Wednesday, March 15, 2006

How to Quit Smoking FOR GOOD

Quit Smoking with the Spiritual Treatment
If you are among the fortunate few who have never smoked tobacco, smoking still concerns you. Statistics about second-hand smoke (inhaling a smokers residue smoke from surrounding environment) are as alarming as the dire warnings about smoking itself. Many buildings and establishments have banned smoking for this very reason. Many people will not allow smoking in their houses. Unpleasant smoke smell gets into the fabrics and materials of the house and lingers.

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In the days when my children were little, I asked my own mother to go outside to smoke when she was visiting my home. She understood and complied. She was one of the people who took up smoking as an adult, was able to quit smoking later in life with no difficulty. Others are not so fortunate; many begin smoking in childhood–used to be in the teen years, now statistics state it’s even earlier–and have a great deal of difficulty stopping. Some find it impossible to quit no matter how much they would like to.
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Besides being hard on the body, smoking is also hard on the wallet. The cost of cigarettes has jumped, as has the cost of “remedies” to help people stop smoking. Other costs include medical bills for health problems such as bronchitis, allergies, asthma and more serious ailments such as emphysema, lung cancer, and heart disease. Other costs may include unexpected accidents a person has when smoking while they do other tasks that demand more focused attention. An example would be driving at freeway speeds while lighting up, driving with one hand, or even dropping a cigarette; and something such as falling asleep in a chair with a lighted cigarette and starting a fire.
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The American Council of Science and Health has declared that cigarette smoking is now the leading cause of preventable death in the United States–attributing a half a million deaths a year to smoking or one in every five deaths
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Statistics on smokers obtained from Quit Smoking Hub (www.quitsmokinghub.com) indicate that in the United States alone, 26 million men and about 23 million women smoke cigarettes. When broken down into ethnic groups, a little over a fourth of all men in each ethnic group smoke (24 to 25%) while slightly fewer women in ethnic groups smoke (21% to 24%) with Asian women and Hispanic women smoking less (7% and 12% respectively.) American Indian and Alaskan Natives smoking nearly twice as much (both men and women at 41%.)
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Statistics also reveal that once a person begins smoking the chances of ever quitting completely are not good and indicate a high rate of relapse; in fact, a third of the half-million American smokers in this country attempt to quit each year. Only an estimated 10% of those are successful.
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While there is still uncertainty if smoking is an addiction, a habit or a compulsion, the major way of quitting has been to depend on an individual’s motivation and willpower. Those who tried quitting smoking and experienced debilitating withdrawal symptoms are more inclined to believe it is a physical addiction. Others find that the emotional pull is impossible to deal with. Compulsive smokers are often resigned to continue smoking for life.
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The products, remedies and techniques to aid smokers who wish to quit are not strictly scientifically developed and tested. Few studies and statistics are known on the effectiveness of these tools and aids since, in the majority of cases, the success of their use relies on the individual and his strength of will in applying the chosen method.
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Statistics and warnings of health risks may or may not have any bearing on whether a person starts smoking, tries to quit smoking, or actually quits. There are people who enjoy smoking and see nothing dangerous or “wrong” with it. There are occasional smokers who may have a cigar, for instance, on special occasions. There are those who smoke mindlessly in reaction to mental and emotional pressures. There are smokers who couldn’t care less about statistics and health issues, and smokers who feel terribly pressured by the statistics. Some feel pressured by other people or their own inner consciousness about smoking. Nonetheless, they remain smokers.
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I, like many others, experimented with smoking as a youngster before the statistics of health issues were know and publicized. I can still recall my first puff. My friend Sherri and I swiped a cigarette from one of my Mom’s packs and snuck down to the basement to light it up. We each took a few puffs and began to feel nauseated and dizzy. Sherri decided to go home and go to bed. I was so sick I couldn’t get out of bed the next day to attend school. However, this didn’t stop me from trying cigarettes again later in my teen years. I smoked because the other kids smoked, I wanted to fit in, “look cool” and feel “grown-up” (in those days most kids observed at least one parent who smoked and sometimes grandparents who were smokers.) In those days the cost of a pack of cigarettes was only 35cents and cigarette machines were everywhere accessible. Most teens that experimented with smoking didn’t smoke openly, we snuck cigarettes in private, sharing the cost of a pack, and even sharing an individual cigarette. It was the days, too, before designated smoking areas outside the high schools. One could be expelled for smoking at school.
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I didn’t continue smoking in high school. I came home from school one afternoon and found a newspaper article on the table about teenage smoking which my Mom had circled in red. Not a word was ever mentioned aloud, but it was powerful feedback that I took to heart. Fortunately, I became active in a youth group at our community church and surrounded myself with non-smoking friends.
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However, I started smoking again in college and into my twenties when I became a wife and mother. I was a compulsive smoker so my husband left me a pile of ten loose cigarettes in the morning which I would chain-smoke before I got busy with housework. I saved one cigarette to smoke just before he arrived home from work. I’d greet him at the door enthusiastically while I’d reach for the pack of cigarettes he always carried in his front shirt pocket.
