Three steps to mindful smoking

October 29, 2013
Photo copyright Rob DeWitt.
Photo copyright Rob DeWitt.
Yesterday I wrote about using mindfulness to deal with the craving for tobacco. By coincidence, an old friend, Sagaracitta, has recently published an article on the same topic. It’s a long article, but it contains this handy suggestion for smoking with mindfulness (which I’ve slightly edited).

Before smoking

  • Scan through your body. Make a note of how you are feeling. Then contact your breath.
  • Without altering your breath, just be aware of three full cycles of your breathing.
  • Look at your cigarette packet. Read any warning labels. Just be aware of it.
  • Be aware of one full cycle of your breath. Notice any feelings that are arising.
  • Pick up the
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Is your meditation smoking?

October 28, 2013

nuns smoking

When I was teaching meditation at the University of Montana I had a student called Connie who was very concerned about her smoking habit. In my youth I sometimes used to smoke roll-ups at parties and I sometimes even bought tobacco so I could make my own and not be cadging from other people all the time, but I never got addicted and so I had no experience I could share about giving up the evil weed. But I do encourage people to be mindful, and so I suggested that she really pay attention to the sensations and mental patterns that arose each time she was smoking a cigarette. It seemed like a long-shot, but … Read more »

Eight Step Recovery

October 7, 2013

Eight Step RecoveryEight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings to Overcome Addiction, by Valerie Mason-John and Dr Paramabandhu Groves

‘Blending Mindfulness-Based Addiction Recovery with traditional Buddhist teachings and personal stories, the authors give us a wise and compassionate approach to recovery from the range of addictions. This comprehensive approach will be a valuable tool for addicts and addiction professionals alike.’
Kevin Griffin, author of One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps

Foreword written by Gabor Maté
Publication date 2014

The Eight Steps

Step One: accepting that this human life will bring suffering
Step Two: seeing how we create extra suffering in our lives
Step Three: embracing impermanence to shows … Read more »

International recovery day

September 2, 2013

DharmachakraSeptember 8th is International Recovery Day. Every day is a recovery day for me as I wholeheartedly go for refuge to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. The more I can place these jewels at the centre of my life, the more I walk the Noble Eightfold path that the Buddhas taught as a way out of our misery.

This path is a way to live our life that will bear the fruits of stillness, simplicity and contentment.

Perhaps choose to focus on one of the stages of the path each week throughout September and October.

detox your heart

For a free sample epub chapter of Detox Your Heart and a sample from Vimalasara's online course on

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Powerless over our thoughts

May 6, 2013

Inner Workings of the Human Mind

“For many, negative thinking is a habit, which over time, becomes an addiction… A lot of people suffer from this disease because negative thinking is addictive to each of the Big Three — the mind, the body, and the emotions. If one doesn’t get you, the others are waiting in the wings.” – Peter McWilliams, American self help author.

‘We admitted we were powerless over (addiction) — that our lives had become unmanageable.’ This is step one in the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous and all other twelve-step programs that exist including ALANON – which is a twelve-step group for families of alcoholics.

This is a poignant step for recovery – admitting that we are … Read more »

What are our screens doing to us?

March 9, 2013

Watch this video. And ask others to watch it.

Of course in a sense our screens are doing no more to us than presenting us with sensory input, or opportunities for sensory input. And so the question is more “what are we doing with our screens,” or even “what are we losing while we are attending to the input from our screens.”

In my case, one of the significant things I’m losing is the quality and quantity of my sleep. I stay up too late reading. I always (thanks to the Zite and Pocket apps) have plenty of thought-provoking articles queued up, ready to read. As a consequence I end up being chronically sleep-deprived. I’m … Read more »

Stepping out of obsessive thinking

October 27, 2012

I’d gone into therapy during my sophomore year in college, and remember the day I brought up my current prime-time fixation: how to stop binge eating. No matter how committed I felt to my newest diet plan, I kept blowing it each day, and mercilessly judged myself for being out of control. When I wasn’t obsessing on how I might concoct a stricter, more dramatic weight-loss program, I was getting caught up in food cravings.

My therapist listened quietly for a while, and then asked a question that has stayed with me ever since: “When you are obsessing about eating, what are you feeling in your body?” As my attention shifted, I immediately noticed the … Read more »

Looking for the silver lining of our dysfunction

October 23, 2012
“A mess in process”
One of the indisputable realities about being human is that we all have weaknesses. No one escapes this.

Some of us are able to acknowledge these less attractive aspects without being unduly fazed. Others tend to cultivate strategies to help hide the cracks. Yet others convince themselves that their weaknesses are inherent aberrations, with this view then becoming a rationale for indulging in aberrant behaviour. It is the last of these views that I tend to work with in addiction.

Some of us convince ourselves that we are such a waste of space that really, we should commit ourselves to a life of substance-induced mayhem or simply rid the rest of … Read more »

From drama to Dharma

August 27, 2012

I come from a long line of drama queens. My family could create drama out of going to the supermarket. They also drank a lot which enhanced this tendency.

Let’s face it, many of us who have staggered about in the realm of addictive or blow-your-mind substances, have a predisposition towards catastrophizing. Something in us enjoys creating volcanic eruptions out of molehills. Even many of us who have heroically extricated ourselves from substance misuse or abuse have failed to let go the accompanying tendency to see the world in terms of flash crashes, trench warfare, bubonic plague, and other extreme events.

Even though we may be consciously inclined towards the Middle Path and serenity, our … Read more »

The Second Noble Truth

May 7, 2012

When I first read the second truth, I had goose bumps, because I knew my life was heading in the direction of suffering. All the choices in my life were on the path of suffering, and all the things I was doing in my life too, kept me on the path of suffering.  At age fourteen I had chosen to live on the streets. I had gone off the rails. Eighteen months with my biological mother from the ages of eleven to twelve and a half had taught me to self medicate. No adult could tell me what to do. I was going to take complete control of my life. And so I had made … Read more »