Ok, the time has come to take the plunge and start a blog. Its been on the 'to-do' list for long enough. In this blog I'd like to say more about my life and work and how mindfulness goes with me through my days. 

I'm actually writing this in the car on the way back to Rotterdam for the ferry tonight to UK. (No I'm not driving!). I look out the window every now and then and it is just more motorway, lorries, cars, busy, busy tin cans on wheels. It does make you wonder about this world.

I’ve been at training event in Holland with my colleague and partner Sona Fricker. It was for people who already teach mindfulness and want to learn more about mindfulness for people with pain, illness and stress we've developed over the past decade or so. 

One of the highlights was a visit from Jaap who recently completed an 8 week Breathworks course with Ingrid Van Den Hout, one of our Dutch teachers. On these events we inevitably talk about what it is like to work with people with pain, which sometimes can feel slightly abstract. Jaap punched through that veil and, with beautiful honesty and courage, told us about what it has been like to live with chronic head aches, neck and back pain following a whiplash injury 13 years ago. He's gone from being an ambitious, sporty, financial manager, to a guy who is unable to work and spends hours a day at home on his own. 

Jaap told us how the Breathworks approach to mindfulness had helped him. He's now pacing his activities and working for 20 min periods before resting. He's got more of a life again. He's less angry. More motivated. He's got more of a sense of being in the driving seat of his own life. He smiled a lot when talking to us. He and I shared some of our experiences of living with dodgy bodies and yet being determined not to go under with the struggle.

His visit to the training retreat reminded me of a session we led at a conference a couple of years ago. We invited some participants from a course we'd led for people in recovery from addictions, asylum seekers and carers. They spoke to the a workshop we were leading with about 70 delegates, many of whom were health care professionals. Once again, it was as if their eloquence and honesty punched through the veil that so often separates 'professionals' and 'patients'.  We were all just human beings in a room sharing, and being awed, by the human stories of the course graduates we were listening to. It was incredible. Ingrid told us that hearing their stories that day was when she decided to train as a Breathworks teacher. It wasn't just a theory. It was real and transformed the lives of people who had been fighting immigration systems for years trying to get asylum from war torn lands; people who had spent years in prison; people who had lived on the fringes of society. This group has now nearly finished their training and, very soon, will be teaching mindfulness themselves. How extraordinary. 

Vidyamala Burch

June 2013