7 rules that helped me successfully quit smoking

Kundalini yoga guru Bijay Anand shares his personal success story of how he quit smoking for good

man handcuffed to cigarettes, smoking habit

I teach Kundalini Yoga. I teach people to love their body. I also help people with addictions—alcohol, smoking, drugs and anything else that they would like to get rid of. I myself lead a pretty healthy lifestyle. My day begins at 4.30am with my sadhana, yoga and meditation, and I sleep before 10pm. I don’t smoke and I don’t drink alcohol [except the occasional red wine that I absolutely love] and I am a vegetarian.

But there was a time not so long ago when life looked very different for me. I loved playing poker and the only time that people in Mumbai like to play that game is ‘late-night-through-the-morning’. As a result, I would have dinner at midnight, go to sleep at 6am, wake up at 1pm, have breakfast at 2pm, lunch at 5pm and basically lived a life as decadent as one can imagine. Then I was diagnosed with arthritis, followed by high cholesterol. The doctor who saw my reports said that with the level of cholesterol that I had, I should have been dead. That was my wake up call. I decided to make some changes in my life.

I had to start by giving up smoking. Even if you eat healthy, sleep on time, exercise and do all the other good things for your health, as soon as you light a cigarette, you deflate your motivation to do all those things and soon you go back to the debauchery. There is an inherent mismatch in detoxifying your body and smoking. It did not make any sense to me. So I decided to kick the butt. It was precisely then that the phrase “Easier said than done” took on a whole new meaning for me.

‘Valid’ reasons to smoke

I realised soon enough that quitting smoking was one of the most difficult things to do. I also read somewhere that it is easier to give up cocaine than to give up smoking. It is just so hard to not ‘light up’. When you’re trying to give up, the kind of excuses your mind makes up for smoking that cigarette are sometimes hilarious and at other times downright pathetic. I’ve listed a few that my fellow smokers will identify with. [I smoked so much and for so long that I still consider myself a member of the smokers club!]

Stressful situations

Any kind of stress is a reason to light up immediately. Stress at home [especially if you’re married], stress at work, stress at the poker table, not to forget the massive stress while you’re on the pot early in the morning and can’t do the job. Happy situations: Exhilaration, great news, reasons to celebrate, winning the lottery… Must smoke, and NOW!

Beautiful locations

How can you be in the countryside, admiring a gorgeous sunset and not have a smoke in your hand? How can you even think of walking along Darling Harbour, breathing in the fresh, clean air of Sydney without a cigarette to relish the moment?

After sex

To prolong the pleasure.

With friends

That’s how you celebrate with your friends, by being one of them. When they all light up, you light up.

Without friends

When you’re lonely, who do you have with you, except your loneliness and your Marlboro Man?

When you’re drinking

How do you enjoy a nice chai or a cappuccino without lighting up? And when you’re having alcohol you need an ashtray, right? Anyone who smokes creates these mountains of blockages. These are like chains that tie us to the habit. Am I about to give you a formula that will break these shackles away and make you give up smoking?

You bet I am.

Don’t be fooled, go for the real thing

With all of the different methods that I have tried in my life I finally found a foolproof one that works like magic. Before I tell you the magic formula, I have to first tell you the other so called magic formulas that did not work.

  • Nicotine patches
  • Electronic cigarettes
  • Hypnosis
  • Self-help books
  • Psychological consultations
  • Punching myself in the stomach and making myself believe that the cigarette that I was about to have was worse than 30 of those punches. [Some clown suggested this and like a desperate monkey I followed even this idea!]

As you’ve probably guessed by now, none of them worked. So this here is the foolproof guide to giving up smoking, coming from someone who used to smoke up to three packs a day.

Rule #1

Bring yourself mentally up to the point where you really want to quit smoking

If you try to give up smoking at a time when you relish each drag you take and every circle you blow out resembles a beautiful painting by Rothko to you, it ain’t gonna happen. I would try to give up smoking, fail and then try again and fail again. What worked for me finally is when I brought myself to a state of mind when I knew that I simply had to quit. I began to hate cigarettes and what they were doing to my body. You need to psyche yourself into hating smoking more than you really do; when you are disgusted by it, that’s when you can undertake the exercise to give it up.

Rule #2

Cold turkey is the only way

There’s so much out there on how to give up smoking. There are programmes that suggest you to reduce your intake, write down your progress and reward yourself for your achievement one day at a time. I tried it and it didn’t work. Not the first time. Not the tenth.

