Meditation May Help Curb Smoking Habits, New Study Shows

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.

The Results
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.


Wild Divine Launches Manifestation Challenge to Benefit Charity

Wild Divine, developer of unique whole-body relaxation training programs incorporating its unique feedback “iom” technology, launched a Manifestation Challenge to benefit charity via it’s Wild Divine Online (WDO) platform.

WDO is a private social network for meditation and mindfulness, and the manifestation unites the Wild Divine community to build something together to benefit others. Here is how it works:

Members of the WDO can visit a new mysterious area and complete meditations led by Deepak Chopra and others (there will be more added over time) to earn manifestation points that can be used as votes for one of the five charities listed including Amnesty International and the Red Cross.

“Once the manifestation is complete, Wild Divine will make a cash contribution to the charity with the most votes,” said Kyle Widner, president and CEO of Wild Divine. “We designed our virtual world to help create positive change in the real world. This is the first of many events that will focus on supporting causes that are important to our community.”

Wild Divine has leveraged the power of the Internet to build a gathering place for the more than 100,000 (and growing) users of Wild Divine programs from all over the world. WDO members can access all of their Wild Divine programs, interact with like-minded members of the Wild Divine global community, be the first to access new programs, track their personal progress and see how this compares with others, achieve different levels and attainments, and more.

Membership in Wild Divine online is free. Premium members have unlimited access to all the Wild Divine programs included, and exclusive first access to new programs.

For more information, visit

Deepak Chopra & Eckhart Tolle Talk Consciousness & the Present Moment — Part 1

As part of The Chopra Center’s “Seduction of Spirit” retreat at La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., on April 24, 2013, EckhartTolleTV hosted a live-streaming event called “A Conversation with Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle.”

Both authors discussed consciousness, the present moment, discovering silence and more to an audience of more than 1,400 locally in California, and thousands more over the Internet.

Eckhart Tolle took the stage first and asked everyone to join him in the present moment rather than be absorbed by their thinking, which by itself is a shift in consciousness, he explained. An easy way to enter the present moment is through sense perceptions – noticing whatever a person can see and hear at the moment. A huge amount of our attention is “continuously absorbed by thinking,” and much of what we think is not relevant to anything important, and is negative, said Tolle.

“Every thought has a seductive quality, and it wants to draw you in,” he said. “But if you follow each thought you are at the mercy of what is in your mind.”

Living this way, consciousness is actually being absorbed by the mind. All the things that make life worth living – beauty and joy – actually involve less thinking.

“For joy to come into your life – a moment of joy – you might not realize it, but at that moment there is a space that opens up inside you where you are not thinking,” Tolle explained. “To recognize beauty anywhere, the thinking mind needs to subside and a little bit of space opens up … you might not recognize it, but you are not thinking. If you are thinking, you are not really seeing it. To really see it, there has to be a moment of alert presence where thinking subsides.”

This moment or gap in thinking is the presence or consciousness that resides within us all. This is the space that does not judge another human being, and where we can feel empathy and compassion, said Tolle. However, many people are so trapped by their minds, they live in a “totally conceptualized universe where every human being they meet, they judge, and they take entire groups of humans and judge them – they dehumanize them – and this is how violence can happen,” he said.

Recognizing Consciousness
Most people identify themselves based on images and thoughts in their mind, which have been taken from what they are told by others – their mother, father, siblings, environment and culture. They take this self-image on as their “story,” and it becomes the foundation for their sense of identity.

They often believe in order to feel better about themselves and their place in the world, they need to collect more possessions, or find the right relationship. They believe these things will bring them peace and happiness, but it is never enough.

“We are never satisfied for long and always things will go wrong,” Tolle said. You will never be satisfied for very long if you don’t know who you are and you try to enhance the mind-made sense of self.”

By identifying with the mind, we are only focusing on half of who we are – they physical and physiological form. “That is how most people live their lives, and they don’t know what they are missing,” Tolle told the audience.

While those who find themselves on a spiritual path understand there is a state of enlightenment, they often mistake it for something that needs to be reached or achieved. The truth is, this state, which Tolle called “the transcendent dimension” is who we really are and is always present. The reason people don’t recognize its presence is because they are tied up in the movement of thought and emotions in the mind.

‘Those things absorb your attention, and there is something very vital that you overlook, and that is something that without which you couldn’t even think. There would be no thought, and there would be no emotions. That something is presence – the formless presence of consciousness itself, which is always there if you stop thinking for three seconds,” Tolle explained.

While meditation helps us get there, we can be aware of this state at any moment. This is our other half known as inner presence, he said. Using the room where the event was taking place as an analogy, he compared the people and the furniture or chairs to the thoughts in our mind, and the space holding the people and furniture as the essence representing consciousness.

“Without the space, the room means nothing. It couldn’t even exist,” he said explaining the same is true within us. “There is a spaciousness within you that is continuously missed because you are so interested in the furniture in your head.”

Humanity is beginning to enter into an evolutionary shift where thinking is transcended, said Tolle. We are moving away from identifying ourselves as a thought-based entity and moving toward recognizing ourselves as presence-based entities.

