We in the cigar community talk often of the social benefits of our beloved hobby, and by all means, for good reason. One of the great pleasures in life is sitting down to a fine cigar and intellectually stimulating conversation; the two pastimes seemingly destined for exclusivity since the dawn of cigar smoking itself. Indeed, the act of smoking tobacco in ancient Mayan and other native religious ceremonies helped strengthen societal bonds, and for as long as cigar historians care to remember, the social benefits of cigar smoking hath long been celebrated.
While perhaps not as popular, but no less important, is another occasion for a fine cigar (or two), an ancient productivity ritual that is quickly disappearing in society today, leading to myriad deleterious consequences. Said occasion to which I bring our attention is that of intentional, planned, personal reflection and solitude. In a world ruled by social media, the Internet of Things, and the latest in tech gadgetry, while sad, it is nonetheless true that “getting away for a while” is a luxury, a rare occasion, and one certainly worthy of the finest in Nicaraguan tobacco. A moment alone with one’s thoughts, free from the intrusion of smartphones, smart watches, and smart homes, is a necessity for the soul, if for no other reason than because of Snaps. #Thestruggleisreal, indeed, and as our #firstworldproblems continue to manifest in our collective psyche, I, and others who follow my train of thought continue to push towards and advocate for, more time spent completely detached and disengaged from the hollow existence that is the vast majority of the digital divide. For said purposes, a Padron is the only companion needed, though a journal and pen combination make for a valuable wingman if so desired.
Moments of silence, solitude, and quiet personal reflection with a cigar, pen, and journal in hand; the noblest of noble endeavors, indeed. And let us display our intelligence in the matter, not confusing solitude with isolation, for the two as we know are vastly different in kind, and isolation is never the goal, or at least shouldn’t be. Silence and solitude is the ultimate destination for these moments I champion. Time alone with one’s soul and a fine cigar should not be ridiculed, no. While drinking alone has a negative stigma attached (and often times for good reason, as alcohol is a depressant), Nicotine is different. It is different, yes, and should be treated as such. A stimulant and cognitive enhancer, Nicotine in the company of your thoughts is analogous to our morning (or afternoon, or evening) coffee; we certainly do not demand company for our caffeine consumption, nor do we frown upon those who drink coffee alone!
And of the cognitive benefits of Nicotine, there are many, and for this reason above all others, I advocate we include a fine cigar in our moments of solitude and personal silent reflection. Increased focus, attention, short-term memory, creativity, and divergent thinking are just a few of myriad benefits. That is to say, if the point is to set aside time to be in solitude and think…and think deeply, why wouldn’t we want to include in said time a cognitive enhancer that increases the efficacy of the entire thinking process? What more reason does one need for deep thinking sessions alone with cigar and self?
And to that question, I am glad you asked. If the aforementioned cognitive benefits were not enough, nicotine improves fine motor skills, and in turn, leads to more controlled and fluent handwriting in the process. Again, I ask, is there a better companion than a cigar for moments of solitude and deep thought, with a pen and journal nearby?
I am not alone in this belief; how many of the great Western European and American literary works since 1492 manifested themselves amidst a haze of tobacco smoke, all the while washed down with the pleasant aroma of Arabica? As you may relate, I do my best thinking whilst enjoying the cognitive benefits of Nicotine and caffeine, and in turn my best work. Whether it be writing, thinking deeply, or other rigors involving the brain, I am at my productive and creative peak when practicing solitude and enjoying a fine cigar with coffee. I yearn for these moments and urge you to do the same.
So important in fact is finding solitude in today’s world, and specifically for leaders, quite a few books and productivity bloggers have tackled the topic over the years. Most notably, *Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude* by Raymond M. Kethledge and Michael S. Erwin, is one of the best, and I encourage you to give it a read. For anyone in a leadership position, it is an absolute must read, indeed. Pay special attention to the chapter on Ulysses S. Grant; cigars are mentioned, and historians believe it was Grant’s cigars and solitude sessions, late at night in the deep of the war between the states, that gave him the insight to ultimately lead the Union to victory.
Cigars, Silence, Solitude. Pen, Journal, Coffee. To quote Maximus of Gladiator fame: “Are we not entertained? Is that not why we’re here?” Why is solitude not enough for so many? Tell me of the man who desires Social Media and Snaps (hopelessly hunched over a screen in the most beta of body postures) over Cigars and Solitude. I do not know him, nor might I call him friend. We should all be so fortunate to believe the same.
And thus, I urge you to carve out time to be alone with yourself, to think deep thoughts, and process the noise that inevitably makes its way into the minds of men. A fine cigar is a valuable tool in these times; it will relax you, and provide a plethora of cognitive benefits in the process. Your thoughts will be clear, your direction revealed, and a “heightened sense of things” will do much to help navigate the complexities of life.
My personal prescription for planned solitude sessions is as follows:
- Kimera Koffee, made Bulletproof style, with Kerrygold grass-fed butter and Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil. Kimera Koffee is a high-altitude single-estate origin coffee infused with Nootropics, specifically, from Kimerakoffee.com:
- Alpha GPC: Natural choline compound found in the brain and can be found in soy, meats, and fish. Improves memory, enhances mental focus and increases power output.
- Taurine: An organic acid commonly found in eggs that delays cognitive decline due to aging, fights oxidative stress, reduces fatigue, and helps boost fat metabolization.
- L-Theanine: Tea extract that balances daily anxiety, improves sleep patterns and helps prevent cholesterol-related damage.
- DMAE: Choline molecule found in fish that boosts mental performance, increases energy, improves oxygen efficiency and promotes red blood cell function.
- Ginkgo Biloba: Ancient plant extract consumed since the earliest days of human history, widely studied for its effective anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, platelet-forming and circulation-boosting effects.
- L-Glutamine: Amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. Studies have shown that L-Glutamine supplementation can minimize breakdown of muscle and improve protein metabolism.
- Qualia. Qualia is the absolute best Nootropic stack on the market today, and features 42 ingredients that fuel and power your brain. It would take another 1200 words to describe everything that Qualia does for the brain and body; let me just say again it is the best brain enhancing stack available. Check out neurohacker.com if you are interested in learning more.
- Any Padron cigar. Enough said.
- Moleskine Squared Notebook
- Pelikan m1005 Fountain Pen, Oblique Broad Nib
And with these tools, combined with airplane mode or sans phone altogether, my solitude sessions are deep, thought-provoking, and ultimately insanely productive, in all the ways that one can measure productivity. My best thinking, writing, and deep work, in general, happens during these times. I am more successful in my professional and personal life because I take the time to unplug, light up, and go deep, and I am confident that you will experience these same benefits from your newfound or renewed solitude sessions.
And yes, the genesis of this article was born from such a session, combined with the aforementioned tools, and you are now the beneficiary of that time well spent. Turn your phone off, disconnect, light up a cigar, go deep, and be alone with your thoughts. It is amazing, for lack a better term, the results one can attain when these cigar and solitude sessions become a regularly scheduled event; your brain and body will thank you!