A message from Dr. Megan Jones Bell, Chief Science Officer, Headspace
Meditation has been around for thousands of years, but scientists are only recently realizing its health benefits. At Headspace we have a dedicated science team, pioneering the use of app-based meditation in studies, as well as using science to help us deliver on our mission of improving the health and happiness of the world.
Meditation for pain management
Existing research suggests that in-person meditation training helps people manage pain by changing the way they relate to unpleasant feelings. In an innovative study, Headspace is collaborating with Queen Mary University London and Bart’s Health NHS Trust to test the effects of the Headspace Pain Management pack on chronic pain patients. If you’re already a Headspace subscriber, the Pain Management pack is available for you to try, right now in the Headspace app. If you suffer from lower back pain, kidney pain, muscle spasms or headaches, meditation might just help you change your relationship with these difficult physical sensations without pain medication.
The science of managing pain through meditation
Studies investigating the effects of mindfulness on pain have shown promising results as early as 1984 when Kabat-Zinn found significant reductions in present-moment pain experiences in those suffering from chronic pain, depression, and pain-related drug utilization. Since then, researchers have examined the effects of mindfulness on a range of pain-related outcomes in patients with chronic pain. Research, reviewing studies examining the effects of mindfulness-based interventions on pain intensity, found significantly decreased pain intensity in 62.5 percent of the included studies. Several meta-analyses assessing the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions for patients with chronic pain have been conducted, finding a positive impact on perceived pain control, improved physical functioning as well as improvements in depression, physical-health-related and mental health-related quality of life.
Is app-based meditation effective?
A research study using Headspace found that three weeks of mindfulness meditation resulted in increased compassionate behaviors toward others in everyday life. The positive impact of meditation has also been confirmed in populations suffering from insomnia, with eight weeks of in-person mindfulness training resulting in improved total wake time and quality of sleep. Our science team, in collaboration with Guy’s and St. Thomas Hospital in the UK, are currently investigating the effects of Headspace on people with chronic insomnia. And, a meta-analysis of digital mindfulness training found significant positive impact on stress, anxiety, depression and well-being in over 2,000 individuals, suggesting that the benefits of digital meditation are similar to those of in-person training.
From pinched nerves to migraines
Headspace is free to try and can be used in addition to other pain treatments. If you’re looking for a new approach to pain management, you can try meditation today with our free app.