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Can your mind put your body at ease?

Chronic pain affects millions of people in this country. Many people in New York probably know what it is like to live with severe pain. Trying treatment after treatment, hoping the next one will work can be frustrating and exhausting. As some people who receive Social Security disability benefits know, the pain can be enough to prevent you from working. 

These people and others may be interested to hear that researchers are beginning to turn away from prescription pain killers and toward the human mind as a source of relief. Although it may sound strange, some people have experienced dramatic reductions in pain through meditation.

Studies have not yet proven meditation to be a cure for chronic pain, but they have shown that it can provide immense relief to patients. In one study, patients experienced, on average, a 40 percent drop in pain while meditating.

One woman who has struggled through various treatments for chronic pain stemming from a herniated disc said that on a scale of one to 10 -- 10 being the worst -- meditation helped her pain drop from a 10 to a two or three. The key for her, however, was to make meditation a regular practice. Skipping a few days would cause her pain to intensify again.

While prescription painkillers work well for some people, others say they do not feel like themselves when taking them. For these people -- and for those who want to supplement a medication regimen -- meditation may be worth a try. At the very least, it may be worth following new research into how and why meditation can ease debilitating pain. 

Source: The Atlantic, "Treating Chronic Pain With Meditation," Brian Steiner, April 1, 2014

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