I’Il give you an example. In my lab, we studied whether mindfulness training could help people quit smoking. Now, just like trying to force myself to pay attention to my breath, they could try to force themselves to quit smoking. And the majority of them had tried this before and failed — on average, six times.
Now, with mindfulness training, we dropped the bit about forcing and instead focused on being curious. In fact, we even told them to smoke. What? Yeah, we said, “Go ahead and smoke, just be really curious about what it’s like when you do.”
And what did they notice? Well here’s an example from one of our smokers. She said,”Mindful smoking: smells like stinky cheese and tastes like chemicals, YUCK!” Now, she knew, cognitively that smoking was bad for her, that’s why she joined our program. What she discovered just by being curiously aware when she smoked was that smoking tastes like shit.