As you all know, smoking is bad for your health. But the problem goes beyond that. Not only you are hurting yourself, but the environment as well. You can dispose of a cigarette, but getting rid of the smoke is almost impossible. But even with so much media content warning about cigarette problems (even the shocking pictures found on their packs), there are still plenty of people who smoke. Quitting is a real challenge that takes time and determination. Smokers need to be engaged, pay attention to the triggers that lead them to and away from smoking, find healthy substitutes and seek professional help.
Many people have discovered on their own that quitting is no easy task. What researchers are studying today is how meditation can be an ally to prevent the frequent relapses of those facing the fight against tobacco.
Meditation can be very helpful in the process of quitting, not only because it reduces your craving for smoking, but also because training in self-control can change the way you respond to these urges when they arise. Take a deep breath and clear your mind every time you want to light a cigarette. Instead of fighting the urge to smoke, analyze it, question it, and then empty your mind. Mind control may seem like a “simple” method, but it is also a very powerful tool.
Meditation is an emotional reprogramming tool that helps you re-educate your habits. So it can be a key for those who want to quit.
US research shows that, after a few hours, meditated smokers have significantly less swelling and increased activity in areas of the brain associated with self-control.
With this study, University of Oregon researchers recruited 60 college students, including 27 smokers. Half of the group learned a meditation technique called integrative mind-body technique, or IBMT training. Some of the individuals meditated for five hours over a period of two weeks. The others followed the same schedule, but practiced relaxation therapy, which focused on releasing tension from different parts of the body. At the end of the training, the meditated smokers smoked 60% less, while the smoking habits of those who were in the relaxation group did not change.
Lead researcher Michael Posner and his team also used a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine to examine participants brain activity, finding a change in activity in regions associated with self-control in meditated smokers. Again, no changes were observed in subjects who followed the relaxation program.
«We found that participants who received IBMT training also experienced a significant decrease in their craving for cigarettes» said co-author Yi-Yuan Tang of Texas Tech University. «Because mind-centered meditation promotes self-control and has been shown to positively influence attention and an openness to inner and outer experiences, we believe meditation can be helpful in dealing with the symptoms of addiction».
Tang developed the IBMT training in the mid-1990s, based on traditional Chinese medicine, Taoism, and Confucianism. Unlike other meditation techniques, which focus on thought control and require long-term training, he says his technique is focused on mind and body awareness, with body and breathing postures. According to Tang, with the right coach, you can learn the technique in less than five days.
Ready to face this challenge? Believe in yourself, start meditating and change your habits: stop smoking! The benefits will be rewarding.