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Mindfulness can curb pain and negative emotions: Study

ANI | February 20, 2020 05:00 PM
Mindfulness has been shown to have benefits in treating many conditions such as anxiety and depression

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb 20 (ANI): A new study has demonstrated that merely a brief introduction to mindfulness helps people deal with physical pain and negative emotions with much better effectiveness.

The effect of mindfulness was so pronounced that researchers from Yale, Columbia, and Dartmouth found, that even when participants were subjected to high heat on their forearm, their brain responded as if it was experiencing normal temperature.

Mindfulness -- the awareness and acceptance of a situation without judgment -- has been shown to have benefits in treating many conditions such as anxiety and depression, but the experts wanted to know whether people with no formal training in meditation and mindfulness might benefit from a brief 20-minute introduction into mindfulness concepts.

"It's as if the brain was responding to warm temperature, not very high heat," pointed out Yale's Hedy Kober, associate professor of psychiatry and psychology and corresponding author of the paper, which appeared in the journal Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience.

The participants in the study were tested in two contexts while undergoing brain imaging scans -- one for assessing response to physical pain induced by applying high heat to the forearm and another for gauging their response when presented with negative images.

In both contexts, researchers found significant differences in brain signalling pathways when participants were asked to employ mindfulness techniques compared to when they were asked to respond as they normally would.

Specifically, participants reported less pain and negative emotions when employing mindfulness techniques, and at the same time, their brains showed significant reductions in activity associated with pain and negative emotions. These neurological changes did not occur in the prefrontal cortex, which regulates conscious or rational decision-making, and hence, were not the result of conscious willpower, the authors noted.

"The ability to stay in the moment when experiencing pain or negative emotions suggests there may be clinical benefits to mindfulness practice in chronic conditions as well -- even without long meditation practice," Kober said. (ANI)

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