Recently I moved in with my Fiancé and on a Saturday afternoon, while in the kitchen, I was not paying attention and somehow stuck a butter knife about an inch up in my hand right under my thumb. I was instantly bleeding everywhere. I grabbed a towel and put some pressure on it and headed out to the emergency room with my fiancé. I never had stitches in my life and I was not looking forward to it. I watched many of my friends get stitched up and it did not look fun.
After waiting for 15 minutes, the doctor came in to the room and looked at it and said I needed stitches and he was quite concerned how deep the knife penetrated. He wiped the area out with some alcohol and I did not feel any pain. Once the time came for anesthesia, he told me it would hurt and and to hold on. Then he literally jammed the needle deep in to my hand and I was in excruciating pain. I yelled out so loud the nurses had to come in the room and hold me down and close the door so I did not scare the other patients.
Once I was numbed up I didn't feel anything and the doctor started stitching along and shared an amazing story which which inspiring. It was so fascinating, I did not want it to end. He told me about a patient that cut himself quite badly and needed stitches. This patient did not believe in anesthesia and said he would go in to a deep trans with meditation and told the doctor not to worry. The doctor stated how he was freaked out about the idea and was probably more scared than the patient who was going to get the stitches. Initially, he told me he said he was against it but after he realized he was not going to convince the patient, he was willing to give it a try.
He said that his patient closed his eyes and asked the my doctor to start. My doctor started stitching this patient and the patient did not even flinch. To me this was quite fascinating. It made me realize how powerful our minds are and the things that can be achieved with the right tools, discipline and practice.
I started reading about women who gave birth without anesthesia and yogis that performed fascinating feats with meditation. I even came across a Buddhist monk from Vietnam who burned and killed himself at an intersection in Saigon as a protest to the repressive policies of the regimes of the Catholic Diem which were ruling the south Vietnamese government in 1963. This even happened in June 11, 1963 and below is a video of the incident.
This reminded me of a study that was completed at the University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. A group of researchers investigated the pain perception and possible analgesic properties of mindful states in experienced meditators.
The research team had a group of 13 meditators that had over 1000 hours of practiced meditation and a control group of 13 that matched age and gender of the meditation group. The group was exposed to thermal stimuli that was induced to calf muscle of volunteers.
There were 4 different conditions
- Baseline - 1 without any task
- Concentration: The meditators focused on the calf.
- Mindfullness: The meditator focused on calf and observed the calf being in the moment with a non judge mental attitude
- Baseline -2 without any task.
The results indicated that meditators experience pain at higher temperatures. The meditators experienced pain at 49.9 degrees Celsius, control group experienced pain at 48.2 degrees (p=01) celsius. During the mindfulness practice the meditator group experienced less pain while the there was no change for the control group compared to the baseline. The concentration practice increased the pain experience in the control group but showed no changes for the meditator group.
Researchers noticed that there was a correlation between pain modulation and respiratory rate. The meditator groups was more likely to observe and be nonreactive according to the five factor questionnaire that was completed.
This research fundamentally showed that the group that practiced Zen meditation for about 1000 hours had a higher pain tolerance and had analgesic effects experienced which researchers believe was due to the meditation. This research concludes there is a link between pain tolerance, mindfulness and respiratory patterns.
1000 Hours of meditation can be accomplished within a few years by meditating 1 hour a day. I would like to see research on mediators with over 5,000 or even possibly over 10,000 hours of experience. Hopefully we will see more information in this field in the future.