Time Magazine (11/12/2015) printed an article about a study suggesting that mindfulness meditation could have more impact on reducing pain than a dose of morphine.

The good news is meditation is widely accepted as a valuable way to relax, reduce stress and work through challenging situations. Now, looks like we can add reducing pain to the list. There are many studies to support the claims made about the benefits of meditation. Just open any newspaper or magazine and you’re likely to see a story on the topic.

The study mentioned in the Times Magazine article looked at how a meditator’s brain responds to pain. This study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience

According to the article, Dr. Fadel Zeidan, assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and a team of researchers recruited 75 healthy, pain-free people and scanned their brains. The participants were exposed to a 120-degree thermal probe for 20 minutes, which was painful. The researches used an MRI to look at how their brains were reacting. There were four different groups, each receiving different training, with only one group getting the mindfulness meditation training.

The ones trained on the “real” intervention, were instructed to sit up straight, close their eyes and to follow along with the verbal guidance they would hear while participating.

Interestingly, even the placebo treatments did better than the control group, which didn’t have any instructions. But the mindfulness meditation scored better than morphine in reducing pain, down modulating the pain by 27 percent and cutting emotional pain by 44 percent. Past studies tell us that morphine typically decreases physical pain by 22 percent.

Something else of interest was that the meditators seem to use different parts of their brains than the other groups. Of course, this will lead to other studies, but certainly interests the Samvit Wellness team.

From the analysis, it seemed that the mindfulness meditators’ brains were activated in higher-order regions of the brain that tend to control our cognitive abilities and attention. In contrast, there appeared to be a deactivation of the region of the brain, the thalamus, that controls how we perceive pain.

We at Samvit Wellness also wonder if adding binaural beats would have a similar impact? We believe it would.

If you haven’t started to add meditation to your regular practice, stop procrastinating. It’s just another tool (inexpensive and easy to do) to add to your toolbox. There are no side effects, only benefits.

Allyn Evans