Aug 06, 2013
Mindfulness meditationcould help smokers cut back on thehabit without themeven realizing it.
A small new study, published inthejournal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showsthat a form of mindfulness meditation, called Integrative Body-Mind Training, improved self-control among smokersand was associated with themlighting up less, even if they didn’t necessarily notice they weredoing so. IntegrativeBody-Mind Training isa form of Chinese mindfulness meditationthat involvesmental imagery, mindfulness trainingand relaxation.
"We found that participantswhoreceived IBMT trainingalso experienced a significant decrease in their craving for cigarettes," study researcher Yi-Yuan Tang, of Texas TechUniversity, said in a statement. "Because mindfulnessmeditation promotespersonal control and has been shownto positively affect attentionand an opennessto internal and external experiences, we believe that meditationmay behelpful for coping with symptomsof addiction."
Tang, who worked on the study with Michael I. Posner, a professor emeritusof psychology at theUniversity of Oregon, approached their volunteer recruitment process a bit differently than some othersthat involvesmoking cessation. Because the kindsof people who sign up for smoking studiestypically want to quit thehabit, the researchersmarketed their study asonethat involved stress reduction and performance improvement.
Amongall therecruited participantsfor thestudy, researchers focused on the27 who were smokers. These individualshad an averageage of 21 and smoked 10 cigarettesa day, on average. The researchershad 15 of the smokers undergo Integrative Body-Mind Training for five hourstotal over a two-week period , while the other 11 smokerswerein a control group where they just engaged in relaxationtechniques. The study participants underwent carbon monoxide testing before and after the relaxation or mindfulness regimens(to objectively gauge how much they smoked), aswell as brain scans(via fMRI).
Theresearchersfound that after themindfulnesstraining, participantscut down on smoking by 60 percent (as evidenced by the carbon monoxide testing) — plus, they found that someof the participantsdidn’t even realize they had smoked lessoften, until seeing theresultsof the carbon monoxide tests.
They also saw differences inbrain activity beforeand after the mindfulnesstraining. Specifically, therewasincreased activity inthe anterior cingulate cortex, medial prefrontal cortexand inferior frontal gyrus/ventrolateral prefrontal cortex.
And after following up with the smokers who underwent the mindfulnesstraining two and four weeks after, five of them still had reductionsin their smoking.
"This is an early finding, but an encouraging one," Posner said in the statement. "It may be that for the reduction or quittingto have a lasting effect, smokers will need to continue to practicemeditation for a longer time period."