Friday, July 2, 2010

Meditation and Neurofeedback

Meditation reduces the experience of pain, a recent University of Manchester study confirms, as reported in the Journal Pain.

Because meditation builds the ability to stay in the present moment, meditators anticipate pain less and are less bothered by it. This makes sense to me, and perhaps on a physical level as well. If we're not worrying about approaching pain (Blood tests! Vaccinations!), we're not tensing up.
I'm happy to see studies like this, because I believe mindfulness practice has great value for just about everybody. It's become commonplace for me to encourage mindfulness practice for my psychotherapy clients.  And the type of neurofeedback I offer is very much about training you to return to the present moment. Neurofeedback clients who are already meditators often report increased benefits from their meditation. It is amazing how different the experience of life is if we are just... present. Not worrying about tomorrow or turning yesterday over and over in our minds. Just being right here.
People often think of meditation as being about attaining a blissful state or having a quiet mind.  Those things may happen, but meditation is really about building the "awareness muscle." 
What I mean by that is getting really good at being present, noticing when we're meditating when we've drifted off into...
What's for dinner?
Is it 20 minutes yet???
Or finding yourself in another room, or at the computer, not remembering how you got there...
...and then returning to the present moment (and your meditation cushion). It can be meditating on the breath (my personal favorite), or on a mantra, or whatever type of meditation resonates for you. It's that pulse of being in the moment, drifting off, returning to the moment, over and over, that builds the muscle.
Building that awareness muscle serves us well in the rest of life. Not anticipating pain and worrying about it, as this study shows; and also enjoying what's in front of us, right now.

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
New York Neurofeedback


  1. Thank you for your great information. We are also in neurofeeback and pyschotherapy. Please take a look at our new HD web commercial and our website

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  2. Thanks for your comments. IME there are a lot of people doing both therapy and neurofeedback. They complement each other well.