The use of meditation and self-hypnosis in quitting addictive habits such as smoking is sadly underplayed in today’s cynical and hard-nosed society. At the most basic level it is simply affirmation of your desire to quit and all the excellent reasons that you should, lending strength and determination to what we know will be a trying and difficult time.
Many people include meditation and self-hypnosis (as well as regular hypnosis) in that group of incredible practises used by a semi-hysterical, airy-fairy section of the population; not something for sensible people with careers and responsibilities. This is unfortunate as the medical profession is gradually coming to appreciate just how little is known and understood about the workings of the brain and how it can influence the workings of the body. Scientists are now aware that the principle of mind over matter can have a quantifiable effect on disease and recovery, something ‘old wives’ have been aware of for decades!
What meditation and self-hypnosis does
In the case of an addiction, such as with nicotine, the brain is the affected body part and it is possible to loosen the grip of the substance with meditation or self-hypnosis. Within 10 seconds of lighting a cigarette the nicotine has reached the bloodstream and quickly finds the brain. The way nicotine works in the brain is by affecting the ‘reward’ centre, the place that makes us feel pleasure, releasing extra dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps us to feel well-being and satisfaction. The pleasant feeling does not last very long, so it becomes ‘necessary’ to repeat the act of lighting up over and over throughout the day.
When one meditates one stops thinking and concentrates on feeling. Therefore one is only aware of the very basest and oldest part of the mind – similar to the subconscious. This is the best part of the mind to communicate with when you want to stop bad habits.
The thought of giving up smoking can create feelings akin to panic even in people who are determined to give up the habit and this is also where self-hypnosis and meditation can come in so very useful in allowing the smoker to see through the confusion and stress of withdrawal to a time when cigarettes no longer exert such great control over them. It is easy for someone who has never smoked to say ‘Just give up; it’s expensive and bad for you and you will be happier and healthier without cigarettes in your life’, because they have little or no understanding of just how tightly the habit can hold a person.
Many a smoker has worked themselves to the point where they agree, yes, it is a disgusting habit and causing smelly breath and browning teeth; yes, it is ruinously expensive, to the point that nearly all spare income is funnelled into the habit; and yes, they want to quit because they are a better person, they do not want to rely on a noxious weed any longer: only to crumble into self-loathing and doubt because they can not get through the week, day or even the next hour without a long satisfying drag on a cigarette at regular intervals…
How to do it
Incorporating meditation or self-hypnosis into a stop-smoking programme can be invaluably helpful and it can be easily and simply achieved. Some people need to have finished their last pack of cigarettes while others, once they reach the pre-specified time, are happy to bin the cigarettes they have left, still others prefer to keep that last pack or last cigarette as a souvenir. If you already meditate on a regular basis, you can begin to include an affirmation about not needing to smoke; about being strong enough to break the hold the habit has on you and about being a worthwhile person who deserves to be free of nicotine.
If you have never meditated before it will take some time to learn how. Once you have mastered the basics and have trained your mind to accept the fact that smoking will cease on such-and-such a day you will find it very much easier to let go of the habit and you will be able to break the binds of nicotine with relative ease. Good luck!