Mindfulness Meditation Can Change the Way You Experience Pain

Mindfulness Meditation can change the way you experience pain - image of brain MRIsResearchers at University of California San Diego recently looked at the effects of mindfulness meditation on pain in healthy volunteers. They applied painful heat on the volunteers while in an MRI before and after four 20-minute mindfulness training sessions and compared it to a control group that spent the sessions listening to an audio book instead. The individuals in the mindfulness group reported a 30% reduction in both pain intensity and pain unpleasantness. The researchers found less activation overall in areas of the prefrontal cortex known to regulate experience processing and sense of self. They also found weaker connectivity between the thalamus, which relays sensory processing information like heat and the precuneus, which is a brain area involved in self-awareness. Despite the fact that this study was performed with only healthy volunteers, it paves the way for future studies in chronic pain patients to develop a better understanding of how mindfulness mediation can change the way you experience pain.