When you’re dealing with chronic pain, there is nothing more you want than to be pain-free. And because of how relentless this kind of pain is you’ve probably tried all sorts of mainstream and alternative treatment options in the hope of at least reducing your daily suffering.
And while some are certainly effective, what if there was an alternative to simply trying to get rid of that pain? What if by changing your relationship with pain--i.e. by observing it from a new perspective--could lessen its intensity?
In the past decade, hundreds of studies have been conducted looking at the role of meditation and its effect in treating and lowering chronic pain.
Meditation & Pain Intensity
Unlike common pain medications, meditation is not a pill you swallow—but rather it’s something you can do for yourself. And although it might seem counter-intuitive, meditation trains the mind to be with whatever you’re experiencing as opposed to running away from it.
Meditation is about understanding our habits, tendencies, the way we relate to pain, and how we might play a role in increasing (and decreasing) its intensity.
A study conducted at Wake Forest University in April 2011, found the following results:
- While inducing pain, they performed MRI brain scans on 15 healthy volunteers.
- Over the next four days, they were taught the basics of mindfulness meditation (breathwork and acceptance of transient thoughts).
- On day five, they performed MRI scans once again while inducing pain, once while not meditating, and another time while meditating.
- The results showed a 40 percent reduction in pain intensity ratings during meditation (when compared with the pain induced while not meditating).
It seems that by activating and reinforcing areas of the brain used for processing pain, meditation has the overall effect of reducing pain intensity. Plus, because meditation also helps to reduce stress, that in turn decreases pain.
Zen Master or Not, Meditation Helps
The great news is that you can access the benefits of meditation for pain relief right now. You don’t have to be an enlightened Zen master to experience its benefits--many total beginners also report notable pain reduction!
Plus, there is no right or wrong way to meditate—and all you need is a quiet room where you’re unlikely to be interrupted. Start with as little as 5-10 minutes each day, even during your lunch break at work.
And although meditation is not necessarily a cure-all for all of your pain-related issues, committing even a minimal amount of time to practicing meditation techniques can have a positive impact on your pain. So take a step back from your discomfort, breathe, relax, and begin to unwind that familiar feeling of pain from inside out.