Quitting smoking is a long process and some may not even be willing to undergo that irritating withdrawal syndrome. Nonetheless, a new study proves that behavioral training such as Mindfulness Meditation may help you quit easier without you even noticing it.
According to About Health, Mindfulness is a type of meditation that essentially involves focusing your mind at the present time. This also includes being mindful or aware of your thoughts and actions in the present, without judging yourself.
In a report by MNT, the researchers, including Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, stated, "Early evidence suggests that exercises aimed at increasing self-control, such as mindfulness meditation, can decrease the unconscious influences that motivate a person to smoke."
The research, led by Yi-Yuan Tang, a professor of psychological sciences at Texas Tech in Lubbock, cited that Mindfulness Meditation can have an automatic effect if the smoking-addicted participants are unaware that the purpose of the Mindfulness training is to decrease their level of addiction.
In one of the study also headed by Prof. Tang and mentioned in the research, they exposed a group of 60 undergraduate students, 27 are cigarette smokers and 33 are non-smokers, to a meditation and relaxation training program.
Each of the participants in the study joined the program aiming to learn meditation and relaxation techniques for the purpose of reducing stress and improving mental health. Half of the participants were given training in mindfulness meditation while the other half were taught relaxation technique.
The participants completed a total of five hours training scattered in 30 minutes per session in a span of two weeks. In addition, their brains were scanned before and after the training and were tasked to answer self-report questionnaires. Each student who participated in the study was also examined through carbon monoxide testing to objectively measure their smoking level.
Results of the training showed that even though many of the participants reported that they experienced no changes in their smoking habits compared to before they started the program, an objective evaluation of the carbon dioxide percentage in the lungs of the participants who underwent Mindfulness Meditation showed a 60 percent reduction in smoking two weeks after the study.
"The students changed their smoking behavior but were not aware of it. When we showed the data to a participant who said they had smoked 20 cigarettes, this person checked their pocket immediately and was shocked to find 10 left," shared Prof. Tang in a report by MNT.
Moreover, MNT cited that other studies reviewed in the research showed how integrative body-mind training like Mindfulness Meditation could help in reducing stress hormone cortisol level while increasing immune reactivity. The review also showed that the participants have stronger connection between areas associated to self-control.