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  1. Many if not all smokers believe that smoking relieves stress. It doesn't and in fact causes it. Nicotine causes your heart rate to increase, your blood pressure to rise and sends adrenaline pulsing through your veins. This happens each time you smoke a cigarette. It's an illusion that smoking relieves stress because as smokers, we've conditioned ourselves to believe this. Look at it this way. After we put out a cigarette, the average smoker starts to experience mild withdrawal after approximately twenty minutes. Most smokers don't even realize that they're in withdrawal but start to crave another cigarette to relieve the discomforts of withdrawal. The cravings are a result of being in mild nicotine withdrawal which causes us some discomfort, makes us feel edgy, irritable etc., so when we light up another cigarette, we relieve those withdrawal symptoms and we feel better, for around 20 minutes or so. Then once the dose of nicotine wears off, the withdrawal process starts all over again and we continue to feed the addiction and keep the cycle going. So it's only natural for us to add 2+2 and come up with 7 because we've believed the lie that smoking relieves stress when in fact all it does is relieve the withdrawal symptoms (which are stressful) caused by smoking in the first place. We're using the same drug to try and fix the problem that started this whole process when we became nicotine addicts. So when things in life upset us, we automatically think that smoking will calm us down or help us cope with whatever it is that we're dealing with because that's the illusion smoking provides. The truth is that smoking causes stress. It's impossible that it can calm us down because of the effects it has on our heart rate, blood pressure and the release of adrenaline, which by the way is produced whenever we're experiencing a stressful situation or a period of extreme excitement. Nicotine is causing all of this when we smoke. Stress is a normal part of life and so is feeling extremely stressed or excited. Imagine that feeling of fight or flight (caused by the release of adrenaline which causes your blood pressure to increase, heart rate to increase etc.) as your body readies itself for whatever it is that's in front of you. Now imagine smoking a cigarette at this time. It can only further elevate your heart rate, blood pressure etc. It has the opposite effect of something that can calm you or relieve stress. Adrenaline is awesome. It's what makes us survive and thrive at certain things. But relieve stress or calm us down? Impossible. Once we stop smoking we're better equipped to deal with life and all the joys, pleasures, boredom and stress that it brings. Smoking actually ruins our peaceful moments in life by causing our adrenal glands to prepare us for "fight or flight" and escalates the stressful times by doing the same. When we smoke, are we ever really experiencing all that life has to offer us? Are we even capable of living in the "Now" and protecting our much needed down time to recharge? Are we able to meditate or stop the chatter or chaos that so often fills our minds and consumes our thoughts? Can we experience the calming effects of a still mind and body? The other evening it was around 4°F with a wind chill of -10°F. The moon was giving off just enough light that I could see the trees and sky through my windows. I was laying on the couch in front of the windows and was completely relaxed. It was quiet and as I released all of the stresses, to-do-lists and thoughts of what tomorrow might bring; my mind was still and quiet. The chatter was gone as there would be time for all that later. But for those 30 minutes, my mind was still and all the stressful thoughts were gone. This allowed my body to relax and just enjoy "The Now" for there will never, ever be another moment exactly the same. I want to experience all of those "Now" moments that I can. Smoking and constant withdrawal would have never allowed me to experience this inner state of peace and quiet. Never again will smoking take away these much needed quiet times that allow me to grow and be the best that I can be for myself and my daughter for without her, I cannot experience all that life has for me, just for Now. I Smoke Because I Like Smoking This video discusses how people who often say the smoke because they like smoking can come to realize that they really smoke because they don't like not smoking. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCkt_ajgTQE
  2. I think it might be good for me to start doing yoga on a regular basis. For various reasons, I do not want to take a class so I have to teach myself. What I want is to get my mind and body better connected and in better balance. I want to be more limber and physically stronger. I want my breathing to benefit every corner of my mind and my body and I want to stimulate the flow of blood and energy flow to every corner, too. And I want to dissipate stress and live more in the moment. So I think that I need to incorporate yoga philosophy and spirituality along with yogic breathing and physical exercises. Is that correct? The problem I'm having is that when I research yoga teaching (like via library books and DVDs or via online websites and YouTube videos) 95% of them are just teaching poses and exercises; no philosophy, spirituality or breathing. The other 5% teach the complete set of skills but they appear to want you to throw over your life and become a yogi (or so it seems). That's really not practicable. So those of you who have experience with yoga, have you found a way to combine spirituality, breath control and physical exercises? Do you, for example, meditate and breath for maybe 10 minutes and then do 30 minutes of exercises (asanas)? Or do you assume a pose and hold it while you focus on controlled breathing? How do you learn those aspects of yoga beyond the physical poses and exercises? Do you read books about yoga or something? I would appreciate any advice you can give me.

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