Living Well with Pain and Illness: The Mindful Way to Free Yourself from Suffering

Living Well with Pain and Illness: The Mindful Way to Free Yourself from Suffering

by Vidyamala Burch


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After two serious spinal injuries, Vidyamala Burch found herself facing the loneliness of disability and chronic pain with few skills or resources to turn to. But instead of giving up, she set out on a mission to embrace her physical challenges with compassion, acceptance, and peace.

Living Well with Pain and Illness shares the fruits of her courageous life’s work, teaching us how the practice of mindfulness can help us thrive in the face of health challenges of any kind. Drawing on the wisdom of a dozen years of teaching meditation and a lifetime of study of the benefits of mindful living, Vidyamala encourages readers with insights and instruction in:

The five-step model of mindfulness and how to use it to foster healing

• The Breathworks approach to meditation, and how to apply it to health concerns such as migraines, arthritis, and chronic fatigue

• Step-by-step techniques, illustrations, and case studies demonstrating how to effectively bring mindfulness into daily life

Chronic pain has been called the modern world’s silent epidemic. Billions are spent every year in an attempt to cope, yet the best solution available may be absolutely free: mindful living. In Living Well with Pain and Illness, Vidyamala Burch presents a work that is at once an inspirational memoir and practical guidebook for using mindfulness to reframe your relationship with physical and emotional suffering.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591797470
Publisher: Sounds True, Incorporated
Publication date: 02/01/2010
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,239,790
Product dimensions: 9.00(w) x 6.06(h) x 0.79(d)

About the Author

Vidyamala Burch

Vidyamala Burch has suffered from chronic back pain for more than 30 years due to congenital weakness, a car accident, and multiple surgeries. She is a cofounder of the well-respected Breathworks organization, which assists people experiencing chronic pain, illness, and stress in managing their condition through meditation, body awareness, and creative life approaches. Vidyamala resides in the UK.

Table of Contents

Foreword xxi

Acknowledgrnents xxv

Introduction: Using This Book xxix

Part I A New Relationship with Pain

Chapter 1 My Journey to the Present Moment 3

Primary and Secondary Suffering 7

Mindfulness-Based Pain Management and the Breathworks Approach 8

Chapter 2 What Is Pain? 11

Acute and Chronic Pain 12

Current Research into Chronic Pain 14

Working with Pain 16

Chapter 3 The Two Arrows 19

Blocking and Drowning 23

The Wise Response 26

Part II Mindfulness and Healing

Chapter 4 Exploring Mindfulness 33

The Roots of Mindfulness 35

Exploring the Nature of Mindfulness 37

Common Humanity and Empathy 44

Turning Pain Upside Down and Inside Out 45

Awareness and Kindness 47

Interconnectedness and Kindness 47

Chapter 5 The Five-Step Model of Mindfulness 49

Step 1 The Starting Point: Awareness 50

Step 2 Move Toward the Unpleasant 51

Step 3 Seeking the Pleasant 54

Step 4 Broadening Awareness to Become a Bigger Container and Cultivating Equanimity 57

Step 5 Choice: Learning to Respond, Rather Than React 60

Special Issues-for Practicing Mindfulness with Pain and Illness 62

Chapter 6 Healing: Becoming Whole 65

The Distinction Between Healing and Cure 66

My Path to Wholeness 68

Healing Toward the Human Condition 72

Part III Coming Home to the Body

Chapter 7 The Breath 77

Body Awareness as Rehabilitation 77

What Is the Breath? 78

The Spirit of Inquiry 84

Qualities of Optimal, Full-Body Breathing 86

Chapter 8 Mindful Movement 93

Moving with the Breath 94

The Mindful Movements 99

Movements from Lying Down 100

Movements from Sitting 109

Part IV Introducing meditation

Chapter 9 What Is Meditation?123

Meditation 124

Meditation in Western Health Care 125

Meditation As Training for Life 126

The Breathworks Approach to Meditation 127

"Stopping" and "Seeing" 128

Chapter 10 Helpful Attitudes 131

Becoming a Human Being, Not a Human Doing 132

Three Key Qualities: Intention, Attention, and Interest 134

Other General Tips for Meditation 141

Chapter 11 Meditating with Pain 145

Working with Intense Physical Pain or Discomfort 145

Attitudes Toward Pain and Meditation 147

Part V Meditation Practice

Chapter 12 Setting Up for Meditation 155

Posture 155

Meditating Regularly 162

Creating Your Own Practice Schedule 162

Timing Sessions 163

Environment 163

Chapter 13 The Body Scan 165

Grounding Awareness in the Body 166

The Practice 167

Routes Around the Body 168

The Transformative Power of Awareness 172

Letting Go, Yielding, or Letting Be 172

Using the Breath 173

Body and Mind 174

Common Difficulties with the Body Scan 175

Chapter 14 Mindfulness of Breathing 179

Connecting to the Body and the Moment 179

The Practice 180

The Structure of the Practice 184

Exploring the Practice 186

Chapter 15 Kindly Awareness 191

The Practice 191

Elements of the Practice 198

Chapter 16 Managing Thoughts and Emotions 201

Managing Thoughts 201

Emotions-Working with Strong Emotional States 208

Part VI Mindfulness at all Times

Chapter 17 Mindfulness in Daily Life 215

Aligning Your Aspirations with Your Reality 215

The Boom-and-Bust Cycle 216

The Three-Minute Breathing Space 221

Mindfulness of Eating and Sleeping 222

Avoiding Holes in the Sidewalk 223

Chapter 18 Keep Going 225

Life Is King 225

The Journey Continues 228

Appendix 1 Practice Schedule 229

Appendix 2 Pleasant and Unpleasant Events Diaries 231

Appendix 3 Finding Out More 235

Notes 239

Further Reading 249

Index 255

About the Author 268

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