Meditate your pain away

You can meditate your pain away, says a new Canadian study.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2009 12:05 IST

You can meditate your pain away, says a new Canadian study.

Zen meditation can help people regain mental, physical and emotional balance, and reduce pain, says the study by Montreal University researchers.

It says those who practise Zen meditation exhibit lower pain sensitivity (during and after meditation) compared to non-meditators.

``While previous studies have shown that teaching chronic pain patients to meditate is beneficial, very few studies have looked at pain processing in healthy, highly trained meditators,'' a university statement quoted study co-author Joshua Grant as saying.

``This study was a first step in determining how or why meditation might influence pain perception,'' added Grant who co-authored the study with university professor Pierre Rainville.

As part of their study, the researchers selected 13 people who had practised Zen meditation for at least 1,000 hours and 13 non-meditators to undergo a pain test.

``The administered pain test was simple: a thermal heat source, a computer controlled heating plate, was pressed against the calves of subjects intermittently at varying temperatures,'' the university statement said.

``Heat levels began at 43 degrees Celsius and went to a maximum of 53 degrees Celsius depending on each participant's sensitivity. While quite a few of the meditators tolerated the maximum temperature, all control subjects were well below 53 degrees Celsius.''

When the researchers contrasted the reaction of the two groups, they found a marked difference.

Zen meditators exhibited much lower pain sensitivity even without meditating, compared to non-meditators, the statement said.

During meditation, Zen meditators even further reduced their pain through slower breathing as their breath rate dropped to 12 per minute versus 15 breaths for non-meditators.

``Slower breathing certainly coincided with reduced pain and may influence pain by keeping the body in a relaxed state,'' said Grant.

``While previous studies have found that the emotional aspects of pain are influenced by meditation, we found that the sensation itself, as well as the emotional response, is different in meditators,'' he added.

Overall, the study found that Zen meditators experienced an 18 percent reduction in pain intensity. The study has been published in the January edition of Psychosomatic Medicine.

First Published: Feb 04, 2009 12:04 IST