I began smoking tobacco as a way to clear my head, to find peace and serenity after a long day. Then it began to permeate more of my life and I began smoking throughout the day, before work, before class, before starting homework, and after eating to aide with digestion. What I liked about smoking was that it would silence my mind. There was a calmness and depth that was created by having a completely clear headspace. I was connected back to my environment, back to the nothingness through which I would settle back into my soul and feel again. When I am back in that spaciousness, it is okay to feel because there’s no emotion attached to it. I am reintroduced to a world without a whirlwind of thoughts and meaninglessness. I’m whole again.
Regardless, I know that this is not the right thing for my body and spirit, that I need to find something that centers me without carcinogens. Something that promotes my health and welfare because that’s what I was seeking all along.
So I turned to my yoga practice that I had been neglecting for over a year now. But I know that the transition will come with time, and that hating myself for not arriving at my goal will only keeping me farther from achieving it.
Becoming a smoker taught me that sometimes we make wrong decisions because we don’t know how to cultivate personal growth in a healthy way. Sometimes we need to be pushed to act when we don’t know how to, when we don’t feel ready, or don’t have the energy to. And so it’s okay to seek pleasure and comfort in things that aren’t necessarily “ideal” because the real Growth happens when we start to feel pleasure and comfort on a regular basis throughout the day. I know that I need to lose some weight as well to regain the strength to be able to hold myself in poses, and so I’ve been eating better and less, and going back to the gym. I’m slowly but surely finding ways to improve my overall lifestyle, and that is helping me get to a better place.
Yoga means “to yoke.” So in order to truly have a daily yoga practice, I have to be accepting of the idea of being yoked to something. Addiction has helped me see how easy it is to get hooked on something and need it each and every day in order to feel whole. I have been dealing with issues around commitment (aren’t we all!) and having a daily practice of smoking has shown me that it’s okay to schedule something every day. It’s okay to let things change your life. That’s a yoga lesson- being willing to let something permeate your life and change it, sometimes completely, and not being afraid of what those changes bring, and what they expel from your life.
In Carlos Castaneda’s Tales of Power, the sorcerer don Juan tells Carlos that he mustn’t change too fast when new knowledge comes into his life. This is how seekers become derailed and cease to fulfill the path to sorcery on their own. When a seeker experiences a cataclysmic moment, they go from one extreme (the craze of their present state, their current erratic mind) to the other extreme (indifference about life, no longer in awe of the path and the magic that arises), and it breaks them without allowing the messages to be integrated into the soul and psyche. I felt this about yoga, and that’s why I stopped; it was too much for me to be confronted by these emotional/physiological/psychological/spiritual changes because they were constantly burning me out, exploding my energy, and keeping me from settling into peace and serenity as they are meant to.
So now that I know peace and serenity, I am willing to encounter the joy of yoga through a balanced practice. I am opening myself up to change, without being afraid of the consequences, but also understanding that I shouldn’t necessarily jump in immediately and drop everything, because I will be burnt out and turn away completely again. Making a bad decision is like entangling oneself in a rope. But hating the rope and hating ourselves as we untangle isn’t going to get us to freedom faster. Instead it flusters the mind and makes us give up hope that we can ever truly be free. If we arrive at the disentanglement, we will still be entangled in our own rage and we cannot truly be free. We will entangle ourselves again in something that perpetuates more rage until we learn to no longer respond in anger. My pathway to disentanglement is yoga, the rope is smoking. And I mustn’t judge the process, or expect it to go faster. I must simply untie and untie and untie with love and understanding and one day I will get to the end of that rope.
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