About Breathworks

Breathworks' mission is to help people living with pain, stress or illness to live happier, healthier lives by practicing mindfulness and compassion.


About Breath­works

"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."

Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD au­thor of Full Cata­strophe Liv­ing and Com­ing to Our Senses Pro­fessor Emer­itus of the Uni­versity of Mas­sachu­setts Med­ical School.

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. 

Along the way, Vidyamala wrote two books Liv­ing Well with Pain and Ill­ness and Mind­ful­ness for Health (co-writ­ten with Danny Pen­man). These form the 'back­bone' of the Breath­works ap­proach to mind­ful­ness-based pain and ill­ness man­age­ment (MBPM) and the Mind­ful­ness for Health course.

To fur­ther de­velop the Breath­works Ap­proach, Gary Hen­nes­sey com­bined his ex­per­i­ence of MBPM, mindfulness and compassion to cre­ate the pop­u­lar Mind­ful­ness for Stress course, which has helped hun­dreds of people to find bal­ance in their lives.

As Breath­works grows, so does the core team, the in­ter­na­tional pool of train­ers and the com­munity of Breath­works teach­ers and course gradu­ates. Today, thou­sands of people world­wide have be­nefited from the Breath­works mind­ful­ness meth­ods for man­aging pain, stress and ill­ness.

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. 

This happens through learning to recognise and step away from habitual, often unconscious, emotional, mental and physiological reactions to everyday events. It provides us with a scientifically researched approach to cultivating clarity, insight, and understanding.

 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.

We are also ded­ic­ated to train­ing as many people as we can to teach mind­ful­ness to oth­ers.

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.