The Not Smoking Project – Day Two

9:15 am:

Today, I am taking my experiments in control of mind and self, a step further.

I do not know if this will work, but I have been trying to add a new component to the motionless porch-sitting that I’ve been doing when I am experiencing cravings

Today, I am experimenting with imagining having a cigarette


Remembering the feel of each drag, the texture of the smoke as it swirls through my mouth and down to expand along with my lungs, filling them

I imagine the taste, as I inhale

And then I imagine…..coughing


I imagine the taste

when I’ve had one drag too many

I let that feeling, carry me away. I start to imagine the pounding headache, the nausea


And when I am feeling my mouth start to water, from the nausea

I stop.


I do not know that I will have the discipline to try this, every time I get a craving


It takes time

And feels… unpleasant.


But if I can rewire my brain, my associated feelings with smoking- consciously


If I can do that effectively enough, I will no longer get cravings – I predict.

Let’s see if it works….


9:58 am:


That was quick!

Took me less than ten seconds, this time around, to get from ‘I crave a cigarette’

To my mouth literally watering like it does before throwing up!

I did not, of course, throw up. That feeling went away as soon as I chose to let it go away

10:10 am:


This is how some cutting-edge researchers and doctors are utilizing neuroplastic techniques, to treat things like severe cases of chronic pain, that fifteen years ago were deemed ‘incurable’ – did you know?

I read about one doctor – Dr. Moskowitz.


He runs a pain center in San Rafael, along with a partner.

(This is all from memory, from a book called The Brain’s Way of Healing- by Norman Doidge, MD)


That pain center, it was described in the book as being the proverbial end of the line, for patients experiencing extreme and seemingly untreatable chronic pain.


People who had tried everything traditional, everything non-traditional–

These people came to this center

to die with their pain


Moskowitz, however- he had been experiencing chronic pain himself (so many incredibly fascinating insights have come from researchers suddenly, and strangely- finding themselves on the other side of their own lens!)

In the late ’90s, I believe- when first the medical world began hearing whispers of this thing we call ‘neuroplasticity’


He began reading


And read, and read on


fifteen thousand pages of the early research into neuroplasticity later, Moskowitz

had a plan


You see, when our brains repeatedly process input of a particular kind


More neurons get allocated to that thing


We get better at whatever that thing is, more efficient- with every repetition


And so, with pain


Pain spreads, and grows


Many times the original point of injury will no longer be damaged


But in order to stop that alarm system from misfiring, so to speak-

We have to take back the neurons that have been hijacked for pain processing


We have a finite number of neurons, in our brains

Finite real estate, finite resources


I’ll go into more detail on this subject, later. The Not Smoking Project is not the best place to delve into neuroplasticity that deeply.


However, in brief- Moskowitz found that if one can muster the inner be strength of will, the determination-It is possible to consciously rewire our brains.


That book is filled with account after account of such wonders as seem impossible.

The incurable, miraculously cured.


But that is a superficial understanding of what lies at the heart of those stories- at the heart of the people behind those words.


For there is no miracle about any of it- not in the way we generally define that word.

Nothing supernatural, or inexplicable.

Just awe-inspiring strength of will, iron determination to not take no
to not take

this is incurable

you are incurable

As an answer, any longer.



7:04 pm:

Alright. So, I still have not gone out to buy cigarettes (/work, so I could afford to buy a pack!)

But the project is all about being human, right? Being honest?

With self, and with others.

About mistakes, and victories, both!

And so, this is for a friend of mine. You know who you are.

I will admit that I grabbed a couple of butts out of the trash today!

They each had maybe two drags, tops, left before hitting filter- and they each tasted awful!

I’m going to have to think a bit more before I figure out the whys of this what-

But I think part of it is that I did not have the discipline to keep my focus on the Not Smoking Project as intently as I ought to have!

I let myself get too distracted with the blog as a whole, and let those cravings get too powerful in the background!

I believe this is possibly one of those thinking in the short term things. Now, because I was careless- I’ve probably extended the amount of time I will need to spend at home, before I can leave the house confident that I will not buy a pack!

Maybe not, though. Maybe it will help to not have it be such a cold-turkey affair!

It was only three stinky little two- drag butts, after all!

Time will tell.

The war has not yet been lost!



I spent three years living on the street in Los Angeles. I came out of that, changed. This is my story.

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