Less pain is on the list of benefits of meditation. Just ten minutes a day of mindfulness meditation may reduce the need for painkillers by improving pain tolerance and decreasing anxiety levels, according to new research out of Leeds Beckett University. The study included 24 healthy university students who were randomly split into a control group and a meditation group. Participants were asked to put their hand in warm water for two minutes before removing it and placing it into ice water for as long as they could stand. They then either sat quietly for 10 minutes or meditated before doing it again. Both groups performed similarly the first time around, but the participants in the meditation group saw a decrease in anxiety about pain and a higher pain threshold and pain tolerance on the second go. “These results do show that a brief mindfulness meditation intervention can be of benefit in pain relief,” says Osama Tashani, PhD, Senior Research Fellow in Pain Studies at Leeds Beckett University in Leeds, UK, in a news release. Holding hands with your partner can also help quash pain.
When it comes to the health benefits of meditation, heart health is high on the list—follow this path to a happy, healthy heart.
Research out of Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, TM’s hub, showed that practicing TM reduced risk of death, heart attack, and stroke among African Americans with existing heart disease—a group at high-risk for bad outcomes. These men and women’s were able to cut risk by close to 50 percent; they also lowered their systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading), when compared to their counterparts who received health education that did not include meditation.
TM is a very specific type of meditation that requires training by a certified teacher. Practitioners must sit comfortably and close their eyes for 20 minutes, twice a day, while repeating a personalized mantra. Cost of the class is based on a sliding scale, and financial aid is available. “There is a huge body of research showing the benefits of TM on the heart and heart disease risk factors like blood pressure,” says John Butler, a certified TM teacher at the TM Center in midtown Manhattan. “We get really profound rest when we transcend through meditation, and this allows the body to rectify, heal, and normalize whatever is off,” he says. There can be dramatic results after just a few meditations. “When we give our nervous system the rest it needs, it starts to deal with the imbalances such as blood pressure or anything else that is off track.”