times when the idea that a cigarette would be nice comes to mind. When that happens I remember the sick feelings I got while smoking and that is enough to counter the nostalgia.

Unlearning is a nice idea, but the reality is that any behavior change is multitiered. Change is more effective when approached through focusing on learning new behaviors instead of getting rid of old ones. Much of our identity is the result of learning. Reframing identity as something learned, instead of an inherent or inherited trait, makes it easier to change. If you learned to be who you think you are then you could always learn something different.

New learning means growth and growth means an expanded consciousness. Quitting smoking taught me more than just giving up cigarettes. It taught me a new formula for learning something new. Be it quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthy, or anything else you want to learn, I hope my three steps are of help to you too.

The Giving Experiment Day 2

The Giving Experiment Day 2

My wife and I took friends from out of town to Target. The women were in power shopping mold. Mindful of the giving experiment I strolled around ready to give be it a smile, compliment, aid, or even a pause to let someone in a rush be on their way, when I found myself wondering what I was going to do to pass the time.

How quickly my thoughts had turned to myself. Not that thinking about what to do with myself is necessarily bad, but it’s not the same as maintaining thoughtful engagement with the world. It amazed me the way a normal thought like that could be a form of self-absorption. It got me thinking about other normal ways of thinking that could lead to self-absorption.

I could have just as easily thought of work, which would seem like an act of productivity rather than avoidance, but it would have been avoidance. How often did I use work as a way to avoid an uncomfortable situation or conversation? That question led to the question; how often has my mind wandered instead of being present to what was happening before me? Focusing on giving made me realize how evasive my mind could be to the present moment.

The Giving Experiment

The Giving Experiment

“Remember to give every person more than you take.” – Earl Nightingale

Barnes and Noble was having a book drive to give children in need books for Christmas. To further offset the negative feeling about the ten dollars received for the books I sold I took out the ten dollars and donated a book to the drive. The cashier, a normally somber looking dude was surprised and delighted. His face light up beyond what I had previously thought possible. I walked away feeling warm.

At the market the familiar ring of the Salvation Army bell sounded as the man ringing it sang a Christmas carol. After shopping I dropped five dollars in the red donation pot. I didn’t really have the money to spare, but wanted to reinforce a feeling of abundance. Slipping the money into the pot the man stood up and bowed as he thanked me with his singsong voice. I felt blessed as a peacefulness washed away all anxiety. Instead of spending five dollars on a latte, I received priceless peace.

Driving home I reflected on the way giving had been much more satisfying than buying something for myself. The selling of books and returning of things was inspired by an episode on the School of Greatness podcast on minimalism. I started the day intending to remove things from my environment I no love ne’er valued, and ended excited about the change giving brings to life. From today till Christmas I’m challenging myself to focus my thoughts and actions everyday on giving.

Heaven and Earth Meditation

Heaven and Earth Meditation

Place your attention on your center four finger widths directly below your belly button and take slow deep breaths for 5 minutes. As you breathe notice any pain or tension in your body.

For the next 5 minutes inhale shifting your attention to the center of the earth and as you exhale return your attention to your center.

For 10 minutes continue being mindful of the center of the earth as you inhale, as you exhale feel, sense, or see your breath move from your center to your heart center and out of your hands.

If you wish you may intend the energy going from your center to your heart and from your heart to the world. Shine like the sun.

If you notice any pain or tension in your body as you breathe send the energy from your heart to the tension, not to force it to go away, but to offer it nurturing and love. The pain or tension may communicate to you so just be open.

If you notice a blockage in your heart center simply let the energy from the earth flow allowing the blockage to be cleared like water clearing a ditch.

After 10 minutes continue placing your attention on the earths center but as you exhale shift your attention toward heaven. Simply intend touching heaven as you exhale.

As you breathe offer heaven all of your pain, stress, tension, worries, anxieties, and fears. As you inhale feel the love and support of Mother Earth and heaven fill you. Receive blessings and the gift of life. Continue to send energy to your tension and pain.

For 1-5 minutes return to being mindful of the center of the earth as you inhale and your center as you exhale. When you are ready come out of the meditation.

Meditations for Manifestation 003

Meditations for Manifestation 003

Meditations for Manifestation 003: Increasing Power

1 minute resting the mind on an object

Continue resting the mind and also allow a worry, stress, or fear to come to mind. Hold both resting and worry, stress, or fear in mind.

If the worry, stress, or fear gets too strong let it go and refocus in resting the mind, then let the negative feeling come back without it overtaking you.

You can rest on the worry or the fear instead of an object.

By looking at your worry, stress, or fear through the energy of rest are you able to get any insight or new awareness about it? Write it down.

Does the worry, stress, or fear look the same or has it changed? How? Write it down.

Return to resting the mind.

Continue resting the mind and ask: Infinite intelligence show, tell, or make known to me what will help me now. Write it down. Return to the process.

Resting is emptying, asking is prayer, and what comes to mind is the answer. As you go through your day follow your hunches, it is the prayer still being answered.

Return to resting the mind. Notice the top of your head and say: Divine Light enters and fills me up. I am safe, at peace, prosperous, and protected by this Divine Light. It is alright to release resting the mind on the object and allow your mind to rest completely in the Divine Light. You are now practicing resting on Divine Light as the object. There is no right color, no right feeling, trust the intention and process.
This weeks challenge: Start each morning with the last meditation of this session and go through each day, each hour, each moment maintaining the awareness of the Divine Light. Be aware that the Division me Light will guide you, not just about worries and fears but also about your plans, hopes and dreams.

Health Tip

Health Tip

I was coming down with something, achy body, sore throat, slight fever, so I asked my Tai Chi teacher to recommend some herbs to fight it. He told me to fill a glass with water and take a drink until I naturally felt like stopping. Repeat every hour.
Is that all?
That’s all, he said.
The man wasn’t just a tai chi guy he was also an electrical engineer so I took his advice on faith.
I felt better from the first day and by the third day all symptoms were gone. I asked him why it worked and he said most people are dehydrated and don’t know it. Drinking to the point you naturally stop is your body’s way of indicating it can’t assimilate more. Often we drink large amounts at a time only to piss it out which adds stress to the system because it’s overloading it. What surprised me was that he learned the technique from a book written by a doctor in a war prison camp (not some ancient Chinese wisdom) who wanted to treat the sick but he only had water to work with. This doctor came up with many remedies based only on water. I wish I got the name of that doctor or book from him, but at least I have this to share. 🙂

Green Drink Recipe

Green Drink Recipe

1 cup water
1 cup oj
1 cup pineapple
Two handfuls kale
Two handfuls spinach
1 cup frozen mango chunks
1 stalk celery
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Cheyenne pepper to taste, I put 1/8-1/4 tsp

It’ll almost fill a Vitamix so I suggest cutting down by 1/3 for a single serving, maybe even less for a NutriBullet. Cheyenne pepper may upset your digestion and it might be better for some to go without it.