A new study finds that meditation can reduce pain by as much as half, even for people with very little meditation training. This makes it more effective than morphine! And certainly more effective than crying like a little sissy.
Now, the study, undertaken at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina, only looked at the pain-killing effects of meditation on a sample of 15 volunteers, so it's important that we don't draw hasty conclusions, like "meditation is the new morphine." But it looks like meditation is the new morphine:
"We found a big effect – about a 40 per cent reduction in pain intensity and a 57 per cent reduction in pain unpleasantness," said [study leader Dr. Fadel] Zeiden.
"Meditation produced a greater reduction in pain than even morphine or other pain-relieving drugs, which typically reduce pain ratings by about 25 per cent."
Study participants, none of whom had meditated before, attended four "focused attention" meditation classes before having their brains scanned while a "heat device" induced pain in their legs. Meditation, it would seem, works at dulling pain by reducing activity in the areas of the brain associated with "creating the feeling of where and how intense a painful stimulus is" and increasing it in the areas of the brain that cope with pain.
So next time you're about to undergo painful surgery, tell your anesthesiologist "No morphine for me, please—I'm going to meditate." And then meditate as hard as you can.