Paying Attention to Your Smoking

Arjun Kumar

August 6, 2020

What do you really like about smoking cigarettes or roll-ups? I mean really physically enjoy? Is it the strong taste, or the distinct smell, the feel of it in your fingers or perhaps the sound of the crackle when you pull in?

If the answers to these questions don’t easily come to mind, or at all, don’t worry - you’re not alone!

Thinking back to the first pull of a cigarette: disgusting, horrible taste and lots of coughing – but we persevere, begin to like them, the pleasurable feeling of the nicotine takes over and we become addicted to it, forming a habit. Usually when we continue with a habit that we know is harmful to us, we’re not actually paying attention to the actual habit itself i.e. the act of smoking the cigarette - our bodies are too busy enjoying the nicotine to remember the actual taste and smell for what it is, remember that first pull?? - so perhaps it's worth investigating the next time we decide to smoke (may as well given it's an expensive hobby 🙂). Why don’t you try this exercise the next time you feel like lighting up a cigarette. R.A.I.N stands for Recognise, Allow, Investigate, Note; it was designed by a chap called Judson Brewer, a neuro-scientist (understanding the workings of brains), mindfulness expert from University of Massachusetts and author ofThe Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love — Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits. Here is how it works:

Recognise: notice the craving is present in your body, even speak it aloud ‘oh here comes the craving again’  

Allow (accept): avoid resisting or judging yourself, just allow the craving to be there,  

Investigate: bring some curiosity to what is going on, why do I need to smoke now? What’s going in on in my environment now that’s triggering this? As the craving gets stronger, you can see how it makes you feel in the body. Dropping into the body can help to detach from the thoughts about smoking, there is something going on underneath the thoughts about smoking. This can help lead us to know if something else needs attention – could it be you’re hungry, frustrated about that parking ticket or bored? It’s not always that a cigarette is needed.  

Note: mentally note or write down anything at all you experience, what emotions you experience, just one word labelling what you feel in the moment.

Check out a brief interview with Brewer here:  

Remaining aware of how we are feeling when a craving arises and the physical sensations in the body during an urge to smoke, can help with a few things...

Firstly, understanding how our current situation is impacting us physically or emotionally - how does my current situation make me feel? What impact is it having on me? Is it creating tension for me...what am I thinking about right now? Do I genuinely want to smoke a cigarette now or are my circumstances dictating my urges? 

Secondly, creating some space between trigger and response. If a stressful environment, such as crying children at home or looming deadlines at work, are triggers to smoke - the short pause to investigate how we’re feeling can create a sufficient gap in between the stressor i.e. looming deadlines and the response i.e. lighting the cigarette. In this space we’ve created gives us more authority over our next action, re-establishing ourselves underneath the stressful thoughts and feelings, we can make a decision in a calmer, rationale manner. Perhaps it's not a cigarette that we truly want, but rather to feel the tension of the stressful environment lifted… 

The R.A.I.N exercise is an effective experiment in helping you become the scientist of your own mind on the path of quitting for good!

Give our Quit Coaches a shout for behavioural change support and Nicotine Replacement Therapy (and other pharmacotherapy) advise when you’re ready to take the Challenge: |