Friday, 28 February 2014

further (updated) discussion of mindfulness, exercise-rehabilitation, osteopathy and acupuncture

observation and awareness of our moment by moment mental (and emotional) states helps us do this. However, there may be moments where we lose this perspective - and our pain, or suffering, or distress becomes 'blurred' with little or no distinction between primary physical sensations, and our emotional and mental reactions (and complications) to them.

If we are Health-care providers we may have to work with clients who cannot easily make this distinction, and they often appear 'stressed' and to lack 'body-awareness'. So an understanding of this - from our own personal practice and experience - becomes important to help others as well as ourselves. Ongoing mindfulness practice can be the best strategy for continual learning.

As Vidymala Burch (the founder of Breathworks) puts it:
The first thing is to learn to distinguish between primary and secondary suffering.

Primary suffering is any unpleasant physical sensations you may experience as a consequence of illness, injury, fatigue etc. You may not be able to do anything about this level of suffering and the task is to accept it and make peace with it as best you can. Breath awareness will help you do this by learning how to relax into the breath and your body as much as possible.

Secondary suffering is the human anguish we all experience as a reaction to primary suffering: feelings like anger, fear, depression, anxiety and despair that we instinctively pile on top of any unpleasant sensation or event in a dense web of reactivity. With mindfulness, or awareness, you can learn to modify and reduce these experiences of secondary suffering. This can vastly improve your quality of life, even if the primary suffering remains unchanged, or even worsens if you have a degenerative condition.

I would only add the proviso here, as we also discussed - that we must also ensure our physical- physiological (and emotional) needs are met, with adequate self-care, rest, nutrition, sleep and work-life balance, and so on. This may seem like stating the obvious, yet it is also worth mentioning, and many people struggle with this, and may need to give some priority also to their own self-care and wellbeing.

Adequate and appropriate medical and health care are also important. Beyond conventional (pharmaceutical) medicine, there is great benefit from complementary medicine: osteopathy, acupuncture, massage, naturopathy, and so on. If suffering and recovering from an injury - then appropriate active rehabilitation and exercise may be required.

Although mindfulness can be immensely transformative - even Vidymala Burch mentioned that she found great relief from her back-pain from cranial osteopathy (cranio-sacral therapy). She also mentioned her own exercise programme of swimming and pilates.

Osteopathy is a wonderful hands-on healing, and I would recommend this to anyone suffering from chronic (as well as acute) pain, fatigue, stress, etc - or recovering from an injury.

For more information please see:

Also remember that Osteopathy can treat the 'front' as well as the back, for digestive issues, abdominal pain, and so on. Please see:

There are many excellent Osteopaths in Australia and NZ

To find an osteopath contact the Osteopathic Council in NZ or Australia

If you are here in Christchurch, or South Island:
Hope this helps.

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