Back to Back Issues Page
MEY newsletter, Issue #007
August 12, 2014

Hi, Namaste,my dear MEY friends,

This month I send you a blog I found of Ruth Buczynski, PhD a scientific trial on the benefit of mindful meditation and pranayama on the experience of body pains. Very truthful!

How Mindfulness Works to Help the Brain Manage Pain?

Can meditation help you feel less pain?

What if one week of short meditation classes could change the way your brain perceives pain?

Fadel Zeidan, PhD, and his colleagues at Wake Forest University wanted to find out how mindfulness meditation affects pain reception.

Specifically, they looked at the areas of the brain responsible for constructing the experience of pain, such as the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and anterior insula.

MRI technician practitioner_crop

Researchers performed MRI exams on 18 subjects while they applied a series of neutral and painful stimuli. They then asked subjects to focus on the sensations of their breath while applying the stimuli again.

Upon exiting the MRI, subjects rated the intensity and unpleasantness of the pain.

Next, researchers put participants through a four-day mindfulness meditation training, involving four sessions of 20 minutes each. The training emphasized acknowledgment of sensations without reacting to them emotionally.

Following the training, participants went through the whole process again – MRI exams and pain stimuli in two stages, first lying still and then actively meditating.

Here’s what they found.

Before they received meditation training, subjects showed no difference in the way they rated the pain, whether they were focused on their breath or not.

But after the training, subjects reported a 40% decrease in pain intensity between resting and breath-focusing.

Also, looking at the MRI data – meditation seemed to reduce pain-related processing.

The major difference was in the primary somatosensory cortex, a region associated with sensory-discriminative processing of information.

They also found an association between decreased pain magnitude and activation in the anterior cingulate cortex and the right anterior insular cortex.

This is important because these two areas are presumed to play a role in the evaluation of pain.

Taken together, these findings suggest that meditation may work in two ways. First, by allowing patients to better focus on neutral stimuli like their breath, meditation helps patients reduce the importance of painful stimuli.

brain x-ray001

Second, by focusing on the present moment and reducing the expectation of future events, meditation may help patients reduce the anticipation of pain.

Great stuff!

More in my next newsletter, If you have questions contact me through Facebook (Mindful Energizing Yoga page), or via the contact page on the site.

ciao Claudine " Kripa"

Back to Back Issues Page