Mindfulness Meditation Helps Fibromyalgia Patients

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 20, 2013


Research indicates that meditation may be helpful for people suffering from fibromyalgia (chronic pain syndrome).

Mindfulness meditation is a state of awareness in which one remains non-judgmental and non-reactive towards one’s own thoughts and emotions from moment to moment. Research indicates it may lead to changes in the brain that provide health benefits, particularly for people suffering from fibromyalgia (chronic pain syndrome).  These patients live with musculoskeletal pain and fatigue on a daily basis.  As a result, they often avoid pain-related threats and dwell on thoughts of pain, making it harder to cope with their illness.

In a study of female fibromyalgia patients who practiced mindfulness meditation, Dr. David Vago, a cognitive neuroscientist in the Department of Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), found that after eight weeks of mindfulness meditation training, patients were less likely to avoid pain-related words and were less distracted by such words when performing attention-demanding tasks.  In other words, they were more likely to engage with their pain and had fewer tendencies to dwell on such thoughts after completion of the study.  While fibromyalgia patients who meditated still sensed their pain, they were able to manage their emotional responses more effectively.

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Research, Meditation, and the Dalai Lama

Posted by Blog Administrator June 4, 2012

Researchers with Dalai Lama

David Vago (second from left) was one of six scientists from around the world selected to share research with the Dalai Lama (center).

On a day in late April, David Vago, a research scientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), woke up thinking, “There will not be many days like this in my life.”

That day, he had the rare opportunity to present his research on mindfulness and contemplative neuroscience to His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Vago, who works in BWH’s Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory, was one of six scientists around the world selected to participate in this private meeting, entitled “Mind and Life XXIV: Latest Findings in Contemplative Neuroscience.”

“It was a privilege to meet the Dalai Lama, and an even greater honor to be able to present my scientific research to him and have a dialogue about the mind,” said Vago. “To have his feedback is invaluable.”

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