Smoking as Meditation

Everyone has heard about the dangers of smoking by now I am sure.  What about the benefits though?

To be clear, I’m not a smoker at all actually, but I have been around plenty and just have a wandering mind so I get ideas of this sort.

I think that smoking (cigarettes are the image I have in mind, but other drugs probably too) besides just getting the person high in some form or another can have positive benefits; not in the scientific, chemical way, I’m not worried about what causes cancer, what kills it, addictive substances and all of that.  I am interested in the way that people use smoking: as a form of meditation.  Meditation has its own set of benefits that one can look up although many have probably already heard of those benefits too.

Stop and think about it though for a minute, imagine you’re a smoker if you aren’t one already.  You are going to light up a cigarette.  You have to stop what you are doing probably or partially stop anyway, reach into your bag or pockets and get the cigarettes and lighter out, pull a single cigarette out of the carton and light it.

Getting this single cigarette lit in and of itself is a complicated process the person must know their environment in order to accomplish the task first of all, turning to avoid the wind, covering the lighter from rain, making sure nothing explosive is too close among other environmental aspects.  In meditation-speak this is called being present, or preparing to be present.  Aside from the environment you also have to stop and focus on getting that little bit of flame to it’s proper place inches in front of your face in order to get the cigarette lit and not burning yourself, tell me that isn’t a fairly complicated task.  Next, you have the lighter up to the cigarette and you have to take a nice big breathe in to get it properly lit-up and exhale…..feeling better already huh? Now repeat, deep breathe in…. and out….. and in…. out… do this for about five minutes and you will find that you are less stressed and “in the moment.” Don’t forget you’re smoking and to put the butt out before you get burned, that’s what you call a built-in timer.

That last part sounded like meditation for me, I don’t know about you.

Now that you’ve calmed down and gotten yourself more present let’s look at how society also seems to support this idea.  1).  The standard “cool-kid” idea has this meditation, being-present built into the image.  A cool kid is “cool” i.e. relaxed, seemingly happy and unperturbed. In a black jacket leaning against a wall, or at least that was roughly the image that I had when I was younger. 2). In movies what is a go-to line for needing to get out of a stressful situation or argument? “I need a cigarette” or something similar, maybe that is just the movies I watched that weren’t animated but still.  3). In these same movies, ever notice how in order to show extreme stress the person would go to try to light the cigarette and be so shaken they cannot find the lighter or something or their hands are so shaky they cannot hold the lighter up to their face or get it going or something along those lines? The last example gets us out of Hollywood.

4). Walk around a city that has smoking banned indoors and you will find the smokers out on the sidewalk standing around with a cigarette in hand.  Some just silently watching the world pass-by, some deep in thought, others talking to each other.  Notice how it is entirely okay for them to be on the sidewalk like that yet if you don’t have a cigarette in your hand there is a sense that the person is lazy, a loiterer, confused, lost or in some other way not supposed to be there or allowed to be standing on the side-walk for no reason.  Seriously, the only people on a side-walk who are allowed to not be on the way to some other point in North America are smokers, think about it.  There are other things that are beneficial in a way too with smoking. 1). These people smoking on the street start conversations with each other and 2). Its a way to get that idiot who won’t stop talking to shut-up! Not to mention smoking makes people take breaks which makes them more effective at work as studies have shown for breaks.

This first one is what I notice in university, students who are smoking and don’t know each other can start conversations with each other on neutral ground.  There is a sort of community that arises from being a member of the group called “smokers.” It’s built in networking! Built. In. Networking.  That golden rule of business and life.

Number two: when smoking it is also entirely okay for their to be a silence it seems.  Most of the time people are incredibly uncomfortable with silences in a conversation and start shifting around and looking for ways out or ways to get talking going again, yet you see people with cigarettes, it suddenly becomes entirely okay for them to be silent.  Breathe in.. breathe out… in silence, entirely acceptable in smoking circles.  This also means when you have that person who won’t ever stop talking, give them a cigarette, they have to stop talking for a few moments at least and you can avoid responding for a few more moments before they start rolling again.

Finally, this is the last one.  That addiction forces people to go take smoke-breaks.  Look up ways to be more productive in work and you know what the lists say? Take breaks, you know what you have to do when you have to get up, walk outside and smoke a cigarette? Take a break.  Not only is it a simple break, it is meditation as earlier mentioned.  Thus making you calmer and more productive.

I’ve almost convinced myself to pick-up the habit just for these benefits.  But I am aware of the risks associated with it and I do like my lungs, so instead of puffing them up full of smoke all of the time, maybe we should begin to allow everyone to have some alone time, a break or two and a touch of meditation.  Who knows, this may even help people quit smoking too.

Alright smokers, go ahead and light up now, I won’t prevent you any longer.

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