I am not an accomplished meditator or a person who enjoys sitting still. However, this two CD set was manna from heaven for me. I suffer with chronic pain of various types and often resort to painkillers and NSAIDS. Much of the time I also am tense and worried because of the pain and from trying to deal with life while in pain. I have other Jon Kabat-Zinn meditation CDs, and they are fine, but this one was exactly what I needed. It is for people who are in pain, including intense pain, and who are open to dealing with this pain via a daily practice of meditating by listening to one of the short meditation exercises on these CDs.
The exercises are of varying lengths, and most are found on the second CD. They range from about 4 minutes to up to 18 minutes. You can listen to one or more at any time. In addition, the first CD is one the author suggests you listen to repeatedly, as it describes an approach to mindfulness, to awareness, to a gentler way of dealing with pain than stringent resistance and fear (my usual approach). He addresses all kinds of problems a listener might have. For example, you might be in so much pain that you cannot even focus on your breath at all; he has a way of dealing with this. In addition, he provides alternatives to basic normal meditation practice, so say, if you're interrupted by unbearable pain in one area of your body, you can breathe into it, you can focus on the pain and then move back to your breath, etc. This felt like a meditation tape made especially for me.
His voice is so calm and soothing that even just listening to it calmed me down. Often my pain levels make me feel agitated and I hyperfocus on such thoughts as "I can't stand this!" or "My life is terrible because of this!" or "When will I be able to just do what I want to do". He addresses these defeating thoughts too, in a calm and accepting way.
If you do not struggle with chronic pain, get another of Jon Kabat-Zinn's CDs. They are all good. But if you are ill, if you are in pain, and even if you struggle with emotional pain and anxiety, I would so highly recommend this CD set. I will listen to this one over and over again and am quite excited about it too. I wish I could give it 6 stars.
on July 19, 2010
I have had four spinal surgeries which have left me with daily back pain. I also have fibromyalgia and advanced arthritis in my knees. I have read many, many books, listened to CD's, watched DVD's and studied holistic pain management for several years now. This is quite simply the best method for managing pain that I know of today! Jon Kabat-Zinn knows of which he speaks!!! It takes discipline and practice, which Jon mentions on the first disc, but the effort is well worth the time spent! I highly recommend this CD set! Ann J. Georgetown, TX
"Guided Practices for Reclaiming Your Body and Your Life", this is a 1 ¾ hour, 2 CD package from Sounds True. Although there are some brief meditations (see Disc Two below), this is not so much a "meditation" CD. It is more of psychological background thinking and how to do the meditations. Once you learn HOW and WHY, you can meditate to specific sound CDs designed for the act of meditating and creating stillness and vibration (including Reiki CDs). There are quite a few of these "vibrational" CDs in my other reviews, if you want to flip around them.
The cover states that Jon Kanat-Zinn and his colleagues have helped thousands of people with chronic medical conditions learn to use the power of mindfulness to transform their relationship to pain and suffering and to discover new degrees of freedom for living with greater ease and quality of life. Jon is the founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and professor of medicine emeritus. This material is based on 30 years of work done in this area. Jon's voice is relaxing and his words are clear, simple, and easy to understand.
Disc One (40:43) -- Seven fundamental attitudes to use.
1) Introduction (0:49)
2) Diving right in (5:36) - Jon begins with an awareness of your body and everything around you.
3) Learning to live with pain (6:50) - Living with pain is a workable process if you are willing to do daily work. Pain may be unavoidable, but suffering is optional. You have nothing to lose in walking this path.
4) Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) (7:04) - based on scientific documentation of the patients at the Clinic, this program will focus on developing awareness, which is beyond thinking, and working on the mind-body connection.
5) Seven principles for working with pain (12:40) - Mindfulness is pure awareness.
a) There is more right with you than wrong.
b) The Power of Now (vs living in the past or future--worrying about the future)
c) the "Now" is not always exactly what we want. We usually want something different.
d) If not what we want, we try to escape from them or get caught up in them and feel victimized, at times followed by addictive substances, or getting angry out of our frustration, or distancing ourselves from others.
e) mindfulness-turning toward what we most fear to feel and open gradually to its experiences (turning away doesn't help or make anything better). Learn from what the pain has to teach us-resilience.
f) open to experience moment-to-moment with kindness toward oneself without judging the experience (try not to judge or react automatically)
Working with mindfulness helps it to become our automatic setting.
g) we are not "fixing" anything, we are just dealing with it in the present moment. Sometimes being angry (etc) seems to actually be feeding the pain energies.
