Meditation is a major player in the healthcare revolution for several reasons, but here’s a simple one: for a discipline that requires only a chair or patch of floor, it produces outstanding results.
Meditation helps with chronic pain
New research shows that mindfulness meditation could help the one in five Australians who suffers from chronic pain, not to mention the countless others who live with irritable-bowel syndrome (IBS). These fresh findings are timely, as traditional treatments bring few lasting results.
Mindfulness meditation reduces IBS symptoms
In a study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, mindfulness meditation reduced the severity of subjects’ IBS symptoms by an impressive 26%. The way it works is simple: “You focus on being in the present, not on your worries,” says study leader Susan A Gaylord, PhD, director of the Mindfulness-Based Stress and Pain Management Program at the University of North Carolina in the US.
Meditation acts as a natural pain reliever
In another recent US study from Wake Forest School of Medicine, researchers found that meditation had an equally dramatic impact on pain. Compared with morphine and other pharmaceutical painkillers (which reduce pain by about 25%), mindfulness meditation decreased the intensity of study participants’ pain by 40%—and in some people, by up to 70%. “The dramatic results surprised me,” says study leader Fadel Zeidan, PhD.
Meditation puts you in a positive emotional state
According to a US study from the University of Wisconsin, ‘mindfulness meditation’ increases activity on the left side of the brain’s frontal lobe; in other words, it helps you become more emotionally centred.
Focusing on your breath for just five minutes can help boost mental clarity and lower stress levels. To get into the habit, try it first thing in the morning or just before you go to bed. To use mindfulness meditation to ease pain, Zeidan recommends devoting 20 to 30 minutes a day to this peaceful practice. To learn the technique, find a hospital or medical centre that runs classes, or read 5-Minute Mindfulness ($19.99; Adams Media) by David B Dillard-Wright, Heidi E Spear and Paula Munier.