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Meditation and Pain Reduction Link Found

Meditating over the years, I have experienced the pain reduction effects of meditation personally. This applies to the discomfort of illness, the soreness or sharp pains of injury, or  even extremely chronic pain. Shinzen Young’s techniques, in particular, have been designed with pain reduction specifically in mind. But no matter how many experiences and stories of pain relief we as meditators all encounter, this is no substitute for scientific proof of its efficacy. As the following article shows, however, researchers are zeroing in on the mechanism by which meditation can relieve pain. — MWT

Studies have shown that meditation can help ease pain — one study published this year in the The Journal of Neuroscience found that meditators slashed their pain levels by 57%. Scientists, however, haven’t been sure how the mindfulness practice worked exactly to provide relief — until now.

New research has uncovered the brain mechanisms that affect our experience of pain. Mindfulness practice — the ability to observe your thoughts and feelings from an objective distance — may help ease pain, in part, by increasing activity in key brain regions linked to processing sensory information, such as the posterior insula, according to the journal Cerebral Cortex.

“During the state of mindfulness, meditators seem to be in contact with the present moment experience as it is — without reappraising or evaluating it — which seems to reduce suffering,” said lead study author Tim Gard, of Massachusetts General Hospital, in an e-mail.

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