Meditation Is More Powerful Than Morphine
Ongoing research continues to affirm what seasoned meditators have been claiming for centuries, if not through the millennia; how we experience our world, including our perceptions of our internal world, can be dramatically changed, mediated, through meditation.
In the most recent work done at the Departments of Neurobiology, Anatomy and Biomedical Engineering at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the Psychology Department at Marquette University, and published in the Journal of Neuroscience, 2011 Apr 6;31(14):5540-8, researchers found the data to indicated that, “…meditation engages multiple brain mechanisms that alter the construction of the subjectively available pain experience from afferent information.”
What these mechanisms were doing was to work in conjunction with one another to alter the participant’s perception of a noxious stimulus. That’s big! Similar to the work done by Davidson and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, this study found that through the practice of meditation, practitioners are able to coordinate and recruit various regions of the brain to alter their perception of painful stimuli and to – literally – experience less pain.
Meditation Works Quickly
What is unique and profound about the results of this study is that the meditators were healthy volunteers who had never meditated and who had only received training in meditation during 4 twenty minute instruction periods. Four? Twenty minutes?! Wow! That means that by studying for as little as 80 minutes, and practicing the technique of mindfulness, ordinary people – like me! – can change their experience of pain, reducing the experience.
In an editorial concerning this study, found on Nurse.com, Fadel Zeidan, PhD, lead author of the study and post-doctoral research fellow at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, was quote as saying:
“We found a big effect — about a 40% reduction in pain intensity and a 57% reduction in pain unpleasantness. Meditation produced a greater reduction in pain than even morphine or other pain-relieving drugs, which typically reduce pain ratings by about 25%.”
Yikes! That means that we’ve got the ability to significantly reduce our perception of discomfort through meditation practice! What are we waiting for, let’s get practicing! Here are a few resources to get you started:
An exercise for practicing mediation: Riding the Breath With the Mind
And another exercise: Beginning to Work with Our Thoughts
Here are a few articles by Dr. Davidson and his peers outlining some of the results of well-publicized studies that they reported:
How To Meditate
Maybe you’ve already got a meditation practice. If that’s the case, great! Keep it up. And feel free to use all of the content from this site to support you in your efforts. If you haven’t started to meditate, begin now.
Many people don’t meditate because they believe that they need to do “something special” in order to meditate, maybe you’re one of them. “Doing something” special isn’t the case. All you need is your breath, and a few minutes of time set aside to begin your practice. Here are some tools to get you started:
- Meditation audio for using your breath as the anchor of your attention during meditation.
- Ebook and two chapters from the book, Minding the Bedside: Nursing from the Heart of the Awakened Mind, on how to meditate.
- Even though my book was written with nurses in mind, I continue to get feedback from those who have bought it who aren’t nurses that they find it useful in their lives. So, check out the book, Minding the Bedside: Nursing from the Heart of the Awakened Mind. It’s really written for anyone. You can even buy it in a Kindle version!
This site has tons of tools for learning how to meditate.
I encourage you to look through the HUNDREDS of articles that I’ve written and especially check out my weekly meditation tips and other useful meditation materials provided for your health and well being. And please let me know if you’d like to discuss anything with me, have any questions or need clarification regarding anything that I’ve written about.
Thanks for visiting and have a mindful day.