No one wants to be in pain, and few like to talk about it. But I do want to write about what many are now finding to be one of the most effective pain medicines: meditation. Although there are many meditation studies and reports that indicate it’s helpful in alleviating pain, there isn’t yet sufficient evidence of its efficacy to cure pain. But, because it has such a potent effect on pain, in many instances this holistic practice is replacing narcotics.
The research is continuing, with researchers asking if meditation helps and how meditation helps. A Wake Forest University study found a forty-percent reduction in pain intensity for those who were meditating as compared to those who weren’t meditating. Meditation also reduced stress, which can be tied closely to pain. One of the most encouraging aspects of the study was that the time it took to see results from meditating was less than originally expected.
Progress into looking at how meditation works by studying nerves, pain centers, and connections to the brain has been slow but steady. Technological advancements have brought new insights and many more questions. One compelling question is whether pain triggers, as well as relief from pain, reside in the human brain or in consciousness. This in turn leads to more questions about the link between the brain, consciousness, and spirituality.
Meditation has usually had a spiritual component, instead of being just about the brain, the nervous system, and the body. Likewise, the link between meditation and health is not a new idea. When the author of Science and Health experienced a healing by reading a passage from the Bible after a near-fatal accident, she spent the next three years meditating and studying the Bible. She went on to share her ideas about meditating on the Divine and healed many people – and her own lifespan was double the norm of her day.
Researchers have not yet proved that meditation can prevent pain, but the evidence is definitely growing that meditation helps to control pain and improve health. Future exploration into consciousness and meditation will prove what is possible.
photo © GLOW IMAGES. Model used for illustrative purposes.
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