In my journey to alleviate pain I have come across may amazing people and many amazing resources which I feel I should share.
Of these are three books/audio I shall outline below:
1) Mindfulness – an 8 week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World
2) Mindfulness – A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World (Includes Free CD with Guided Meditations)
Vidyamala Burch | Danny Penman
MINDFULNESS reveals a set of simple yet powerful practices that you can incorporate into daily life to help you break the cycle of anxiety, stress, unhappiness and exhaustion. It promotes genuine joie de vivre; the kind of happiness that gets into your bones and seeps into everything you do. The book is based on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). MBCT revolves around a straightforward form of mindfulness meditation which takes just a few minutes a day for the full benefits to be revealed. MBCT has been clinically proven to be at least as effective as drugs for depression and it is recommended by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence – in other words, it works. But more importantly, it also works for the rest of us who aren’t depressed but who are struggling to keep up with the relentless demands of the modern world. In short, Mindfulness helps you meet the worst that life throws at you with renewed courage.
Mindfulness is co-authored by Professor Mark Williams of Oxford University, co-developer of MBCT and inspiring meditation teacher.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a very simple form of meditation that was little known in the West until recently. A typical meditation consists of focusing your full attention on your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Focusing on each breath in this way allows you to observe your thoughts as they arise in your mind and, little by little, to let go of struggling with them. You come to realise that thoughts come and go of their own accord; that you are not your thoughts. You can watch as they appear in your mind, seemingly from thin air, and watch again as they disappear, like a soap bubble bursting. You come to the profound understanding that thoughts and feelings (including negative ones) are transient. They come and they go, and ultimately, you have a choice about whether to act on them or not.
Mindfulness is about observation without criticism; being compassionate with yourself. When unhappiness or stress hover overhead, rather than taking it all personally, you learn to treat them as if they were black clouds in the sky, and to observe them with friendly curiosity as they drift past. In essence, mindfulness allows you to catch negative thought patterns before they tip you into a downward spiral. It begins the process of putting you back in control of your life.
Over time, mindfulness brings about long-term changes in mood and levels of happiness and wellbeing. Scientific studies have shown that mindfulness not only prevents depression, but that it also positively affects the brain patterns underlying day-to-day anxiety, stress, depression and irritability so that when they arise, they dissolve away again more easily. Other studies have shown that regular meditators see their doctors less often and spend fewer days in hospital. Memory improves, creativity increases and reaction times become faster (see What can mindfulness do for you?).
Despite these proven benefits, however, many people are still a little wary when they hear the word ‘meditation’. So before we proceed, it might be helpful to dispel some myths:
• Meditation is not a religion. Mindfulness is simply a method of mental training. Many people who practise meditation are themselves religious, but then again, many atheists and agnostics are keen meditators too.
• You don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor (like the pictures you may have seen in magazines or on TV), but you can if you want to. Most people who come to our classes sit on chairs to meditate, but you can also practise bringing mindful awareness to whatever you are doing, on buses, trains or while walking to work. You can meditate more or less anywhere.
• Mindfulness practice does not take a lot of time, although some patience and persistence are required. Many people soon find that meditation liberates them from the pressures of time, so they have more of it to spend on other things.
• Meditation is not complicated. Nor is it about ‘success’ or ‘failure’. Even when meditation feels difficult, you’ll have learned something valuable about the workings of the mind and thus have benefited psychologically.
• It will not deaden your mind or prevent you from striving towards important career or lifestyle goals; nor will it trick you into falsely adopting a Pollyanna attitude to life. Meditation is not about accepting the unacceptable. It is about seeing the world with greater clarity so that you can take wiser and more considered action to change those things which need to be changed. Meditation helps cultivate a deep and compassion- ate awareness that allows you to assess your goals and find the optimum path towards realising your deepest values.
This new book combines mindfulness with cognitive therapy and draws on the highly effective MBCT programme developed by Professor Mark Williams and colleagues at Oxford University and other universities around the world to combat anxiety, stress, exhaustion and depression. It’s been clinically proven to work, but more importantly it also works for those of us who aren’t depressed but who are struggling to keep up with the constant demands of the modern world
What it can do for you
Thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers prove that mindfulness enhances mental and physical wellbeing and reduces chronic pain. Clinical trials show that mindfulness is at least as effective as the main prescription painkillers while also enhancing the body’s natural healing systems.
Here are a few of the main proven benefits of mindfulness meditation:
• Anxiety, stress, depression, exhaustion and irritability all decrease with regular sessions of meditation.1Memory improves, reaction times become faster and mental and physical stamina increase.2 In short, regular meditators are happier and more contented, while being far less likely to suffer from psychological distress.15
• Mindfulness can dramatically reduce pain and the emotional reaction to it.5,6 Recent trials suggest that average pain ‘unpleasantness’ levels can be reduced by 57 per cent while accomplished meditators report reductions of up to 93 per cent.7
• Clinical trials show that mindfulness improves mood and quality of life in chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia8 and lower-back pain,9 in chronic functional disorders such as IBS,10 and in challenging medical illnesses, including multiple sclerosis11 and cancer.12
• Mindfulness improves working memory, creativity, attention span and reaction speeds. It also enhances mental and physical stamina and resilience.13
• Meditation improves emotional intelligence.14
• Mindfulness is at least as good as drugs or counselling for the treatment of clinical-level depression. One structured programme known as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is now one of the preferred treatments recommended by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.16
• Mindfulness reduces addictive and self-destructive behaviour. These include the abuse of illegal and prescription drugs and excessive alcohol intake.17
• Meditation enhances brain function. It increases grey matter in areas associated with self-awareness, empathy, self-control and attention.18 It soothes the parts of the brain that produce stress hormones19and builds those areas that lift mood and promote learning.20 It even reduces some of the thinning of certain areas of the brain that naturally occurs with ageing.21
• Meditation improves the immune system. Regular meditators are admitted to hospital far less often for cancer, heart disease and numerous infectious diseases.22
• Mindfulness may reduce ageing at the cellular level by promoting chromosomal health and resilience.23
•Meditation and mindfulness improve control of blood sugar in type II diabetes.24
• Meditation improves heart and circulatory health by reducing blood pressure and lowering the risk of hypertension. Mindfulness reduces the risks of developing and dying from cardiovascular disease and lowers its severity should it arise.25
Mindfulness for Health
Vidyamala Burch | Danny Penman
Pain, suffering, and stress can be intolerable – but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Mindfulness for Health reveals a set of simple practices that you can incorporate into daily life to relieve chronic pain, suffering and stress. Clinical trials show that mindfulness meditation is at least as effective as the most commonly prescribed painkillers and can be more powerful than morphine. Mindfulness can also significantly reduce the anxiety, depression, irritability, exhaustion and insomnia that can arise from chronic pain and illness.
Mindfulness for Health is based on a unique meditation programme developed by Vidyamala Burch to help her cope with the severe pain of a spinal injury. The Breathworks Centre founded by Vidyamala – and its affiliates around the world – have helped thousands of people cope with pain, illness and stress. Its pioneering approach is praised by Professor Mark Williams of Oxford University, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Professor Lance McCraken of King’s College London.
The eight week programme at the heart of this book takes just 10-20 minutes per day. You’ll be surprised by how quickly your suffering melts away, leaving behind a deep-seated love of life.