Smokers actually smoked less and had increased brain activity in regions associated with self-control after a few hours of meditation, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an article in the LA Times reported. And many didn’t even realize their behavior had changed!
Researchers from a number of institutions recruited 60 college students, including 27 smokers. Half learned a form of meditation called integrative body-mind training, or IBMT, and practiced for five hours over a two-week period. This method of meditation involves relaxing the whole body and remaining “crisply focused on the present moment,” said University of Oregon psychologist Michael Posner, who is a coauthor of the study.
The remaining participants followed the same schedule, but practiced relaxation therapy rather then meditation. This involved periodically concentrating on different parts of the body, the LA Times stated.
Since cigarette smoke contains high levels of carbon monoxide, scientists measured how much carbon monoxide subjects exhaled to determine how much they smoked before and after the two-week training session.
Smokers in the meditation group smoked 60 percent less at the end of the training, compared to the smoking habits of the relaxation therapy group, which showed little change, the report stated.
Additionally, study participants answered a questionnaire gauging their craving levels, and responses revealed a significant decrease in craving for the meditation group, but not in the relaxation therapy group, according to the report.