25/11/2013 08:41 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 05:59 GMT

Living With Pain? Book Review: 'Mindfulness For Health' by Vidyamala Burch and Danny Penman

How do you cope with physical pain? Do you reach out for any medication you can lay your hands on to relieve the misery and agony of the suffering?

Or, perhaps you sit and suffer in silence, telling yourself that there is no hope and that it's best to just surrender to the misery?

The thing about living with physical pain - be it from illness or an injury - is that when it is so overwhelmingly debilitating you have neither the energy or the inclination to do much more than rest and in some cases, just "give up".

As someone who lives with the painful auto-immune disease RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) I know a thing or two about pain and I am always keen to learn new and practical ways of coping with its impact.

That's why I was excited to discover that the very woman who co-founded the now internationally recognised Breathworks pain-management course (now one of leading courses of its kind worldwide) has written a wonderful new book on living mindfully with pain.

"Clinical trials now show that mindfulness can be as effective as prescription painkillers."


The book offers excellent advice and practical help to cope with pain using meditation and awareness. Don't panic - for those of you who are not familiar with the use of mindfulness or its use in pain management, you are not about to be asked to start chanting, burning joss sticks or doing moon-dances!

As the book so brilliantly explains, mindfulness and meditation is for EVERYONE and the benefits are so helpful that clinical trials now show that it can be as effective as prescription painkillers and can enhance the body's natural healing systems.

Mindfulness For Health by Vidymala Burch (and Danny Penman) is written in a really helpful and engaging format with easy-to-follow sections too. The language is straight-forward, human and gobbledygook free.

This book delivers in every sense - practical, realistic advice and sincere insight into what living with pain is really like and how to manage it every day.

The eight-week programme it outlines takes just 10-20 minutes a day. From the truck driver with chronic back-ache to the cancer patient or the parents of a child with a degenerative disease, Mindfulness For Health is ultimately a practical book for a whole array of pain issues. It provides sensible and compassionate advice, as well as key tools to cope with pain. It also comes with a fab audio CD (free) which is a useful companion.

Crucially, it explains what mindfulness actually is in simple language and how it is pretty much about developing an awareness in the moment of your pain. This book has really inspired me and I hope it inspires you too. Living with pain need not be such an isolating experience.

As author Vidyamala Burch says, we are all ultimately responsible for our own bodies. As tempting as it is to hand our pain-ridden bodies and conditions over to medics, we need a way to live with them in harmony 24 hours a day.

Perhaps you are someone who lives with chronic pain or you know someone who struggles coping with an illness or injury. If so, invest in this book and give yourself or them the gift of finally finding a method and routine for living better.

Buy the book here:

Watch the author and co-founder of Breathworks Vidyamala Burch talk about the book here and how it came about.

Introduction to 'Mindfulness for Health' book from Breathworks on Vimeo.

"Mindfulness For Health" - a practical guide to Relieving Pain, Reducing Stress and Restoring Well-being

Authors: Vidyamala Burch and Danny Penman