How I transformed my cigarette habit

I started smoking cigarettes when I was 14.  I thoroughly enjoyed this ritual and the social aspects of smoking, but I longed to be free from my habitual use.

Since 2002, I’ve been on the path of self-healing when I committed to running my first marathon. That is when yoga came into my life. I began paying attention to my central nervous system, how I breathed, notice when I’m rushing and when I’m present, observed my alignment when I’m working.  So, I came face-to-face with my habits and addictions and gained some insights as to why I smoked in the first place.

Below are some strategies that I found helpful in transforming my cigarette habit:

1. Accept yourself as a smoker first. Don’t beat yourself up about smoking, completely own it.

2. Be respectful of the environment. I used to be one of those people who carelessly threw cigarette butts out the car window.  Once I became more conscious that these butts end up in the oceans and other bodies of water through our sewer systems, I started carrying a half empty soda bottle as an ashtray.   Yes, it was gross but the butts didn’t end up in the streets either.  I have since picked up butts at the beach as a way to offer back to the Earth.  Mind your butts!

3. Make small changes. a)  If you smoke anywhere inside, especially your car, change that first.  Commit to yourself to smoke only in well-ventilated outdoor spaces.  Get your car detailed and really commit to yourself to keep your car smoke-free.  b) If you smoke in your house, smoke only outside.  Clean your house on the inside, and really lighten up accumulated tobacco smoke.

4. Smoking as a prayer. Some cultures view smoking as a prayer, that the smoke carries our wishes to Heaven. Offer a peace prayer for the Earth as you exhale.

5. Exercise.  Once you’re comfortable with these changes, introduce 15-30 minutes of running, powerwalking or swimming.  Sore from exercise? Stretch and release tension.  Try some yoga postures.

6. Hygiene. Get your teeth cleaned. Indulge in a facial.

7. Increase lung capacity.  Use the diaphragm muscles to bring air to the lower lungs,.where oxygen exchange is most efficient,

8.  Try a breath coach. You can gain awareness of your breathing patterns – where the breath is free and open and where it’s restricted.  In my first session with my transformational breath coach Kathleen, I discovered I wasn’t breathing into my upper chest region.  Turns out that I’m not the only one – the average person uses only 15% of lung capacity!  I was able to trace this breathing pattern back to my childhood when I used to suppress my tears and unnaturally restrict tear flow.  When doing this, I pinched off my breath and this pattern has been embedded in my cells.  I believe that this was subconsciously at the root of my smoking habit.    During my sessions, those tears came out, and I felt very high and euphoric from open and full respiratory breathing.  I notice that the length and quality of my breath continues to improve.