Meditative practices force smokers not to finish smoking their cigarettes.
Meditation makes you smoke less, moreover, even those smokers who are not going to quit smoking: smokers simply stop smoking their cigarettes to the filter.
Meditation helps the smoker to get rid of the bad habit, even if he was not going to quit smoking. Five hours spent on the psychologist’s couch for two weeks allowed the volunteers to quietly reduce the number of cigarettes smoked by 60%. This is evidenced by studies conducted by American scientists, the results of which they published in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Non-smokers live on average 14 years longer than smokers. In addition, over each smoker hangs the sword of Damocles from more than 80 different diseases, among the causes of which smoking takes the first place. The hardest part for a smoker is simply to stop smoking here and now. Mark Twain once said: “Giving up smoking is easy… I’ve done it hundreds of times”. However, even the most avid smoker can quit smoking, and meditation can be an essential tool in this process. How do you meditate to quit smoking? If you think that for this you will have to sit in the lotus position and repeat the mantra: “I don’t smoke anymore. I don’t smoke anymore”, – you are deeply mistaken. This type of “meditation” not only will not weaken the addiction, but can make it even stronger. It’s like trying your best to fall asleep with insomnia – the more you try, the worse it gets.
The scientific basis for smoking cessation meditation practice.
Researchers Michael Posner, a professor at the University of Oregon, and his former university colleague Yi Yuan Tang of Texas Tech University in Lubbock decided to work with a different contingent of smokers – those who seem to not mind quitting smoking, but do not even try to do it. They recruited 27 volunteers with an average age of 21 who smoked about 10 cigarettes a day, randomly selected 15 people (11 men and 4 women) and meditated with them for five hours a day for two weeks. The rest were included in the control group, they also had the same number of sessions, only it was not meditation, but general relaxation. Another control group was involved in the experiments, consisting of 33 nonsmoking people of the same age – they did not take sessions, but participated only in testing. There are many forms of meditation – focusing on emptiness, on chakras, candlelight, heartbeat, etc. The most traditional of these is the Buddhist “mindfulness” meditation. Most often, the meditator initially focuses on the subtle sensation of air touching the nostrils during inhalation and exhalation. Researchers have long coined the scientific name for it – Integrative Body-Mind Training (IBMT). Before and after IBMT sessions and general relaxation sessions for participants in the control group, volunteers were tested for carbon monoxide in exhaled air. Just as the well-known ppm serve as an objective measure of the amount of alcohol consumed, these tests objectively indicate the amount of tobacco smoked.
Tests conducted before meditation sessions, immediately after and two weeks after it, showed that the subjects significantly (on average by 60%) reduced their tobacco consumption. This does not apply to the number of cigarettes smoked – after all, you can smoke it all the way to the filter, or you can throw it away with only two or three puffs. Therefore, before the carbon monoxide tests, many participants did not even suspect that they were smoking less. In volunteers who were in the control group, these tests did not find any changes.
To understand which areas of the brain respond to IBMT, the researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging. A preliminary tomography showed a weakened activity of some parts of the brain (compared with the control group of nonsmokers), indicating impaired self-control. After two weeks of IBMT sessions, their activity recovered, and the participants in the control group remained the same.
Perhaps the main takeaway from this work is that IBMT meditation not only reduces stress, but it also enhances self-control – it was he who helped people who were not going to quit smoking, if not forget about smoking, then at least significantly limit it.
“We don’t know how long the effect of reduced smoking will last,” says Professor Posner, “but while this is just the beginning of research, the results are encouraging. Perhaps, in order to prolong the effect, it will be necessary to increase the total duration of the meditations”.
One meditation a day for 6 months saves you from cigarettes
Another area in which relaxation can be of great benefit is drug, alcohol and smoking abuse. People who regularly induce relaxation take fewer medications and rarely have bad habits.
To test the validity of these claims, G. Benson and Dr. R.K. Wallace conducted a special study.
Nearly 2,000 people were interviewed who were trained to become instructors in transcendental meditation. The survey involved approximately 1,000 men and 800 women aged 14 to 78 years.
On average, they have all been in meditation for over 20 months. Participants were asked to recall all the medications they had taken prior to starting the meditation session. Various drug categories were also counted, including marijuana, hashish, LSD, spirits and smoking.
In the 6 months leading up to meditation training, 78% used marijuana and/or hashish. After practicing transcendental meditation for 6 months, only 37% continued to use marijuana. After 21 months of regular meditation, only 12% continued to use marijuana, a 66% decrease in total.
Among those who took LSD, the number of those who used it decreased even more. Before the beginning of the transcendental meditation practice, about 50% of the total number of participants took LSD. During the first three months of meditation, 233 people continued to use drugs, and after 22 months, 97% quit drugs altogether.
In the same survey, participants were asked about drinking and smoking. Before starting to learn meditation, 60% of the respondents drank strong alcoholic beverages. After practicing meditation for 21 months, only 25% of them continued to drink.
