Brief Training in Meditation Eases Pain

One reader’s response to yesterday’s post on how seeing photos of a loved one can help reduce pain: “I treasure photos of the people I love. I have them posted all over my house. Most important, I love looking at photos of my beloved husband, who died suddenly five months ago. I posted a wonderful photo of him on my computer desktop. His mouth is slightly open and it looks as if he is about to speak to me. So I often talk to him, and enjoy continuing our connection.”

Her connection seems like a form of meditation, which leads into our thoughts for today. A recent study shows as little as an hour of mindfulness training is enough to reduce pain.

Researchers compared mindfulness meditation subjects’ responses to mild electrical shocks with the responses of a control group that was not trained in meditation. The latter group was instructed to relax or given math problems as a distraction. Not only did the meditation subjects feel less pain than the control group while meditating, but they also experienced less pain sensitivity while not meditating.

Woman doing yoga on floor

Researchers say the meditation training seemed to have reduced general pain sensitivity even after the experiments were over. Participants who were mindful tended to be less anxious on subjective assessments.

The mindfulness training lessened the awareness and sensitivity to pain by reducing anxiety and teaching people to pay attention to the sensations at present rather than anticipating future pain. According to one researcher, “With the meditation training they would acknowledge the pain, they realize what it is, but just let it go. They learn to bring their attention back to the present.”

Both of us will be traveling the rest of the week, so this is our last post until next Monday. But you members of the Sandwich Generation can still talk amongst yourselves. Just click on ‘Comments’ below and start a conversation – about your loved ones, meditation, mindfulness or whatever is on your mind – and we’ll pick up on it next week.

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