HCiA12: Vidyamala Burch – Mindfulness – learning how to live well with pain. Part 1: Vidyamala’s story and common reactions to chronic pain.

I am extremely excited to interview Vidyamala Burch, co-founder of Breathworks who is, in my mind, the ultimate Health Champion. Vidyamala’s story is so inspiring that I have split this podcast into 2 episodes because she has some much wisdom and experience to share.

In Part 1, we explore Vidyamala’s journey with pain. She grew up as a typical New Zealand girl with a love of the great outdoors. At 16 after helping someone from a pool, she injured her back. The diagnosis was spondylolisthesis (a broken vertebrae) and she wore a plaster jacket until undergoing major spinal surgery at 17. While there were complications, she recovered from the surgery but experienced whiplash in a car accident at age 23 and fractured another vertebrae.

The gorgeous and inspiring, Vidyamala Burch

The gorgeous and inspiring, Vidyamala Burch

After these injuries, Vidyamala says she entered a 10 year period of denial. She went through the very typical reaction of pushing through pain and trying to do even more to prove she was capable. This led to an emotional and physical breakdown. Complications after this episode resulted in an ICU hospitalisation. Here she had two major revelations that changed how she viewed her pain and her circumstances.

Frightened, devastated and in pain, she was told she must sit upright for 24 hours. She felt tortured to think of lasting through until morning. Eventually she had the calm realisation that she only needed to make it through this moment. She then became confident that she could do it, one moment at a time. Secondly, a short meditation with the hospital chaplin where he guided her to a place when she was happy had a profound effect. Vidyamala realised through this experience that she had a choice where to place her awareness. So she became an explorer of the inner world using this new-found, extraordinary tool, the power of the mind.

This led her to eplore Buddhism, yoga and through this time she met some captivating and inspiring people. She also entered the next phase of her journey – bargaining. She turned towards her situation and pursued many things to help with her pain but always with the same goal in mind. “I will do this…if it will take my pain away”. But despite her best efforts, her pain persisted.

Gradually more inner wisdom developed. She came to the next stage, acceptance. Ending pain was no longer the goal. She came to live her life, as it is, with a confident, open and loving heart.

We leave Vidyamala’s story there but with so much more to come! We end with some mindful movement,  a wonderful opportunity to move with awareness of the breath. Please join us next time for more insights from Vidyamala Burch.

For more information, I HIGHLY recommend reading Vidyamala’s books or visiting Breathworks website for many useful tips, information, resources and available online courses.


2 Comments on HCiA12: Vidyamala Burch – Mindfulness – learning how to live well with pain. Part 1: Vidyamala’s story and common reactions to chronic pain.

  1. Great job on the interview, Mandy! After hearing Vidyamala’s words on her breakthrough moment in the hospital, when she realized that she couldn’t fathom making it through the night, but that she could make it through each present moment, I had the opportunity to put that great advice to work. During a bike workout recently, I was approaching a huge hill. I wasn’t feeling very strong that day, and thought to myself, “I can’t make it up that hill. I think I’ll walk my bike up this one.” Then suddenly, Vidyamala’s words came into my mind, and I told myself, “Maybe you can’t picture making it up the hill, but you can push the pedal down now, and again, and again…” I kept repeating this until I surprised myself by riding right up to the top of the hill! Thanks for the inspiration, Vidyamala!

    • takeholdofpain | August 20, 2015 at 7:40 pm | Reply

      Thanks for sharing that Carole. Things can seem so overwhelming but if we break it down into little bits…that’s manageable isn’t it? xx.

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