How Can I Ease The Pain?

While the phrase might ignite memories from 1991, the point of the post isn’t to get you back into Lisa Fischer (although she does still sound good 20 years later). Rather, the point is to remind you that if you’ve got pain, try meditation!

In this recent CNN post, checkout Anne Harding’s report on a study to be published in today’s Journal of Neuroscience that shows meditation training sessions to be very helpful as a natural approach to pain management. According to Harding, although past research has shown that mindfulness meditation has been an effective coping mechanism for pain, anxiety, and other physical and mental problems, these trainings take weeks. This training took place over 80 minutes.

The type of meditation used in the study is known as Shamatha, or “focused attention.” Like other forms of mindfulness meditation, it entails learning how to observe what’s going on in one’s mind and body without judging, and while maintaining focus on one’s breathing or a chanted mantra.

Brain scans conducted during the pain experiments showed that this technique appeared to cause a number of changes in how the participants’ brains responded to pain.

The researchers looked, for instance, at a part of the brain called the somatosensory cortex, which contains a kind of map of the body. Before meditation training, the area corresponding to the right calf was quite active when the heat was applied to the volunteers. But there was little activity in this region when they were meditating, which suggests that “meditation reduces pain by reducing the actual sensation,” Zeidan says.

Read more from Harding on using meditation to ease your pain here.

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