Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Meditation Better Than Pain-Killers

A woman, meditating
Credit to: Insight Meditation, New Zealand
Meditation can be better at relieving pain than the best pain-relieving drugs, according to a new report published in the Journal of Neuroscience. The study into the effects of the mind and pain was led by Dr Fadel Zeidan in the USA. The research looked at a technique called “focused attention,” which is a form of meditation where people focus their thoughts only on their breathing. Dr Zeidan said: “This is the first study to show that only a little over an hour of meditation training can dramatically reduce both the experience of pain and pain-related brain activation”. Zeidan added: “We found a big effect - about a 40 per cent reduction in pain intensity and a 57 per cent reduction in pain unpleasantness.”

The study involved a group of volunteers who had never meditated before. They attended four 20-minute classes to learn about focused attention. Before and after the meditation training, the researchers examined the participants’ brain activity using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). During the scans, a heat device was placed on their leg to create pain. The MRI scans showed that after the meditation training, pain felt by every volunteer decreased from between 11 to 93 per cent. Zeidan compared these results to medicines, saying: "Meditation produced a greater reduction in pain than even morphine or other pain-relieving drugs, which typically reduce pain by about 25 per cent."

Vocabulary Words: Read the word/s, meaning and the sample sentence. Try making your own sentence afterwards.

1. meditate (v.): think deeply; pray deeply
  • Priests and monks meditate everyday.
2. relieve (v.): to remove (pain, stress, sadness, negative things)
  • The woman was relieved when she learned that her baby is normal.
3. technique (n.): a very effective method or way of doing something
  • Her techniques in playing the piano is really amazing.
4. dramatically (adv.): in a very impressive manner or value
  • The physical appearance of the boy dramatically changed in just two years.
5. activate (v.): make active and effective
  • She activated her cellphone when she arrived home.

Other Vocabulary Words:
reduction (n.): decrease or lessening; become few in number or amount
unpleasantness (n.): the quality or state of being unpleasant; unpleasant or bad situation
morphine (n.): a pain killer

Comprehension Check: Read and answer the questions based on the article.
1. How can meditation help us?
2. What is "focused attention"?
3. What series of activities did the volunteers do in the study?

 Agree or Disagree: Explain your answer.
1. Meditation helps me a lot.
2. Meditation is always a part of religion.
3. Meditation is done mostly by women.


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