Smoking is one of the oldest and most notorious habits. Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, smoking causes more than seven million deaths per year. A rate that’s believed to climb to more than eight million a year in 2030. In addition to that figure, they also added that smokers tend to die ten years earlier than non-smokers on average.
So why don’t just smokers quit? Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. Especially when nicotine, a compound found in tobacco, is designed to make cigarettes more addictive. It changes so much in the mind that while smokers use it for ease, their brains become more dependent on it. Thus, making their cravings stronger and stronger after every stick.
Meanwhile, many techniques, support systems, and alternatives are available to help smokers quit. But, apart from withdrawal, which is a severe side effect of smoking cessation, intent and self-control are significant factors that smokers need to combat before seeking all the helpful remedies.
Enter mindfulness meditation, an old form of brain exercise that’s recently found as a way that could help reduce smoking, even without willpower. Keep reading to know how mindfulness meditation can help with cigarette aversion and how to start doing it today.
Mindfulness Meditation May Help Stop Smoking
Recent studies on smoking and addiction found that the intention to quit is not always necessary to reduce cravings as long as there’s self-control. It helps smokers decide how many cigarettes they will take for a day instead of impulsively taking one after another. It’s also a pivotal factor to quit altogether.
Now, new evidence suggests that mindfulness meditation and other exercises for self-control can help decrease the unconscious influences that urge a person to smoke, meaning it might lessen the smoking impulses.
Mindfulness is a meditation that helps people become fully present and aware of their surroundings and what they’re thinking and feeling without being overwhelmed or reactive. It’s a way to ease stress, and experts believe it could be a way to reduce smoking.
While more researchers continue to investigate how mindfulness reduces cigarette intake, doing it can benefit the mind and body. For instance, it can help reduce stress and anxiety, boost memory, and improve the body’s overall health.
Getting Started With Mindfulness Meditation
The great part about mindfulness meditation is you can do it on the go. You can be in your office doing this method instead of going for a smoke break.
The following are the basic steps on how to start with mindfulness meditation:
Find a Comfortable Spot
The ideal environment for mindfulness should be quiet and cozy. There’s no required equipment for this meditation, as long as you’re comfortable. Just sit on a chair or the floor, and begin. Keep your head, neck, and back straight but not stiff, so you’re relaxed. What you wear is not essential since you can do this anywhere, but it helps to wear something snug.
Focus on Your Breathing
Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Relax. Focus on your chest as you inhale and exhale. Notice your belly’s contraction and expansion. Never control your breathing, but rather allow it naturally. Feel the sensation of the air that goes in and out of your body. Pay attention to everything around you. Keep going.
Be Aware of Your Thoughts
During your meditation, thoughts will rush in your silence. Don’t stop them. Instead, allow them to pass without suppressing or judging them. You’re a spectator to every sound, sensation, and idea.
You can discern these passing images without reacting or assessing. If you find yourself overwhelmed, focus back on your breathing. Then, go back to these thoughts.
Open your eyes. Take a moment to observe everything happening in your surroundings. Notice how much awareness you feel.
After that, you’re finished with basic mindfulness. Try doing this practice daily until it becomes an effortless part of your life, and see how much it changes your smoking habits.
Alternatives to Smoking
Although mindfulness can be helpful, it won’t remove your cigarette cravings instantly. Plus, immediately quitting smoking could trigger withdrawal symptoms, which are known to be dangerous. In the meantime, you can try complementing your mindfulness sessions with a few useful alternatives.
Nicotine replacement treatment (NRT) products are the first things that come to mind when people think of smoking alternatives. These products range from patches, chewing gums, lozenges, tablets, sprays, and inhalers. All help satisfy a person’s nicotine cravings without the chemicals from tobacco.
Meanwhile, cannabidiol (CBD) cigarettes are making a rise as a better alternative to smoking. CBD cigarettes use hemp without the psychoactive side effects from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) instead of tobacco and nicotine. This means a person can experience the same feeling of smoking without the harmful chemicals.
CBD cigarettes are legal to consume since they contain less THC, and users say they taste even better than tobacco.
Meditate Smoking Away
Smoking is a worldwide threat that puts millions of lives in danger. Quitting is understandably difficult, but thankfully, many alternative products, organizations, and relaxing techniques are available to help.
Experts believe that mindfulness meditation can significantly improve a person’s self-control, which is essential for reducing a smoker’s cigarette intake. It also offers many benefits for the mind and body, like reducing stress and anxiety. And you won’t need any fancy equipment or attire, just a few minutes of your time and concentration.