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Living Well with Pain and Illness: The Mindful Way to Free Yourself from Suffering Paperback – February 1, 2010
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About the Author
Vidyamala Burch has suffered from chronic back pain for more than 30 years due to congenital weakness, a car accident, and multiple surgeries. She is a cofounder of the well-respected Breathworks organization, which assists people experiencing chronic pain, illness, and stress in managing their condition through meditation, body awareness, and creative life approaches. Vidyamala resides in the U.K.
Top Customer Reviews
The author, by using Mindfulness techniques, has achieved more than temporary pain release, but also a state of character formed emotional release that allows her to continue the fullest enjoyment of life - probably better than most so called healthy people. The purpose of her book is to help others triumph over painful illness just as she has.
The 230 page book is clearly and simply written. Their are even some simple drawings to illustrate the postures described in the text. The reader can go as far into the book as they wish, and then stop when they feel they have devoted enough time to their problems. But I think most readers who get past the first few chapters will become convinced of the efficacy of Mindfulness and fascinated enough to not only complete the book, but also will want to pursue more knowledge of the subject. I have. In fact, I have acquired several books and CD's on Mindfulness. As I progress by reading and practice meditating, I continue to benefit - even in unexpected ways. For example, people I don't even know stop to talk with me these days. (Hmmmm. What does that say about the old me?)
As I see it, the study of Mindfulness is to develop a realistic, close, and loving bond between your mind, your body, and the whole wide world of creatures and things. It can help the depressed to stop over-thinking for example - that is to say repeating in one's mind past bothersome events that no longer exist and so cannot be changed. It helps to break away from many harmful and/or nonproductive thinking. Sounds kind of corny but it works to reveal the human experience refreshed, as through the eyes of a toddler. Whatever one may see every day can become transformed into beautiful and miraculous treasures. I am not talking about hallucinations. I am not talking about being in a trance. I am talking about being fully awake; fully alive; and fully in the sane and real world - in all of its fullness. (Hopefully a sane and real world does exist.)
If you are presently experiencing physical pain and/or physical illness, "Living Well with Pain & Illness" would be a good book to start with. And a CD set "Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief," by Jon Kabat-Zinn, would not be a waste of money. If you are experiencing psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, fear or panic, you might start with the book, "Calming Your Anxious Mind," by Jeffrey Brantley MD and Jon Kabat-Zinn PH.D. A good start for many people might be the CD set - also by Jon Kabat-Zinn, "Mindfulness Meditation - Cultivating the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind."
I thought the author did a good job of explaining the origins and causes of pain itself, and she has some good insights - but I was irked by a couple of things.
First of all, the book only mentions once, in a very small 2 or 3-sentence section, that the author takes pain medication on a regular daily schedule (as do I). To me, this information is buried. I began reading the book with the impression that mindfulness was her sole solution to her terrible pain...I thought it would have been more helpful if she mentioned from the beginning of the book that medication is a valuable and necessary tool to be used along with an approach like this to severe pain.
Secondly, I (and maybe this is just me) thought there was just waaaay too much information about her own condition. I know she needs to be relatable and explain her journey with chronic pain as a basis for how she came upon this approach...but I still got tired of reading more and more about her own horrific injuries and pain. Not that I don't feel empathy for her, but after a while, I felt like it was, "You think YOU'RE in pain? Well listen to what happened to ME!" ;-)
The other thing that bothered me is this: don't mention and then try to sell your relaxation CDs in your book. I think that is just ridiculous. Either include the CD WITH the book, or don't mention it. To me that borders on greedy or even cruel. People buying this book are, I assume, in a lot of pain and are looking for help...NOW. Don't get them to buy the book, and then suggest a second purchase of a CD if they REALLY want to get serious about using this approach and helping themselves.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Vidyamala helps us go through the cycles of pain.Read more