A new study is being published that shows that intense meditation can actually reduce the sensation of pain. There have been many articles over the last year about how Yoga and Meditation can be used to help treat Fibromyalgia and other pain conditions. The stretching in Yoga helps Fibro, along with the learned breathing and meditation. According to this article, it may be more about the meditation than anything else.
According to the researchers, 15 healthy volunteers were subjected to painful heat for five minutes from a device attached to their leg while they underwent arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance imaging, a type of brain scan that shows long durations of brain processes.
The scans revealed high activity in the primary somatosensory cortex, a brain region that determines the source and severity of pain.
Then the volunteers attended four 20-minute classes to learn a meditation technique called focused attention, which trained them to focus on breathing and to dismiss other thoughts or emotions.
After the meditation training, the study participants were again subjected to the painful heat on their leg while undergoing the brain scans. The scans revealed a decrease in activity in the primary somatosensory cortex and an increase in the activity in three regions that shape how the body experiences pain: the anterior cingulate cortex, anterior insula and the orbito-frontal cortex.
The ratings that the study participants assigned to the pain decreased 40 percent after they attended the meditation training sessions.
Distraction is a great tool, whether it’s learned meditation (which I’d love to learn more about) or just focusing your mind and energy on something else. I see this every day with my own body. If I can focus on something else, whether it’s writing or talking with friends, I can dismiss the pain to a certain degree. However, if I’m not doing anything, or if I’m just watching tv (and not REALLY into what I’m watching) I feel the pain that much more. Perhaps learned meditation can become a habit that helps you (and me) to ignore the pain in general (at least to a degree) and helps us learn to better focus on other things.