The Religious Experience of the Smoking Ritual

Quitting is painful, must smoke to relieve the pain of quitting.

We are going to need a whole lot of patience and we will experience a moderate amount of existential agony, so let us strap on our patience belt and put on our patience hat and hold on tight as we explore reality as we once knew it and how it is changing as we speak. Second to love, patience is the highest virtue in all world religions and that is for good reason, as we shall explore. The less we are able to escape agony the more painful the agony is. It is not so difficult to quit smoking because of  nicotine addiction. The agony of painful emotions waiting to surface when the rug of nicotine they are stuffed under is removed make it difficult. Intense emotions simply shut down our internal clock and our perception of time is turned upside down. Pain slows down our perception of time, while joy speeds up our perception of time. To paraphrase Einstein: when we put our hand on a hot stove for a moment, it feels like eternity. We spend a few hours making love to a loved one and it feels like there is no time or space and afterwards it feels like it all didn’t last long enough. This is a reflection of the monkey’s obsession with pain, or rather the avoidance of pain. The monkey will go to extreme lengths to avoid pain that it will disregard pleasure. If the pleasure is on the other side of pain, like the pleasure of being strong is on the other side of the pain of lifting weights, the monkey will not lift the weights and avoid the the pain. the pleasure of strength is lost while avoiding the pain of exercise. Pain is the body’s signal to the brain that the familiar equilibrium has been disturbed. The pain of stubbing our toe on the table is very intense and subsides after a few minutes. The equilibrium of free movement has been disturbed by an object that has stopped the toe from free movement. The pain serves to reinforce the habit of being careful, the monkey is learning.

The religious experience of the smoking ritual calms the monkey and momentarily relieves emotional agony, the monkey is learning to cope. Take away the smoking ritual and the monkey will get uncomfortable, take away the smoking ritual cold turkey and the monkey will go crazy. Cigarette smoking is supremely efficient at managing emotions because it represses emotions for them to not be felt in the now, for a while. The monkey learns to suppress painful emotions with cigarettes. It’s a sad side effect that pleasurable emotions get suppressed as well. The monkey, without thinking, sacrifices pleasure on the altar of avoiding pain. When the monkey feels sad, it represses the feeling with a cigarette, when it feels anger it represses the anger with a cigarette. When the monkey feels stress, it depresses the stress with a cigarette. The reflex of suppression is triggered by feelings. When the monkey feels, the monkey suppresses. Goodbye bad emotions, goodbye good emotions, goodbye all emotions. Slowly the habit of repressing emotions is being ingrained in the subconscious mind. When the monkey feels pleasurable emotions, the habit kicks in and the emotional repression ritual is triggered. When we stop smoking we take away from the monkey the most efficient tool it knows for emotional management, and that is the reason why it is so difficult to quit smoking. We take away from the monkey the only source of relief and we force it to cope. The monkey can’t reason and the only solution it can find is to smoke again. This solution is so effective that the monkey will still cling on to it and remember it fondly, even years after we quit smoking.

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