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I quit several times over the years, but I always picked up the smoking habit again. Maybe not as a compulsive smoker, I became more open about it, especially around other smoking adults.
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During my mid-twenties, I began to attend Bible Study groups in my neighborhood. These were people who found organized religion lacking for various reasons. Our self-ordained minister, Bob Devilbus, lead a Bible study and prayer group in our neighborhood on a weekly basis. During one group meeting, I attended a prayer group in which Rev. Bob helped a young woman named Nancy quit smoking.
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As was Rev. Bob’s custom when he prayed for someone, he and Nancy stood in the middle of a circle of seated friends. Nancy had requested the prayer to help her quit smoking because she had been unable to do so on her own.
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Bob took Nancy through a series of imaginative steps to bring her to a place where she could put down cigarettes and not have to pick them up again. He asked her to close her eyes and reach back in her memory to the moment she picked up her very first cigarette. He then asked her to describe what had been going on in her life and her feelings at the time she lit that first cigarette. Nancy remembered she had just been dumped by a boyfriend and felt that “the rug had been pulled out from under her”, in other words, she felt betrayed and heartbroken.
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Bob then encouraged Nancy to actually feel these emotions in present day, the feelings she had avoided by turning to smoking. Through sobbing and tears, Nancy expressed and then came to the end of her feelings of abandonment, disappointment, and disillusionment.
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Bob then had Nancy imagine that Jesus was standing with her, holding her hand, healing the hurt. When the prayer session was over Nancy was over the old, hidden hurt, and no longer desired a cigarette. She was able to stop smoking without any difficulty or withdrawal symptoms.
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Years later when I started smoking again and came to the point when I was ready to stop I wanted to stop again, I remembered this process I’d witnessed Rev. Bob leading Nancy through.
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I decided to try prayer therapy for myself by working this technique alone. I sat quietly alone in my home, searched my memory for the time I had picked up smoking again. I determined it had to do with some feelings of sadness that I felt I couldn’t cope with. * I smoked instead of crying. I was pacifying my sadness by not allowing myself to experience these feelings. When I was ready, I allowed myself to cry and feel the deep sadness and talked my way through the feelings in prayer. The emotions began to disperse and I was left with a refreshed feeling of hope and power. I expressed my gratitude in prayer. I stopped smoking in that moment and did not experience any withdrawal symptoms or cravings. I was free from smoking for good. It has been over 30 years now, and I have not turned to cigarettes again.
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I would like to share with you the steps you can use with the prayer approach to quitting smoking just as Bob had done with Nancy, and I had done through my own prayer work.
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• Sit quietly and pray silently or offer an affirmation for the success of your endeavor.
• Reach back in your memory (I found that a meditative state is almost like self-hypnotism.) If you are unable to recall the first incident of smoking, ask in prayer it be revealed to you. If nothing comes, wait until you have an indication to attempt this process again, perhaps at a time when you feel spiritually inspired and especially grateful and full of love. Love is a great healer. I also found that journaling about my life often leads me to revelations about myself that I hadn’t consciously been aware of previously, so you may have luck refreshing your memory with journaling.
• When you have recalled the first time you picked up the cigarette, you will recognize the feelings that caused you to pacify or energize yourself with a cigarette, so go into that memory with all your senses and open your heart and mind to the emotions of that memory. Then, asking in prayer for guidance, help or protection, go right ahead and feel those feelings. They may crying, or anger, or fear, but remind yourself that these feelings are in the past, that you have moved on, and nothing in this session can really hurt you. As you continue, describe the feelings and thoughts behind them to yourself. You may address them to your Higher Power, voice them to yourself aloud, or write on a sheet of paper they pass through you. At some point, you will reach a blank in which nothing more will come.
• Instead of reaching for a cigarette to quiet the emotion that you’ve uncovered, imagine that your spiritual guide–your guardian angel or the Christ, Holy Spirit, or Divine Mother as you prefer--is with you, holding your hand and know that you are not facing the challenge of quitting alone.
• Pray in your own style: short or long, personal or general. I find that thanking God is a way to release something, in this way I can accept my highest good from any situation even seemingly “bad” ones. You may have some favorite Bible quotations that apply, “...in all things give thanks” or “all things work together for good.” Accept your healing by believing that what you have asked in prayer is done, feeling the thanks and gratitude that it is the truth for you now.
• Release is the final step of prayer. Release sets you free from the temptation to pick up the “fight” again. If the process is not complete and you find yourself in a struggle with craving, smoking or withdrawal, feel free to repeat this process until it feels complete. You may find there was more than one reason you turned to smoking, so a series of releases for each set of emotions may be beneficial.

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*My critiquer said I should tell why I was so sad and started smoking again. I will here, I had just found out my ex-husband had been fooling around on me. I was crushed. However, it was a long time ago, and the poor man died a few years ago--at 57!!! He started smoking when he was 7 years old. Sad but true. I'm happily married to a never-smoker now for 18 years. YAY. And I haven't had a smoke since the time I used this method. Over 30 years ago. Whoa. So it works! Sandy

1 comment:

Anya said...

This is GREAT, Sandy! I have a dear friend who just can't quit. Maybe I can help him now. I was honestly feeling quite helpless, doing nothing for him. Thank you for your post.
See you at dear Di's group.
Lots of love
~ Anya