6) Cultivating mindfulness (7:40) - Jon suggests we listen to this CD until it becomes second nature to us, along with using the 2nd CD to practice with. Learn to practice by yourself. Shut off your phone and other electronic devices and step fully into the exercises, uninterrupted. The meditations are tuning us into the proper practices, which call all be done lying down or sitting, whichever works best for you (especially if you are in pain).
Disc Two (75:06) - Six guided meditations plus instruction
1) Introduction (0:26)
2) The power of disciplined practice (5:05) - Don't get caught up in perceived boredom or impatience. Just actively participate in the meditation process, even if you don't feel like it. The value will come with the repetitive practice.
3) Mindfulness of breathing (13:13) MEDITATION and instruction - showing you how to focus on your breath as he talks you through the process - and learning to avoid the distractions when your mind travels. This track may be particularly useful to those learning to meditate. He also uses the Tibetan Bells to bring you out of the meditation. These are brief meditations.
4) What to do about pain (16:43) MEDITATION and instruction - showing you how to work with your pain through meditation. These are brief meditations in between instructions. Practice is important. There is also a 4 minute meditation in this track, ending with the bells. I also like the fact that Jon gives you about another minute after the bells before he starts talking again--so you can slowly return to awakened consciousness.
5) Working with thoughts and emotions having to do with pain (10:53) - MEDITATION and instruction.
6) Resting in awareness: a three-minute mindful pause (4:50) - MEDITATION and instruction -- a 3-minute meditation
7) A short scan of the body (19:22) - MEDITATION and instruction - Directing our attention to various parts of the body, beginning with the feet and moving upward. (This is a good way to teach you to direct and focus energy and healing within your body.) This meditation was particularly nice since it was a little longer and went through the entire body, leaving it feeling relaxed and "clean".
8) Mindfulness in everyday life (4:28) - working with mindfulness pointers.
This is a great product and I believe it can help those who are willing to work with the CDs and the concepts as presented. It will probably not work immediately, unless you are already experienced in focused meditation and believe that you can affect or obliterate pain. BUT, if you are willing to believe FIRST (having faith), practice, and really focus on these concepts, I believe you CAN help yourself with this product.
Might Have Worked Better for Me as a Booklet/CD Combination
In general, I use meditation cds to help me stay on track or to teach me something that cannot be easily taught through a book. So, I was surprised when the first cd in this two-cd set was devoted to the history and philosophy of Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief, a subject that could have been addressed in print. I found myself restless, bored, and frustrated listening to this for an hour. Part of the problem for me was the speaker. While his rhythmic monotone is perfect for meditation, for an hour lecture, it's painfully dry. Things picked up, however, with the second cd in the set.
Cd two contains a series of meditations that help listeners learn from their pain without suffering. Meditation begins with small steps correlating with in- and out-breaths and gets even smaller if required. Longer meditations follow the first three-minute one. For these, the author is the perfect reader - gentle, soft, rhythmic.
So will I use this cd set (acquired from the Amazon Vine program) again? Who knows? But if I suffered intractable pain, I'd certainly try these meditations for 4-8 weeks to see whether they'd offer me relief or, at the very least, teach me to live with pain without suffering.
on February 27, 2013
While I like Kabat-Zinn's books, on CDs I find him wordy and his voice unsettling. Maybe it's because he's an East Coast guy and I'm a West coast gal; I don't know. Once sufferers understand that mindfulness can help ease the struggle against pain, there are a lot of excellent CD choices for guidance into spaciousness and the present moment. Michael Ison is pretty good. Also check out Adyashanti's "True Meditation," Bodhipaksa's "Still the Mind," and Lydia Zylowski's "Mindfulness Prescription for ADHD." Hey, we're all a little ADHD, especially now that the world is full of flashing images, fast cars, and crammed "to do" lists. The CD with her book is just great. I am an MD, pain sufferer and pain practitioner, and I have no economic interest in any of these recommendations.
on October 22, 2011
I have practiced mindfulness for years but when my 88 year old father was spending so much time and money going to pain management with no results I sent him this CD. He nevers complains but he was suffering so much it was affecting his life. He began to listen to these CDs and it helped him so much. Now, instead of going to pain management he goes to mindfulness meditation and a tai chi teacher and is on no medication.
