Whether or not the substance one burns is addictive in its own right, the act of smoking itself is a habit that can become addictive.
They say it only takes 21 days to build a habit. It’s easy to see how if one engages in the act of smoking daily for an extended period of time, that it can become, in a way, a ritual. I’ve spoken to many smokers who when faced with quitting for one reason or another, seek herbal substitutes so they may continue to simply enjoy smoking.
While habitual energy is tough to break, there are other reasons one may long for the act of smoking regardless of the substance, and it has to do with breathing.
Pranayama is the yogic practice of breath control. It is used in conjunction with yoga and meditation to nurture well-being and inner peace in an individual. To practice pranayama, one controls the flow of the breath in-and-out, in steady and rhythmic patterns. There are many different ways to practice, but the most basic may sound very familiar to any smoker: deep, full breath in—hold the breath—long, slow exhale out—pause and then repeat.
These breathing patterns help to quiet the mind and relax the body. They center one’s awareness and create feelings of peace. Pranayama breathing is one of the, if not the most, powerful meditation techniques. There are many wonderful benefits to this type of mindful breathing.
Smokers, for their part, have stumbled upon this method of meditative breathing in an accidental and imperfect way. I propose that this is a compelling reason why it’s so hard for some to give up the habit of smoking itself, regardless of substance. The pattern of breathing that the act of smoking encourages and teaches is relaxing, meditative and soothing. This is a lesson not to be taken for granted.
What can be taken away from this realization is that this method of breathing is one that can, and should, be utilized in daily life, with nothing but your lungs and clean air to breathe. Smoking cannabis is a wonderful way to relax, and the act of smoking cannabis is a beautiful lesson in pranayamic breathing. Embrace the lesson and learn to practice mindful breathing throughout the day, whether you have some herb to spark up or not.