Mindfulness is a Buddhist meditation method. Right or correct mindfulness is the 7th element of the noble eightfold path. You can use mindfulness to quit smoking cigarettes.
Mindfulness can be defined as maintaining a calm awareness of the sensations and consciousness your experience in the present moment.
So if, for example, you are walking along a path be mindful of the sensation of the path on the souls of your feet, be mindful of the feeling in your legs of the muscles moving and contracting to necessitate the walking motion, or be mindful of your breathing as you’re walking.
Mindfulness is increasingly being used in psychology to help with a variety of conditions including anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and drug addiction.
I’ve read a few books by Osho, the Indian mystic, guru, and spiritual teacher who had (and has) quite a following worldwide. Osho has something very interesting to say about mindfulness and quitting cigarette smoking.
Osho didn’t see smoking as a problem, rather as a symptom of another problem – beit stress or something else – it was the stress that was the problem and, if you cure that, you will stop smoking without effort.
He also cautioned against trying to stop smoking as the effort against the habit would be counter-productive. It would be like pruning a tree instead of cutting down the tree at the roots. If you prune a tree it will only grow back thicker and bushier next year, whereas if you cut it down at the root, it’ll never grow back.
Any habit that becomes a force, a dominating force over you, is a sin. One should live more in freedom. One should be able to do things not according to habits but according to the situations. Life is continuously changing – it is a flux – and habits are stagnant. The more you are surrounded by habits, the more you are closed to life.
He also counselled to not be worried about your smoking habit. Don’t be ashamed of yourself or embarrassed. This only increases the stress and the general ill feeling that will make you want to smoke – not the other way round.
Osho’s answer was to smoke! But to smoke mindfully! The Zen Buddhists have a famous tea ceremony in which the process of making and drinking tea is practiced mindfully – concentrating and aware on the process throughout the ceremony so no thought or distraction comes into the mind.
So, if you can have a tea ceremony, why not have a cigarette smoking ceremony!
Very slowly take a cigarette out – as slowly as you can, because only if you take it very slowly will you be aware. Don’t do it in a mechanical way, as you always do. Then tap the cigarette on the packet very slowly and for as long as you want. There is no hurry. Then take the lighter… Then start smoking very slowly
All the time, while you take the cigarette out, light it and smoke it be aware of exactly what you are doing at that present moment. Do let one part of the activity of smoking be through the habit. Because mindfulness and meditation teaches you of the difference between an action and a habit.
If you smoke in this way, you will find you will smoke less and less. And then, one day, you will decide not to smoke at all.