In the western world the concept of ‘mind over matter’ has been in circulation for many years. But, it was only recently that a technique that implements this insight into practice became the subject of serious scientific scrutiny. The technique which is under such scientific examination is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a kind of meditation that involves making your mind to focus on the present. Being mindful is to be aware of your thoughts and actions in the present without judging yourself. This meditation technique tries to achieve a mind that is stable, calm and relieved from pain.
Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
Over the past decade, the scrutiny of this technique revealed a host of cognitive and emotional benefits to its practitioners. The benefits that its practitioners get are improved attention, lesser sensitivity to pain, and condensed emotional reactivity. These benefits accrued to the practitioners of mindfulness meditation are supported by rich scientific data. Scientific data was gathered from brain imaging studies on long-term mediators. The scientific data supporting the benefits also proved that the changes to the practitioners occur at the physiological level.
Most of the research conducted on mindfulness meditation till date was conducted on individuals with long-term experience in intensive meditation. But, a recent study published in a scientific journal, researchers working at the Wake Forest University examined the effect of mindfulness meditation on pain just immediately after getting trained in mindfulness meditation. The study was conducted on 15 volunteers who were made to undergo four sessions each of 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation training. They were trained to concentrate on their own breathing while meditating.
The study tried to evaluate the effect of mindfulness meditation on two dimensions: 1. How the volunteers report pain intensity and unpleasantness after the training session. 2. How the brain activation patterns changed when measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
To evaluate the response of volunteers to pain, a small thermal simulator was heated to around 120 F and was applied to the back of the leg. The volunteers’ reaction to pain was recorded both before undergoing the training session and after it. The volunteers to the study reported 40 percent reduction in pain experienced and 57 percent reduction in unpleasantness due to the heat. Results of brain imaging showed increased activity in the areas of brain related to awareness of pain sensation and reduced activity in areas related to emotional response to pain perception. The scientists of the study suggested that the reason behind the beneficial effect of meditation may be due to dissociation of the awareness of pain with the emotional evaluation of the pain. So, it was proved in the study that the volunteers were aware of the pain, but are not judging or focusing on the troubling quality normally related with the pain.
According to the estimates of National Institutes of Health (NIH), nearly 70 million Americans suffer from chronic pain which puts an economic burden of US$ 100 billion on US. The low cost of mindfulness meditation and benefits of it revealed by the above study even for beginners makes it an ideal choice for chronic pain sufferers.
About The Author: Margaret is a writer. She loves writing, travelling and reading books. She also reads mediation books and celebrity net worth.