We all know that the practice of meditation is a known way to “clear the mind,” become “more grounded” in the here and now, and “centered”—in other words, it’s a great way to handle a world increasingly cluttered by stimuli.
In addition, meditation establishes a stronger connection between mind and body.
And while that connection is not completely understood, it is nonetheless a powerful source of healing energy that can make a significant difference in our overall well being.
New science backs up the theory that mindfulness meditation can reduce pain.
A recent study published in Journal of Neuroscience found that within two groups, one of which received a placebo cream and the other asked to practice mindfulness meditation, the meditating group experienced greater pain relief.
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Fadel Zeidan, PhD., assistant professor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, expressed complete surprise at the results but concluded that the study provides objective evidence that meditation has unique pain-reduction capabilities.
According to an article in Natural News,
During the study, the mindfulness meditation group reported an average of 27% less physical pain and 44% less emotional pain in response to the stimuli, while the placebo group reported 11% less physical pain and 13% less emotional pain. MRI scans also showed that meditation actually produced effects on the brain different from those produced by the placebo cream.”
Translation: the MRI scan indicates that the group practicing mindfulness meditation seemed to be using different regions of the brain than those using a topical cream.
Another recent article in Time elaborates:
This group had increased activation in higher-order brain regions associated with attention control and enhanced cognitive control.”
The meditating group also experienced a deactivation of the thalamus—the part of the brain that acts as a kind of club bouncer that tells pain to stay outside the velvet rope.
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All in all, it’s another step forward in our understanding of these powerful tools: mindfulness and meditation.
IMAGE: Signs of pain disappeared from MRI images of the brain when freshly trained novices meditated. Robert Coghill/Wake Forest University School of Medicine