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The Zen Way to Pain Relief
Date:1/29/2009

Meditation technique may help keep discomfort at bay, study finds

THURSDAY, Jan. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Zen meditation appears to reduce sensitivity to moderate pain when practiced by well-trained individuals, Canadian researchers report.

"Previous studies had already shown that teaching patients with chronic pain to meditate seemed to help them, but no one had examined how these effects might come about," said study author Joshua A. Grant, a researcher in the department of physiology at the University of Montreal. "We reasoned that the best approach would be to study healthy people with a lot of meditation training already under their belts, because effects would presumably be strongest in them."

"The first finding then is that the meditators are much less sensitive to heat pain," noted Grant. "We [also] found that this pain reduction in meditators was related to how many lifetime hours of practice they had accumulated, with more pain reduction in the more senior practitioners."

Throughout the experiments, the researchers also found that meditators seem to breath much more slowly than non-meditators -- providing some of the first hard proof that the cardio-respiratory system could be the underlying mechanism by which meditation promotes pain control.

Grant and his University of Montreal co-author, Dr. Pierre Rainville, report the findings in the January issue of Psychosomatic Medicine.

According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), the practice of meditation refers to a wide range of techniques that harness a controlled focus on objects, words, breath, or posture to invoke relaxation, calmness, psychological balance, overall wellness, and/or disease control.

Regardless of the approach, NCCAM highlights four attributes that are common to most forms of stand-alone meditation or meditation performed in co
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