Let me begin by saying off the bat that this post is about my story of finding my own truth about the yogic practice of Sankalpa. And the habit (or rather an addiction) I am using to illustrate my point here is that of smoking.
It must be clear by now that I was addicted to smoking. How I became addicted is not very important, as most human beings get addicted in a subtle and gradual way. When someone smokes his first experimental cigarette, not in their wildest dream, they are aware that they will regret this decision one day. There should be a little doubt that nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and if you still have a doubt, try searching the following keywords in your favourite search engine:
“Top 5 most addictive drugs known to mankind”
You will be amazed to see that not a single list will omit nicotine.
So, having been smoking cigarettes for a couple of years, it had dawned upon me that I am addicted to them. It was not that I wanted to smoke, but rather I had to smoke. This is the stepping stone of breaking any addictive behaviour, to realize that you are addicted. So many human beings go through their entire lives without the awareness that they are even addicted. This is so because they have a constant supply of the drug. Only when you try to quit it feels almost impossible to do, and you start craving cigarettes all the time. So, the next logical thing to do is to use willpower to resist the cravings and wait for a safe period until the cravings go.
Here comes the yogic practice of Sankalpa. I first read it in the book by Om Swami titled “A Million Thoughts”. There is a complete chapter dedicated to the practice of sankalpa. So, the key is that you aim to not smoke for a period of just six weeks. After that, you decide whether you want to continue or go a little easy in your Sankalpa. Also, if you breach your practice even once, you need to restart. Again, there is a warning that if you let the sankalpa go without a determined and monumental effort, keeping the Sankalpa the next time becomes increasingly difficult. These are only the key ideas from that chapter. There is also a blog post by Om Swami on os.me and a dedicated video on YouTube describing this practice.
So I started my journey with this Sankalpa of not to smoke for the next six weeks no matter what. But as you may be aware by now that I would have inadvertently failed. In fact, I failed many times. So there was something key I was missing in the practice, that was sure. And that key to unlock the treasure of this beautiful practice of Sankalpa was FEAR. Or rather REMOVAL OF FEAR. And I got this key from a book titled “An Easy Way To Stop Smoking” by Allen Carr. The main idea in his book is the removal of fear of failure. Apart from that, it coincides entirely with the practice of Sankalpa.
Once having my fear removed by reading the entire book and taking a solemn vow never to smoke again, it just worked. As of today, I am a non-smoker, and indeed I would require tremendous willpower if someone asks me to smoke. And the excellent news is that it was ridiculously easy to quit once I knew the magic solution. It is no magic, but it is so easy that it feels like magic. Throughout my quit smoking journey, I always believed that it is extremely difficult to quit. But for a person who doesn’t know swimming, it is not only difficult to swim but almost impossible. Similarly, without knowing the perfect way to quit smoking, I believe it is not only difficult but impossible to quit. And I just want to mention an important fact at this moment that I went from ten a day to zero, and ever since am a happy non-smoker.The two most important things which worked for me is the removal of fear and then taking a Sankalpa.
What Om Swami meant was that it would take around forty-two days for the old neural pathways to break. And it was around that time that I had a revelation that I was not even thinking about smoking. It had completely left my brain. But here again, I will agree with Allen that there is no need to count the number of smoke-free days. That means you are actually waiting until you fail. He says that once you have escaped from prison would you count the days of freedom. No right! Escaping from the trap of Nicotine is no less than escaping from prison. I have the first-hand experience of this. The entire process of quitting turned into the most exciting period of my life. I didn’t start my journey with a feeling of doom and gloom but with the happiness and excitement of being awake from the worst nightmare.
I end my post here. But before I stop typing, I insist every smoker that at least once give a try to this deadly combination of Allen Carr and Om Swami’s wisdom. At least there is nothing to lose. If you decide to remain a smoker, then there is no one to stop you, but at least there is a slight chance that you can find it equally easy to quit. Also, this method works for many other addictions or behaviour changes. The core principles are the same. I have found my own truth and enjoyed the complete process; I hope you find yours.
The Math Guy.