Does Meditation Work for Pain Relief?
What Is Meditation
The practice of meditation is defined as the holistic discipline during which time the practitioner trains his or her mind in order to realize some benefit. According to the Yoga Sutra, an ancient Hindu scripture upon which the practice of meditation is discussed, meditation is a state of pure consciousness or awareness. In relation to pain relief, studies show that training yourself to meditate changes your perception of your actual pain and helps alleviate it.
How to Meditate for Pain Relief
According to Dr. Elisha Goldstein, a psychologist and author of the book "The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Workbook", you do not have to be a yogi or a Buddhist monk to be able to engage in effective meditation. All you need is three minutes a day, engaging in a three-step exercise he coined as "ACE" representing awareness, collecting and expanding. The three-minute exercise consists of first, which is being aware of all your current thoughts and feelings, next is collecting, which means concentrating on your breathing and where that breathing is most prominent, such as from the nose, belly or chest. The last step is expanding, which means that awareness is brought not only to your breathing, but to the rest of the body and other sensations as well. Dr. Goldstein proposes that if his three step exercise is done for three minutes daily, people will be able to practice it naturally, when they are experiencing pain.
Long Term Pain Management and Relief
The practice of meditation not only helps to alleviate the immediate feelings of pain that are felt by an individual. According to several studies, the long term management and relief from chronic pain are also the benefits that are gained from a regular meditation practice.
In one study where ninety patients who experienced chronic pain were trained to do meditation exercises for ten weeks, the measures of their present moment pain, negative body image, inability to engage in certain activities due to the pain brought about, and depression were drastically reduced. When the same group was checked fifteen months later, it was shown that that they maintained the same improvements. This and separate studies conclude that meditation does have a long-term benefit for those who are afflicted with chronic pain.