Treatment of chronic pain varies, but could you think yourself to a pain-free life? Maybe. Not only does meditation improve your mental health, it may also reduce the physical sensation of pain. New research demonstrates that people who regularly meditate have more control over the pain they experience.
While meditation has previously been demonstrated to have positive benefits, researchers at the University of Manchester acknowledge that many people have attributed these results to the placebo effect. However, these same researchers hypothesized that since meditation requires “focusing on the internal feeling of breathing and other body sensations” perhaps this power could be utilized to dull one’s sensitivity to pain.
Twenty-seven healthy adults agreed to take part in the study, 15 of whom were not meditators to serve as the control group. The other twelve were meditators of varying disciplines (Zen, Samatha, Tantra-Yoga, etc.) with a wide range of experience. Researchers used lasers on each of their subjects and asked them to rank the pain they experienced on a scale from one to 10.
During the main experiment, subjects were exposed to further laser stimuli and told to “focus on the unpleasantness of pain at all times,” without additional instruction, including any mention of meditation. In the end, the meditators demonstrated significantly higher thresholds of pain, meaning they could tolerate a stronger laser pain. Furthermore, the meditators’ brain activity indicated that they were calmer in moments just before receiving the laser’s pain sensation than their control group counterparts.
The study also reaffirms the theory that practice makes perfect. While even the people with as little as a few of months of meditation practice experienced less pain than the individuals in the control group, those who overcame the most pain were the people who have meditated for many years.
It is never too late to adopt a better state of mind. Meditation can facilitate relaxation, lower stress and now even ease your pain. More information on meditation and how to get involved in this healthful activity is available.