On Quitting Smoking

This question comes from Janice through gmail:

Do you have any advice or suggestions for someone (me) who is going through addiction withdrawal? I am in nicotine withdraw and it is not pretty. I am receiving acupuncture therapy and it helps more than someone would believe. I am attempting to "sit with" the craving episodes but the cravings seem relentless at this point. I cannot fight this. I will not win. Breathing helps. I would appreciate any suggestions. Thank you, Janice

Thank you for the question, Janice.

First I want to say that I tried replying to you through email, but it was rejected by your domain repeatedly for some reason. We may have these problems in the future, and if we do, you may want to contact me through Twitter if it keeps happening.

Thanks for your message...

I smoked for about 10 years or so, but I doubt the story of how I quit would be very useful to you. When I stopped, it was probably around 1999, and it took nothing more than a serious decision to quit. For me, it was as if I turned off a light switch. It was off.

I can clearly remember only one time when I wanted a cigarette, meaning, had a serious craving for one, and that was probably a few weeks after I stopped. But really, the only difficulty I discovered was I felt something was missing from between my fingers.

It was strange...I didn't need a cigarette, but I needed something between my fingers, haha. I would carry a pen and twiddle it from time to time...

Shinjyuku Park

Withdrawal from quitting smoking is really a minor thing. You probably do not believe that, as you may be within that feeling right now. But the urge, the physical urge itself, is rather minor. The problem arises from your thoughts of the urges, and not necessarily the urge itself.

That is not to diminish the urge, because that is very real. But what you want to sit with is your thinking of the urge, and how it arises. If you can see the urge as it is, without your commentary, it will lose its power.

Cravings are not relentless; only your thought is relentless. You may not believe any of this, but that is not necessary anyway. You are doing the right thing looking within, but you may trust yourself too much as the judge of observation.

I cannot fight this. I will not win.

Then you will not. It is that simple.

Thank you for your time, Janice. If you have any more questions, or if you'd just like to give an update in the near future, please don't hesitate.



If any of you have advice for Janice on how you quit smoking, please post it here in the comments. I am interested in hearing those stories, as well.  ;)