The reason why we start with low time limits and build up from there is to give the monkey time to adapt to being deprived of the smoking habit. It is not fair to call this deprivation because we do have a choice to smoke or not. The monkey will feel deprived because it does not see the whole picture just like a child will feel deprived of love when mommy is doing the dishes. When we choose to abstain for a few minutes from smoking we nullify the deprivation, we will notice growth, and we will notice how the monkey is being tamed. The time unit we choose is a reflection of our honest estimate of how long we can go without smoking and at the same time not going too far and end up punishing ourselves. The time we choose is measure of time the monkey can abstain from the smoking habit without panicking. We may want to experiment and there is no shame in not achieving the time-limits we set for ourselves. There is no failure, only learning opportunities, and as long as we are honest with ourselves we are safe. We want to slowly over the passage of days expand the time limit to encompass one or several craving episodes. We want to allow the monkey to experience the overwhelming urge without giving in, this is why we start with low time limit. A perfect scenario would be where the craving episode passes just a few moments before the time limit ends. We resist the urge only to be rewarded with a cigarettes a few moments later. We experience the passing of the craving episode and we light up in celebration. We want to learn to surf the wave that is the craving episode and come out on the other side stronger. As we build up our tolerance for the craving episode, (Remember how we built up our lungs tolerance over time for tar?) we build up our tolerance for the emotions that the wave of craving washes up from the ocean that is our subconscious. Slowly painful emotions become tolerable emotions and we can move through them with ease. The very same emotions that we were, in terrified horror, running away from, now become something like angry kittens trying to bite our fingers, what we thought to be painful and ugly is now cute and harmless. Sindbad has crossed the river and it is time to symbolically kill the old man, time to tame the monkey.
We can start with a simple five minutes delay for the first cigarette of the first day on Monday, and work our way slowly, by adding five more minutes for each day, towards 20 minutes on Friday. Assuming that on one of those days the will to resist just wasn’t there and we did light up before the time limit was up. Over the course of five days (a work week), we have progressed four times and we had one learning opportunity. Playing the numbers game, in one week we have 80% progression and 20% development. On Friday we can honestly choose either to celebrate the successes or punish ourselves for the failures. This is very important to observe in ourselves. Do we choose reward or punishment and why? We want to observe ourselves and decide whether we are becoming the person we want to be and celebrate. If we find ourselves becoming someone else then we need to put effort into slowly changing ourselves. With enough time and effort we can change the world, before that we need to put time and effort into changing our map of the world, changing ourselves. We need to find the truth about ourselves and accept ourselves before we can change ourselves. What if the entire week was all learning opportunities? Then we have been learning the whole week, and we celebrate our newfound knowledge, and we can use that knowledge and put it into progress in the following week. What if the entire week was all progress? Then, we pat ourselves on the back, celebrate our success, and continue the progress into the following week.