The study included 18 healthy adults who had never meditated before. The participants underwent four 20-minute training sessions of mindfulness meditation. This form of meditation involves focusing on breath and letting go of all other distracting thoughts.
Before and after meditation, the participants were exposed to painful stimuli while undergoing brain imaging scans called arterial spin labeling functional magnetic resonance imaging. To stimulate pain, a device that delivered 120 degrees of heat was placed on each participant’s leg. The device remained on the skin for 12-second intervals over a total of five minutes.
After meditation, the participants’ pain intensity and pain unpleasantness ratings decreased by an average of 40 percent and 57 percent, respectively. Meditation also reduced activation in areas of the brain linked to pain.
Earlier studies have suggested that meditation may help improve quality of life in cancer patients and help treat high blood pressure and stress.
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1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. www.naturalstandard.com
2. Zeidan F, Martucci KT, Kraft RA, et al. Brain Mechanisms Supporting the Modulation of Pain by Mindfulness Meditation. J Neurosci. 6 April 2011, 31(14): 5540-54. View Abstract