Spiritual Meditation Provides Stronger Pain Management

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Nov 01, 2005

People who practiced a spiritual form of meditation for a 2-week period had less anxiety, a more positive mood, and less pain when exposed to a stressor than people who practiced secular forms of meditation, according to research results published online, July 28, in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine (2005; 10.1007/s10865-005-9008-5).

Researchers from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, wanted to examine whether spiritual meditation had any advantages over secular meditation or relaxation. Subjects were 84 college-age participants. For this study, spiritual meditation was considered any form of meditation that focused on a spiritual concept such as peace, joy or love. Spiritual, therefore, did not necessarily mean religious. Secular meditation involved concentration on a positive affirmation like “I am joyful” or “I am good.” Relaxation was progressive muscle relaxation. Researchers acknowledged that a limitation of the study was that elements of spirituality—such as the process of forgiveness—existed even in the secular practices.

After 2 weeks, pain tolerance was almost twice as high in the spiritual-meditation group as it was in the other two groups. The spiritual group also had more positive mood and less anxiety.

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About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at www.shirleyarcher.com.