Could Meditation Relieve Pain?

December 3, 2015

It seems like we’re reading about new potential health benefits of meditation all the time—and from helping you beat procrastination to reducing anxiety, there’s a host of possible ways it could come in handy for dancers.

The latest reason to give it a try? A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found new evidence that meditation can reduce both physical and emotional pain. While previous research suggested a link between meditation and pain relief, scientists from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center wanted to make sure it wasn’t just due to the placebo effect (a placebo treatment has no actual physical effect on patients, but can produce results because patients believe they’re receiving treatment).

The researchers split volunteers into groups and had some practice mindful meditation while others tried different placebo methods (like a fake pain-relieving cream). They then tested people’s pain tolerances. Though all the groups experienced some decrease in pain, meditation had the most significant results, reducing pain intensity by 27 percent and emotional pain by 44 percent.

More research still needs to be done, but the findings are encouraging. Next time you’re sore after a grueling day in the studio, battling injury or powering through an especially tough workout, consider making meditation part of your training.