Pain either acute or chronic can have effects on physical, emotional, and mental health. Moderate to severe pain can sometimes be so debilitating that it can make it difficult to perform routine activities.
Usually, painkillers are used to alleviate pain but these medications have side effects. Commonly used medications to manage severe chronic pain include opioids that have resulted in exponential opioid addiction and misuse. Meditation is a technique that has been studied in clinical and experimental settings to reduce or alleviate pain.
f you are having chronic pain and conventional treatment options are not much effective then looking into meditation for attenuating pain is a worth looking option.
What is meditation?
Meditation is an ancient practice that involves focusing the mind on a particular thought, object, or activity. It has its roots in Buddhism. The belief behind meditation is that the techniques used in meditation develop and encourage concentration, clarity, calmness, emotional positivity. The role of meditation in reducing stress, pain anxiety, and fear is also well studied. Research is also ongoing to study the positive impact of meditation on neurological, psychological, and cardiovascular health.
Types of Meditation
There are many different forms of practicing meditation but two common types are:
Concentrative Meditation: this type involves focusing your attention on a specific thing like a specific word, your breath, or mantra while tuning out everything around you to reach a higher state of being.
Mindfulness Meditation: it includes mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBST) techniques that are used to target stress, depression, anxiety, pain, and its focus differs as needed. The general principle of being aware and involved in the moment is the same.
How Meditation Relieves Pain?
In old times Buddhists believed that mindfulness meditation alleviates pain by subjectively altering the experience of pain. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation reduces pain in various painful conditions including, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pelvic pain, migraine, and many others.
Meditation is known to improve neuroplasticity which increases gray matter and cortical thickening in the brain. These changes in the brain are responsible for lowering pain sensitivity. The other mechanism by which meditation reduces pain is by relaxing the mind and body. The body is in a state of stress when in pain and releases stress hormones that aggravate pain, and inflammation. During meditation, the mind and body go in a state of calmness stimulating the release of endorphins, which are the body's natural feel-good hormones and also pain relievers. The tissues and muscles of the body are relaxed during meditation that also suppresses pain. A study showed that mindfulness-based stress reduction form of meditation is proven to reduce chronic lower back pain as compared to medications and drugs.
Meditation is an effective and safe way to relieve the pain, either in conjunction with conventional management options or without them. Meditation allows you to shift your focus, and it is believed that your mind responds to that thing to which you give attention. So, meditation helps in directing your mind to focus things positively thereby, alleviating pain.