Can it be Mindful to Smoke?

Via Waylon Lewis
on Sep 30, 2009
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Of course not, we yoga LOHAS organic Ayurveda-lovin’ types say. And yet, smoking is an ancient tradition in many parts of the world. Think peace pipe. So can it be mindful to smoke, if smoking helps to focus on deep breaths? There’s something to be said for the fact that millions find it to be relaxing, and de-stressing.

For years, growing up in the Buddhist tradition (where, at least in American, many sangha members smoked), I’d have

brown, sugar-papered, long, filternless, slow-smoking Nat Sherman

or two or four a day. As a matter of fact, it’s on duty as a Kasung, atop a long hill overlooking a Buddhist Seminary in 1992 in the light-twinkling mountain valley of Shambhala Mountain Center that I first enjoyed a Sherman in its red and white old school box. The moment felt uplifted, noble, timelessly sad…it was a nice moment that became something of a sacred ritual.

Typically, however, I had one or even half a day (they’re natural, so you can re-light ’em and they don’t stink of singed chemicals). I’d only have more than one when I was drinking and partying, and it luckily never became much of a habit—whenever I got a cold, I quit.

A year or so ago, I stopped smoking entirely. I’m glad. It’s bad for me.

Still, I’m not sure it’s necessarily an un-mindful practice. I don’t know that this is a black and white situation.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


10 Responses to “Can it be Mindful to Smoke?”

  1. Tyson Speer I don't think so, but I do it anyways.

    Natasha Delgado-Speer tyson and i have a photo of trungpa rinpoche smoking. so… ? moderation might be mindful enough.

    Waylon Lewis Good point. As Oscar Wilde said, "Allll things in moderation, including moderation."

  2. nickydagostino says:

    Chogyam Trungpa said he quit smoking the moment he lit one without noticing.

  3. Aliza Ess says:

    Thanks for this article. I agree, smoking is always bad for your health, but it can be an uplifting experience if used in the right way (and in moderation.)

    I like to roll my own cigarettes, preferably with American Spirit flax papers. That way there are no added chemicals, and there is no waste from the filter.

    I've found that a recycled Altoids tin makes a great little case for two pre-rolled cigarettes and a lighter. That way you moderate your cigarette intake, which is harder to do if you have a whole pack at your disposal.

  4. …maybe pranayama in place of smoking? If indeed it's coz of the deep, mindful breaths smoking brought you. As an ex-smoker myself, I find pranyama helps. But I'm also orally fixated and find myself chewing on the edges of pens too. Gross, but hey, whatever it takes I guess.

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  6. Bobby Sawey says:

    Yeahhhhhhh this is an interesting one for me.

    I don't get addicted to cigarettes in the same way I think others might.

    Last year I realllllllly loved smoking for many of the days, and then sometime around December 20th I stopped and lost complete interest — for now and I think a while, it's nice to know what other things in life are like so removing smoking makes a lot of room.

    I did have days last year where I became agitated if I hadn't smoked.. if this was the case, and I noticed, I wouldn't smoke for the rest of the day and maybe the week so I could work through some personal stuff. Desire for a smoke, for me, has been a nice reflection tool to find out where I'm trying to whimp out in life and not tackle things head on. For example, if I was nervous for a date, I might get the itch for a smoke for a brief moment, but then I put the pack away and spent some time relaxing and reflecting and getting my creative romantic inspiration moving.

    Smoking in my opinion is self limiting. When I was smoking last year, I noticed that if I went for a run, I probably wasn't going to have a cig that day, my lungs were open and refreshed. It was nice to do it for the time, but I didn't find myself interested in the progressive negative health effects of doing the practice over time.

    I also think it is very short sighted to assume a person who is smoking is in some sort of bad health or worse off in some way than you are =)

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