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Short bursts of meditation 'can reduce pain levels'

By Mark Pownall

Brief meditation for 20 minutes a day over three days can reduce pain levels, according to new research.

The US research on a group of volunteer psychology students found brief meditation interventions were enough to significantly reduce pain scores on a six-item pain score ranging from no sensation to intolerable pain.

Scores were reduced by about one for both low intensity pain, and high intensity pain (delivered as an electric shock).

The researchers say previous studies had shown that learning to meditate could reduce pain, but that the courses had been time consuming – eight weeks long with daily homework, taught by a trained professional and involving a one-day silent retreat.

The lead researcher Fadel Zeidan, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, said: ‘A brief three day meditation intervention significantly reduced subjective pain ratings, pain sensitivity and anxiety. There were lower ratings for both high and low pain intensities.

‘Even brief meditation training can be effective in dampening the pain response. The analgesic effects of meditation may be released after only a small investment of time.'

Journal of Pain, published early online 23 October 2009.

Brief meditation can reduce pain levels, say researchers

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