When I first began my journey with mindfulness for health, my personal knowledge was limited to spinal and leg pain. I wasn’t really aware that there are pain conditions that can affect the whole body — such as fibromyalgia.
Over the years I’ve had the privilege to meet many people living with fibromyalgia, such as Lesa Vallentine, 52, Derbyshire. Fibromyalgia is a painful and unpleasant condition. It can drag you down, leaving you exhausted and desperate. People tell me that living with fibromyalgia feels like it wrecks your entire life: sleep, being awake, relationships, and mental wellbeing – basically carpet bombing everything you hold dear.
As Lesa said to me, “I suffered from fibromyalgia for over five years before getting diagnosed. It was like having the flu and your worst hangover rolled into one and on top of that I had the uncertainty of not having a proper diagnosis, I was struggling with incredibly bad anxiety as I really didn’t know what was happening to me.”
However, there is hope, through our Breathworks programmes, time and time again I have seen that fibromyalgia is a condition that responds well to mindfulness. Mindfulness is a ‘whole life’ approach where you learn how to work with your mental and emotional reactions to your pain and exhaustion; you learn how to bring mindfulness into daily life and pace your activities; you learn how to become more emotionally positive and re-claim your relationships and rediscover the joys and pleasures in your life again.
Lesa also told me about the impact that practising mindfulness now has on her life and living with fibromyalgia: “Now, I do live in the moment, and it is quite beautiful, I feel at peace, I feel much more confident and I am able to look to the future with confidence. I am much more compassionate with myself and everyone else.
“I now accept that this illness is not my fault and it is now 100 per cent easier to deal with the primary pain that comes with fibromyalgia by eliminating the secondary suffering of worry and anxiety.
“There is so much guilt about being ill. But, illness is not something to be ashamed of. It is not a sign of misfortune or defeat. Through illness, we can gain insight into the meaning of life, its value and dignity and strive to lead more fulfilling lives.”
So please, if you live with fibromyalgia or if you care for someone with the condition, tune in to the Fibromyalgia Online Summit. I know that even in the worst states of chronic pain and mental anguish, mindfulness will help.
For more information on Vidyamala and Breathworks mindfulness training please visit the Breathworks Mindfulness CIC website.