When in doubt, breathe out – the power of breathing properly

February 24, 2017

woman breathing

Vidyamala’s online course, Mindfulness for Women, starts March 1. Click here for details.

Breathing properly is immediately helpful because the first thing most of us do when experiencing stress and pain – be it mental, emotional or physical – is inhibit our breathing. Try this short exercise:

Make a fist with one hand. Notice what’s happened to your breathing. You’ll probably notice you’re holding it. Now imagine breathing into the fist. What does it want to do? You’ll probably find it wants to release a little.

The fist in this exercise is a metaphor for any kind of discomfort or stress. When we are not aware, we automatically tense against the stresses of life with … Read more »

Mindfulness for Women: Claire’s diary

February 13, 2017

Vidyamala Burch

Vidyamala’s course, “Mindfulness for Women,” starts March 1, 2017

The Mindfulness for Women online course, starting March 1 on Wildmind, is based on the book I co-wrote with Journalist Claire Irvin. Claire hadn’t meditated before we worked on this project so she gamely kept a diary of her efforts which are accessible, often hilarious, and moving. Here’s her diary of her first attempt to meditate:

Claire’s Diary Week One: Body Scan

It’s 9.30 on a dark early-spring evening. My husband Stuart is away and I’ve finally got Amelie, six, to go to bed (she will take any opportunity to delay bedtime, and an absent parent is as good an excuse as any). On

Read more »

How mindfulness can help all women achieve their potential

February 5, 2017
Vidyamala Burch

I am proud to come from New Zealand, which in 1893 became the first country in the world in which women gained the right to vote. More recently, New Zealand was also the first democracy to have all key Government roles fulfilled by women, e.g. Prime Minister, Chief Justice and Governor General. I also come from a long tradition of strong women and I feel I owe it to my courageous and heroic forebears to do all that I can to stand tall and true in my own life.

I want to let other women know about how mindfulness has transformed my life over the past thirty years, and how it can transform their lives … Read more »

Every moment is a new chance

May 12, 2015

You Are Not Your Pain Vidyamala BurchYou Are Not Your Pain by Vidyamala Burch Pain always seems worse at night. Something about the silence amplifies the suffering. Even after you’ve taken the maximum dose of painkillers, the aching soon returns with a vengeance. You want to do something, anything, to stop the pain, but whatever you try seems to fail. Moving hurts. Doing nothing hurts. Ignoring it hurts. But it’s not just the pain that hurts; your mind can start to suffer as you desperately try to find a way of escaping. Pointed and bitter questions can begin nagging at your soul: What will happen if I don’t recover? What if it gets worse? I can’t cope with this. Please, I … Read more »

Pleasure and pain: the worldly winds

October 5, 2011

Vidyamala talks about the worldly winds of pleasure and pain as part of the Triratna Buddhist Community’s International Urban Retreat, where for one week (8 – 15 October, 2011) people around the world at Triratna centers intensify their practice while staying their your home situation. The Urban Retreat is about learning to make Buddhist practice real and effective in daily life.

You can see more Triratna videos at from Vimeo.com.

“Mindfulness for Pain Relief: Guided Practices for Reclaiming Your Body and Your Life,” by Jon Kabat-Zinn

June 1, 2010

Mindfulness for Pain Relief: Guided Practices for Reclaiming Your Body and Your LifeVidyamala, a long-term pain sufferer, rejoices in a new offering from Jon Kabat-Zinn, but experiences regret it wasn’t available years ago.

I was delighted to to be asked to review this new offering from the founder of mindfulness in healthcare: Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn. It is a two-CD audio book combining extensive background information with guided meditations.

Disc One (session one)

The first CD (or session as the CD is labeled) is entirely taken up with short lectures on various aspects of applying mindfulness to chronic pain of any sort. I listened avidly and welcomed everything he had to say and feel. Jon comes across with real depth and understanding of what it is like to … Read more »

“Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants,” by Arnie Kozak, PhD

May 3, 2010

Wild chickens and petty tyrants 108 metaphors for mindfulnessA delightful, readable, and humorous book offers 108 images to help us understand the intangible qualities of mindfulness practice.

This enjoyable little volume offers 108 different images and metaphors to apply to one’s experience of mindfulness. It is written by Arnie Kozak, the founder of Exquisite Mind, a consultation service offering mindfulness to manage stress and enhance one’s quality of life.

Title: Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness
Author: Arnie Kozak, PhD
Publisher: Wisdom Publications
ISBN: 0-86171-576-4
Available from: Wisdom, and Amazon.com.

The book is divided up into five main sections.

Metaphors for mind
This includes such things as: “Doggie Mind and Monkey Mind” and … Read more »

Unweaving pain’s tapestry

May 21, 2008

smokeThere are three main approaches that can help make meditation enjoyable and sustainable when meditating with pain.

1. Learning to deal with resistance

The first hurdle is actually getting down to meditation. Even after meditating for 20 years I almost always have to overcome resistance — and I’m not alone. This tendency is especially pronounced if you’re living with pain. When you meditate you turn towards your experience in an honest and open way, including your pain. That takes courage, but often I don’t feel so brave and when I contemplate meditating suddenly I find many other things that need doing instead. I’ll make that phone call, I’ll have another cup of tea, I’ll check Read more »