In the last twenty years, mindfulness meditation has incorporated more scientific articles in the field of mental health than probably any other technique. It has been proven that the regular practice of mindfulness directly impacts the neuroplasticity of our brains, helping people change the way they think, and equally as important, the way they react to their thoughts, emotions, and even perceptions.
Recent studies have shown that people who use mindfulness meditation to quit smoking can increase their chance of successfully quitting. If you are thinking that only a yogi or a meditation practitioner can meditate successfully, you may be surprised! More than 50 million people are practicing mindfulness through a variety of apps, and even more people practice in different ways, including in groups.
Three ways mindfulness meditation helps smokers quit:
Often, stress can work as a trigger for smoking. People who smoke know that smoking is bad, but they also receive gratification each time they do it when feeling stressed or anxious. The reality is that smoking only briefly covers up the stress, whereas meditating helps overcome it in a more efficient and resilient way. By practicing mindfulness it is possible to learn to recognize and accept what’s going inside and around you, opening the opportunity for new and healthier responses to stress.
2. Awareness of your smoking habits and cravings.
You crave for a cigarette because you saw someone else smoking, or you experienced the smell of coffee, or you have a drink in your hands or any one of many other triggering situations. Either way, you crave, and you react by smoking. It’s an autopilot mode reaction. By practicing mindfulness meditation to quit smoking, smokers learn to identify and accept their thoughts, emotions, and bodily feelings. Mindfully exploring the act of smoking, how and where the craving starts, and how it influences your body and your mind, you can learn to accept these feelings and change your behavior. Whenever a new craving appears, you will be able to observe it and decide how to react to it. And that is a liberating sensation, one that makes you free from the habit.
3. Self-control improvement.
The transformation that mindfulness meditation can bring to your life happens deeply, at the brain level, providing long-term positive benefits. One very important example is self-control. Studies have shown that constant practice of mindfulness can enhance connectivity between regions of the brain linked to self-control. The more you can control your mind, the better you will be at deciding what to do when you are presented with cravings or familiar situations that trigger you to smoke. The more self-control, the stronger your willpower.
In 2019, Julia R., one of the participants in our community shared her story with us and how grateful she was to learn mindfulness meditation in the context of quitting smoking, by using our MindCotine Kit. She is now 18 months without a cigarette and continues to practice on her own.
Juliet R.: “I have been a smoker since I was 16 years old. I always used cigarettes to fill the lonely moments. Over time it became part of my life, and it was only when I was 20 years old that I confessed to my mom that I was a smoker. My dad told me that if he saw me smoking, he would disinherit me.
In hiding and fear, I continued to smoke. I felt fear every time I went to a doctor. Fear that someone around me would recognize I was smoking. In my house, I was ashamed to smoke. To suffer anxiety and to light a cigarette. A torturous vicious cycle.
After realizing that I had spent 10 years with a cigarette in my hands, I wanted to stop. Through an initiative from the Wellness team at my job, I found an opportunity to join a program to quit smoking. It was interesting because the treatment was especially based on mindfulness, a subject that I’m passionate about.
As the days passed, and with the exercises, not only did I find moments of relaxation in my life, but I also learned to recognize myself here and now. I learned to look inside and to be aware of what my body asks of me, what it rejects, what it tries to tell me. It taught me the opportunity to choose what I wanted to do.
At the same time, I got the support of other people who were in the same process as me, and I received individual support, which gave me strength when I felt I could not do it. It is a very rewarding experience, knowing that they will be there to help me meet my goals.”
If you smoke and you wonder if mindfulness meditation can help you, give yourself a chance and get your MindCotine kit, you will get access to over 300 minutes of mindfulness and hundreds of meditation exercises.