I started smoking7 months ago. I continued smoking because smoking brought up some kind of diffuse but strong fear in me. A few days back I dropped the fags, because it is starting to deteriorate my teeth.
In those days without a smoke, a strange sort of peace sneaked into my life, but I did not realize it until today, when I intuitively felt the necessity to smoke one more cigarette.
The moment I tasted the smoke in my mouth, the memories all came back. The intense fear and helplessness of being bound to a bed, disrespected, forced to take medicine, looked down upon by the stupid staff.
It was a strange moment. One moment I had peace in my mind. I had practically forgotten about the incident. And then, just by the taste of the cigarette, it all came back at once. It was as if I was suddenly another person. I think this is what they call triggering.
Not for the first time has such a dramatic and sudden change in my mood forced an insight upon me: This pain is not my identity.
When we live a long time with a certain form of pain, anxiety or shame, it seems that this is simply who we are. The pain and the victimhood becomes our identity, as it seems all-pervasive and constant. And yet, when you happen to experience the contrast of being in a peaceful painless mood in the one moment, only to be replaced by a fearful self within a second, it leaves little room for doubt that your story, your pain, your memories, that they are all just illusions; in principle temporary and unimportant perceptions that we get attached to, start to hold on to, until they overtake who we are.
Such a moment allows you to look at those feelings, however unpleasant, from a new perspective: The perspective of the objective non-judgmental observer.
When the memory of your painless self is still vivid, it is easy to switch back to it as a perspective and then to see: I am not the pain that seeks peace; rather, I am the peace that calmly observes a form of pain. And thus, to dissolve the pain into nothingness.
It is interesting how a simple trigger, a simple smell, the face of a woman, can bring back pain you thought you had left behind and buried, wiped out of existence. Pain you had forgotten.
But that’s beside the point.
I had a similar experience in the psychiatry. Feeling like a caged animal, I felt intense fear to the point of being suicidal. Then they gave me strong anti-depressants. It all went away. I was floating on a cloud of numb satisfaction.
And then they cut the dosis of the pill and I hoped it would stay all good. But one day during the collective sheep-feeding in that hellhole, the fear was coming back, from one moment to the next. Just like when I smoked the fag today.
And back then, I had the same experience. The experience of realizing: If I was just free of this fear and now the fear is back, that means that the fear is not who I am. And then I accepted the fear and it went away, at least for some time. In a way, that new state of happiness was even stronger than before, because there was a little less pain lurking underneath now, a little less pain trying to rock the boat.
To gain the perspective of the objective observer, I think that is one of the greatest challenges of meditation. Because if you do not have that perspective, you are merely the pain using meditation as a tool to satisfy ego desires. You are sitting around thinking: I must meditate away that pain so I can finally do XXX. But only the objective observer can understand and dissolve the pain. The pain cannot understand itself, so as long as you are the pain, you are oblivious to what you are.
In the end, pain and memories are just smoke. You can keep it inside until you suffocate. Or you blow it out and let the wind carry it away.
Sorry for being so distastefully poetic.
Oh well. I think I’ll stop smoking again now. Cigarettes actually taste horrible. And they’re bad for my teeth and I love my teeth.