Those of us who live with chronic pain know that we can find ourselves in a psychological 'circle' of difficulty. Nerves interact with the thalamus, a part of the brain also acutely associated with mood and anxiety states. This means that not only can pain cause our mood states to deteriorate, but these mood states can in turn cause our pain to flare.
So, whilst we do everything we can to treat the our pain with all the medical resources at our disposal, it is important that we also look at helping our minds. As a teacher of Mindfulness Based Interventions, I also live with chronic pain. Mindfulness has become an invaluable help and daily support for me. Initially, even as a mindfulness teacher, I was quite sceptical about how it would work. I found very quickly that I could briefly stop what I was doing and melt away about 80% of my pain.
Interestingly, when Jon Kabat-Zinn introduced the first Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programme at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in the late 1970s, a large portion of his participants were chronic pain patients. In an interview at the time he spoke wryly of being handed all the patients that the hospital could no longer help. But he helped them, and Mindfulness Based Interventions have been evidenced over 50 years to have deep and sustainable beneficial impacts on pain management.
Many people wanting to do what they can to manage their pain psychologically, understandably feel averse to the idea of sitting and meditating. The Chronic Pain Mindfulness programme that I run teaches patients tools and techniques to steer their minds to enduring wellbeing, without the need for long meditations or impossible body postures. Participants are interviewed by me in depth before embarking on a course, and everything is put into place to ensure that I meet the needs of each person.
The programme draws both from Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Training. Patients are taught simple practices to reduce stress, manage reactivity in the mind/body system, and alter their relationship to their 'inner pain narrative'. The programme is run in groups or one-to-one. Please contact me at any time for more information.
The programme enables participants to truly feel quality of life once more.
'Perhaps more than anything else, the work in the stress clinic involves helping people see and feel and believe in their wholeness, helping them mend the wounds of disconnectedness and the pain of feeling isolated, fragmented, and separate, to discover an underlying fabric of wholeness and connectedness within themselves'.
Full Catastophe Living, Jon Kabat-Zinn