Interest in the physiological and psychological effects of meditation have received increased attention from the medical and clinical research communities in the west. In studies sponsored by agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, within various universities and by private researchers, an understanding of how meditation transforms mental and physical health is emerging.
Featured here are the results of a study conducted by MIT and Harvard neuroscientists; the studies indicate that regular meditation can help people suffering from chronic pain, and proposes a possible explanation.
In people who meditated regularly, the control of alpha brain wave rhythms played a role in diminished pain. According to Christopher Moore, an MIT neuroscientist and senior author of the paper. “Our data indicate that meditation training makes you better at focusing, in part by allowing you to better regulate how things that arise will impact you.”
Focusing research on tactile information from participants’ hands and feet over an eight-week period, half of the participants meditated for 45 minutes each day; the other half of the study participants did not meditate. Brain scans were performed prior to the study which established a base line for each study participant. At eight weeks, follow-up studies revealed an increase in alpha wave amplitude. Conclusions include that meditation’s training on shifting focus from one body part to another shifts sensations along with it.
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The benefits of meditation: An MIT report