Meditation helps to anchor someone in the present. A new study has found it also stops people from anticipating pain.
Brain scans revealed that the most advanced meditators were the least likely to anticipate pain induced by a laser device, which made the experience more bearable.
Lead researcher Dr Christopher Brown, said: 'Meditation is becoming increasingly popular as a way to treat chronic illness such as the pain caused by arthritis.
'Recently, a mental health charity called for meditation to be routinely available on the NHS to treat depression, which occurs in up to 50 per cent of people with chronic pain.
'However, scientists have only just started to look into how meditation might reduce the emotional impact of pain.'
The study, to be published in the journal Pain, found that participants who meditated showed unusual activity in the brain region known to be involved in controlling attention and thought processes when potential threats are perceived.
Dr Brown said: 'The results of the study confirm how we suspected meditation might affect the brain.
'Meditation trains the brain to be more present-focused and therefore to spend less time anticipating future negative events. This may be why meditation is effective at reducing the recurrence of depression, which makes chronic pain considerably worse.'
Dr Brown said the findings should encourage further research into how the brain is changed by meditation practice.dailymail.co.uk