Our Bloggers

Jerome Stone

Meditation is More Powerful Than Morphine!

Ongoing research continues to affirm what seasoned meditators have been claiming for centuries, if not millennia. How we experience our world, including our perceptions of our internal world, can be dramatically changed, mediated, through meditation.

In the most recent work done at the Departments of Neurobiology, Anatomy and Biomedical Engineering at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the Psychology Department at Marquette University, and published in the Journal of Neuroscience, 2011 Apr 6;31(14):5540-8, researchers found the data to indicated that, “…meditation engages multiple brain mechanisms that alter the construction of the subjectively available pain experience from afferent information.”

What these mechanisms were doing was to work in conjunction with one another to alter the participant’s perception of a noxious stimulus. That’s big! Similar to the work done by Davidson and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, this study found that through the practice of meditation, practitioners are able to coordinate and recruit various regions of the brain to alter their perception of painful stimuli and to – literally – experience less pain.

What is unique and profound about the results of this study is that the meditators were healthy volunteers who had never meditated and who had only received training in meditation during 4 twenty minute instruction periods. Four? Twenty minutes?! Wow! That means that by studying for as little as 80 minutes, and practicing the technique of mindfulness, ordinary people – like me! – can change their experience of pain, reducing the experience.

In an editorial concerning this study, found on Nurse.com, Fadel Zeidan, PhD, lead author of the study and post-doctoral research fellow at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, was quote as saying:

We found a big effect — about a 40% reduction in pain intensity and a 57% reduction in pain unpleasantness. Meditation produced a greater reduction in pain than even morphine or other pain-relieving drugs, which typically reduce pain ratings by about 25%.”

Yikes! That means that we’ve got the ability to significantly reduce our perception of discomfort through meditation practice! What are we waiting for, let’s get practicing! And to do that, here are a few resources to get you started:

How To Meditate

Meditation Advice for Beginners