According to research published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the practice of mindfulness meditation brings people a greater level of pain relief than a placebo alone. The findings show that meditation changes the brain patterns of those practicing it when compared to people using a placebo cream to control pain.
Led by Dr. Fadel Zaidan, who has already noted that meditation affects everything from expectation levels to a person’s moral beliefs, the enhanced cognitive function of the brain that comes from meditation could be the key to experiencing pain relief when chronic pain is present.
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness meditation focuses on the recognition of momentary events. Every second offers us all something new and unique to discover. This discovery process can occur emotionally, through cognitive events, or even through a person’s senses.
Because time is relative, we often take these brief moments and expand them to make them seem longer than they are. Sometimes different what-if scenarios will also be included. Some people even expand these thoughts into an alternative timeline that they live in from time to time as a way to reflect on past choices. This process often leads to negative emotional responses, regret, and even pain.
Mindfulness meditation changes that perspective. Instead of allowing the mind to return to the habit of creating more time out of a moment, it allows people to see a moment for what it really is: a brief moment of time. Instead of expanding it, in essence mindfulness freezes that moment and allows it to be fully explored.
How Does This Reduce Pain Levels?
Pain is essentially communication to the brain. Mindfulness changes the brain’s perspective of that communication by activating certain regions, such as the orbitofrontal region, that affect a person’s self-control. Less pain is experienced because the signals aren’t interpreted as a severe warning like they normally might be.
According to Dr. Zaidan, it may only take four daily 20 minute mindfulness meditation sessions to begin experiencing this benefit.
This is exciting news for people who are dealing with pain on a regular basis. Instead of taking potentially dangerous medications, such as narcotics, to help control pain levels, they can use the power of their own mind to reroute pain signals so the discomfort can potentially begin to fade away. It won’t provide instant pain relief, but it could be an essential part of pain management treatment plans in the future.
Many studies involve pain-free research volunteers. More information and research about mindfulness meditation is still waiting to be discovered. Despite this, this research is incredibly exciting. There could be a lot of truth to the idea that you have the power to heal yourself.