Vidyamala Burch is the founder of Breathworks, author of the books Mindfulness for Health and Living Well with Pain and Illness, and a world-class expert on mindfulness-based pain management.

Last week I got a lovely email from Michelle DiGiacomo in the USA that included her blog "battered by beds".

Her email said:

Dear Vidyamala,

I feel like Christopher Columbus and that I’ve just discovered America. 

In telling my story in my blog, I was hesitant to talk of meditation because the western world hasn’t quite caught on, but it was pivotal to this discovery. I laid in those beds for years throbbing in pain, yet it took a very deeply felt body scan to finally discover this. It feels like a miracle. 

I want to scream this from the rooftops. I’ve suffered in pain for years and been given powerful drugs I never needed when I was simply sleeping in extremely defective beds which caused intense pain. 

Thank you for your work as I truly couldn’t have discovered this without you. I’m hopeful that I can share this with my Mayo Clinic doctors and that they will take it seriously. I think the problem is epidemic and needs serious attention. 

I read her blog and felt all kinds of resonances. Her realization that bad mattresses and pillows were causing a significant escalation in symptoms correlated vividly with my own experience, so I thought it would be good to share this more widely. In fact I get very similar symptoms to her if I don’t have the correct mattress for my spine - appalling nerve pains and weakness in my legs at night that comes from pressure on the sacrum if the bed is too hard. If the bed is too soft - that’s another whole disaster. As for pillows, well: headaches, fatigue and neck pain quickly arise if the pillow is too high, too low, too soft, too hard. Truly I have become like the princess and the pea!

We are all different but the best solution for me is a reasonably firm inner sprung mattress with a memory foam topper pad on top. When I travel the world teaching for Breathworks I always take my trusty travel topper pad and generally sleep reasonably well. I also travel everywhere with my memory foam pillow that has transformed my sleep and neck pain. There are many different brands on the market but the Harley works best for me.

When travelling my luggage allowance is quickly used up by topper pad, pillow and other disability paraphernalia such as catheters; so if you wonder why I sometimes look a bit scruffy you now know. There’s very little room left over for actual clothes! But it’s worth it.

Vidyamala Burch

Here is Michelle’s story