The act of meditation stems from religion and has been used as a way of inducing inner peace for thousands of years. Typically meditation is practiced by closing one’s eyes and clearing the mind to achieve a different mode of consciousness. The practice is used for a variety of reasons including to aid relaxation, reduce stress and in some cultures – attempt to speak to the Gods.
Researchers from the University of Manchester have studied a group of people who practice meditation to see if it affects their response to pain. The group varied in their meditation abilities; some had only been practicing it for a few months, while others had been doing it for decades.
The study found that certain areas of the brain in the more experienced meditators were less active as they anticipated pain. The study also revealed that their experience of pain differed from non-meditators.
Chief researcher Dr Christopher Brown said, “Meditation is becoming increasingly popular as a way to treat chronic illness such as the pain caused by arthritis. Recently, a mental health charity called for meditation to be routinely available on the NHS to treat depression, which occurs in up to 50% of people with chronic pain. However, scientists have only just started to look into how meditation might reduce the emotional impact of pain.”
If you want to find out how alternative therapies could help you manage pain, please see our Therapy Topics page.
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