We know that smoking is not good for our health. The monkey, on the other hand, knows that smoking is excellent for getting what the monkey wants. What does the monkey want? The monkey wants to escape painful emotions. The cigarette becomes a patience substitutes. We don’t have the patience to experience our emotions, we have something to repress our emotions and bring us to back emotional equilibrium and that is smoking. Emotional equilibrium of emotionless robots? Instead of patiently allowing the waves of our emotions ebb and flow, we force ourselves to not feel anything at all. We will need to be patient when our emotions become too much for the monkey to handle the patience substitute is removed. Now we become be more understanding when the monkey starts to throw fits and tantrums, it doesn’t have patience. The monkey that is accustomed to being numb is suddenly expected to remain calm when emotional storms are raging. It’s asking a toddler to cook dinner. The taming of the monkey takes place here. We allow the monkey to taste the emotions slowly and gradually before we numb them. Those emotions, with time, will not be unbearable for the monkey anymore and eventually the monkey will be strong enough to move through them. We are move towards rationality.
When we abstain from the first cigarette of the day and the emotions start to build up, we will need patience to withstand the storming emotions. When the calm after the storm comes along, it will be a deep clam that we have not experienced in a long time. For some of us it will be a calm that we have not experienced before. All the feelings of discomfort we experience during abstinence from smoking are just our minds adjusting to a different state of being. A state of being without the constant addition of nerve damaging chemicals. The equilibrium has been disturbed and the body signals this to the mind, it is up to mind to determine if the stubbed toe is a disaster requiring leg amputation or just a stubbed toe recruiting a loud scream and some ice cream. Eventually the body will adjust to this new state of equilibrium, the new state of being free. Adjusting to freedom requires more energy than anything else. Patience and the knowledge that there is relief when the time limit is up will carry us through to the finish line. We know that the discomfort of not smoking will end when we reach the end of the time limit, we grow our patience muscles and then we expand the time limit.
When we feel that time is passing slowly we need to be patient. When we have managed a few minutes without that first cigarette and we think we are now free, we need to be patient. When we think that waiting three hours is way too much for us to handle and we feel the overwhelming urge to smoke right now, we need to be patient. Remembering that the cigarette we crave now will be ours soon enough. We are not quitting for all eternity, at least not with the time limit method, not now. All we are doing is waiting a little longer for our next fix, the bar isn’t open yet so we need to wait a little longer for that beer, the salary is not yet in our bank account so we need to wait a little longer before we hit the slot machine. We are choosing to abstain and that choice is what defines patience. Choosing momentary discomfort for a future reward. We are choosing to not smoke right now, we are growing in our patience, we are watching reality shift and we allow the fear to move through our bodies and we patiently allow our old selves to die so we can rise a new. Patience is a virtue that can be cultivated and that is what the time limit method helps us do. We are allowing the old, fearful, impatient self to die and we are replacing it with a calm, loving, courageous, patient self. Patience is to feel fear and release it, not to act on it, to feel anger and not take it out on others, especially our loved ones.
Patience is very important for taming the monkey. The monkey doesn’t understand what is going on when we start to change our habits. The monkey anchors its sense of security around our habits. When we abstain from smoking the monkey panics as it wonders why the fix is not forthcoming, why the routine is broken. We can’t smoke for years and suddenly stop, expecting the monkey to be accepting and understanding. The monkey will panic and it will do anything it can to get the fix, even dive in the garbage after the 20-pack we just threw away. Before we even know it, we are inhaling deeper than we used to. The monkey wins because the monkey’s need for escape is stronger and more urgent in the here and now, than our want for good long term health. The monkey starts to feel the withdrawals and panics, it musters all its cunning to get the fix. We need to comfort the monkey long enough for the time limit to pass and reward it when the time limit is up. We are training the monkey to go longer and longer without the fix. The monkey is losing what feels as its lifeline. The cigarette’s hold on the monkey is powerful, and we need to reassure the monkey. The cigarette is the dam holding back the avalanche of painful emotions, the monkey is scared and needs to feel safe. We need to reward the monkey regularly for the progress it makes and we need to find things and activities that are pleasurable as rewards. The cigarette will be reward enough in the beginning of our journey and as we progress we need to find something else, especially when smoking no longer feels like a reward. In time smoking will start to feel like a chore and a burden. We need something that feels good and is rewarding.
In the early days of the Time Limit Method, the reward for patience will be the cigarette and it will be more than enough. With time and patience our perspective will change and the reward of smoking will lose its luster, we will see the cigarette in a different, less flattering light. The reward for patience is in the transformation taking place. We are being transformed from wild monkeys into evolved human beings. The reward for patience is the gift of choice, no other animal will know the gift of choice because they lack imagination to picture life beyond choice. That cigarette we simply could not wait to smoke, no longer has an overwhelming hold on us, we might as well go without it, or with it, we can choose. It is not as big of a deal as it used to be. We can choose to focus on what matters, here and now. We don’t need to clog our minds with thoughts of the future or the past, all we need to focus on here and now, and live it. The past has already passed and the future is coming whether we like it or not, all we can do is live life now. Worry not about tomorrow’s sorrows because when time comes we will be wiser and more patient to realize that sorrow will pass and happiness comes again.
How to do the 1:4:2 breathing exercise:
- Breath in for the count of 1
- Hold the breath for the count of 2
- Breath out for the count of 2