“If you derive your sense of identity from the presence within you, and more and more you become comfortable with spaces of not thinking, you can walk from one building to another, or from the building to your car and just be in the state of alert presence. You see beauty everywhere, and you don’t need to label anything.”

One of the great spiritual practices is the practice of not labeling anything and not interpreting what we perceive. This can be done anywhere, said Tolle, recommending we try it the next time we find ourselves waiting at a checkout, traffic light or airport.

“Instead of waiting, invite the state of alertness in and realize there is nothing wrong with waiting. You either stand, sit or lie somewhere. Does it really matter where you stand, sit or lie?” he asked the audience. “You can use your waiting periods – instead of complaining – to just be present. Enter the field of presence that you are and at that moment you become a spiritual master.”



LuLulemon Founders Launch

The founders of the apparel brand lululemon Athletica launched a new Web site and content portal called for those seeking a break from the chaos of every day life with a quick meditation. It’s also a place to set goals, according to a report by

Unveiled at this year’s SXSW Interactive Conference, it features a proprietary, 60-second meditation technique based on a dot. Co-founder Chip Wison said the site is “a new way of looking at meditation” that can be done at any time and any where. He also believes “focus and short term goal setting are two essential ingredients for finding success,” he said in the report.

To see how the 60-second meditation works and more, visit

Meditation More Powerful Than Morphine to Relieve Pain

New research published in the Journal of Neuroscience shows meditation produces powerful pain-relieving effects in the brain, according to a report by In fact, meditation proved to be more helpful in pain reduction than morphine.

“This is the first study to show that only a little over an hour of meditation training can dramatically reduce both the experience of pain and pain-related brain activation,” Fadel Zeidan, Ph.D., lead author of the study and post-doctoral research fellow at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center said in the report “We found a big effect – about a 40 percent reduction in pain intensity and a 57 percent reduction in pain unpleasantness. Meditation produced a greater reduction in pain than even morphine or other pain-relieving drugs, which typically reduce pain ratings by about 25 percent.”

For the study, 15 healthy volunteers who had never meditated went to four, 20-minute classes to learn a mindfulness meditation technique called focused attention, where people are taught to pay attention to their breath and let go of distracting thoughts and emotions. And before and after meditating, participants had their brain activity examined using an ASL MRI or arterial spin labeling MRI.

The scans taken after meditation training showed every participant’s pain ratings were reduced, with decreases ranging from 11 to 93 percent, Zeidan said in the report. Also, meditation significantly reduced brain activity in the primary somatosensory cortex, an area involved in creating the feeling of where and how intense a painful stimulus is, ScienceDaily reported.  While the scans taken before meditation training showed activity in this area was very high, when participants were meditating during the scans, activity in this pain-processing region could not be detected.

The research also showed meditation increased brain activity in areas including the anterior cingulate cortex, anterior insula and the orbito-frontal cortex, which shape how the brain builds an experience of pain from nerve signals, Robert C. Coghill, Ph.D., senior author of the study and associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist said in the report.

“Consistent with this function, the more that these areas were activated by meditation the more that pain was reduced,” he explained. “One of the reasons that meditation may have been so effective in blocking pain was that it did not work at just one place in the brain, but instead reduced pain at multiple levels of processing.”

As a result of the study, Zeidan and colleagues believe meditation offers great potential for clinical use since there is not much training required to product dramatic results. “This study shows that meditation produces real effects in the brain and can provide an effective way for people to substantially reduce their pain without medications,” Zeidan said in the report.

Study Shows Meditation Reduces Healthcare Costs

For many, chronic stress is the top factor contributing to high medical expenses. Researchers believed by reducing stress reduction, healthcare costs may also decrease, and according to a recent study published in the September/October 2011 issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion, this may be correct.

The study showed people with consistently high health care costs experienced a 28 percent cumulative decrease in physician fees after an average of five years practicing the stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique, compared with their baseline, reported

This new study, done over five years in Quebec, Canada, compared the changes in physician costs for 284 consistent high-cost participants. A total of 142 practiced Transcendental Meditation and 142 were non-practitioners, reported.

The non-TM subjects were randomly selected from Quebec health insurance enrollees with the same age, sex, and region to match the TM participant profiles, and the TM participants had began the technique one year prior to choosing to enter the study, the report stated.

After the first year, the TM group health care costs decreased 11 percent, and after 5 years, their cumulative reduction was 28 percent.

Additionally, in a previous Canadian study, the TM group exhibited reduced medical expenses between 5 percent and 13 percent relative to comparison subjects each year for 6 consecutive years, and in a Canadian study of senior citizens, the TM group’s five-year cumulative reduction for people aged 65 years and older relative to comparison subjects was 70 percent, the report stated.

The same has been found in the United States, with an 11-year, cross-sectional study in Iowa showing that subjects age 45 and over who practiced the TM technique had 88 percent fewer hospital days compared with controls, and their medical expenditures were 60 percent below the norm, according to