Breathworks' mission is to help people living with pain, stress or illness to live happier, healthier lives by practicing mindfulness and compassion.
"The Breathworks approach to Mindfulness-Based Pain Management (MBPM) is the most comprehensive, in-depth, scientifically up-to-date and user-friendly approach to learning the how of living with chronic pain and reclaiming one’s life that I know of.....I admire Vidyamala tremendously... her approach could save your life and give it back to you."
Breathworks is based on the experience of Vidyamala Burch who sustained a severe spinal injury in 1976 when she was sixteen leading to multiple surgeries and partial paraplegia. Over 27 years ago she began exploring mindfulness and compassion to manage her persistent pain.
In 2001 Vidyamala began sharing these life-changing skills with others who were suffering from pain, stress or illness. She was soon joined by Gary Hennessey and Sona Fricker, both mindfulness practitioners for over three decades and together they developed Breathworks as it is today.
What is Mindfulness?
Vidyamala describes mindfulness as:
“…the art of staying in the moment and accepting what is. Because it is already here."
Mindfulness is a way of staying in the moment so we can spend more time aware of ourselves and our surroundings. It’s not about trying to forcibly change things, but instead trying to accept the way things are for better or for worse, and then changing our responses. Our life may still contain a lot of difficulty if we live with pain or illness, for example, but our quality of life can be profoundly transformed.
What is Compassion?
Compassion is our capacity to respond to our own suffering, and the suffering of others, with kindness. At Breathworks, we support people to accept each moment of suffering so that they may meet it like they would a child who was in pain. From this place of acceptance and love we learn to respond, rather than react, to suffering.
In order to share mindfulness and compassion with the world, the founders of Breathworks have developed courses and resources that can be accessed in a number of ways. So wherever you are, whatever your health and mobility, you can find a way to learn mindfulness for relieving the suffering that comes from living with pain, illness or stressful circumstances.
The Breathworks Foundation, a UK registered charity wing, was formed in 2009. This has aims to promote research and to provide bursaries for people who cannot afford to attend courses.