The Benefits of Meditation
The researchers stated at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience from San Diego, that practicing a watchful alertness of the body and consciousness for four days can change the way in which the brain processes the pain. It seems that the brain activity is decreased in the areas which are responsible for spreading sensory information and in the areas which are devoted to body parts which are often subjected to pain, such as the lower back for example. The regions which are responsible with modulating the pain get busy, and as a result the pain is less unpleasant and less intense. It has been discovered in the past that meditation can take care of the anxiety, that it can help people cope with their emotions, and that it promotes the relaxation.
Fadel Zeidan, a post-doctoral researcher at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, who was also the leader of the study, stated that meditation has the capability of reducing the pain by making the physical reactions to it less complex. Zeidan said that pain depends on the situation and on the context, and the brain can be very important from this point of view. The best way of dealing with the pain is to be engaged in mindfulness meditation which requires one to sit quietly and to breathe evenly. The main task of the mindfulness meditation is to be engaged 100 percent in the present and to clear your mind. It seems that his theories have been backed up by numerous researches more than one time. He stated that one does not need to meditate for a very long time in order to see the results, and that 20 or 30 minutes each day for 3 or 4 days will be enough. He wanted to see if this is true, so he asked 15 volunteers to practice meditation for 30 minutes for four days.
He and his colleagues scanned the brains of the volunteers prior and after each session of meditation, to see if they can discover any changes. Before and after each scan, the researchers applied heat on their calves, which ranged between 35 degrees Celsius and 49 degrees Celsius. They applied the temperature for 12 seconds, and after each round, the volunteers had to rate their pain level. They had to choose between 1 and 10, 10 being the highest level of pain. It seems that the meditation can reduce the pain by 57 percent. This means that the pain is all in one’s head. It is a known fact that the brain is the one that sends the pain signals in order to “tell” that something is not wrong. Fortunately the signals can be reduced. The main reason why pain is reduced through meditation is because since the people are focused on the present, they ignore the pain signals sent by the brain.
It seems that the meditation has the capacity of preparing the brain for the possible negative things which might occur in the future, and as a result, when they occur they aren’t too tough to handle. The meditation does not modify the intensity of the pain, but it modifies the way in which we handle the pain when we feel it. This information could be very useful for the people who suffer from chronic pains, such as lower back one, or arthritis, and many others. It seems that meditation is useful not only for managing the pain but for being more sharp minded as well. It has been discovered that meditation can increase one’s attention, and that it can make him be more aware of certain things. This could prove to be very useful in the case of the people who suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD.
Through meditation one can increase his attention, and he can increase other mental capacities as well. Meditation might also be able to increase one’s mental toughness and mood. For example the soldiers might benefit from it, by becoming more engaged in the battle and by avoiding fear or other emotions which might interfere with the way in which they perform. It has been discovered that people can benefit from the training which might make them stay more alert. It seems that the same principles are applied in all of the cases, and that the most important thing is to remain focused on the present. The key is to practice these mental exercises each day even if only for an hour or so.
Just like in the case of the pain management, the best way of making yourself prepared for a certain difficult task is to perform mindfulness meditation. In order to be good at it, you need to practice each day, and once you got the hang of it, the benefits will come sooner; after half an hour of meditation or so. It seems that the mood of a person is modified through mindfulness meditation as well, but it is not known how. The main reason why the pain of the people is not that strong through meditation is because the activity from the brain dropped into the thalamus, and as a result the pain receptors did not function in the proper manner. In the same time, the areas which were associated with the management of the pain became more active, and the pain was even less intense than usual. In the case of the heat experiment, the brain did not send the signals associated with the pain because it was tricked to believe that the pain was not too important.
This might be very useful for the people who will undergo surgery. First of all, these patients might use meditation in order to become more prepared for being subjected to the surgery, and then they could use it in order to manage the pain which results from the operation. It seems that we do not need years of training, or a very vast expertise in the domain in order to achieve incredible things through the process of meditations.11