Approximately 48% of the participants smoked before meditation, and 27% of them were “heavy smokers” (smoked one or more packs of cigarettes per day). After 21 months of regular meditation, there was a significant decrease: only 16% continued to smoke.
Perhaps the regular use of relaxation can serve as an alternative to drugs, tobacco and alcohol. As a result of the survey, it turned out that the subjects stopped selling drugs, discouraged others from using them. They said that the pleasure they get from meditation is much stronger than that after using drugs.
How to meditate to quit smoking.
The essence of meditation is a complete one hundred percent awareness of being in the present moment, here and now, with all your senses, thinking and emotions. Therefore, it is worth starting simply by smoking each – I repeat once again: each! – a cigarette deliberately. You do not need to make a promise to yourself to quit smoking, when your consciousness matures, you will stop smoking by yourself without even noticing it. This happens with all meditating smokers – one fine day you suddenly find yourself on the fact that since last Thursday you have not put a single cigarette in your mouth and have not even noticed it. This is a miracle! – everyone says.
So, we make a special conscious meditation out of smoking each (!) Cigarette. How does this happen? Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, put everything aside in the background and take out the pack of cigarettes, fully focusing on this process. Do all movements three to four times slower than usual. Have you noticed that smokers almost always smoke on full autopilot? They talk, write, read, chat, and have a smoking cigarette in their mouths. They finish one and immediately, not realizing their actions, reach for another. Awareness arises only when the ashtray is full or the cigarette burns the fingers.
Autopilot is now done! Disable it completely. Any of your smallest movements while smoking should now be recognized by all brain cells. Here you take out a cigarette, fully feeling its texture. Consider it, remember a little in your hands, smell it and only then slowly insert it into your mouth, feeling the texture of the filter with your lips.
Get out your lighter. There is no need to rush now either. Feel it with your fingers, pay attention to the shape and color, click, look at the flame that appears, and only then bring it to the tip of the cigarette.
Take the first puff – it is the very first and therefore should be given special attention. Inhale the tobacco smoke slowly with full concentration. Let it penetrate as deeply as possible into the mouth, throat, bronchi and lungs. Regular cigarette tobacco can contain up to 300 flavors and aromas. How many shades can you distinguish now?
The world around disappears. All your attention is focused on the taste and smell of tobacco, the sensations that smoke causes in the mouth, throat and bronchi, in the nose, and possibly in the stomach. You can close your eyes to get a better taste of this taste and smell.
Now you can exhale slowly while watching the puffs of tobacco smoke coming out of your mouth and nostrils. Take your time to do the next puff. First, with full concentration, feel the aftertaste of tobacco smoke in your mouth. What is it like? What emotions does it evoke? What is this feeling comparable to?
Now mentally scan your brain and body. Observe with an impartial observer what processes are going on in your head. What do you feel? Light dizziness? Dullness of perception? Annoyance or appeasement? Joy or Shame? Give yourself time to fully understand this.
Before the next puff, manipulate the lighted cigarette, look at its red-hot tip, take a closer look at the smoke – smell it. What is its smell and sensation in the nostrils?
When you’re ready, take another puff. Here and now only your open consciousness: smell, taste, sensations in the mouth, on the tongue, in the throat, bronchi, lungs. Exhale and focus on the smoke: color, shape, smell, warmth and tickling in the mouth. If extraneous thoughts appear in your head that take you away from the smoking process, note their appearance and let go. Return to the pure smoking experience.
So you need to smoke a cigarette to the very end – to the very filter, without being distracted for a second, realizing everything that is happening to you. And remember – this is how you need to smoke each, absolutely each of your cigarettes, wherever you are and whatever else you are busy with.
Smoked, extinguished and stop for a second. How do you feel now? How does your body feel? Head? Mouth? Throat? Bronchi? Lungs? Nose? Stomach? Has anything changed since this cigarette? Notice all the changes in yourself with the eyes of a naturalist conducting scientific experiments. Witness everything that can be noted and fixed in consciousness.
I’m not going to convince you of anything or somehow manipulate your consciousness. Got unearthly bliss from a cigarette? Excellent! Has it become disgusting? It’s okay too! So you got a smoke break? And it happens. Don’t set any goals for yourself – just observe and record your observations. Meditation has no goals and objectives to be achieved. Meditation is an instrument of pure, refined observation and awareness.
If after a day (week, month) of such a deliberate smoking of each (!!!) cigarette, you suddenly find yourself on the fact that several hours (days, weeks) have already passed, and for some reason there is no desire to start a new cigarette ceremony, then the meditation worked.
If even following all the rules and being fully conscious in the process, turning off the autopilot and making no exceptions, you continue to smoke and did not even reduce the dose, then something is wrong. This happens in people who subconsciously use the ingredients of tobacco smoke as a self-medication. So there is something in the tobacco smoke that heals you. From what? Such diseases most often include depression, certain mental and genetic diseases and abnormalities. In any case, this is a good reason to go to a specialist doctor and get tested.