advice on giving up smoking

advice on giving up smoking

Postby Lotus415 » Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:18 am

I have had the desire to quit smoking for some time now but cannot seem to have the strength to follow through. I am curious if others have incorporated practice to help give up this habit. My primary practice is Pure Land, but have been starting Medicine Buddha recitation as well. Any advice or experiences are appreciated!
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Re: advice on giving up smoking

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:25 am

Lotus415 wrote:I have had the desire to quit smoking for some time now but cannot seem to have the strength to follow through. I am curious if others have incorporated practice to help give up this habit. My primary practice is Pure Land, but have been starting Medicine Buddha recitation as well. Any advice or experiences are appreciated!


I quit long before being very serious about Buddhism, so not much advice to give there on than to say that anything healthy you can immerse yourself in is good - and Dharma is certainly that! Physical exercise made a big difference for me.

Best advice I can give is 1) don't use nicotine replacements as a crutch..even if you choose to use them. 2) make your daily activities as low stress, and free from behaviors that trigger smoking as you can, and 3) most importanly don't ever give up!! I spent about 4 years and something like 12 tries to end a long habit, and it was worth it.

It helped me to know that technically the physical addiction is gone in something like 3 days, so beyond that what you are working with is just habit and the breaking of it.

Good luck!
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: advice on giving up smoking

Postby Konchog1 » Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:49 am

If you want to give up smoking you must have reasons.

Write out those reasons. Write out the benefits of quitting too.

Then read the whole list out loud to yourself every time you want to smoke.

Also, there is no 'last one'. "Well, just one last smoke before I quit." That's the addiction talking.

EDIT

I've found this speech very inspiring, but my friends didn't think so. Well, maybe you'll find it helpful. Just imagine he's talking about quitting smoking instead of weightlifting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQk2TpDTnTQ&t=1m24s
Last edited by Konchog1 on Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: advice on giving up smoking

Postby plwk » Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:56 am

I agree with konchog and recall reading this...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"So it is, Ananda. So it is. Even I myself, before my Awakening, when I was still an unawakened Bodhisatta, thought: 'Renunciation is good. Seclusion is good.'
But my heart didn't leap up at renunciation, didn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace.

The thought occurred to me: 'What is the cause, what is the reason, why my heart doesn't leap up at renunciation, doesn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace?' Then the thought occurred to me: 'I haven't seen the drawback of sensual pleasures; I haven't pursued [that theme]. I haven't understood the reward of renunciation; I haven't familiarized myself with it. That's why my heart doesn't leap up at renunciation, doesn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace.'

"Then the thought occurred to me: 'If, having seen the drawback of sensual pleasures, I were to pursue that theme; and if, having understood the reward of renunciation, I were to familiarize myself with it, there's the possibility that my heart would leap up at renunciation, grow confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace.'

"So at a later time, having seen the drawback of sensual pleasures, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of renunciation, I familiarized myself with it.
My heart leaped up at renunciation, grew confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace.
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Re: advice on giving up smoking

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:33 am

Here's a tip: 'everything passes' is especially true of cravings for cigarettes. When that craving comes on, it is very powerful and indeed it has you in its power. It makes you get up and find a cigarette. At that moment, you have no power over the craving. But you will notice that if you can wait about the time it takes to have smoked that cigarette at exactly that moment, the craving will have passed.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: advice on giving up smoking

Postby Matt J » Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:58 pm

As a former smoker who has worked with addiction counselors, I have a few tips:

1. Set periods of time for quitting. Don't just quit. Quit for a week. Once the week ends, reconsider and set another date. If you make it, reward yourself with something.

2. Don't believe the mind. Your mind will come up with a thousand excuses why you should smoke. Watch it carefully--- you will learn more about how the mind operates quitting with mindfulness than most people do in a lifetime. Every thought that points to smoking is a lie.
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
--- Xin Xin Ming

http://nondualism.org/
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Re: advice on giving up smoking

Postby PorkChop » Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:51 pm

Matt J wrote:As a former smoker who has worked with addiction counselors, I have a few tips:

1. Set periods of time for quitting. Don't just quit. Quit for a week. Once the week ends, reconsider and set another date. If you make it, reward yourself with something.

2. Don't believe the mind. Your mind will come up with a thousand excuses why you should smoke. Watch it carefully--- you will learn more about how the mind operates quitting with mindfulness than most people do in a lifetime. Every thought that points to smoking is a lie.

:good:

The theory behind #1 had a lot to do with my success, but I just want to add some personal experience.

I never had much luck going cold turkey.
I always had to phase out my dependence, but then I was never really a daily smoker for very long - more an occasional smoker who would fall into bouts of daily smoking.
Not sure if you're a daily smoker, a weekly smoker, a monthly smoker, or a few times a year.
The frequency you're used to will affect how you implement #1.

If you're a daily smoker and you can't easily go a day without cigarettes, the key in the beginning will reducing the amount.
So say if you smoke a pack a day, at first, you should reduce the number of cigarettes smoked each day by 1.
Each week, you would reduce the number by 1 more.
When you can get under about 5~10 a day (1~3 would be ideal), start trying to skip a day.
Each week or each month (depending on your results), add another skip day.
Eventually shoot for only smoking on the weekends.
Once you're there, you're half way home.
Now go back to reducing the amount; whittling it down to 1~3.
When you're down to 1 to 3 on the weekends, you can start skipping weekends - skip 1 weekend, then 2, then 4, then 8.
At that point, you should be able to ask yourself if you really need them anymore.

Just gotta remember 2 things:
1. Don't get discouraged - this is a process, not a light switch. If it was easy, you probably wouldn't have had to ask about it.
2. Don't give up - keep moving forward. You're probably going to trip a couple times. You fall down? Get back up.

