It is easy to dismiss meditation as just another ineffective alternative medicine, but even the most skeptical scientific minds are beginning to see that there is something to the idea that meditation can help to make us feel healthier.
Recent research has proven that even beginners can relieve their chronic pain, stress or depression by meditating for just a quarter of an hour a day. Guided meditation and mindfulness really can make you feel better, and it does NOT have to take years of practice to feel an effect!
The Evidence for Meditation
Experienced practitioners of meditation and mindfulness techniques have frequently described the benefits they have felt in their minds and bodies, but it is only recently that these effects have been scientifically proven to work… and not just for experts.
Studies conducted at MIT and Brown University have uncovered the neurophysiological mechanism that makes it possible for meditators to control their emotional and physical responses.
Meditation changes a particular type of activity in the brain, known as alpha waves or rhythms. Alpha rhythms are responsible for processing the sensory information received in the brain from different parts of the body.
When people are meditating, their alpha waves can be filtered, with an effect that is similar to turning down the volume of music, and the effect can even be localized.
People who maintained a mindful focus on their left hands showed a reduction in the size of the alpha waves in the part of the brain that is known to be associated with that hand… suggesting that it would be possible to use this technique to target chronic pain!
The potential for meditation to work as pain relief was tested in another study, which took 15 inexperienced volunteers and gave them four 20-minute classes about a meditation technique known as “focused attention.” Meditation was shown to effectively reduce the pain response, even in these beginners, with pain intensity reported as 40 percent less with the use of meditation.
How to Use Meditation to Relieve Your Pain
Learning to use mindfulness or guided meditation to overcome stress, pain or depression doesn’t require any special equipment or training. The essence of meditation is mindfulness, which means being aware of yourself and your body.
An easy way to achieve this is to set aside 15 minutes in a peaceful, comfortable space where you can use the focused attention method to empty yourself of distracting thoughts and feelings by focusing on your breathing.
Rather than worrying about pain or stress, you need to focus solely on the process of breathing in and out, controlling your attention and directing it away from negative thoughts and feelings, including chronic pain and depression.
You will begin to notice the effects straight away as you start to control your experience of pain, but you can also begin to practice guided meditation techniques that can give you even more control.
If you have been suffering chronic pain, stress or depression, reducing these symptoms will be the goal of your guided meditation.
The team at Brown suggest that people suffering from chronic pain may be able to learn to relieve their symptoms by using mindfulness techniques to first focus on the pain they are feeling, and then to shift their focus away to another part of the body, or to the breath.
This should help the mind to learn to filter out the chronic pain signals, even when you are not meditating. The same technique can be used to shift focus from stress and depression towards more positive thoughts and memories.
If you or someone you love is struggling with chronic pain and wants to try a guided meditation program to get started, there are several free online options that can be good starting places.
One beginning soon is “Deepak Chopra’s Secrets of Meditation,” presented by Wild Divine. You can sign up today here for this FREE online program that starts on October 7…