21 days to freedom

Recently I have been doing a lot of work with mindfulness. I figure if it can help me with other areas of my life, why not with smoking.
I “accidentally” stumbled across an App that uses mindfulness as a way to quit….

My first attempt at quitting, I used an unconventional method. I did very well for 6 months. I had no defense against stress and smoked. The second time, Patches did nothing to help me. I do not chew gum and the thought of a lozenge sickens me. I do not need or want another medication.
Everything I have seen in this app so far makes complete sense.  I learned right away that nicotine leaves your system rather quickly. So nicotine replacement makes no sense.  Why not just decrease the number of cigarettes you smoke day by day. This is possible with help. Other methods do not teach me about the habit of smoking and how to rid myself of it.

On day 1 I kept track of how many times I smoked and found it to be a lot lower than expected. I have done a lot in the last few years to decrease the amount I smoke and apparently it was working. Now to rid myself of them completely.
In just one day of using this App, I already learned things about myself and smoking. I always thought I smoked because I was addicted to them and it was a habit. The first time I smoked mindfully, I realized it gives the illusion of calming me. I concentrated on every aspect of smoking that cigarette. From taking it out of the pack, to picking up the lighter, to holding the butt in my fingers, to smelling it. When I put the cigarette in my mouth I was instantly calm. I never even lit it yet. This told me that it wasn’t the nicotine that was calming me. It had to be something else.

I do not want to suffocate to death. That is my future if I do not quit. I believe using mindfulness to stop is my best option.  Not only am I learning how to use mindfulness to quit, I have incredible online support via this App.

I tried hard to meet today’s (day 2) goal of mindfully smoking every cigarette. I found this to be a bit difficult at times. I would start my cigarette concentrating on the cigarette, then notice I had moved into autopilot. I would then as non judgmentally as I could, bring my focus back to the actual cigarette.

On Day 3. I started the day like all others. With a coffee and a cigarette. This time I also brought my phone with me so I could see what was in store for me today. After debating with myself, I put my cigarette out so I could follow along with the body scan exercise. I found it to be difficult to focus on the scan knowing that I had a cigarette a few inches from me waiting to be smoked.

Having the rest of my first cigarette of the day waiting for me definitely affected my ability to concentrate on the exercise.  I will do things different next time.

I learned If I have to make a phone call I smoke. I learned I can crave a cigarette within minutes of just having smoked one. I crave a cigarette before I finish dinner. The RAIN exercise will come in very handy in these situations as well.

I picked a quit date as suggested. 3 weeks from when I started using this App. At first I thought 3 weeks wasn’t going to be long enough for me. I had doubts that I would be ready. Now I am thinking it may be too long.

Yesterday I used the RAIN exercise a lot. I went from 10 cigarettes to 7. The number of cigarettes I am technically allowed is at 13.

I did get a suggestion that I only smoke 6 today. That freaked me out a bit. Only 6? How will that be possible?

Today’s goal is to use RAIN each time I crave a cigarette. So far RAIN has been helpful. So if I use RAIN every time I crave a cigarette and it works as well as it has, then technically I should not smoke at all today. That is when I started thinking too much again. If I don’t use RAIN when I crave a smoke, I do not meet today’s goal and I fail. If I do use RAIN all day and I am successful then I won’t smoke. I want to smoke. I still get to smoke. I get 6 today.

I don’t want to use RAIN and smoke anyway. That will scream “it doesn’t work” at my addiction. So do I use RAIN each time I crave and let it fail so I can smoke or do I not use RAIN every time and not meet today’s goal?

I wrote, “Now I wonder. Am I thinking too much or am I just more aware of things?”

online response “Not thinking too much. This is what happens when we start to wake up to our lives.”

I am having trouble distinguishing between craving a cigarette and thinking it is time for one. For example when I first woke up I thought it was time for a cigarette. I wasn’t craving one.  I just thought I was supposed to smoke one. Instead of smoking I chose to access the App and see what was up for today. I used the RAIN exercise even though I was still not feeling a craving. I did not smoke. 10 minutes later I felt a craving so I used RAIN again. I still did not smoke.

DESTROYING the habit.

A trigger hit me and hit me hard.. I had cigarette and lighter in hand. I stopped.  I took some breaths, focused on feeling, easily recognized that I wanted a smoke, accepted it as well.

I put the lighter and cigarette down and proceeded to go back inside. I did not smoke.

About 45 minutes later, the phone rang. I grabbed it and immediately walked to the door to go outside and smoke. Obviously on autopilot. I stopped. This is the habit they have mentioned.  This is a trigger for me.

I could see the last cigarette I didn’t smoke and my lighter waiting for me outside.