The only style of quitting that works effectively is ‘cold turkey’. Just throw away the pack and the lighter and say “I QUIT”. You may need to buy a fresh pack and a new lighter after an hour, but that’s okay. Out of the 15 times that you say, “I Quit”, only one needs to work out for you. That’s it.

Rule #3

Train your mind to love yourself and accept your body as a temple

This fundamental truth not only forms the backbone of your attempt to give up smoking but is also the basic tenet of all spiritual teachings: ‘Love thyself’. This is the root or the Mool Mantra of the theory of happiness itself. How can you do anything nice for your body if you don’t love yourself? Why would you sacrifice junk food or drinking yourself to liver failure unless you first see God living in your own soul?

This is not only the first step towards giving up smoking but also the first step towards living a life of bliss and joy.

Rule #4

Rectify your lifestyle

Don’t even bother to read ahead if you think that you cannot adhere to this one. You’d be wasting your time.

To start with, you must follow a disciplined lifestyle and timetable. This one is absolutely non-negotiable. You must wake up early and by early I mean latest is 6.30am. Maintain a fixed time for your breakfast and lunch as per your convenience but follow the timing for your dinner and sleep time as per my suggestion. Your dinner must be before 7pm and you must go to bed before 10.30pm. The domino effect of bad habits and bad health emanates from not following this rule completely.

When you sleep late, you wake up late. Your body automatically craves junk food. When you eat junk food, you poison yourself with bad food and drink, and you begin to love the additional toxicity that the nicotine in a cigarette provides.

But the opposite is also true. Good habits and a detox regimen also has a domino effect on you. When you are on a detox, you automatically start to develop a natural dislike for junk food. There came a time in my life that from being a hard core non-vegetarian [wherein I could and did eat anything that once ‘lived’], I went on to becoming a pure vegetarian. My body and soul both rejected any form of meat. By rectifying your lifestyle, you pave the way for a positive mindset that is weary of toxins and craves for a positive outlook towards life.

Rule #5

Flush, flush, flush

The nicotine that is currently in your body must go. It needs to be flushed out. If not, it will keep giving you withdrawal systems.

Drink plain warm water, ginger water, juices, green teas, lemonades with a pinch of organic turmeric added to it. Consume anything else that is organic and healthy and does not come out of a box or a packaged bottle. The other way of flushing toxins is eating loads of fresh organic fruits and steamed vegetables. The more you eat these, the more nicotine you will be able to flush out. The last—my favourite one—is pure ghee, preferably homemade; include it in your diet. What I advise is to have two teaspoons on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. To all those who led you to believe that ghee is fattening and adds to your cholesterol, please tell them [nicely] to shut up.

Rule #6

Mentally prepare yourself to put on some weight

When you give up smoking, you start to actually taste food. You start relishing it. Nicotine can cut down your hunger, so giving it up can increase your appetite. You will start eating more than you used to. Just let it happen. Remember that it is more important to give up smoking at this stage than to look sexy and slim [if you are that].

Rule #7

When you go off it, STAY off it

This is where most smokers goof up. After successfully pushing through the initial 25 days or so, we actually believe we are in total control and allow ourselves a drag or two thinking that we have given up and it cannot lure us back. I once gave up smoking for an entire year before I stumbled upon a night of raucous frenzy. In a state of mindlessness, I ‘allowed’ myself a puff [or maybe it was two]. The next morning I was smoking a pack a day and graduated to my two packs a few days after.

After all the effort that you make to giving up this habit, it is absolutely imperative that you do not give in to a weak moment and fight it like you have fought for nothing else in you entire life.

And now for the good news

When you succeed in giving up smoking, the first thing that you gain is your confidence and your self-respect. You know that you have conquered one of the most ruthless chemicals known to man. You know that you’ve quit an addiction that would have killed you like it has killed millions before. There’s more:

  • You will be able to taste those sumptuous meals you eat—priceless!
  • Your sex-life improves dramatically. I’d imagine this to be one of the most compelling reasons for a lot of men to give up.
  • You glow. The detoxification process clears your skin of toxins and infuses fresh oxygen into your cells, healing them, rejuvenating them and making your skin radiate and shine.
  • You get your life back.

Give it up and experience how it feels to live a complete, healthy and a joyous life full of love, positivity and fulfillment.

This article first appeared in the February 2015 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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