Mindfulness for health: a practical guide

The ongoing attempt to reduce pain, stay off crutches and avoid hip surgery

by Bernadette Fallon

The subtitle of 'Mindfulness for Health' promises a lot - a practical guide to relieving pain, reducing stress and restoring wellbeing. But can you read yourself out of pain?

Well, that one’s debatable but certainly authors Danny Penman and Vidyamala Burch believe you can use simple mindfulness meditation techniques to relieve chronic pain and the stress of illness. And it is true that clinical trials have shown this practice can be as effective as prescription painkillers. Plus a review published in the Clinical and Psychology Review recently, demonstrated that the clinical evidence for mindfulness as a way to prevent depression, stress and anxiety appears to be sound.

Both writers have ample experience of coping with chronic pain - Vidyamala Burch developed the 8-week programme, which the book works through in 11 chapters, to help her cope with the pain of spinal injury: Danny Penman used the programme to find freedom from pain after a paragliding injury.

‘Mindfulness’ is an ancient form of meditation, it is a technique you can learn yourself and this book – and the CD that comes with it – offer a series of simple practices that you can incorporate into daily life which will, say the authors, significantly reduce your pain, anguish and stress. Imaging studies shows that this form of meditation soothes the brain patterns underlying pain and, over time, these changes take root and alter the structure of the brain itself so that you no longer feel pain with the same intensity. And when it does arise, the pain is no longer so dominant.

The first two chapters explain more about the concept and tell the authors stories; the programme begins in chapter 3 and each of the subsequent chapters covers each week of the programme. The authors recommend you read the book in its entirety to understand how the process will work, then take one chapter per week to apply the teachings. There is a guided mediation for each week on the accompanying CD.

I’ve read the whole book and it all makes perfect sense. Plus I’ve listened to and enjoyed several of the guided meditations. I have now been walking without crutches for the past six weeks after nine months of aided walking. At the end of 2013 I was told the only way I could walk again would be to have a hip replacement. I’m following a full programme of lifestyle changes, supplements, acupuncture, diet and more – so it’s hard to say what’s working. But reading ‘Mindfulness for Health’ has certainly been a useful part of my progress.

'Mindfulness for Health: a practical guide to relieving pain, reducing stress and restoring wellbeing' by Vidyamala Burch and Danny Penman is published by Piatkus, £13.99, buy it online here. For more information visit www.breathworks-mindfulness.co.uk. Danny Penman is also co-author of the bestselling 'Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world'.


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About The Authors

Carla  Griscti

Carla Griscti

Editorial assistant on allaboutyou; Music lover, travel bee and food fanatic.

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Emma Marsden

Emma Marsden

Food consultant of All About You, loves creating something out of nothing and decluttering.

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Bernadette  Fallon

Bernadette Fallon

Editor of All About You; an online journalist with a fetish for glossy magazines.

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Adrienne  Wyper

Adrienne Wyper

Deputy editor of All About You. I love cycling, cooking and creating

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Carol  Muskoron

Carol Muskoron

Associate editor of All About You, loves life (mostly) and one-pan recipes (always).

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