Chronic neck pain is a total pain in the... well, neck. While sometimes it's the result of a trauma, such as a car accident, for most of us chronic neck pain stems from our technology obsession and lack of postural skills. Lucky for us, a recent study published in The Journal of Pain has revealed meditation may help reduce chronic neck pain.
Michael Jeitler, MD, from the Charité-Universitätsmedizin in Berlin, and colleagues examined the effectiveness of an eight-week jyoti meditation program on patients with chronic neck pain. Eighty-nine participants were randomly placed into two groups: A jyoti meditation group with weekly 90-minute classes (45 participants) and a home-based exercise program (44 participants). They compared the effects of meditation on pain, perceived stress and psychological well-being.
Researchers found an eight-week meditation program decreased chronic neck pain significantly better than a run-of-the-mill exercise program, with pain relief going hand-in-hand with stress relief. The meditation group also saw a decrease in pain-related "bothersomeness." While there were no significant differences between meditation and exercise for pain during movement, psychological scores and quality of life, greater improvements were reported in the meditation group compared to the exercise group.
"Meditation may support chronic pain patients in pain reduction and pain coping," the authors write. "Further well-designed studies, including more active control comparisons and longer-term follow-up, are warranted."
So what's a girl gotta do to give meditation a whirl on her chronic neck pain? Jyoti meditation is pretty simple, and can become a refreshing morning ritual:
- In order to make the most of jyoti meditation, try meditating at the same time each day in a calm, peaceful (and technology-free) location. Early morning is best.
- Light a candle and set it right in front of you.
- Sit on either a yoga mat or floor pillow in lotus pose. Keep your back straight and breathe deeply.
- Look at the flame of the candle and concentrate on it.
- Shortly after, close your eyes and visualize the flame of the candle between your eyes, as if the flame is within you.
- Gently move the flame to other parts of your body—your eyes, your heart, stomach, limbs—until it's as if your entire body is illuminated.
- Once the light is surrounding your entire body, spread the flame outside of yourself and out to your family, friends, neighbors (even to people you don't like), the idea being the flame you're focusing on will cleanse your mind and body, and essentially purify your entire environment.
It sounds uber-relaxing, no? I bet your neck will think so too.
How do you deal with chronic neck pain?
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Image: Neck pain photo via Shutterstock