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Health & Balance

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Meditation May Reduce Pain

Brain Imaging Shows Impact of Brief Mindfulness Meditation Training

Meditation 101: Accept the Distractions

The study confirms that mindfulness meditation can have a real and measurable impact on the experience of acute pain, even in people with very little formal training, Wake Forest associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy Robert C. Coghill, PhD, tells WebMD.

He says meditation could prove useful for the management of postoperative pain and in other acute pain settings.

It remains to be seen if the brief instruction can help people with chronic pain.

“Meditation has been used to treat chronic pain for a long time, but patients tend to have a lot more training,” he says. “It is not clear if the brief training sessions like the ones used in this study would be useful for these patients.”

Zeidan says meditation distracts the mind and reduces the emotional response to pain.

In the training phase of the study, the participants were instructed to close their eyes and focus on the changing sensations of their breath and they were told to bring their consciousness back to their breathing each time their minds wandered.

“Usually this happens within the first minute when people first start meditating,” he says. “It is perfectly normal.”

He says the goal is to acknowledge these distractions, accept them for what they are and simply let them go by gently bringing the attention back to the breath without any judgment.

“Many people think they are doing something wrong at first because their minds keep wandering,” he says. “But becoming aware of how busy the mind is is part of the process.”

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