Tuesday, April 26, 2011

pain and meditation...

Pain has many faces, many expressions. physically our muscles and joints may ache, mentally and emotionally we deal with anger, loss and sadness. Any yogi will tell you that a little meditation can help but who really listens to yogis except for other yogis right? Well, a fancy schmancy research fellow by the name of Fadel Zeidan did a study last year with students at the University of North Carolina showing that, "Meditation reduced subjects' feeling of pain from electrical shocks during testing and increased their baseline pain tolerance." That's pretty sweet with the exception of the electrical shock, yeah?! Since most of us aren't exactly subject to systematic modes of pain such as this we can look at it in terms of a headache or other minor aches and pains in our bodies.

Through meditation we cultivate an awareness of our bodies, minds, surroundings etc.. When we train ourselves to bring our focus to the breath, these distractions become less important. When we feel a pain coming on, or an emotion welling up inside, rather than a siren sounding off in our heads we learn to approach these feelings nonreactively. Zeidan explains that even a basic meditation practice allows us to focus our awareness on the breath. When other distractions enter we are able to observe without judgment and gently bring our minds back to our breath.

He says that, "Pain is a subjective experience. Meditation is a way of changing the context of that experience. In meditation you experience each moment as it rolls by, and you realize there's no reason to react. You appraise sensory experience differently." And on that note I'm off to breathe this nagging homesickness away!

Love and miss all of you!

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