Are you a senior who struggles with chronic pain on a daily basis? Have you tried everything under the sun — from pills to therapy — to deal with your suffering? If you have, and you’ve yet to find relief, there’s an age-old solution that you might want to look into — transcendental meditation.
According to a new study published by the National Institutes of Health, transcendental meditation was shown to help curb chronic pain. In a short span of only five months, researchers found that participants in the study experienced a “significant decrease” in their pain.
In the study, researchers looked at 12 healthy long-term meditators who have practiced transcendental meditation for 30 years. These individuals showed a 40 to 50% lower brain response to pain, as compared to 12 healthy control subjects not practicing transcendental meditation. Plus, when the control subjects practiced transcendental meditation for a short span of five months, they also exhibited brain responses that indicated their pain decreased by 40 to 50%.
The lead author of the study, David Orme-Johnson, PhD, stated that, “Prior research indicates that transcendental meditation creates a more balanced outlook on life and greater equanimity in reacting to stress. This study suggests that this is not just an attitudinal change, but a fundamental change in how the brain functions.”
We’ll look at exactly how transcendental meditation works in a moment. First, you’ll want to note that the reason for the results of the study is because this form of meditation can reduce the brain’s response to pain by creating a physiological state that makes it possible for your body to modify various kinds of pain.
This is crucial to note, as stress responses from your body to chronic pain can adversely affect basically all the systems of your body, including your endocrine, respiratory, cardiovascular, and immune systems. Over time, transcendental meditation can reduce your anxiety and improve your reaction to stress while decreasing your distress from acute pain.
So what is transcendental meditation, exactly? The practice comes from the ancient tradition of Vedic, which originated in India. It is a form of deep, personal, and contemplative meditation that is taught through a standard practice, which traditionally involves personal instruction, lectures, and even group meetings.
Borne of religious roots in the Hindu tradition, transcendental meditation was trademarked by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1955. It’s also a movement led by Mahesh Yogi that claims to be based upon a body of scientific work, which shows the meditation techniques in transcendental meditation can produce many positive effects.
How can you take part in transcendental meditation? For starters, check out your local community center or look for studios that focus on transcendental meditation. Often, transcendental meditation is taught in a seven-step program, which lasts for five to seven days. In it, you will go through an introductory lecture, a personal interview and instruction, as well as group instruction and a follow- up program that is called “checking,” which is often free for life.
The practice is fairly easy to take part in. Transcendental meditation is done for 20 minutes twice a day while sitting in a quiet place with your eyes closed. The basic technique involves an effortless mental repetition of a simple sound, which is known as a “mantra.” Often, you can choose your own mantra, but in a class setting, your instructor may provide you with one. This mantra should remain private, where the repetition of the mantra and its effect is the means of achieving enlightenment, or in this case, pain relief.
If you are looking for a non-evasive means for dealing with your pain, you may want to look into transcendental meditation. Since chronic pain affects 50 million people all over the world, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, going the natural route will help you deal with your pain without stressing your system further. Note that treating pain via modern medicine costs the U.S. about $100 billion annually, whereas transcendental meditation is a free, lifelong pursuit after you learn how to do it.