My name is Lynne Roberts (although I practice under the name of Hunnable within the NHS) and for the last 27 years I have been a practicing physiotherapist. Since graduating I have worked almost exclusively within the NHS. I specialise in the treatment of musculo-skeletal disorders and over the last 8 years I have had a shared specialism within Occupational Health. This role has enabled me to focus on the wider aspects of well-being. Thankfully over the years my profession has evolved, embracing a 'biopsychosocial' approach to the management of physical health which considers aspects beyond a tissue damage-based approach to ongoing pain.

I have had a regular meditation practice for about 10 years and have been training in mindfulness-based approaches for about 8 years and have run mindfulness programmes for the last 7 years. I am hugely grateful for my personal practice, which helps me manage my Rheumatoid Arthritis and migraines. 

Due to my professional background and own health condition I wanted to embrace the Breathworks approach. As a meditator, physio and patient I was really keen to share this practice with other patients with inflammatory arthropathies. I was spurred on by a recent research article entitled ‘A mindfulness-based group intervention to reduce psychological distress and fatigue in patients with inflammatory rheumatic joint diseases; a randomised controlled trial’  by Heidi A Zangi et al, published 2011.

I contacted my rheumatologist and arranged to present a short session to the team about the possible benefits of the Living Well with Pain and Illness programme (Now called ‘Mindfulness for Health’).

Currently there are no long term non medical management options available through the rheumatology department. However I was given permission to run a pilot study and used this as my practice course. Unfortunately the numbers were small as I was not part of the recruitment process given I do not work within the team.

I enjoyed delivering the programme and there was a strong sense of connection within the group. Due to my health and that of one other member of the group, the course was very protracted extending well beyond 8 weeks. This is the nature of a condition with intermittent flares in symptoms.

As always I found it a real honour to have the opportunity to share this process and to be able to help lessen peoples suffering. The course was evaluated using the Breathworks living well assessment questionnaire pack. The feedback was joyful and I found delivering the course of mutual benefit.

As well as the usual benefits reported from previous mindfulness programmes I found particular benefit from delivering the sessions on primary and secondary suffering, the cushion enactment, blocking and drowning, seeking out the pleasant and kindly awareness practice.

Since completing the pilot programme my rheumatologist and I have secured some short term funding for the programme. Hopefully with increased outcomes it may be possible to establish longer term support.