A great article came out last week in The Atlantic detailing the therapeutic effects of meditation. The article, written by Brian Steiner, discusses one woman’s familiar journey with persistent pain and then delves deeper into how meditation alleviates chronic pain both physiologically and psychologically. Particularly, meditation alters the level of activation in the primary somatosensory cortex, anterior insula, anterior cingulate cortex, and prefrontal cortex of the brain. The primary somatosensory cortex is the precise part of the brain involved in pain processing; whereas, the anterior cingulate cortex controls emotional responses. The prefrontal cortex is involved in social behavior and decision making. Meditation reduces pain “by decreasing activity in the primary somatosensory cortex, the pain processing area, and increasing activity in the three other regions” writes Brian Steiner. In short, meditation and pain both alter sensory, cognitive, and emotional aspects of our brain. Meditation can improve our cognitive control over nociceptive processing, help take emotional command over pain, and increase focus on the present. If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend this interesting and enlightening article.
Tell me what you think? Has meditation improved your ability to cope with chronic pain?