Id like to share with you a personal triumph story that came to me this week. Its about the power of Yoga to change your life. After the latest news report on the dangers of secondhand smoke, I had asked for any tips ex-smokers might be able to share in order to help others ditch the habit. This gentleman was kind enough to send me his story (along with permission to post it), and Im so glad he did. It brought tears to my eyes. Enjoy the inspiration
I had been smoking since around 14 years old. We got suckered in back then, as kids do I suppose. I had tried the regular cigs and could not for the life of me see what the attraction was, they tasted horrible. One day a friend passed me a pack that he assured me tasted like chewing gum, these were menthol cigarettes. He was right, it reminded me of mint or mint flavored gum, what harm could a pack or two or ten of these do me.
This was the beginning of a three decade’s plus long addiction, and to paraphrase Oscar Wilde; Such an unsatisfying addiction, there never was.
I was fifty years old when I finally quit. I was lucky, the time and place was right and this is the most important thing I feel. A few factors and circumstances came together to bring this about, without these it would not have happened.
It was late 2008. I was in India, something of a lost soul after a very bad divorce that had turned a drink habit into a drinking problem. After around two months in that country I had massive a spiritual awakening, a real cliché I know, but that’s why they are clichés after all. I guess you know the one guy thinks he has it all, family, career, the house, the car, the whole thing is that all there is, loses it all in the blink of a tear filled eye, drifts around lost for a few years and turns increasingly to that great pain killer booze and seeing as this is essential a story about nicotine, also leans increasingly heavily on cigarettes, lot of them, like a couple before he gets out of bed in the morning and then throughout the day, including in bed in the night time, falling asleep boozed up, cigarette in hand. Slow suicide.
So there I am in India minding my own business and someone offers me a blessing one day and would you believe it, it turns out it’s my time for this and I promptly leave my body, yes I do and return instantly to Source become all things. I find out it was all an illusion after all, Maya, and before you can say Jesus Christ Superstar, I’ve merged with the universe, in fact I discover, I am the universe and guess what, it’s all Love and its infinite and eternal and seeing as there is no time or space, because it turns out this is also an illusion, eternities not so bad after all and its about as blissful and good as you might imagine, actually its far more than you might imagine , the mind being fairly limited when it comes to these things Well that’s what happened and that’s the truth, now back to the cigarettes.
Not long after this somewhat life changing experience, I headed to the north of the country on the advice of a friend to take a yoga course; you and I know this as Trika yoga or Agama. I signed for the first level, one month intensive yoga. I was still smoking at this point because even finding out you are the universe isn’t enough to break that addiction.
So here’s the factors which came together to separate me from the old tyrant cigarettes. There was only one other smoker on that first level class , so naturally we formed a band of brothers, us against them . You notice how addicts of whatever persuasion stick together but this was short lived ,as after a few days he quit smoking, obviously not a serious smoker thought I. So I was on my own.
Not only was I now on my own, which is a great help not being in a peer group of smokers but I was in a country that was down on smokers in general. In many public areas smoking was not allowed and drew the attention of the police, the criminal cigarette smoker, what a concept.
So already the chips are being stacked against smoking but had not yet reached a critical mass. Now I was doing the yoga and lighting up as soon as I left the hall at the end of the session and having a last puff before the session began in the mornings.
Then one day a technique was introduced, you will know it, Udyhana Banda, basically expelling all the air from the long suffering lungs and holding a void retention, or holding as long as you can with no air, as opposed to holding the breath, this was holding no breath. I managed to maintain this unenviable position for around 2 seconds, before collapsing into hacking, choking, coughing fits, and this really began to tell me something, and on top of this coughing a foul taste was brought up into the mouth akin to licking a used ashtray, Yuk!
So this was a defining moment I feel looking back. This moment had been reached before numerous times throughout my life but had only lasted days before falling back into the trap, usually after taking one drink too many and seeing the will fold and collapse under the cosh of the stupefying drink.
So here was another supporting factor about where I was. I was in a dry town, Rishkesh, North India. I had already gone many days without a drop of booze and I could not remember when the last time in my life this had happened. So one day I decided to cold turkey.