photo credit: Ingrid Sørensen
Have you ever had a chronic injury or illness that caused you a lot of pain no matter what you tried? It can be quite horrible. But did you know that science is now finding that meditation can help reduce pain just as much as pain killers? Fascinating isn’t it?
In this article we’ll take a look at some of the things science is discovering about meditation and pain and then look at some different resources you can tap in to if you want to give it a shot for yourself.
My background with pain and meditation
Although I have been lucky enough to meet quite a few meditation teachers, I have never really capitalized on my fortune. I am not someone who can speak about meditation from experience because I simply don’t do it enough.
But last year I got quite sick with a strange problem; a giant stone was stuck in my saliva gland and causing me more pain than I had ever experienced. And in my agony and despair I tried to do a bit of meditation and mind training in order to find some relief as well as to make the experience perhaps a little bit more meaningful.
And it worked. The most stress and pain free moments of that month were when I managed to calm down and focus on my breath for a little while. At that time I realized how much better off I might have been if I had trained in mediation prior to getting sick. It is no wonder Tibetan Buddhist Lamas are able to endure great hardships and illness without showing any pain at all. They have done years and years of isolated meditation.
Science and meditation for pain relief
So what exactly has science been finding out about meditation and pain relief? Actually, quite a lot. Since the early 1970’s American researchers and scientists have been working with Buddhist meditation experts because they discovered that meditation actually changes the way the brain works.
Realizing that they understood very little about all this, the scientists began taking MRIs and CAT scans whilst the yogis or lamas were meditating. The results were very interesting. Here is an excerpt from a recent article in the Sacremento Bee:
Researchers have found that people who meditate on a regular basis actually develop thicker brains – they increase the connections between their brain cells, and they also increase the network of blood vessels in the brain, especially in those areas that help us to focus and pay attention, as well as areas of the brain involved with self-awareness and empathy.
Meditation can also lead to a reduction in the area of the brain that is associated with pain and stress. In other words, we can literally change our brain by what we focus on. And you don’t have to be an expert at this in order to benefit.
This falls in to a new area of neuroscience called Neuro Plasticity. Basically, what this means is that the brain is constantly changing and can be changed by what we think and do. A decade ago scientists didn’t think this was possible but are now discovering that we can literally change the shape and function of our brain by our thoughts.
But it gets better. The study also showed:
[Read more…] about Meditation for Pain: How Meditating Can Reduce Pain More Than Drugs
Originally posted on April 18, 2011 @ 3:16 am