Study suggests mindfulness meditation can curb smoking habit

Tried many different ways ranging from pharmacological products to good counseling and support groups to quit smoking but to no avail! Perhaps mindfulness meditation will help wean you off nicotine!

According to a new study, mindfulness meditation that trains the mind to be non-reactive to the changing external sensations by focusing only on the present helps smokers cut back on their habit.

Experts found that Integrative Body-Mind Training (IBMT), a form of Chinese mindfulness meditation not only improved self-control among smokers but helped them curtail lighting up without even realizing it.

Study researcher, Yi-Yuan Tang, of Texas Tech University, said ,”We found that participants who received IBMT training also experienced a significant decrease in their craving for cigarettes.

“Because mindfulness meditation promotes personal control and has been shown to positively affect attention and an openness to internal and external experiences, we believe that meditation may be helpful for coping with symptoms of addiction.”

Impact of mindfulness meditation on smoking assessed
In order to determine whether mindfulness meditation has the potential to trim tobacco cravings, the researchers conducted a study.

Unlike the usual smoking cessation programs, the researchers recruited volunteers interested in reducing stress and improving their performance. However, the focus of the study was to explore how IBMT would impact the nicotine addiction of 27 smokers (average age 21 years).

They randomly assigned 15 nicotine-dependent adults (who lit an average of 10 cigarettes daily) to a 2-week mindfulness training program for a total of five hours. The remaining 11 subjects served as the control underwent relaxation techniques.

The researchers collected carbon monoxide exhalations from participants before and after the regimes to find out whether or not they continued to smoke. In addition, the volunteers underwent brain scans.

Revelations of the study
After a two-week course in mindfulness, the researchers noted a significant difference in the two groups. Participants engaged in mindfulness training cut down on smoking by 60 percent without being aware of doing so.

They also exhibited increased activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, medial prefrontal cortex and inferior frontal gyrus/ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, regions of the brain linked to self control. Five of the subjects still had reductions in their smoking habits after two and five weeks of undergoing the meditation program. No substantial alterations were observed among smokers in the control group.

Senior author of the study, Michael I. Posner, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Oregon stated, “This is an early finding, but an encouraging one. It may be that for the reduction or quitting to have a lasting effect, smokers will need to continue to practice meditation for a longer time period.”

The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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