James Krag, MD, is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, president of the Psychiatric Society of Virginia, and former president of the Virginia Association of Community Psychiatrists for four years. He is currently Medical Director of Liberty Point, a residential treatment program for adolescents with psychiatric problems.
Robert Schneider, MD, has been awarded more than $20 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for his pioneering research on natural approaches to heart disease. Dr. Schneider is the author of Total Heart Health and 100 medical research articles, and he has been featured in more than 1,000 media reports, including CNN Headline News, The New York Times, and Time magazine.
Q: One of the major risk factors for heart disease is cigarette smoking. What can the Transcendental Meditation technique do to help people to stop smoking?
Dr Schneider: Smoking is, indeed, a major risk factor for heart disease, for lung cancer and for many other conditions that produce mortality, disease and disability. As a matter of fact, it’s considered to be the leading cause of death today by the Surgeon General of the United States.
It’s actually difficult for doctors to get their patients to stop smoking. However, the Transcendental Meditation program has been shown to be quite effective in helping people to quit.
In a meta-analysis, or study, of all available research on cessation of smoking published in the Alcohol Treatment Quarterly and the Journal of Health Promotion, the Transcendental Meditation technique was shown to be twice as effective in helping people to stop smoking as the other treatments, including pharmacological therapy, individual counseling and self-help kits. This result is very significant for the 25-30% of the population who smoke today.
Q: Even if I learn the Transcendental Meditation technique, won’t I still have to try hard to give up smoking?
Dr Krag: I would not expect your TM instructors to ever give you instructions on quitting smoking. They teach Transcendental Meditation. However, by regularly practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique, I do expect that you will simply not be as interested in smoking. Just meditate regularly and see what happens. I predict you will be pleasantly surprised.
Q: I like to drink two cups of coffee in the morning. Will I have to stop in order to learn the Transcendental Meditation program?
Dr Krag: No. But I recommend that you wait until after meditating to drink the coffee. Over time you may find you “need” or want less, not only in the morning but during the day as well.