First off, I've only listened to audio CD's for relaxation (distraction!) twice before, and both times ended up both bored and irritated. One had a woman with a sing-song voice who spoke so slowly and childishly I wanted to break the CD player (yes, I was a bit edgy). The other was just a sort of New Age gibberish telling me to focus and fly away. Blah.
So, I purchased this one with a last hope for relief. I don't sleep well because of stress and pain from surgery last year, both of which seem worse at night. I wanted something calm to send me to dreamland without an Ambien. Since this focused on mindfulness AND pain relief, I gave it a shot.
It's interesting...the voice (I'm assuming it's Kabat-Zinn himself) is calm without being annoying. It's like a quiet conversation, soothingly paced and yet it holds your interest. The biggest surprise is that on Disc one, he discusses studies that show that conventional wisdom to focus on anything BUT your pain only works on minor pain. He explains that instead, those with serious pain issues do better to focus on that pain to work with it. "Befriend it" he says. Okay, befriending it may not be possible yet (my pain and I are not on speaking terms). But it's more with accepting and knowing that the pain is only part of the picture and can be tolerated, with knowledge, that is his point. This was helpful because everything I had ever heard or read was to picture it not existing...or to be on that infamous quiet beach with slowly breaking waves that everyone else seems to suggest I mentally visit.
Disc two is more guided listening and instructions. Both are useful. I did fall asleep a few times in the second one. He does suggest listening to them over and over again, and even if not with relief, but for repetition. I could see benefits without even having to listen several times. Now, at bedtime, I pop one of the two CD's in and listen to the quiet voice.
Another benefit is that there is no religious slant to it, so one of any faith or not can enjoy it without rolling their eyes or feeling condescended to. He never chides the listener or tells them to be stronger than they are...after all, pain IS pain, he never dismisses it as trivial.
Highly recommend. I would have gave it five stars if there had just been a few more practices...
on June 26, 2013
I listened to the first "side" and liked it very much. It's basically informational regarding using mindfulness within pain management. The second "side" is the one that contains the guided meditations. The problem with the download is that the second side, full of several tracks, can only be listened to as one track. To make it worse, amazon cloud doesn't allow you to fast forward. It basically has the problems that a tape had (remember?). Please Please Please change the format!!! Otherwise it's useless to me.
on March 28, 2014
I didn't care for these CDs at all. If you don't know much about MBSR I suppose they're okay, but to me he talks a lot about his program and very little about how to deal with pain. I also didn't care for his suggestion that we should look on pain as a 'learning experience'; that was awful. I suffer from chronic nerve pain; it's no fun and certainly not a learning experience. On the first CD he just rattles on about his mindfulness program in general. The second one is a little better, but not much on it and still focusing more on his program that about dealing with pain. He gives a few meditation exercises and then lets you do them, so there's a lot of empty air space on the CD. I really didn't like paying $15 dollars for CDs that on half of them it's just silence. Lots of people benefit from his programs so I guess it's very individual if it works for you or not. For me, better choices were Stephen Levine's ''Softening and Exploring Pain" [...] and Mark Jensen's workbook for pain patients "Hypnosis for Chronic Pain Management: Workbook (Treatments That Work).
This two-CD set is oriented for those in chronic pain. The first CD is a
lecture by Jon Kabat-Zinn that gives a context for the meditation. The
second CD has the meditations.
Although the first CD is a lecture, his speaking style takes the
listener into a meditative state. He makes the distinction between pain
and suffering. Pain is physical; suffering is emotional. There's not a
lot you can do about pain, but changing your attitude can help with the
suffering. A lot of this lecture was familiar from lectures on
mindfulness by others. He recommends listening to the lecture
repeatedly because the concepts that are presented are hard to
take in on the first listening. I also found that listening to the
first one set me up for a better experience in the meditation CD.
The meditation CD has a little intro lecture before going into the
guided meditations. One of the best things about his technique is that
you don't have to get into a specific posture. You can sit comfortably
or lie down. You can lie on your back or curled up in the fetal
position, whatever it takes to be as comfortable as possible. This is
for people in pain, not for Zen students.
Soon after receiving this CD set, I woke up with a migraine. As
soon as I could move around, I listened to the CDs. I felt much better
after the meditations.
I am recommending this set to a friend with chronic back problems.
If you have chronic pain, this is worth the investment of money and
The friend with back problems found great relief by listening to these CDs.