Meditation is on a roll—scoring one scientific victory after another. According to findings from a new study from scientists at Yale, Columbia, and Dartmouth as little as a single session of training in mindfulness, in those with no previous experience, leads to a pronounced decrease in pain, as well as feelings of negativity.
Mindfulness is simply the process of being in the present moment with full acceptance of the current situation without judgement. For this study the scientists took 20 people with no formal training in meditation or mindfulness and provided a brief 20-minute tutorial covering the fundamentals. Afterwards the study subjects had their brains scanned during two different experiments. In one, high heat was applied to the forearm and in the other the subjects viewed disturbing images. The scientists had the study subjects complete both of the experiments twice. In one, the subjects were prompted to practice mindfulness and in the other they were asked to respond as they typically would.
The results were compelling! The study subjects reported significantly less pain and negative emotions during the mindfulness portion of the experiment. What’s more impressive, scans of their brains corroborated their subjective responses with notable reductions in brain activity in areas tied to pain and negative emotions.