Living with chronic pain, whatever and wherever that pain may be, becomes a daily focus of life. Everything takes enormous conscious effort, adding to overwhelming fatigue.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was specifically designed for people with chronic conditions, where other therapies were exhausted (see a video link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sy0lAFemwLY). Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, without judgement. So how does this help with pain? MBSR is different from other forms of mindfulness or meditation, because only MBSR works directly with the experience of suffering, whether that’s physical or emotional. The MBSR and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) programmes are supported by a substantial scientific literature with thousands of studies demonstrating significant benefits to a raft of conditions. These include, fibromyalgia, M.E., osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis; cancers, psoriasis, leukaemia; heart disease, hypotension; anxieties and phobias. This does not suggest that MBSR or MBCT will cure anything, instead, through regular and determined practice we effectively change our bodies and brains to make different responses when pain and difficulties arise.
Typically beginning with an orientation to check it is the right for you. The programme (8 x 2 hour weekly sessions) uses practices and a comprehensive workbook. Participants undertake to engage with a daily mindfulness and meditation practice as a vital course component. Initially we concentrate on building confidence in specific practices, learning how our bodies and brains/minds work with physical or emotional pain. In the second half of the course these tools are honed into skills to face all of life’s difficulties. The teacher brings their experience to the programme, I draw upon my background of cognitive and neuroscience.
Mindfulness is deceptively simple, some people think they ‘have read the book, know it, and can teach it’ however, presented simplistically, or with misinterpretations, the radical perspective-shifting potential becomes diluted or even lost. Although counselling, clinical and IAPT psychology; medical/psychiatric training are vital health professions, teachers must have taken experiential training to qualify to teach MBSR. Teachers must be trained by accredited institutions (e.g. Bangor, Exeter and Oxford Universities or Breathworks). This is very important because the teacher must have historical mindfulness practice; be trained and examined on their teachings’ integrity and authenticity (which can take five years); they must maintain professional supervision; attend annual teacher training retreats and be signed up to ‘UK Network for Mindfulness-Based Teachers Good Practice Guidelines’ (link http://mindfulnessteachersuk.org.uk/index.html#guidelines). There is justified concern about the quality of mindfulness teachers, so do check credentials. No qualified teacher will object.
Viv Moore PhD. P.G.Dip MBIs
MTUK Listed Mindfulness Teacher
To find qualified teachers: http://mindfulnessteachersuk.org.uk/index.html#organisations