I never quit smoking and I don’t smoke anymore. What I did was start mindfully smoking. I started to feel every bit of the smoking process — both the deliciousness and the toxicity of the smoke as it entered my mouth, into my lungs tingle in all my cells. I smoked every cigarette like it was my last one until I no longer smoked. I didn’t smoke for 11 years and then I experienced tobacco in a ceremony. Tobacco came to me in spirit and filled my heart. After that I have smoked tiny bits ceremonially off of cigarettes. I am no longer addicted. So I didn’t quit smoking — I healed my relationship with Mother tobacco. She is a sacred plant.
I find that through harm-reduction, rather than via hard-core abstinence I’ve been able to bring healing to all my addictions. I’ve not talked explicitly about harm-reduction as a healing modality, but the truth is my entire path could be considered one of harm-reduction. When I worked in social services I worked for organizations that used harm-reduction models and it really influenced me and my healing journey. It’s a highly respectful way of being with oneself as we heal from the attachments (sometimes addictions) of the modern world.
Tobacco is a beautiful plant. When I first moved to Appalachia 15 years ago their were tons of tobacco fields. Really beautiful. They made me feel happy. Small tobacco farms you could watch the whole harvest year happening complete with barns with hanging plants.
All so lovely and all gone now with the shifting trends around cigarette use. I get that tobacco is flagrantly misused, but the loss of those beautiful fields and a few hundred years of tradition still felt like a loss to this yankee girl who moved to the south …
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