Using Meditation to Quit Smoking

Mindfulness meditation is an ancient practice that has been gaining a lot of traction in recent years. That’s because more and more research is being published that shows how meditation improves physical and mental health. What’s even better is that studies have shown that those who use meditation to quit smoking can significantly increase their chance of a successful quit.

You may be thinking, “Isn’t meditating a thing for like Zen masters and yogis who live in a rock garden?” Well sure, you have people like that, but really anyone can do it, regardless of religion or beliefs. All you need is a quiet space and a few minutes.

Here are three ways how using meditation to quit smoking can be helpful:

1. It reduces stress, which often is a trigger for smoking.
Many people smoke as a way to feel better when they are stressed and anxious. They know that smoking is bad, but they also enjoy that moment of relaxation after they take a puff. But the reality is that smoking just temporarily covers up the stress, whereas meditating can help you better manage and overcome stress by teaching you how to recognize and accept what’s going on around you. With less stress, you’ll have less of a reason to reach for a cigarette.

2. It teaches you mindfulness and to be aware of your smoking habits and cravings.
Smoking habits are often turned on autopilot; People reach for a cigarette because they crave it, without giving much thought to the action. But by practicing meditation to quit smoking, smokers learn to recognize and accept their emotions and how their body is feeling. By deciding to mindfully experience your physical and mental state (both the good and the bad parts), such as how you feel when you are craving a cigarette, you can begin accepting these feelings and reshape your behavior. When you mindfully choose to let the cravings pass without the help of a cigarette, you are changing your reaction to cravings by learning how to embrace rather than escape from them.

3. It helps improve self-control.
Meditation can actually cause changes in your brain that brings on positive benefits. For example, the practice has shown enhanced connectivity between regions of the brain that are linked to self-control. And as you know, the greater self-control you have, the greater your willpower is to quit smoking. Some studies have even show that smokers who meditated began curbing their smoking habits without even knowing it.

Using meditation to quit smoking may not be for everyone, but if you’ve tried other options (like medications or going cold turkey) that didn’t work, then it may be worth trying this strategy. There are a variety of guided meditations that you can listen to, but you can try starting with some of these from UCLA.

Regardless of the strategy you use to quit, make sure you have a quit plan and set Monday as your quit date to help you quit and stay quit!

Have you used meditation to quit smoking? Tell us about your experiences on Twitter!