If you’ve decided to take a stand for better health and a longer life, you’re already well on the way to the best way to quit smoking. When it comes to the other half of the battle, however, it may seem like an uphill struggle with victory always two steps away. Fortunately, there are many ways to level out the playing field and boost your chances success.
The Plan for Success
Even the strongest feats can be discouraged by the strong dependencies formed after years of regular smoking. This is where a plan for maximizing the results of your efforts can make the whole ordeal less daunting.
The “cold turkey” method is by far the most popular approach with 90 percent of “smoking quitters.” making this brave attempt. However, it is not the most effective method because studies show that only about seven percent of individuals succeed.
Another popular approach is through behavioral therapy, in which an experienced counselor helps develop a plan to deal with emotional or situational triggers in a productive way.
Finally, there are a wide variety of nicotine replacement therapies in gum, spray, drops, or patches. These help the body gradually relieve itself from nicotine dependency and have a high success rate.1
The best plan for your needs may include elements from some or all of these popular approaches. Nicotine replacement is an effective way to deal with the physical addiction, while the support of friends, family, and a knowledgeable counselor can facilitate the psychological dependency.
In addition to patches and a support system, additional practices can supplement your efforts to quit smoking, like mindfulness and meditation.
What is Meditation?
Due to the great role meditation plays in religions and ancient practices from around the world, there are some common misconceptions about to whom and how this simple mental function is applied. While there are certainly many yogis and monks practicing meditation, there is not necessarily a need for religion, faith, or other specific belief to begin.
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Mindfulness is simply an awareness of the present moment and a full immersion in what that moment has to offer. Meditation is the cultivation of mindfulness and the study of how it can be applied in a great variety of mental and physical functions.
How Meditation Supports a Plan to Quit Smoking
One of the most important aspects of creating a plan to quit smoking is to reduce the factors that contribute to the habit in the first place. Stress is one of the most important triggers that smokers need to watch out for as it may lead to the urge to light up and feel a bit better.
Meditation reduces stress by promoting a closer connection between the mind and body. When the mind relaxes, the body follows suit.
Smokers who practice meditation begin to develop a more in-depth view of their mental processes and how they operate through simple observation. During meditation, the individual takes an observant perspective on their mental and physical state when at rest. It is important that this is done without judgment.
This may not cause a sudden cessation of all urges to smoke, but an attitude of acceptance will cultivate a kinder and less judgemental attitude. Efforts to change made through encouragement and positivity are always more effective than those led by guilt and coercion.
Studies have shown that committed efforts to quit smoking which are supported by mindfulness practices have a higher success rate than those without them.2
Self-control doesn’t come easily. Feelings of hunger, solitude, and even nostalgia can be misunderstood for an urge to smoke. Through mindfulness and meditation, it is easier to differentiate between these feelings and avoid taking on more than you have to.
Additionally, studies have shown that in the brains of individuals who meditate, the ability to regulate feelings calmness and serenity are enhanced. This improves balance within the body which results in fewer impulses, therefore increasing self-control .3,4
Controls Smoking Habits Subconsciously
Sometimes just thinking about giving up smoking can cause enough stress to excite an impulse to smoke more. After many years of smoking, the very thought of quitting the habit can be a discouraging and stressing notion, which can serve to aggravate the condition.
One great advantage of meditation is that it can be applied to achieve better health and control over a habit, even if the intention to quit has not even been considered. A report published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences says that the desire to give up smoking isn’t always required to begin controlling the cravings.
The report cited a study performed at Texas Tech University and the University of Oregon which observed how behavioral therapy, accompanied by meditation, could be applied to reduce the cravings of smokers. Sixty students were selected for the program with 27 being smokers and the other 33 being non-smokers. The students were told they are participating in a program that studied the effects of meditation and relaxation on cognitive function.
Half of the students were introduced to a relaxation while the other half received a 30-minute session of mindfulness practice through meditation. The test went on for two weeks with each student practicing over five hours of relaxation or meditation. During this time, the students also received brain scans and filled out questionnaires. Carbon monoxide testing measured the smoking habits of the students.
At the end of the test, the self- assessments were tallied and not many of the students mentioned any noticeable differences in the reported number of cigarettes smoked. However, the surprising results came from the carbon monoxide tests which showed that fewer cigarettes had indeed been smoked. The study showed an average of 60 percent reduction in carbon monoxide in the lungs.5
Incorporating a plan for mindfulness and meditation into your efforts to quit smoking increases the values of your efforts and consolidates progress. While the topic of meditation is extensive and spans a 5,000-year culture, dedicated practice and its wealth of benefits are available without too much introduction or assistance.
The traditional practices were all unguided and unassisted, which proves that the only equipment that is needed to practice successful meditation is a functioning mind. Nevertheless, many people have found that practicing guided meditation or visiting one of many meditations centers has been a good start.
For beginners, it is often best, to begin with the cultivation of mindfulness through the awareness of the breath. To begin, find a comfortable spot where you can stand, sit, or lie down and not be too distracted by noise, clutter, or other distractions. Your eyes can be open or closed, but you may find that keeping your eyes closed allows for greater mental clarity.
If you feel especially upset or stressed at the beginning of your session, it can be difficult to focus on breathing. It may be necessary to take some deep cleansing breaths that reach deep to the diaphragm and hold them there for a second or two. Then, allow the air to escape through the mouth while bringing the attention to rest on the moment and sensations of breathing.
The mind will begin to wander from the practice and begin flooding the consciousness with thoughts ranging from distant memories to random associations. This is where the game begins. It’s a game of patience and requires that you repeatedly bring your awareness back to the breathing and the moment. Learn to love this simple process, and soon, the benefits of meditation will begin benefitting your life in many remarkable ways.
Give Your Meditation for Smoking Relief a Flying Start with Essential Oils
Aromatic substances have been used to clear the mind and ground the body in meditation practices around the world. While incense may be a poor choice for these purposes, essential oils relax the mind and help create a calming environment for practicing meditation.
Try using them in a room diffuser or personal aromatherapy diffuser like Zen MONQ during your meditations sessions for added benefits.
Making the decision to move past an oppressive and costly habit like smoking is taking a step closer to a life of freedom. Even though the going can get rough, there are many ways to keep the game balanced by playing smart. Through mindfulness practices, you will facilitate greater progress and reduce the risk of relapse. And don’t forget how effective essential oils can be in reducing stress, relaxing the mind and body and even controlling the cravings that besiege your mind. Best of luck.