Can you ‘train’ your mind to find relief from pain? We asked the experts

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    Buddha Weekly Body mind meditation concept feature Buddhism

    By Beth Rush
    Of Body+Mind Magazine

    Pain is a universal experience that can significantly impact your quality of life. While traditional approaches to pain management often involve medication and physical therapy, there’s increasing interest in the role of the mind in modulating the experience of pain. This interest has led people to explore various mind-body techniques that aim to help individuals relieve pain by “training” their minds. Is it possible to meditate pain away?

    [Disclaimer: Always seek the advice of your health care practitioners when experiencing pain or other medical issues.]

    Buddha Weekly shoulder pain illustrated body scan meditation Buddhism
    One form of “reprogramming” meditation is called “scan meditation” where you focus inwards during meditation and mindfully map or scan the pain areas, without judgement or analysis, from head to toe. At this stage, you’re simply mindfully observing.

    The Power of Mind-Body Techniques

    So, how do you train your mind to lessen pain? Mind-body techniques like meditation and mindfulness have gained attention for their potential to alleviate it. These approaches emphasize the connection between the mind and body[1], recognizing mental processes can influence physical well-being.

    Mindfulness and meditation can provide many benefits besides the potential for pain management. These practices can also reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, enhance immune function, and increase serotonin levels [2]. By learning to focus attention, regulate emotions and challenge negative thought patterns, you may be able to reduce the intensity of your pain and improve your overall functioning [3].

    Buddha Weekly Concept neurons and nervous system brain reprogram dreamstime xl 293969782 Buddhism
    Concept illustration of the brain and nervous system. Meditation and mindfulness was shown as to change brain activity and neural pathways associated with pain perception in a study titled “Disentangling self from pain: mindfulness meditation–induced pain relief is driven by thalamic–default mode network decoupling.” (see Note 4)

    The Science Behind Mind-Body Pain Relief

    Research into mind-body techniques for pain management has yielded promising findings. Studies have shown that practices like meditation and mindfulness can lead to changes in brain activity and neural pathways associated with pain perception [4].

    Additionally, these techniques have been linked to reductions in the release of stress hormones and inflammation [5], both of which can exacerbate pain. However, remember that it’s always crucial to consult with your health care provider if you’re experiencing continuous pain. Fortunately, with the rise in technology, you can do this through digital health platforms, saving you time and allowing you to take control of your health [6].


    Buddha Weekly Brain Mind Training Lojong Buddhism
    Particularly helpful in “reprogramming” may be an adapted form of the Tibetan Buddhist meditation technique known as Lojong seven-point mind training. See our feature on Lojong here>>


    Using Neuroplasticity

    Another key concept in training the mind to reduce pain relief is neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to recognize and form new connections in response to experience. By engaging in targeted mental exercises and practices, you may be able to reprogram the way your nervous system responds to pain[7].

    Related features on Pain and Mind Meditaiton for Pain

    Buddha Weekly body mind meditation connection dreamstime xl 181923943 Buddhism

    How Do You Train Your Mind to Lessen Pain?

    Training your mind to alleviate pain involves developing mental strategies that help shift your focus on perception. One of these techniques is mindful breathing.

    Begin by focusing on your breath. Inhale deeply, hold for a moment and exhale slowly. Concentrate on the sensation of each breath, allowing it to anchor you in the present moment. Each time you feel yourself disengaging, return to your breathing [4].

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    The power of will and meditation over pain is widely accepted.


    While mind-body techniques show promise for pain relief [4], they are more effective when integrated into a comprehensive pain management plan, especially if you experience chronic pain [8]. This plan may include medical interventions and lifestyle modifications. By working with health care providers who are knowledgeable about these approaches, you can develop personalized strategies for addressing your pain that consider the complex interplay of physical, emotional and cognitive factors.


    Buddha Weekly Back pain can be relieved with mindfulness meditation Buddhism
    Pain can be reduced through mindfulness meditation according to research studies.


    Is It Possible to Meditate the Pain Away?

    There’s growing evidence to suggest the mind plays a vital role in shaping your experience of pain. By embracing mind-body techniques and using the principles of neuroplasticity, you may be able to train your mind to find relief from pain and improve your quality of life. While further research is necessary to understand the mechanisms underlying these effects fully, integrating mind-body approaches holds great promise for enhancing the holistic care of those living with pain.


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    [1] Somatic Experience: Buddha Weekly>>
    [2] Infographic – Regular Habit of Meditation>>
    [3] USSD: mindfulness feature on reducing pain>>
    [4] LWW Journal: disentangling from pain with mindfulness>>
    [5] Healthline: 12 Benefits meditation>>
    [6] Pathstone: Digital Health>>
    [7] Neuroplasticity>>
    [8] Mindfulness and Pain:>>

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    Beth Rush

    Author | Buddha Weekly

    Beth Rush is the Managing Editor and content manager at Body+Mind. She is a well-respected writer in the personal wellness space and shares knowledge on a variety of topics related to nutrition, holistic health, and mental health. You can find Beth on Twitter @bodymindmag.

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