Whether you follow this method or go cold-turkey, eventually you're going to have to face your cravings head-on.
Personally, I find that meditation and mantra chanting really help for knocking out any type of craving - whether its food, chocolate, cigarettes, booze, sex, whatever.
You set a new baseline behavior that is not grabbing a smoke, binge-eating, sneaking sweets, drinking, porn, or whatever you find yourself becoming pre-occupied with.
You break the cycle of running to those things for comfort.
You set a new norm that's built around equanimity instead of fighting or giving into the constant pangs of craving.
I think this is the beauty of the anatta teachings - those cravings aren't you and if you can still the mind long enough to get some clarity, you'll see that fact.
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Re: advice on giving up smoking

Postby Nemo » Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:31 pm

Cravings last one to three minutes. Be more than 5 minutes from smokes and you'll be fine.
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Re: advice on giving up smoking

Postby Queequeg » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:24 pm

I smoked for 18 years (EDIT: I just redid the math. It was 23 freaking years. Oy va voy. More years smoking than not. :facepalm:), more or less. There were a few spells, a few months to a year, when I "quit". I've now been "quit" for a year. This "quit" feels permanent. It feels different than the others. The reason is because this time, I really wanted to quit and stay quit.

The fact is, there are things about smoking I enjoy. I enjoyed the pleasure of a smoke and a coffee or beer. I enjoyed the regular moments of solace, of me and my smoke.

What I didn't like was the way it made my breath smell. How my hands smell. How that stench would ruin my clothes. How it blackened my teeth. How my lungs burned if I tried to run. How it tasted like an ashtray sucking those things down. How I knew it was shortening my life. How it was putting me on the road to emphysema like my grandfather. How it caused him to have a stroke, and my grandmother as well who didn't smoke but sucked down second hand smoke for decades. I hated the nervousness and jitteriness and irritability it caused when I hadn't had one, or I contemplated a long flight - I hated the panic at smoking my last smoke before I go to bed and not having one in the morning. I hated the stupid tax that was slapped on that made my smokes $12 a pack.

I decided that I needed to stop being a wimp and whip this monkey once and for all. I decided I did not want to be a bad role model for my son.

Quitting was a mindfulness practice. I made myself mindful of how loathsome smoking is. Instead of the foulness of the body, I contemplated the foulness of smoking. When I smoked, I paid attention to how my pulse sped up. How I flinched at the caustic sensation of smoke on each inhale. How I could actually feel my blood vessels harden. It took a lot of quitting and failing at quitting to become keenly aware of these changes in my body. When it came time to quit, again, I knew there would be a few days to beat the physical addiction - the cravings, the change in consciousness (tobacco was useful for focusing the mind - part of why I tended to smoke more when under deadlines at work - for me, it has a general effect of limiting the scope of the sense field - I don't know how to quite explain it, but I can definitely tell that there is an overall change in my consciousness between smoking and not smoking.) Then I knew there would be the social habits that would need to be changed.

This last time, after about a week, I realized I had not smoked in a week and that I did not even want to. The first thought that popped into my mind at the thought of smoking was how rotten it would make me feel.

That's how I did it, and I don't think I could have done it any other way. I think Buddhist practice, to the extent it will make you intimately knowledgeable about yourself, is a very beneficial way to approach quitting.

Good luck. Just don't quit quitting.
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Re: advice on giving up smoking

Postby duckfiasco » Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:14 pm

Really splendid advice here! :twothumbsup: :sage:

Something I've found helpful in shaking a few addictive behaviors is do NOT make it into some epic moral battle. "I *have* to quit smoking for my own good, for the dharma, etc. etc." or "Smoking is bad and why can't I just realize that" ad nauseam. All that ever did for me was become a choice between righteous feel-bad or sensual pleasure feel-bad. Which do you think wins out? Really, good versus bad is so characteristic of samsara. When I began to see it more as fruitless, a waste of this precious opportunity, things started moving.

There is the third option, as people have suggested: wait and see what happens, with a genuine and energetic curiosity. Maybe you've tried the moralizing and it didn't work. Maybe giving into "just one more" didn't work either. So you have nothing to lose by trying a new approach :) If the craving seems to grow in momentum, it's just a matter of practice to change the "color" of the momentum from "I need..." into "wow, now I really am curious what will happen" or "I hope no one else has to feel this way". It's a very rich kind of energy.

Best of luck. :cheers: :bow:
Namu Amida Butsu
The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
- Sengcan (tr. Suzuki)
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Re: advice on giving up smoking

Postby BrianG » Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:19 am

I have some experience in this matter, so some things I've found useful -

1. Everyone is different in terms of their physical and mental makeup, in regards to nicotine addiction. Smoking is roughly as addictive as heroin. The most important thing - is to quit smoking. In my experience, it isn't necessarily "all mental". Personally, it has been easier for me to quit eating for 24 hours, than to quit smoking for 24 hours.

2. Therefore, you will need to find the approach that will work best for you. If you need a nicotine patch as a crutch, then by all means, use it. I have never been able to quit without a patch, every attempt at going "cold-turkey" just drives me insane. Sometimes it is better to just admit that you are weak, and to use a support. But if you don't need one, then don't use it.

3. Don't drink. Every single time I have fallen off the wagon, alcohol was involved.

Brian
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Re: advice on giving up smoking

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:24 pm

Lots of great advice here, and something that I'm really in the midst of needing. I've been seriously considering quitting smoking now for about a week or two, but haven't yet quite found the inspiration yet. But this thread is something that's inspiring me to do so. :twothumbsup:
"If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing." -Dogen
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