How Meditation can Relieve Pain and Make You Feel Great
Painkillers are addictive and potentially dangerous. Some drugs could cause a host of long-term health problems even if they are used correctly. Fortunately, there is a safe, low-cost alternative to painkillers. Meditation relieves pain without the many side effects that you get from painkillers and other drugs. Some say that meditation can be addictive, but there have been no dangers associated with “too much” meditation.
Backed by Science
Meditation for pain relief has been used for hundreds of years, but its efficacy has been proven by science. After assessing 34 trials in evaluating the effectiveness of meditation on pain relief, the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research Quality has reported that meditation programs can indeed help reduce pain intensity.
Researchers at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have found that meditation can reduce pain intensity by about 40 percent and decrease the unpleasantness by as much as 57 percent. Typically, morphine and other painkillers usually reduce pain by about 25 percent. This means that meditation may even be more effective than medication when it comes to pain relief.
How does Meditation Stop Pain?
Pain activates the body’s stress response. Stress has been found to exacerbate pain especially in diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. In other words, when you are in pain, your body becomes stressed. The more stressed you are, the more intense your pain becomes. Meditation relieves stress by inducing a relaxed state. When stress dissipates, so does your pain. When you meditate, biochemical changes also start happening inside your body. Your body releases, endorphins, a natural painkiller that also produces a feeling of well-being.
Can Meditation Help You with Emotional and Psychological Pain?
Meditation can help heal psychological trauma and emotional scars. Army veterans take meditation classes to help them overcome negative thoughts and emotions associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The American Psychological Association has reported that people who have meditated for a considerable amount of time are able to detach themselves from emotionally upsetting images. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that meditation can reduce PTSD symptoms by up to 41 percent, which is more than twice the expected outcome of 20 percent.
People who suffer from depression can benefit from meditation. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that influences mood and behavior. Low serotonin levels are associated with depression. Meditation has been found to increase a person’s serotonin level and to elevate one’s mood.
Antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil, are widely prescribed by mental health professionals for depression, but these medications do have adverse side effects. If you are using these medications, you can use meditation in conjunction with your treatment. However, you should ask your doctor if you could be weaned off the medications if you feel that they are no longer necessary. Do not make this decision on your own.
Using Guided Meditation
If you suffer from physical or psychological pain and you want to use meditation in conjunction with your current treatment, you should know that there are guided meditation programs that are tailor-fitted to your needs. Guided meditation is a form of meditation where a voice guides you as you enter a meditative state. You can meditate without a guide. However, meditating on your own can be challenging. Besides, guided meditation can help you attain a specific goal or meet a particular need.
Many scientific studies support the use of meditation in medical treatment. However, before you use meditation in conjunction with your current treatment, discuss this with your health practitioner. Do not make decisions regarding your treatment on your own.