Mindfulness Based Pain and Illness Management (MBPM)

MBPM is a mindfulness-based approach developed by Breathworks, that is the foundation of our Mindfulness for Health course. It comes directly from the personal experience of Breathworks co-founder Vidyamala Burch who has lived with severe spinal pain since 1976 and has practised mindfulness and compassion since 1985.

Although similar to mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), MBPM provides specific applications for people living with pain and illness. The underlying principle of MBPM is that we are already whole, and that by practicing mindfulness and compassion we can rediscover our wholeness.

MBPM emphasises the transformative power of both mindfulness and compassion practices to support a radical shift in how we experience physical, mental and emotional pain. This approach also pays particular attention to mindfulness in daily life and offers a uniquely designed mindful movement programme.

MBPM has helped course participants with conditions including chronic pain, cancer, fibromyalgia, tinnitus, multiple sclerosis, musculo-skeletal pain, arthritis, stroke, CFS, Paget’s syndrome, chronic renal failure, diabetes, neuropathy, hyper mobility, spondylolisthesis, and a host of other conditions.

MBPM has also been successfully applied to people suffering from stress. Gary Hennessey, Breathworks Co-founder and author of The Little Mindfulness Workbook (Crimson, 2016), developed the very popular Mindfulness for Stress course based on the mindfulness and compassion practices of MBPM applied to people suffering from stress, anxiety and the ordinary, everyday difficulties of life.

What is the evidence that MBPM works?

For patients with chronic pain and long-term conditions (LTCs): the Breathworks Mindfulness for Health MBPM programme has been shown to have significant impact on catastrophising thinking (British Pain Society Annual Scientific Meeting presentation 2017); a study on Quality of Life in Chronic Pain by Lamé et al (2003) found that “pain catastrophising turned out to be the single most important predictor of quality of life. Especially social functioning, vitality, mental health and general health are significantly associated with pain catastrophising.” Published studies of the Mindfulness for Health programme report significant improvements in mental wellbeing of patients and their sense of being able to control their pain symptoms (Brown and Jones, 2010), in pain acceptance, reduced rumination and helplessness and improved mood (Cusens et al 2010), with benefits sustained for as long as 8-9 years (Long et al 2016). 


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