Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief
by Jon Kabat-Zinn PhD
• Explain how mindfulness practice can help with pain management
• Utilize meditation practices that emphasize focus on the breath and body sensations
• Describe how to turn toward the experience of pain
• Summarize Kabat-Zinn’s seven principles to his mindfulness approach
• Identify the differences between thoughts and pain sensations, and between coping strategies that contribute to suffering and those that can alleviate it
If you’re reading this, chances are that your life, or the life of someone you know, is shaped by pain—and by the physical and emotional suffering that usually accompany it.
• Mindfulness of breathing—how to “put out the welcome mat” for whatever arises in one’s experience
• What to do about pain—how to work with intense and unwanted sensations
• Working with thoughts and emotions—how to avoid identifying with your experience of pain and instead see sensations and thoughts as sensations and thoughts
• Resting in awareness—a three-minute mindful pause to restore balance, resilience, and self-compassion
• Mindfulness in everyday life—allowing the nitty-gritty of one’s daily life to be both the ultimate meditation teacher and the real meditation practice
The good news: Jon Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues have helped thousands of people learn to use the power of mindfulness to transform their relationship to pain and suffering, and to discover new degrees of freedom for living with greater ease and quality of life. Now, with Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief, the man who brought mindfulness into mainstream medicine presents these approaches for working gently and effectively with even the most trying of circumstances.
Session one gives us an overview of seven fundamental attitudes we can develop and deploy to cultivate mindfulness in relationship to chronic pain and its incessant challenges. On session two, Jon Kabat-Zinn leads us in guided meditations drawn from his pioneering Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) methodology:
“Through the systematic cultivation of mindfulness, we can reclaim the entire spectrum of our experience and the joys inherent in living,” explains Jon Kabat-Zinn. Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief offers us a precious and tested vehicle for embracing the “full catastrophe” of the human condition and thriving in the face of it.
About Jon Kabat-Zinn
Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, is a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher internationally known for his work in bringing mindfulness practices, especially Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), into the mainstream of medicine and society. He is professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he was founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, and founder (in 1979) and former director of its world-renowned Stress Reduction Clinic.
In 1971, Kabat-Zinn received his doctorate in molecular biology from MIT with the Nobel Laureate in physiology and medicine, Salvador Luria. Kabat-Zinn’s research between 1979 and 2002 focused on mind/body interactions for healing; on various clinical applications of mindfulness meditation training for people with chronic pain and/or stress-related disorders; on the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on the brain and how it processes emotions, particularly under stress, and on the immune system; and on the use and effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness meditation with women with breast cancer and men with prostate cancer; on patients undergoing bone marrow transplant; with prison inmates and staff; in multicultural settings; and on stress in various corporate settings and work environments.
A Founding Fellow of the Fetzer Institute and a Fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Jon Kabat-Zinn is the founding convener of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, a network of deans, chancellors, and faculty at major United States medical schools engaged at the creative edges of mind/body and integrative medicine. He also serves on the board of the Mind and Life Institute, a group that organizes dialogues between the Dalai Lama and Western scientists and scholars to promote deeper understanding and harnessing, for beneficial purposes, different ways of knowing and probing the nature of the mind, emotions, and reality.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is author of Full Catastrophe Living; Wherever You Go, There You Are; Coming to Our Senses; Arriving At Your Own Door; Letting Everything Become Your Teacher; Mindfulness for Beginners; and The Mind’s Own Physician: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama on the Healing Power of Meditation. He is also coauthor of Everyday Blessings (with his wife Myla) and The Mindful Way Through Depression (with Williams, Teasdale, and Segal). Jon Kabat-Zinn’s books are published in more than 40 languages.
What is Mindfulness
Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. Jon Kabat-Zinn
MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction)
MBSR is a structured program to take you deep into your own meditation experience. It has been proven in numerous studies to help with pain management, fatigue and stress, lowering rates of anxiety and depression.
The mindfulness method that’s been most widely studied for helping people with cancer is called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). MBSR was developed around 40 years ago in America by an expert called Jon Kabat-Zinn. It was first used in people with chronic pain and anxiety.
MBSR has been shown to support people with cancer, and also caregivers, in working with the side effects of their diagnosis and progression through treatment. Research studies and testimonials document MBSR can improve:
• Memory loss
• Shortness of breath
• Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Cancer and Mindfulness
The experience of cancer can be demanding, both for the body and mind. Learning new ways of managing difficulties can be useful for both the person and their loved ones, regardless of life stage or the situation we are in.
Through Mindfulness practice we learn to:
• Focus and calm the mind
• Have more awareness in the present moment
• Understand choices and responses to life’s challenges
There are many studies about mindfulness and its benefits for cancer patients. They show positive improved psychological functioning, reduction of stress symptoms, enhanced coping and wellbeing in cancer outpatients. This adds up to a greater sense of peace, ease, and resiliency while living with cancer.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program Improves Quality of Life for Diagnosed Women. Breastcancerorg. 2018.
Guided Meditations – UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center – Los Angeles, CA. Marcuclaedu. 2018.
Jon Kabat-Zinn. Enwikipediaorg. 2018.
Mindfulness – CancerChat NZ. CancerChat NZ. 2018.