Meditation is a useful tool helping to deal with chronic and acute pain. For example, research has found that 10 minutes of meditation increased patient's ability to be with pain. We become more resilient and less reactive to pain over time with meditation.
People new to meditation may be surprised about the directions they are given when using Mindfulness for pain. During meditation it is commonly instructed not to go to a 'happy place' or distract yourself from the pain, but to GO TOWARDS IT. Yes, that's right, to help pain, feel your pain. With mindfulness, one learns how to feel the pain as sensations, for example heat or tingling or pressure. Focusing on the physical aspects of the pain takes our attention away from the emotional distress and worry that often accompanies pain.
“To diminish the suffering of pain, we need to make a crucial distinction between the pain of pain, and the pain we create by our thoughts about the pain. Fear, anger, guilt, loneliness and helplessness are all mental and emotional responses that can intensify pain.” ~Howard Cutler
Brain scans show that when people meditate to help pain they have increased activation in areas of the brain related to sensory experience. Although one would think that would increase pain, to the contrary this is associated with decreased suffering because the brain is processing the pain as physical sensations, not emotional arousal. Parts of the brain related to stress and emotion are less active during meditation with pain. We can't often control what is happening physically in our bodies, but we can alter how we respond emotionally and improve our overall perception of the situation.
We invite you to watch this short video from the National Institutes of Health to learn more about the impact of meditation on pain and the brain.
Learn how to use Mindfulness for pain by attending our Tuesday drop-in classes (9:15 am or 6:15 pm). Or sign up for the fall Six-Week Introductory Mindfulness Series.
A recent longitudinal study published in JAMA shows what many have suspected; social media use in teens is associated with the development of ADHD.
Researchers followed approximately 2500 high school students over two years. At the start of the study none of the teens had symptoms of ADHD. Students were surveyed 5 times across the two years regarding their self-reported use of digital media, such as checking social media and texting, and frequency of ADHD symptoms. Researchers found an association between the frequency of digital media use and a higher likelihood of ADHD symptoms. By and large, students who frequently used six or more digital activities had a higher likelihood of developing ADHD symptoms. Further research is needed to determine whether this association is causal.
So what should teenagers and parents do? Limiting digital media is a start, but even as adult sometimes we engage in more screen time than may be healthy. Mindfulness can help! Researchers have suggested that time to 'reset' and relax, working on self-regulation, and tools for healthy emotional expression can help diminish the impact of screen time- all things Mindfulness offers!
Help your child or teen balance out their technology time with the tools of Mindfulness. We offer monthly introductory workshops for children, tweens, and teens. Learn more here.
Reference: Ra CK et al. Association of digital media use with subsequent symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder among adolescents. JAMA 2018 Jul 17; 320:255. (https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2018.8931)