2nd June 2022

We are thrilled to announce the news that today Vidyamala Burch has been made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s Birthday 2022 Honours List.  Vidyamala has been honoured for her Services to Wellbeing and Pain Management as the Co-founder of Breathworks. 

The title, which is made by a special committee before being passed through the Prime Minister to the Queen, is the second highest ranking Order of the British Empire award and is given to those who have made great impact in their line of work. 

For those who know her, this award may be no surprise, but we wanted to use this opportunity to rejoice in Vidyamala and her incredible accomplishments and feet of work that she has been recognised for. 

It is safe to say, there would be no Breathworks without Vidyamala. The Mindfulness-based Pain & Illness Management (MBPM) Programme, which was the first of its kind, was born from Vidyamala’s own personal experience of coping with health challenges for the majority of her life. After sustaining spinal injuries in her teens which left her with partial paraplegia and severe chronic pain, Vidyamala began to explore meditation as a way to manage her condition and found the results to be life changing.

Her work over the past 21 years has been to help those suffering with pain, illness and stress by passing on the tools that have helped her to reclaim her own life. She has continued through the years with this focused mission of helping others with great compassion, grace and her signature twinkle of humour.   

With a great team of trainers, she has brought her approach to managing health and pain to over 100,000 people globally; the MBPM Programme has been the subject of clinical studies and is used by the NHS and health boards to enrich psychological methods for treating chronic pain.

Vidyamala’s influence through the years has been recognised by The British Pain Society for her outstanding contribution to the alleviation of pain, and the Shaw Trust Power List for her role as a change-maker for future generations living with a disability (she has been named one of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK each year since 2019). She is the award-winning author of Mindfulness for Health (first prize, Popular Medicine British Medical Association Books Awards), Living Well with Pain and Illness and Mindfulness for Women.

At the start of the pandemic, Vidyamala responded to the need for social connection and support through launching our mindfulness community platform and starting Space to Breathe, an online meditation group which continues to amass a hundred plus people from around the world each week. In 2021, she worked on an app with University College London and the NHS to support those living with long COVID; this work has informed The Mindfulness for Managing Long COVID course which is now freely available to the public on the Breathworks Community of Practice.

Her other achievements include seeing through her vision to make mindfulness accessible to all despite their circumstances through Breathworks’ charity status; where today, a third of all Programme places are given away as bursaries and scholarships and funding is provided for projects that help underserved communities. 

Vidyamala continues to inspire us and many others through her teaching, talks, coaching and mentorship. You can find out more about her personal projects, teachings and events here.