Yoga and the Art of Smoking

Even bad habits are windows into authentic self

We all know smoking is unhealthy, but even bad habits can give you a window into your authentic self.

Even bad habits are windows into authentic self

There’s lots of leg room on the spring resolution bandwagon these days. Yes, most of us have, indeed, fallen off. That’s because self-denial blows. Yet even while spitting gravel from our tumble, we berate ourselves: “I didn’t try hard enough.”

Interesting logic — do more of what didn’t work.

We live in a society of disconnection. I see folks at parties texting friends instead of enjoying themselves in the present. We live far away from our roots, rarely checking in with family, only to feel deep regret with the inevitable arrival of a parent’s death. We eat packaged food, virtual representations of the real thing, and wonder why we are fat and feel sluggish.

You get the point.

In an attempt to get more done and feel better about ourselves, we’ve forgotten how to listen to our authentic voice. So when we finally decide to get healthy, we do what others tell us to do: quit smoking, do this new diet, follow that fitness program. In the words of Mark Twain, “Be careful about reading health books. You might die of a misprint.”

To all those climbing out of the ditch of low opacity will power, I present this mind bender: eat what you want! Suck on as many cigarettes as you like! Revel in self-indulgence! But do so mindfully.

Pay attention to the quickening sense of anticipation in your body as you light up. Witness your inhale, the pause at the top of your breath, and the release, the offering back of your exhale. Take each drag with deep attention, experiencing the sensations and emotions within. I dare you. I double dare you to keep smoking this way.

Yoga is a practice of connection and union. The practice isn’t just poses on a mat. When you recognize the connection between your anger toward your husband and your feelings of unworthiness, you are practicing yoga. When you make the connection between your mother’s phone calls and the ice cream binges, you are practicing yoga. Each time you receive a breath with complete mindfulness, this is yoga.

Charles Eisenstein in The Yoga of Eating says it perfectly, “…the appropriate use of will power is to remember ourselves, to bring the light of awareness into situations where we feel out of touch with ourselves.”

So I say to you, oh nicotine yogi, everything, even that so called bad habit, is a window into your authentic self. M

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