Did you know? Mindfulness meditation can stop you from feeling pain! There is a study which was published on July 7th 2022, in PAIN magazine, showing that when people meditate, their brain seems to block communication between areas involved with experiencing physical discomfort and the sense of self.
This means that they will be less likely or non-receptive enough for whatever is causing them distress because there’s no connection between those two parts any longer, so it is like someone turned down the volume on our suffering speakers.
In the following article by Fadel Zeidan, he explains in detail how the study actually took place
“One of the central tenets of mindfulness is the principle that you are not your experiences,” said senior author Fadel Zeidan, PhD, associate professor of anesthesiology at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “You train yourself to experience thoughts and sensations without attaching your ego or sense of self to them, and we’re now finally seeing how this plays out in the brain during the experience of acute pain.”
On the first day of the study, 40 participants had their brains scanned while painful heat was applied to their leg. After experiencing a series of these heat stimuli, participants had to rate their average pain levels during the experiment.
Participants were then split into two groups. Members of the mindfulness group completed four separate 20-minute mindfulness training sessions. During these visits, they were instructed to focus on their breath and reduce self-referential processing by first acknowledging their thoughts, sensations and emotions but then letting them go without judging or reacting to them. Members of the control group spent their four sessions listening to an audio book.Source
There have been previous studies suggesting something different. They say that only some people find relief from chronic pain through meditation.
For many, the practice provides no respite from discomfort. Others find that, with regular meditation, they can lessen the severity and frequency of their pain.
Here is the list of previous studies as curated in an article by Healthline.com
A small controlled study in 2012 Trusted Source found that people who practiced mindfulness were able to reduce pain by 22 percent. They were also able to reduce anticipatory anxiety by 29 percent.
A 2014 meta-analysis of mindfulness and pain found “insufficient evidence” that mindfulness reduced pain intensity. But the same study found that it eased depression and anxiety in people with chronic pain. The study recommended that healthcare professionals integrate meditation into their pain treatment programs.
A 2017 review of nonpharmacological treatments reported that mindfulness-based stress reduction was able to improve lower back pain in a trial of 350 adults by more than 30 percent. The results were found to last a year after treatment.
A 2017 studyTrusted Source of 864 people with lower back pain found that meditation was associated with short-term improvement of pain intensity and physical functioning.
A 2018 white paper on nonpharmacological pain care concluded that nonpharmacological treatments are underused. The paper noted that mindfulness practices show positive effects for people with chronic pain from headache, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome.
A 2018 reviewTrusted Source of mindfulness and the brain reported that experienced meditators were less sensitive to pain than a control population, as measured by MRI brain scans.
A 2019 studyTrusted Source of mindfulness and pain concluded that mindfulness was associated with lower pain sensitivity, including in people who had no prior experience with meditation.Source
Every person is different and what works for someone will not work for everyone. That said – Some evidence suggests meditation can help relieve pain in people with chronic conditions.
The practice uses neural pathways and increases the use of opioids in your brain to reduce sensitivity towards discomfort, making it an effective treatment option if you’re struggling emotionally.
This has been hard on me too! My final thought would be to give it a try, as there is nothing for you to lose.