When I first began my journey with mindfulness for health, my personal knowledge was limited to spinal and leg pain. I wasn’t really aware that there are pain conditions that can affect the whole body – such as fibromyalgia.
My name is Vidyamala Burch and I founded Breathworks in 2001 after having found mindfulness extremely helpful in enabling me to get my life back on track after spinal injuries in my teens. I wanted to offer these life changing skills to others and developed an 8-week Mindfulness for Health course. I went on to write an award-winning book based on this programme and we now have over 500 Breathworks mindfulness teachers in over 35 countries.
Over the years I have had the privilege to meet many people living with fibromyalgia, such as a 52-year-old lady from Derbyshire. Fibromyalgia is a painful and unpleasant condition. It can drag you down, leaving you exhausted and desperate. People tell me that living with fibromyalgia wrecks your entire life: sleep, being awake, relationships, and mental wellbeing – basically carpet bombing everything you hold dear.
As my client said to me, “I suffered from fibromyalgia for over five years before getting diagnosed. It was like having the flu and your worst hangover rolled into one and on top of that I had the uncertainty of not having a proper diagnosis. I was struggling with incredibly bad anxiety as I really didn’t know what was happening to me.”
However, there is hope. Through working with people with fibromyalgia on our Breathworks ‘Mindfulness for Health‘ programmes, I have seen time and time again that fibromyalgia is a condition that responds well to mindfulness. Mindfulness is a ‘whole life’ approach where you learn how to work with your mental and emotional reactions to your pain and exhaustion; you learn how to bring mindfulness into daily life and pace your activities; you learn how to become more emotionally positive and re-claim your relationships and rediscover the joys and pleasures in your life again.
My client also told me about the impact that practising mindfulness has had on her life and living with fibromyalgia:
“Now, I do live in the moment, and it is quite beautiful, I feel at peace, I feel much more confident and I am able to look to the future with confidence. I am much more compassionate with myself and everyone else. I now accept that this illness is not my fault and it is now 100 per cent easier to deal with the primary pain that comes with fibromyalgia by eliminating the secondary suffering of worry and anxiety. There is so much guilt about being ill. The illness is not something to be ashamed of. It is not a sign of misfortune or defeat. Through illness, we can gain insight into the meaning of life, its value and dignity and strive to lead more fulfilling lives.”
It is very inspiring seeing people respond so well to mindfulness training. It is an empowering form of ‘treatment’ in that the individual learns skills that they can take into their lives with a strong sense of personal agency. It builds confidence, can be practised at any time and doesn’t require any special equipment. It is an adjunct to other treatments and strengthens efficacy.
For more information visit www.breathworks-mindfulness.org.uk
This blog is for information purposes only. The views expressed are that of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Brian Barr Solicitors.
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