Andy's Daily Headspace- To meditate or to medicate?

November 08, 2011

Andy's Daily Headspace- To meditate or to medicate?

To medicate or meditate...that is the question. It’s a question that’s come up here before of course, and on more than one occasion, but one I was reminded of today when I saw the news that last year the NHS spent more than £440m on painkillers. Coincidently, this comes off the back of news from Wake Forest University in the US, who found meditation to be, and I quote, “more effective than morphine”. So, is it safe to pop so many pills? And why should we spend so much of the cash-strapped NHS budget on pain pills when there are safer, medication-free, and scientifically proven methods to alleviate pain?

In fact when one of our Headspace team recently paid a visit to a London hospital after a minor accident on their bike, the first thing the hospital tried to do was prescribe them Tramadol. For those of you not familiar with Grade A Opiates, this is a seriously addictive painkiller that is best put aside for leg amputations and heart surgery, rather than swollen ankles and bruising (although not to negate the unpleasantness or discomfort of swollen ankles and bruising of course).

The desire to move away from pain is every bit as natural as it is understanding. And in the quick-fix culture of the modern world, it’s hardly surprising that the NHS dish up painkillers as if they were jelly babies. But isn’t it time for a change? If we know there are safer and more effective ways of dealing with pain, then shouldn’t we be adopting these techniques? That’s not to say that painkillers do not have a very important role in modern medicine, because they obviously do. But in those situations where there is an alternative, would you consider doing 20 minutes of meditation instead of popping another pill?

 

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