It invokes resentment and awe with the same intensity. Furthermore, it remains an enigma since most of the questions raised about it in wonderment remain unanswered. It is the worst of habits for most but a panacea to those who engage in it. For a myriad or reasons, people either engage in it or are disgusted by it. Having crossed the line to the other side and back, I believe I can shed some insight into this controversial topical issue of smoking.
Yoga is an ancient oriental art used as a relaxation technique by most in the modern world, and especially so in the recent past. The buzz around about it has ensured a constant stream of dedicated neophytes. From the testimonies echoed in praise of this technique, what I got was that Yoga is the utmost unwinding modus operandi. Allegedly, through yoga, calm, peace and balance of mind, body, and soul is attained by controlled breathing and measured movements accompanying deep meditation. These are all done in a well synchronized, well choreographed coordination of thoughts, breath and appendages.
Smokers in that respect also engage in Yoga activities which drives me to posit, but arguably so, that smokers derive the same satisfaction in the art of smoking as Yoga gives its practitioners. At first, it is usually the demeanor and mien of smokers that will attract the non smoking public to smoking. It is widely believed that smokers posses a high degree of self control and even power. This belief is an illusion that has seduced and taken many a prey and churned out many an addict. And addiction is a one way ticket to malignant cancer.
Many a smoker will however attest that the thing that has held them captive is neither the nicotine, nor the perceived power. But rather, it is the motions and emotions engendered by smoking. It is these motions and emotions that are responsible for the ultimate calming effect generated by smoking. The repetitive motions (read yoga) of smoking, keeps the body busy and useful while the mind retreats into the subconscious to sort out troubling issues. And as is the case in Yoga, Smoking is about controlling your breathing, i.e. taking a puff, holding your breath for a while, before finally letting the smoke out. Isn’t that Yoga, if you look beyond the smoke.
It is this resignation into the subconscious, and the accompanying controlled breaths that prompt deeper reflections. In this state, problems are spurn around, turned over, taken apart and put back together again but this time in terms of the way forward. The actual smoking here is just but a smoke-screen for all these underlying mental dialectics. That is the reason why when most people say, I need a cigarette, it is usually at a time they need to think. Smoking also allows one to literary blow off steam when angry or depressed.
These among more make for a credible case for the similarity between smoking and Yoga. The only problem being that smoking is the cheaper of the two in the short term, but could be fatal in the long term. The latter being the ultimate price for smoking. Going by the clientele base, smoking which is the better option for the short term prospects is the clear cut winner.
I don’t know whether this answers the question that my ex girlfriend, Flora, asked me when I used to smoke, but I hope it comes close. She asked, “Why do intelligent people smoke since you, more than any other person understand its effects on the body?”