I just got back from a month long trip to Thailand, and although I'd happily swap a packed commuter tube on the Central Line for a sunset beach in Koh PhiPhi right now, I honestly did miss this crazy capital.
One thing I didn't miss at all. One thing that it seems is impossible to avoid on the streets of London, is the smokers. They really are everywhere and having a break away really brought this home for me. After returning to London it didn't take long to feel that all too familiar wave of disgust as the toxic, pernicious carbon monoxide invaded my space again.
I noticed during my daily walk to work I instantly reverted back to the instinctual "avoid the smokers dance" - a sidestep here, a double step there and a bit of moon walking past the gauntlet of the early morning smokers having their nicotine breakfast. Gusto and some seriously flexible dance moves aside, I still failed to avoid the inevitable attack on my senses by what I call the 'unconscious smokers'. And I call them unconscious for a number of reasons.
Firstly, because they are oblivious to anyone else walking the streets of London. The environment that the happy non-smokers inhabit is invaded daily - the pathways, the corners and doorways are all attacked with the delirious ferocity of the blinkered smokers. Just like a hive of bees devouring the nectar of a sweet honeysuckle, the flower doesn't stand a chance.
Secondly, they are unconsciously unaware of (or they adopt just enough ambivalence to) the well documented damage that smoking causes their insides. Not to mention the passive damage they impose on the innocent people just walking by.
And finally onto the most important observation I've made. The act of smoking itself is unconscious. No smoker smokes consciously, they may sometimes appear to actually decide to have a cigarette and they may actively seem to fight for their poison but no smoker truly smokes in a conscious way.
Allow me to shift your perception:
I've been helping good people free themselves, freeing the unconscious players of this old sad lie for 6 years and nothing makes me happier than to witness the transformation. At the start I hear the same statements time and again. "I really enjoy it, that's why I smoke" or simple, but falsely "I just love smoking". I then proceed to ask them to complete some homework, I've asked thousands of my clients to smoke mindfully and consciously between our sessions and not one has ever been able to do it and maintain the statements they made in our initial session.
How to smoke mindfully and consciously (sounds easy right):
You actively focus on the cigarette, looking blankly at a brick wall while ingesting the fumes whilst repeatedly bringing your attention back to the feeling of the toxic fumes going into your lungs again and again. The mind will try to wander to protect you from the discomfort of your body experiencing this distress. You will become aware of - your Increased heart rate, blood pressure and respiration, not to mention your immune system going to war against the aggressive toxins and poisons. You may feel the urge to put it out after a drag or two and in reality you probably never smoke to the end anyway even unconsciously.
Ask yourself, how can you say you love something that you cannot even focus on while you are doing it? You would never say that of anything else that you enjoy!
Here are a couple of examples to demonstrate the difference:
I could be accused of enjoying a glass (or 3) of red wine from time to time, I wouldn't say that I over think the process at all, but I do know what I like. When I arrive home, it might have been a good day, a bad day or just a standard enjoyable day. I proceed to sometimes unconsciously or other times consciously decide that I am going to open a bottle and have some wine. Why? Well, I really enjoy it.
I look at the bottle, I open the top, unscrew the cork. I might smell the cork as I pick up my glass and pour. After I pour, I will stick with my conditioning and probably take in the rich smell. And following that I slowly taste the wine. And, this is the point I really want to make, I taste it. I've been waiting all day for this moment and while I am drinking the wine I am really mindful of how it tastes. I may even comment on how delicious it is and I am consciously aware throughout of the majesty of the experience.
Eating a steak is exactly the same for me, playing golf is exactly the same for me. I don't care who is around, I stop talking to whom ever might be there and I consciously re-focus all my attention on the enjoyable experience at hand. These things that I proclaim to enjoy, well I savour and attempt to squeeze every enjoyable piece for the duration. YOU SIMPLY CANNOT DO THAT WITH A CIGARETTE. It's impossible!!
Now I am not saying that its impossible to smoke a cigarette consciously or even two of them back to back. I am just saying that it is impossible to do it and truly say that you enjoyed the experience. You don't like smoking and you never have!
You probably started to smoke years ago when the tangible benefits of fitting in, feeling older or cooler where the only reasons to force feed yourself that poison. Honestly ask yourself now - are those benefits still there? Do you smoke now to fit in or feel older and seriously do you still think it is cool.
I challenge any smoker to try consciously smoking and if you think I'm telling tall tales and you can easily smoke with a smile on your face, focusing and enjoying the inner caress of that old toxic lie well I would love to meet you and witness it first hand, because that meeting would be a first for me.