I walked away from the door.

I do not need to smoke while on the phone.

I finished my conversation without a smoke.

For those who do not understand, This a Big Deal!!!!

I spent time on my deck without smoking just to try to start breaking the connection that outside/deck equals smoke. It worked out well as I spent my time listening to a pebble meditation that I “accidentally” came across.

I need to take the word perfection and all variations of the word out of my vocabulary.  This is called mindfulness PRACTICE, NOT PERFECTION.

I have done just that. My original quit date was 11/13 now it is 11/5. But if I meet todays goal, which was yesterdays goal and the goal the day before that, I should remain smoke free today. Being smoke free today is not my goal. Using RAIN whenever a craving comes up is. If using RAIN is successful, I should not smoke.

Do I really need an anticipated date to quit? The first one seemed too soon at first. Then it seemed too far away, so I changed it.  No where does it say I have to smoke until my quit day.  Although my mind/addiction/habit is telling me what great idea that would be.

The program I used to quit was a 21 day program.  You had 21 days to decrease the number of cigarettes you smoked.  You had 21 days to learn how to successfully get through cravings that WILL happen.  I quit in 7 days, but I continued to follow the program to the end. It has been 6 years since my last cigarette.  It has not been easy.  At times it has been hard.  As long as I remember that this can be done and that I am doing it, I will succeed.  

This Can Be Done!!!!

last butt

My last butt

 
 

An Unexpected Path

Hello Folks.  I have been bad.  “Wicked, wicked bad”

roadblock2My plan/path/road was to take the blogging201 course.  I think I completed day 1 maybe day 2.  I encountered a roadblock in the form of physical illness.  Actually there had been a couple of illness crap things going on with me.  While I took the time to care for myself, my blog and many other things were put on the back burner. At times, I have had this blog pop up in my brain, but until today I was unmotivated to write.

“What’s been going on you ask?”

“Shhhh, Don’t tell anyone But, One thing happened which led to another thing then another and another. The result being I started writing elsewhere.    And now I am here.”

“Where is here?”

“On my couch, writing this.”

“Seriously????”

“Yes, seriously.”

laughingfreeI am taking part in a research study that involves using a mindfulness App to help people quit smoking.  When this opportunity arose, I went with it.  Part of the process of quitting is writing down your experiences with this App.  Writing ovah there led to motivation to write ovah here.  Hmmmm. Sharing my experience with mindfulness would not be a bad purpose for this blog. I am still looking for one of those.

A year ago I had an experience that felt almost life changing. I will warn you it is a bit long if you choose to read it.  Looking back, I can see that the experience gave me the opportunity to be more aware of what was going on with me.  To be present. To be in the moment.  Not worrying about something in my future that might never happen.  Not ruminating over something I did or did not do in the past. My soul focus was on whether I could get from the couch to the bathroom without help. I was forced to look at right now and nothing else. I was forced to focus on my body and what I could or could not do. This experience was the start of a journey I did not expect to be on.  This experience led me to My Mindfulness Adventure.

This new awareness led me to a new therapist.  He shall now be known as Dennis.  Dennis led me to a true introduction to what mindfulness is and what it can do.  Learning about it and practicing a bit led me to talk about it.  Talking about it led to a friend sharing a link with me.  That link led me to TheMindfulnessSummit.  I am presently calling this summit my crash course in Mindfulness.  From it I am learning exactly what I need to learn to continue my exploration of Mindfulness.  I am becoming aware (there’s that word again) of how practicing mindfulness can make a difference in my life.  My eyes are opening to the possibilities of what practicing mindfulness can do for anyone who gives it a chance.

roadblockfreedomFor instance, I did not know it could help prevent a relapse of depression.  There are things called Mindful parenting. Mindfulness for business. It can be used to help deal with pain.  I did not know there was such a thing as mindful eating.  Which is a tad odd as I recently made a decision to lose some weight.  I was actually losing weight by using mindful eating techniques that I didn’t even know existed.  The extent of my experience with mindfulness consisted of using it to deal with an anxiety thing.

Back to the MindfulnessSummit.  One of the lectures I listened to led me to a local Mindfulness Center that I did not know existed.  That centers website led me to ask questions about becoming part of a research study. That study was being conducted to see how successful a particular App was at using mindfulness to help people quit smoking.  Odd, I have been thinking a lot about how much I really need to make a final attempt at quitting.  Patches, gum, medication, lozenges – none of that appealed to me.   This appealed to me.  Is all of this one rather large coincidence?  It doesn’t matter as it all came together to lead me where I need to be.  quitsmoking

The first time I quit smoking was a bit unconventional.  The last should be as well.            .