Mindfulness Meditation: Pain is Real But Suffering From it is a State of Mind

A new study shows that mindfulness meditation can reduce our physical and emotional pain. But what is mindfulness and how do we practice it?


Mindfulness has become such a buzzword, it can be easy to forget just how revolutionary it is. While mindfulness meditation dates back over 2,600 years, it’s only now that we have the technology and scientific process to confirm and explore its benefits.

A new study by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center shows that 20 minutes of daily mindfulness practice can drastically reduce our perceptions of pain, one of the latest examples extolling its effects.

The study heated participants' skin to about 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and compared groups of mindful practitioners: those doing a placebo meditation, those given a placebo jelly for the discomfort, and a control group.

The group doing the meditation reported 27 percent less intense physical pain than the control group, and 44 percent less emotional pain. The parts of the brain that were activated during the meditation were the sections that denote self-control, while it deactivated the region known as the thalamus, which basically told the pain signals they weren’t as important as they thought they were, causing them to quietly fade away.

Below, Dr. Mark Epstein reveals how mindfulness promotes a way of thinking that separates stimuli from your emotional reaction to them:

​Is science synonymous with 'truth'? Game theory says, 'not always.'

Good science is sometimes trumped by the craving for a "big splash."

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  • Scientists strive to earn credit from their peers, for grants from federal agencies, and so a lot of the decisions that they make are strategic in nature. They're encouraged to publish exciting new findings that demonstrate some new phenomenon that we have never seen before.
  • This professional pressure can affect their decision-making — to get acclaim they may actually make science worse. That is, a scientist might commit fraud if he thinks he can get away with it or a scientist might rush a result out of the door even though it hasn't been completely verified in order to beat the competition.
  • On top of the acclaim of their peers, scientists — with the increasing popularity of science journalism — are starting to be rewarded for doing things that the public is interested in. The good side of this is that the research is more likely to have a public impact, rather than be esoteric. The bad side? To make a "big splash" a scientist may push a study or article that doesn't exemplify good science.

People who constantly complain are harmful to your health

Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.

Photo credit: Getty Images / Stringer
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Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.

Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.

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NASA and ESA team up for historic planetary defense test

Two space agencies plan missions to deflect an asteroid.

ESA's Hera mission above asteroid 65803 Didymos. Credit: ESA/ScienceOffice.org
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  • NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are working together on missions to a binary asteroid system.
  • The DART and Hera missions will attempt to deflect and study the asteroid Didymoon.
  • A planetary defense system is important in preventing large-scale catastrophes.
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