Together with the book Living Well With Pain and Illness, the 2-disc CD set Mindful Healing provides an excellent introduction to meditation, both for those who suffer from chronic pain and for those who want to learn more about the benefits of meditation for pain. Although the book is more specifically targeted for people who experience chronic pain, the CD could also be used by anyone who wants an introduction to mindfulness meditation. The CD brings together Vidyamala Burch, Joshua Leeds, and Jon Kabat-Zinn, and combines breathing practices with classical music arrangements to provide an excellent resource.
The CD begins with an introduction by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR. Kabat-Zinn started the MBSR program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and since then it has been the subject of several studies on mindfulness and its effectiveness for everything from the treatment of chronic pain, to stress relief, to addiction recovery, to hot flashes.
Kabat-Zinn offers several insights in his introduction, two of which struck me as particularly important. First, he emphasizes that there is no one right way to deal with pain. Second, he notes that “tuning in trumps tuning out,” meaning that simply ignoring pain will not provide relief. As he says, “We will be learning from life, and one of the things that we will be learning and experimenting with is that even the pain itself, perhaps what we feel is sometimes our worst enemy, can eventually become our teacher and ultimately our ally and friend if we can learn to listen deeply to it.” The idea that pain is something to be confronted and even accepted as a friend is, to my mind, what makes this program different from other coping practices.
After the introduction, Vidyamala Burch leads the listener through three meditation practices: the “Mindfullness of breathing practice,” “Kindly awareness practice,” and “Body-scan meditation practice.” These meditations are an excellent supplement to Vidyamala’s book, which also outlines these three practices in Chapters 13, 14, and 15. Vidyamala’s voice is soothing and perfect for guiding the meditation. The meditations are done in silence, and the instructions are straightforward and perfect for listeners who are new to meditation. She also uses imagery and describes techniques you can use to make the practice more accessible for the listener.
To top it all off, the set includes a second CD with eleven tracks by Joshua Leeds, a leader in the field of psychoacoustics, or the study of music’s effects on the nervous system. This CD includes pieces by Mozart, Satie, Debussy, Corelli, Beethoven, Chopin, and Dvorak. The recording and the performances are of high quality, not to mention relaxing and soothing. I like to listen to this CD with my two young children right around nap time to help them (and me) unwind.
Although the title refers to those who experience chronic pain and illness, the meditations on the CD are also appropriate for anyone who wants to relieve stress or anxiety. The set appears to be out of print, but you can find it on Amazon at a great value. I would highly recommend this CD set for anyone who deals with chronic pain or is interested in the use of mindfulness meditation to relieve it.
“Mindful Healing” is available starting at $3.00 from Amazon.com.