please phone only when essential
“...the pain will not necessarily get worse, to understand that it can be relived (at least partially) with mild painkillers and other methods, and that their perception of pain can be adjusted upwards or downwards by their psychological state. It is important that the patient understands their role in managing their condition. Worrying about pain, and often not so much about the pain but about what it might mean, what it means for one's future, one's job, etc., can lead to oversensitisation — to amplification of the pain.
I am constantly surprised by the difference in pain perception between individuals with similar injuries or diagnosis. I understand that there are things that trigger the sensation of pain, but I am also convinced that the amount of suffering that a person has is related more to their perception and reaction to the pain than to the stimulus that started it off. In a way, some patients do have to live with the pain, but it is possible to live with pain while suffering less.”
Professor Ian Harris AM, MBBS, FRACS, FAOrthA, MMed (Clin Epi), PhD — 'Surgery, the Ultimate Placebo', p210. (bold type added for emphasis)
“We must all die. But if I can save (a person) from days of torture, that is what I feel is my great and ever new privilege.
Pain is a more terrible lord of mankind than even death itself.”
Albert Schweitzer, 1953
The pain management courses I will describe here are those that have been developed from the Mindfulness work of Jon Kabat Zinn, in the USA, and more recently the Breathworks course from the UK. The above passage by Professor Harris mentions that pain perception can be regulated upwards or downwards by our psychological state (and that there can be large differences in pain perception in people with similar injuries). These courses on mindfulness based pain management aim to decrease pain perception by learning to be more attentive, more mindful, and more compassionate, and cultivating more helpful psychological states, and in so doing, lead happier, healthier lives.
Mindfulness-based pain management has been developed over the last 50 years from the pioneering work of Jon Kabat-Zinn in North America. More recently over the past 20 years the Breathworks method founded by Vidyamala Burch (a NZ woman living in the UK) has contributed to this approach.
Mindfulness-based pain management has been developed for people who live with persistent pain, and the training provides skills learned in these courses are for pain-education and self-management. They provide an introduction to mind-body methods for pain reduction through relaxation, meditation and gentle yoga exercises.
Course participants learn the principles of mindfulness meditation and the importance of living in the moment, the power of 'now', and how this relates to suffering less pain, and the relationship and attitude towards the pain can change. Mindfulness can help trainees remain calmer and more pain-controlled, even when dealing with the challenges and duress of everyday life: family, friends, work colleagues and employers.
The skill set that Mindfulness can provide can moderate the intensity of pain and suffering, both physically and emotionally, in a very positive way, fundamentally changing our relationship to pain and how we experience it day to day.
Mindfulness-based pain management programs are non-religious and non-esoteric and are based upon procedures to develop enhanced awareness of moment-to-moment experience of perceptible mental processes.
For more on this see:
Local courses here in Christchurch
I facilitate mindfulness courses (Mindfulness-based stress-reduction and pain-management) at the Risingholme Community center in Opawa, Christchurch. Tel (03) 332 7359.
To book for this Course, please phone on the Risingholme phone number (03) 332 7359,
not my osteopathy clinic number.
The course fee includes a course booklet and an audio CD for home practice, and emails during the course, but this does not include the course textbook: 'Mindfulness for Health' (Vidyamala Burch & Danny Penman. ISBN: 9780749959241 winner of the best book — popular medicine — at the British Medical Association's book awards 2014). You should be able to order this book from your local library — but you'll probably want to have your own copy. This book is available from the Book Depository (for around $25 including postage).
It can take a few weeks to arrive (from the UK) and you will need to read this book before the course. It's best to order it a few weeks in advance, and become familiar with this approach to changing your relationship to your stress and/or pain. The book also has a CD for home practice.
Home practice (around 20 - 30 minutes) per day is required to get the most from the course, and make progress to improve your own health and well-being.
The classes will be learner-centered and experiential, based on your own experience. It's not really essential to read any books at all, as anyone can learn this. But it would help if you get the book and at least do a little reading. You can also check out and download free guided mindfulness-meditations. The course does require at least some home practice of around 20 - 30 minutes per day, plus a little reading time.
The Mindfulness for Health course date for 2020 will be:
- Wednesday 14th October, 6.00pm - 8.00pm for 4 weeks. Course fee $70 (includes a course booklet, and a CD for home practice)
For more information on this approach to Mindfulness training, you might want to visit the Mindfulness for Health pages. There you can also find free downloads for three mindfulness-meditations: the Bodyscan, Mindfulness of Breathing, and the Kindness meditations.
