Meditation for Pain Management

mindfulness meditation and emotional pain

MRI images of the brain of a novice meditator show signs of pain nearly disappear. (source: Robert Coghill/Wake Forest University School of Medicine)


Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Pain in Recent Research Study


A recent study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centers showed that people with minimal training on mindfulness meditation were able to curb the intensity of physical pain by 40% and pain unpleasantness by 57% simply through meditation for pain management


The participants only completed four 20-minute training sessions on meditation for pain management. This means you don’t have to be exceptionally practiced in meditation to experience the benefits. Houston researchers administered pain in the form of a small, thermal stimulator heated to 120 degrees applied to the back of each volunteer’s right calf. After mindfulness meditation, participants not only reported the 40% reduction in pain intensity, an MRI showed a drastic reduction in brain activity – the pain almost disappeared.




What is meditation for pain management?

“Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” (Kabat-Zinn).


“Awareness of present experience with acceptance.” (Germer, Segal, Fulton)


Mindfulness is a type of meditation that essentially involves focusing on your mind on the present. To be mindful is to be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions in the present, without trying to change them, suppress them, make them go away, or judging yourself.

Applies to Emotional Pain Too!

Emotional pain can often occur when we are holding onto to unhelpful thoughts or judgments, suppressing uncomfortable feelings or avoiding pain through distractions such as food, alcohol, work, etc. Mindfulness meditation can help ease emotional pain as well.


Rather than avoiding emotions or uncomfortable feelings, mindfulness is about staying with them in the present moment. Ultimately, you begin to “defuse” from your feelings, to observe them in a non-personal way. You no longer ARE your feelings, which reduces the intensity of them. You also experience the ebb and flow of feelings; when you are no longer resisting them, they naturally pass.


Mindfulness Meditations to Start With:

Download and try some of these meditations to start practicing mindfulness meditation. Give it some time and remember to stay non-judgmental. It times time to quiet the monkey in our minds!


UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center Audio Podcasts (no cost iTunes download)  


Self-Compassion Meditations by Self-Compassion Researcher Kristin Neff

Contact one of our counselors for help on Meditation for Pain Management. Our therapists in Houston are available for face to face sessions as online therapy sessions in limited areas.

To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.


Recommended Resources:

These are great resources for continuing to practice mindfulness meditation for stress reduction.


stress proof your brainStress-Proof Your Brain: Meditations to Rewire Neural Pathways for Stress Relief and Unconditional Happiness

Our brains have evolved powerful tools for coping with threats and danger-but in the face of modern stresses like information overload, money worries, and interpersonal conflicts, our survival reflexes can do more harm than good. Learn research-based techniques and meditations that will literally re-shape your brain to make your more resilient, confident, and peaceful.


stress managementMeditations to Change Your Brain

The structure of your brain changes constantly, in a dynamic, unfolding process that you yourself can direct to create the life you want. Drawing on a vast body of research spanning more than 30 years, Meditations to Change Your Brain collects the best meditative and contemplative practices to help anyone increase their capacity for joy, love, and spiritual bliss.


Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP on Twitter
Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP
Rachel’s passion is to help people discover their personal gifts and strengths to achieve self-acceptance, create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, and find meaning and fulfillment in work and life roles. She helps people create nurturance and healing from within to restore balance and enoughness and overcome binge eating, emotional eating, anxiety, depression and lack of career fulfillment.

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