Do You Meditate?

Can meditation really ease pain? Brain imagery confirms it

Tough guy Mike Gluchowski balked at even the thought of meditation.

But as he looked at his dozen prescription medications for his chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by a career in law enforcement in New York City, the New Port Richey resident was willing to try something new.

Nearly three months later, he says he’s free from the pain of cervical spine stenosis and arthritis in his knees and hips for six to eight hours after his daily, hourlong Transcendental Meditation practice.

Instead of taking painkillers, Gluchowski, 54, listens to his inner voice.

“I don’t know how or why it works — I don’t want to know or care,” Gluchowski says. “The results I’ve had have been totally incredible. It makes my day goes so much easier to get up and not have to worry about getting up and walking to the kitchen and getting a cup of coffee.”

Gluchowski discovered TM through Operation Warrior Wellness, a nonprofit group that aims to teach the techniques to veterans, military personnel and those suffering from PTSD.

Science has just begun to quantify the benefits of an ancient art that practitioners have touted for thousands of years.

Researchers think meditation affects the autonomic nervous system, which regulates functions such as heartbeat, breathing and digestion. Neuroscientists have begun to home in on how meditation affects the brain’s reaction to pain, and why many meditators say that what was once unbearable is now tolerable or even barely noticeable.

Meditation also is widely used to alleviate stress and the many health implications that come with it, from insomnia to heart disease. It’s not the answer for everyone, but its fans say it can be astonishingly effective, without the side effects of pills or alcohol. At the least, meditation might be a way to decrease dependence on drugs, some say.

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