Mindfulness-Meditation for Pain Relief

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There is no shortage of articles about mindfulness meditation, a cognitive practice that allows one to sustain nonjudgmental awareness of arising sensory events, and the myriad of positive health outcomes it has been associated with. It is commonly thought that the pain relieving effects of meditation are due to endogenous opioids (opioids that are made within the body, in contrast to fentanyl or morphine, which are commonly reported on the news as powerful pain relievers taken exogenously, or outside the body). However, as a practicing physician with roles in pain management, integrative medicine, and sports performance, I want to see the data! A study by Zeidan et al in the Journal of Neuroscience has demonstrated that meditation significantly reduces pain intensity in the setting of pain (in the study, they used heat as a pain source). In addition, they provided opioid inhibitors in a placebo controlled fashion, and both groups had significant pain reductions during mindfulness meditation. Bottom Line: If you suffer from pain in particular areas (such as arthritis in a specific joint), or widespread pain syndromes (such as cancer related pain or fibromyalgia), you should give mindfulness meditation a try. It is a natural way to improve your pain and can have many other positive effects that are beyond the scope of this tip.

What You'll Need

  • Your body, mind, and a quiet place.

What You'll Do

  • Start with 5-20 minutes per day of mindfulness meditation exercises. Find a quiet, comfortable place without disturbance or interruption.
  • Remember not to be judgmental...there is no way to fail, rather, you're just taking time to improve yourself
  • Close your eyes, relax, and focus on your breathing. Keep it slow, and deep, and allow your mind to focus on your breath, nothing else. All of your awareness should be on your breathing.
  • Acknowledge thoughts, feelings, and emotions that arise, but remain without judgment or reaction. Do not let thoughts disrupt you, keep your focus on your breath.
  • Continue to find peace and mental stillness as thoughts come and go, with your focus remaining on the depth of your breath.
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