According to a study conducted by researchers at Wake Forest University and collaborating institutions, the answer to that question is YES!
The results of the study were supported by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and recently published in the journal, Pain. The study showed that people who are more mindful report less pain and areas of the brain where unpleasant stimuli are processed had lower activation than the control group.
Using functional MRI’s, researchers studied 76 healthy people who had no experience with mediation. Participants completed a survey that evaluates and measures innate mindfulness. A heat probe was used to deliver a series of uncomfortable stimuli to the lower legs of the participants. The scans showed the changes in blood flow to certain regions of the brain.
Individuals with higher mindfulness scores (as indicated in the completed surveys) reported less pain and their brain scans showed greater deactivation of brain regions involved in attention and subjective emotional responses to sensations. Those areas play a role in how a person reacts to what they’re experiencing.
The researchers hope this study may be useful in developing better non-pharmacologic approaches to pain management, such as mindfulness mediation, that specifically target reduction in the activity of the areas of the brain (the precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex brain region) responsible for how a person reacts to what they’re experiencing.
If you were to do a search on a scholarly search engine, such as Google Scholar (www.scholar.google.com), you’d find more than 77,000 results for peer-reviewed journal articles or citations for “mindfulness and pain control,” and more than 78,000 results for peer-reviewed journal articles or citations for “hypnosis and pain control.”