Zen Meditation Fends Off Pain, Thickens Brain

In February ’09, the University of Montreal released the results of one of its two studies that studied the affects Zen meditation has on health. Apparently doing nothing is still doing something.

The first study was created to see if trained meditators perceived pain differently than non-meditators. The authors of the paper, Joshua A. Grant and Pierre Rainville, studied 13 Zen meditators with at least 1,000 hours of meditation practice and 13 non-meditators.

Participants were given a heat test via a computer-controlled heating plate that was pressed against the calves of subjects intermittently at varying temperatures. The results of the test showed that meditators have a lower pain sensitivity than non-meditators.

For more info, check out the clip below.

In the second study, done in February 2010 and also by Grant with direction from Rainville, 17 meditators and 18 non-meditators who had never practiced yoga, experienced chronic pain, neurological or psychological illness, were also tested via a computer-controlled heating plate that was pressed against their calves.

These subjects were also given a MRI after. The MRI scans showed that central brain regions that regulate emotion and pain were significantly thicker in meditators compared to non-meditators.

The study was published in the American Psychological Association journal, Emotion.


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