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Monday, November 19, 2012

Meditation changes your relationship to pain

Meditation can change the way a person experiences pain, according to a new study by University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientists, reported on
During an experiment, expert meditators felt the discomfort as intensely as novice meditators, but the experience wasn’t as unpleasant for them. Brain-imaging studies showed that experts had less activity in the anxiety regions of their brains than did novice meditators. They also became accustomed to the pain more quickly after being exposed repeatedly to it.
The scientists, based at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, are analyzing the effects of meditation in several areas.
The study involved an advanced form of mindfulness mediation called Open Presence, but other kinds of meditation also may provide benefits, says Antoine Lutz, first author on the paper appearing recently in NeuroImage.
The findings help explain how opening to pain, rather than avoiding it, can reduce the anxiety that can worsen the experience of pain.
“The goal would be to change your relationship to the pain, rather than changing the experience itself,” Lutz says.