September 30, 2009

Can it be Mindful to Smoke?

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.

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