Yoga instead of smoking

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Everybody has a certain set of habits. Some of them affect us positively, others can only ruin our health and mood. How can yoga help us quit smoking? What does yoga recommend?

When a person makes a choice to start smoking once, it will be difficult to change it. There is a joke credited to the famous writer Mark Twain: “It’s easy to quit smoking — I’ve done it hundreds of times.”

Usually an inidual does not start smoking spontaneously; he or she even doesn’t know how to smoke! Many implicit reasons are pushing us to this act.

We know from yoga axiomatics that our «Higher self» have an absolute freedom: nobody and nothing have the right to restrict us. By nature we have an aspiration to express ourselves through the realization of our will.  When we do some form of actions, we implement free will. No one but us is responsible for these actions. If we demonstrate our freedom and restrict the freedom of other people, then we should be ready for consequences.

Smoking is nothing but an associative link, from the position of yoga.

The associative links appear when we attribute the quality of one thing or phenomenon to another. There is a process of substitution of concepts. We associate ourselves with objects or phenomena removed from us. When we establish a connection, we identify ourselves with our desires, likes and dislikes.

The associative link is neither good nor bad. Depending on the result it may be appropriate or inappropriate. If the associative link makes us freer, happier  and benefits us, then such link is considered appropriate. If it is the other way around and it enslaves us, makes us unhappy and harms us or our relatives and friends then this is an inappropriate associative link.

How to get rid of inappropriate associative link?

Direct volitional method

At the beginning, the associative link is not etched in the structure of our minds. At this moment it is not so hard to break it. It will be enough to express a desire, show willpower and act. We need to find out the causes of inappropriate associative link using the analysis and try to eliminate them.

Avoidance method

If we continue smoking, the associative link gets deeper. From this moment our mood depends on whether we had a smoke or not. In this case, our desire may be not enough to quit smoking. The method of avoiding communication with the group of smoking friends as well as not visiting those places where they smoke could help us to quit smoking.

Replacement method

This method is to strengthen the positive and to ignore the negative. For example, we can accustom ourselves to do yoga at the moments when we want to have a smoke.  If we do it for a while, we will notice that yoga has better effect on our emotional condition than smoking. It is all about the pursuit of pleasure. If we get more pleasure from something useful, we will be able to refuse the previous, which is less strong and not useful. If we see evidence of the effectiveness of such a mechanism, we will build a new good habit to replace the old one, the bad one.

Substitution method

The most powerful and quick method is a substitution of one associative link with another at the level of mind. However, in this case, the mind must be strong and developed enough and capable of concentration. Using this method we concentrate on one thing and the mind generates the necessary images and reactions, replacing the unnecessary. Thus, we forget about our habit, and «switch the mind from one to another».

The integrated use of all Yoga methods of working with associative links can help to get rid of negative habits.

The conscious integrated use of the above-mentioned  yoga methods in combination with the classical types of yoga will help to avoid difficulties in the process of “elimination” of the inappropriate associative link. After that, the inappropriate habit will be defeated; the same methods will help to consolidate the result qualitatively, preventing the occurrence of the secondary addiction.

It is worth saying a few words about how to develop a positive associative link. It is very simple – you need to repeat the action as often as possible. The main thing is not to stop, even if there was a failure or interruption; you have to continue again and again! Yoga says: “You have achieved success in practice, if you have a habit to practice regularly».

Yoga, as a comprehensive system of self-exploration allows us to work effectively with our associative connections. If we listen to ourselves carefully and analyze our manifestations, we will be able to find the true causes of negative trends in our actions and eliminate them. If we work hard on it  and if we are honest with ourselves, with the help of yoga, we can get rid of the negative habits forever.

Be healthy, practice Yoga and acquire positive habits!

Author: Olga Belous

Picture: Olga Belous

Editors: Mirra, Kerigona

Project curator: Kerigona

Translators Olga Staeglazova, Teya Sweet. Alex Vijaya