At its most basic, 'mindfulness' refers to an individual's conscious presence in the here and now, focusing on the moment and one's current surroundings.
But mindfulness also extends to the way we react to situations, with a strong emphasis on maintaining a calm and calculated approach to what's going on.
"What does that have to do with scoliosis?" we hear you ask. Well, potentially, quite a lot.
Mindfulness and Pain Relief
According to the Dalai Lama, "if a person's basic state of mind is serene and calm, then it is possible for this inner peace to overwhelm a painful physical experience".
In other words, practising mindfulness can help us to cope with physical pain and discomfort as well as being a useful stress management technique.
A Brief History of Mindfulness and Scoliosis
This holistic approach to long-term medical conditions is nothing new. In fact, way back in the 4th century BC, Hippocrates was believed to have stressed the healing power of nature and said to have encouraged self-healing methods.
Additionally, it's well-documented that methods not unlike mindfulness have been in use for centuries, notably playing a big role in the ancient medical traditions of both India and China. Meanwhile, Buddhist monks have long been associated with this meditative approach to health and wellbeing.
Mindfulness Studies and Results
According to an article published on RelaxTheBack.com, a study conducted by the University of Montreal compared the pain tolerance of Zen monks well-versed in meditation to that of non-meditators.
The results showed that the monks' pain sensitivity rate was 18% lower, while MRI results concluded that they also had a thicker orbitofrontal cortex, suggesting that this area of the brain was responsible for meditation-based pain relief.
A further study by the University of California, San Diego found that, after completing a 20-minute mindfulness meditation session each day for just 4 days, test subjects reduced their pain response by 44%. The same test was done on another group, replacing meditation with a dose of morphine. The morphine resulted in a pain reduction of just 20%.
Additional evidence was published in the April 2011 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, which reported that 80 minutes of mindfulness meditation could cut pain perception almost in half.
Mindfulness and Scoliosis
So let's apply this theory to scoliosis. If the above figures are correct, theoretically, modern-day mindfulness techniques could help to decrease scoliosis pain.
What's more, the mental benefits may also help scoliosis sufferers to cope with the condition psychologically, fending off the anxiety and depression that can accompany long-term ailments like scoliosis.
Practice Mindfulness with Scoliosis
Stereotypical meditation positioning requires you to be sat up straight, cross-legged on the floor. This may not be very comfortable for someone with scoliosis!
Luckily, mindfulness meditation can be modified to fit your body's needs. Whether you need to use a chair, sit against a wall or lie down on your back, you're free to find the position that's most comfortable for you.
Daily meditation in a relaxed environment could be a great way to help combat the negative effects of scoliosis. At the very least, it's definitely worth a shot.
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