When I entered carrying my travel bag, it was already foggy with cigarette smoke which was accentuated with a tired yellow bulb glowing in the middle of the room. Immediately the smoke watered my eyes and led me to a coughing spell. My course mate, then, offered me the poison stick and I accepted it readily to try it out. Amongst the three of us, I was a non – smoker. And I became a smoker from that instance for next 11 years. During NDA(National Defence Academy) days, smoking is a sin. If one gets caught, then only God can save him. Our course was out on a three day tour to some training establishment, when I first got introduced to smoking. It was sometime in 2001 when I started smoking and I continued with full vigor till June 2012.
Though in Academy, we were quite fit and athletic, I could feel the difference smoking did to me in that three day visit. Our human body is a wonderful machine and gets adjusted to the nonsense we feed it day in and day out. In NDA, my consumption was limited to only a couple of cigarettes in a week. I thought I was not addicted. But I was wrong. I was hooked on big time. I realised it whenever I used to be home on term breaks. And I kept smoking with vengeance and once got caught in IMA(Indian Military Academy). I paid for it heavily by earning extra punishment runs in the evening in battle gear and many more things. But it did not deter me from not smoking. Instead I became more careful in not getting caught.
I was young and my body could cope up despite of the poison. I am a fitness freak and had a self devised philosophy that the amount of exercise I do is more than enough to negate the ill effects of smoking. I was wrong. As years passed by, I became a heavy smoker i.e smoking around 3-4 packs a day. I had hand shivering, increased migraine attacks, dull skin texture, dark circles etc etc. Though I was fit but smoking was destroying me slowly. My scuba diving instructor once told me that I am going to, maybe, invent a technique to even smoke underwater!
I had tried to quit smoking at two separate occasions but failed miserably. My wife detested me whenever I smoked. My colleague, a Sikh officer, and I used to share a common office in Bikaner. He got tired of telling me to not smoke and finally said that he’s going to die of lung cancer instead of me. I was ashamed but I was into the terrible clutches of this deadly drug. The Sikh officer told me once that the song ‘Hotel California’ by Eagles is for the guys like me and those who are into heavier stuff. In the last stanza, the song goes like “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”
So, when I got transferred to Hyderabad, I thought that enough of the nicotine slavery. I am going to kick this habit in the butt. I am going to be a free man and lead a healthy, smoke free life, at least for the sake of my wife and kid. Then I stumbled upon this really great book of Allen Carr, Easyway to Stop Smoking. This book delivered what it claimed. I stopped the moment I finished the book. It’s now more than 3 years that I am smoke free. Though I have stumbled a few times during this time but I have recovered quickly with the help of this “magic book”. The book works in the following way –
1. First and foremost, the author removes the fear of staying smoke free. Nicotine withdrawal is not painful. Infact, the times our mind says it needs a smoke is just psychological. The book works by removing the fear of not smoking.
2. Secondly, techniques of leaving smoking like the will power method, nicotine patches, chewing gums, e – cigarettes, gradual reduction etc are all bogus. They don’t work as they don’t remove the fear and sooner or later, the person returns on his knees to this dreadful habit.
3. Visualizing the end result i.e being healthy, richer, cleaner help in boosting the confidence to kick this habit. The power of visualization is very strong.
4. The book says there is nothing like only one drag or one cigarette. Only one drag is enough to start the whole chain of smoking again and again.
5. It says that have pity on people you see smoking. Think how they are throwing their lives away and how they are inhaling the cancerous smoke. Sympathize with them and try to help them get free.
6. Whenever the withdrawal pang hits you, think that the poison is leaving the body. It makes the withdrawal phase enjoyable.
7. Lastly, does a smoker let his kids smoke if he says that he enjoys the stick? Smoking is not pleasurable. It kills the pleasure and makes the person more miserable.
After kicking this habit, within weeks I could feel the difference. I was a new man. I, even, decided to train for a marathon and ran it in August 2012. Thereafter, till recently I have run an ultramarathon of 100km distance and there is no stopping now. And this is all because I have stopped smoking.
It is such a pleasure not to be controlled by nicotine. I am 33 years old now but I look much younger and fitter than my counterparts. Leave smoking. You will feel like you have escaped from a prison. And read the book. It is an amazing one. Magic for me.
Till then stay fit and keep running.
PS – I apologize for having gone missing for a long time. I just got busy. My apologies!