11 October 2021

I am so excited that we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Breathworks this month. When I first started developing a Mindfulness-based Pain Management course way back in 2001 I had no idea what would happen next. Would I be able to manage physically? (My spinal condition was very bad at that time leading to major surgery in 2002). Would anyone be interested? Would the approach I was developing, based on my decades' experience of  both mindfulness, meditation and chronic pain, be helpful to people? So many unknowns and yet I knew I needed and wanted to give it a try.

In fact I was able to start the project thanks to a small start-up grant from the Millennium Commission called a 'Give it a Go' award, aimed at disabled people who wanted to contribute to wider society. It enabled me to employ an assistant 16 hours a week to help with all the practical side of things and offer moral support and friendship. I am so glad I did 'Give it a Go' with all that has flown out of those first tentative steps and what an honour it has been to offer something to wider society, in my own small way.

It is almost unbelievable to see all that has developed over these 20 years. It has been hugely rewarding for me and I marvel at the team we have created (now numbering 55 staff, trainers, and associates) and the people we have helped (600 teachers in dozens of countries) with a combined reach of 100,000s.

At heart, my motivation was simple when I started Breathworks and remains simple now. At various times over the years people have asked me why I worked so hard and why I persevered through the many challenges. My answer would always be the same: "I just want to help people". It was a simple impulse of the heart to see if I could help others have an easier journey of managing pain than mine had been - it had often been lonely and bleak in the early years.  But in the 80s and 90s I slowly gained some invaluable skills to get my mind working with me rather than against me and I knew these skills were like gold dust that needed to be sprinkled around the world. Truly they were priceless.

If someone asked me today why I remain so passionate about Breathworks, my answer remains the same: "I just want to help people". But now I am joined by the most amazing community of committed and extraordinary individuals all sharing this vision. Many of these people have skills and qualities that I lack and together, we really can and do make an impact.

So thank you, deeply, to each and every one of you for being interested in Breathworks, teaching, practising and allowing the ripples of presence and kindness to expand far and wide into the world.

       - Vidyamala Burch