For more information and to book, please use the following link: www.risingholme.org.nz
Please feel free to email me to discuss any health concerns that you may have (stress, physical pain or disability, etc) and whether mindfulness training can help you personally in your own situation. Any personal information discussed will be treated in strictest confidence.
There's plenty of information about the course, and in the reading material suggested — but you can email me, to find out whether this is for you: mikeinmanosteopath at yahoo dot com
You book for these by phoning the Risingholme Community centre on (03) 332 7359 (not my Osteopath clinic number)
Breathworks was founded in 2004 in the UK to teach mindfulness based approaches to pain management, and also to train more trainers to take this work further, and train people internationally. Breathworks courses are now available internationally, throughout Europe, and also in Sydney.
The founder of Breathworks is Vidymala Burch, who developed the training from 20 years of her own work living with chronic pain from two back injuries when she was in her 20’s. Similar to Kabat-Zin’s approach in the USA, Breathworks is based upon meditative practices, applied to body awareness, and tools and methods to help us live more simply and fully in the present moment. Rather than rejecting painful experience, the practices teach us how to soften and move towards discomfort, not struggling to avoid it, both physically and mentally. A simple enough strategy, but one which needs practice and unfolding.
To learn more about the mindfulness approach to pain-management you might like to listen to this radio interview with Vidymala Burch by Jim Mora on National Radio. Listen here...
You might also like to listen to these two YouTube® interviews with Vidyamala Burch:
If you want to take a Mindfulness course, but there isn't one available where you live, it may be possible to do an on-line Mindfulness course. For more information about this please see: On-line mindfulness course.
Breathworks courses in Sydney
Breathworks courses (Mindfulness based pain management) are regularly run from the Sydney Buddhist Center in Sydney. Please contact info at sydneybuddhistcentre dot org dot au
For courses in Sydney, please also see: www.breathworks-mindfulness.com.au
You may also wish to read our page on Movement and Stillness
“It is not the Mountain we conquer – but ourselves.”
Sir Edmund Hillary
Meditation - “It's not what you think”
For more on this, you might want to look at this video:
Show video: What Meditation Isn't
If you would like to find out more about Mindfulness, you might want to look at these Facebook pages: Breathworks-Mindfulness Australia NZ
'Mindfulness for Health' — Vidyamala Burch and Danny Penman, ISBN: 9780749959241
The best place to get this seems to be the Book Depository for around $25 including postage. It can take several weeks to arrive, and you will need this book for the course. Ideally, try to read it a few weeks before you start the course.
Follow-up Mindfulness practice:</p
One of the shortcomings of attending a 4 week (or any) Mindfulness Training is that after the course, you are left on your own and there may be little (no) support for your own practice. To remedy this, and support an ongoing practice of your own, you might find it also helpful to find a small group, in your own community, and sometimes practice with other people, and explore other approaches.
One such local group here in Christchurch is 'The Christchurch Community of Mindful Living' (website: http://mindfulness.org.nz/About.html)
They run Mindfulness practice sessions, currently fortnightly on Sunday evenings, on a donation/koha basis.
- 'Mindfulness for Health' — Vidyamala Burch and Dr. Danny Penman, ISBN: 978-0749959241
- 'Mindfulness is Better than Chocolate' — David Michie, ISBN: 978-1615192588
- 'Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World' — Mark Williams and Dr. Danny Penman, ISBN: 978-1609618957
- 'Detox Your Heart' — Valerie Mason-John, ISBN: 978-1899579655
- 'Unlearning Meditation: What to Do When the Instructions Get In the Way' — Jason Siff, ISBN: 978-1590307526
- 'Living Well with Pain and Illness' — Vidyamala Burch, ISBN: 978-1591797470
- 'The Little Mindfulness Workbook' — Gary Hennessey, ISBN: 978-1780591544
- 'The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion' — Christopher K. Germer, ISBN: 978-1593859756
- 'Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness' — Jon Kabat-Zinn, ISBN: 978-0786886548
- 'Full Catastrophe Living' — Jon Kabat-Zinn, ISBN: 978-0345536938
- 'Manage Your Pain' — Dr. Michael Nicholas, Dr. Allan Molloy, Lois Tonkin and Lee Beeston, ISBN: 978-0285640481
- 'The Mindful Way Through Depression' — Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn, ISBN: 978-1593851286
- 'ACT Made Simple: An Easy-To-Read Primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy' — Dr. Russ Harris, ISBN: 978-1572247055
- 'The Happiness Trap: How to stop struggling and start Living' — Dr. Russ Harris, ISBN: 978-1590305843
- 'Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for Addictive Behaviors: A Clinician's Guide' — Sarah Bowen, Neha Chawla, G. Alan Marlatt, ISBN: 978-1606239872
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