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For those addicted to smoking, going one day without a cigarette feels like a day without food, or maybe even worse. Remedies include everything from patches and pills to finding an alternative vice. But a new study in the journal Trends and Cognitive Sciences found that addiction cravings can be reduced even without the intention to quit. Say what? In other words, certain exercises, such as meditation, can discourage “unconscious influences” that cause a person to smoke. This means that a person does not even need to commit to quitting, but can instead engage in mindful activities that encourage self-control.
This concept may sound unrealistic, but there is science to support the assertions. A study was conducted among a group of students that screened how much they smoked. Half of the students received meditation training and were told it was for stress relief. At the end of the study, the students thought that they smoked the same amount before and after the meditation practice and were surprised to find out that they had smoked less.
"The students changed their smoking behavior but were not aware of it,” said Yi-Yuan Tang, lead author of the study. “When we showed the data to a participant who said they had smoked 20 cigarettes, this person checked their pocket immediately and was shocked to find 10 left."
Although this addiction relief may not be useful for everyone, there is a lot to be said about the power of self-control and mindful meditation.