Twelve healthy long-term meditators who had been practicing Transcendental Meditation for 30 years showed a 40-50% lower brain response to pain compared to 12 healthy controls, reported by a latest NeuroReport journal article, published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (Vol.17 No.12; 21 August 2006:1359-1363). Further, when the 12 controls then learned and practiced Transcendental Meditation for 5 months, their brain responses to pain also decreased by a comparable 40-50%. Neuroreport.com Current issue (Aug 9)
Transcendental Meditation could reduce the brain's response to pain because neuroimaging and autonomic studies indicate that it produces a physiological state capable of modifying various kinds of pain. In time it reduces trait anxiety, improves stress reactivity and decreases distress from acute pain.
According to Orme-Johnson, lead author of this research, "Prior research indicates that Transcendental Meditation creates a more balanced outlook on life and greater equanimity in reacting to stress. This study suggests that this is not just an attitudinal change, but a fundamental change in how the brain functions".
Pain is part of everyone's experience and 50 million people worldwide suffer from chronic pain. Transcendental Meditation would have a long term effect in reducing responses in the affective component of the pain matrix. Future research could focus on other areas of the pain matrix and the possible effects of other meditation techniques to relieve pain.
According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, chronic pain afflicts 50 million people worldwide, and acute pain is the most common reason people seek medical attention. Stress responses to untreated pain adversely impact virtually all systems of the body, especially the cardiovascular, endocrine, respiratory, and immune systems. The cost of treating pain is estimated at $100 billion each year in the U.S. alone.
Transcendental Meditation, derived from the ancient Vedic tradition in India, is taught through a standard protocol involving lectures, personal instruction and group meetings, according to background information in the article.
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