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According to researchers, mindfulness meditation could significantly reduce the pain felt. An interesting alternative against chronic pain.
The results of this study published on July 7, 2022 in the scientific journal PAIN, showed the positive effects of mindfulness meditation on pain perception and brain activity. Clearly, this innovative practice would stop the communication of pain from the body to the brain.
Detach your sensations and their appropriation
According to this study, mindfulness meditation interrupts the communication between the brain areas involved in the sensation of pain and those that produce the sense of self. Schematically, pain signals still travel from the body to the brain, but the individual does not feel ownership of these pain sensations as much, so their suffering is reduced.
“One of the central principles of mindfulness is the principle that you are not your experiences“said lead author Fadel Zeidan, associate professor of anesthesiology at UC San Diego School of Medicine.”You practice feeling thoughts and feelings without attaching your ego or sense of self to them, and we finally see how this plays out in the brain during the acute pain experience.“.
Nearly 40 volunteers participated in the study
To prove this hypothesis, scientists from the UC San Diego School of Medicine analyzed the brains of 40 participants while they were suffering (a feeling of heat was diffused on their legs). The volunteers then had to rate their level of pain.
Then the volunteers were divided into two groups: the first followed mindfulness sessions (where they learned to breathe, not to judge their feelings and emotions, etc.) and the second spent four sessions listening to an audio book.
At the end of the study, a final test was carried out: the first group had to continue meditating, while the control group rested with their eyes closed. The brain activity of both groups was then measured.
A 32% reduction in pain
Results ? People who actively meditated reported a 32% reduction in “the intensity of pain” and a 33% reduction in “inconvenience of pain”.
“We’re thrilled to confirm that you don’t have to be an expert meditator to experience these pain-relieving effects,” Zeidan said. “This is a really important discovery for the millions of people looking for a fast-acting, non-pharmacological treatment for pain.”.
The alleviation of pain is said to be the result of a “reduced synchronization between the thalamus (the nerve center) and certain parts of the network of the” default mode “(which is activated when one gives free rein to one’s thoughts)”, reveal the researchers. Clearly, the more these areas would be “deactivated”, the less the person would suffer.
Promote mindfulness training
“For many people with chronic pain, what often most affects their quality of life is not the pain itself, but the mental suffering and frustration that comes with it.“, said Fadel Zeidan. “Their pain becomes part of who they are as individuals – something they cannot escape – and it exacerbates their suffering.“.
As such, mindfulness meditation may provide a new method of treating pain. Mindfulness meditation is also free and can be done anywhere. Despite this, Zeidan hopes the trainings can be made even more accessible and integrated into standard outpatient procedures.
This new non-drug method would therefore be very promising.
“We feel like we are on the cusp of discovering a new, non-opioid-based pain mechanism (…) We are excited to continue exploring the neurobiology of mindfulness and its clinical potential in various disorders. “conclude the authors.
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Mindfulness meditation reduces pain
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