If you suffer from chronic pain, you’ve probably tried all kinds of treatment options. But have you considered mindful meditation?
Mindful mediation is an appealing option for treating your pain because it has an unusual benefit; it places you in a position of control. Unlike pain medications or surgical procedures, meditation is not done to you—but rather it is something you do for yourself.
Of course, you may not have the time to become an expert in various meditation techniques. But a recent study has demonstrated that committing even a minimal amount of time to learning mediation techniques can in turn have a positive impact on your pain.1
Here are the 3 insights of the study conducted on mindful mediation and perceptions of pain:
- Minimal meditation quickly and substantially reduces pain
The study demonstrated that the participants' perception of pain was significantly reduced after three 20-minute sessions of mindful meditation (spread out over three days). Other studies have demonstrated that meditation produces analgesic benefits that can alter your perception of pain—but it was thought that these benefits were available only after extensive mediation training.
So then, a short, simple course on mediation may be able to significantly reduce your perception of your pain. And for many, self-administered training may be effective.
- Meditation produces lasting results
Another interesting finding from the study is that participants who practiced meditation experienced a reduction in their perception of pain even after the conclusion of their meditation sessions. This indicates that meditation may result in an overall reduction in perceptions of pain, not just during or around the time of a meditation session.
These findings are in contrast to a control group that was tested using distraction, which had some analgesic effect—but only during the time of the distraction.
- Mindful meditation is more effective than distraction
For the purposes of the study, the analgesic effects of meditation were compared with relaxation techniques and distraction. While all three interventions lessened the participants' perceptions of pain, meditation was more effective in producing an overall analgesic effect (not just in addressing the most intense pain sensations).
What does this mean for you?
If your chronic pain is severe, mindful mediation is not likely to be a cure-all for all of your pain-related issues. But the study discussed above provides more than enough reasons to try mindful mediation to see if it can bring you meaningful relief.
There is no right or wrong way to meditate—and typically all you need is a quiet, dark room. You can start with as little as 5-10 minutes in the morning, or try it during your lunch break at work.
They key to establishing a program of mindful mediation is to start right away. So don’t put it off, set aside several 10-minute blocks over the next few days and you may find significant relief from your chronic pain.
- Zeidan F, Gordon NS, Merchant J, Goolkasian P. The effects of brief mindfulness meditation training on experimentally induced pain. J Pain. 2010;11(3):199-209.