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Freedom from Struggle:
Practices for Living
Peacefully with Pain or Illness

On-Demand Course

Available Now!

Learn to find peace amidst suffering, and freedom in the face of pain

Some degree of physical pain and periods of illness are inevitable for everyone; it is a hard truth that can derail our ability to enjoy life.

The teachings of the Buddha offer another way. Living peacefully with pain or illness is within our reach. The Buddha was clear that we can free our minds and hearts and find peace – even when the body is broken, in pain, or ill.

Over 3 decades ago, Vidyamala Burch was suffering from chronic pain following spinal injuries and multiple surgeries. She began to embrace the Buddha’s teachings and practices, and found her relationship to her pain to be transformed. She’s now helped hundreds of thousands of other people coping with pain and illness to find freedom.

In this month-long journey, Vidyamala teaches us how to cultivate awareness and kindness in order to find peace amidst whatever discomfort and suffering we are experiencing.

Join this immersive, self-paced course to learn how to soften your resistance to your pain or illness, and live in a way that is more present, grounded, and loving.

Freedom from Struggle: Practices for Living Peacefully with Pain or Illness with Vidyamala

This course will help transform your relationship to struggle, while also teaching you how to:

  • Wake up to wonder
  • Live in the present moment
  • Go with the flow
  • Care for others as well as yourself
  • Be generous with your heart
  • Explore the possibility of living peacefully with pain or illness

Module 1: One Moment at a Time - Awareness is Revolutionary

Module 1: One Moment at a Time - Awareness is Revolutionary

In our first module, Vidyamala introduces her own experience of working with her mind to manage her pain. She shares key moments in her journey and how revolutionary it was when she realised she could train her awareness to help manage her perception of pain.

She introduces key teachings from the Satipatthana Sutta – a seminal text on mindfulness in the Buddhist tradition along with ways to work with breathing to bring us into the present moment with more calm and ease.

Together we practice Breath-based Body Scan, providing a way into tender and fluid body awareness.

Module 2: Letting Go of the Struggle - From Resistance to Resilience

Freedom from Struggle: Practices for Living Peacefully with Pain or Illness with Vidyamala

Vidyamala now turns towards practical advice on how to let go of struggling with pain, illness or other difficulties.

She introduces the Sallatha Sutta from the Buddhist tradition which describes beautifully and accurately how it is resistance and resentment that makes the experience of difficulty so painful, rather than the unpleasant sensations or other symptoms in the body themselves.

We explore the functioning of the nervous system and how we can move from states of arousal and stress to states of greater calm and ease by learning practical tools to find the middle way between denying and blocking difficulty on the one hand and being overwhelmed by it on the other.

We learn a Compassionate Acceptance practice, turning towards pain and difficult experiences with sensitivity.

Module 3: The Place of Love and Connection - You Are Not Alone

Module 3: The Place of Love and Connection - You Are Not Alone

When we live with pain or illness, it is common to feel isolated, separate and alone. It can feel as if we live in a hard-edged world of pain that collides with a hard-edged world around us.

Buddhism offers a profoundly different view: if we were to see clearly we would realise that all of life is deeply interconnected, relational and in a constant state of flux and flow.

We can learn to flip our experience of difficulty on its head so it becomes a gateway to empathy rather than a cause of isolation. We can cultivate kindness for ourselves and kindness for others based on a sense of common humanity.

In this module, we discover new approaches to connection from Buddhism including the Karuniya Metta Sutta and the Brahma Viharas or ‘Divine Abodes,’ and Vidyamala guides us in practicing connection through meditation.

Module 4: Body Like a Mountain, Heart Like the Ocean, Mind Like the Sky

Module 4: Body Like a Mountain, Heart Like the Ocean, Mind Like the Sky

To conclude the course, Vidyamala points to a quality of awareness or consciousness that is vast, boundless, innately free and loving.

This is variously described in Buddhism in terms such as the absolute, big mind, bodhicitta and is beautifully described when the Buddha said: “the mind is luminous when freed from the adventitious defilements”.

Vidyamala suggest sways to drop back into this vast perspective so your experience of pain or illness is taking place within a big and open field of awareness. This gives great strength of heart and mind; you can become a ‘warrior with a soft heart’.

Together we learn and practice Blue Sky Mind meditation, combining all that we’ve learned in each course module.

Praise for Vidyamala’s Teachings

Freedom from Struggle: Practices for Living Peacefully with Pain or Illness with Vidyamala

“My online sessions with Vidyamala allow me to deepen my mindfulness practice and helps keep me accountable when I find it difficult to motivate myself. [She] tailors each one to my needs; offering great support and creating a comfortable environment to talk, learn and practice meditation. It’s an absolute pleasure to work with her.”

“[Vidyamala] is gentle, kind, and extremely perceptive, offering practical tools that feel truly tailored to me and my particular challenges. Through our sessions, I am better able to befriend and work with my mind and find greater peace and equanimity. I will always consider her a mentor of the mind.”

On-Demand Course Details

Freedom from Struggle: Practices for Living Peacefully with Pain or Illness with Vidyamala

4 Hours of Teachings

Each weekly module will include approx. 1 hour of high-definition videos from Vidyamala including rich, insightful teachings, guided meditations, and daily practice assignments. All content is available to you indefinitely.

I See You Mara! From Inner Critic to Inner Freedom with Martin Aylward

4 Pre-Recorded Q&A Sessions

Videos of recorded interactive sessions from a previous live release of this course are also included. Each recording is approx. 1 hour, and is oriented around the themes and practices covered in that week's teachings.

Meditation, Daily Life Practices, and Journaling

Meditation, Daily Life Practices, and Journaling

With each module, Vidyamala will offer a meditation, a daily life practice — such as making friends with gravity, or committing random acts of kindness — and a journaling exercise, all to be practiced each day of the week, or as often as your schedule allows.

Daily Dharma Meditation

Total Flexibility

Complete this course independently, on your own schedule, at your ideal pace. Watch and re-watch the videos as you please.

About Vidyamala Burch

Vidyamala Burch, a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order, is a mindfulness and compassion teacher, coach, award-winning author and Co-founder of the leading mindfulness organisation Breathworks. Vidyamala began teaching her mindfulness approach for managing pain and illness following her own personal experience living with health challenges. At age 23, she sustained spinal injuries that required multiple surgeries and left her with partial paraplegia and chronic pain. She began to explore mindfulness and meditation as a way to manage her pain and found the results to be life changing and transformative. In 2004, she developed the world’s first Mindfulness-based Pain Management (MBPM) programme with friends and fellow meditation teachers Sona Fricker and Gary Hennessey. Today, her approach has been recognised by the NHS and health boards globally and has reached over 100,000 people coping with pain, illness and stress.

Vidyamala’s list of accolades includes being awarded an OBE by the Queen in 2022, one of the highest honours in the UK, for her services to pain management and well-being; honorary membership from The British Pain Society for her outstanding work for the alleviation of pain; and the Shaw Trust Power List’s award for her influence as a person living with a disability for four years running. She is the author of Living Well with Pain and Illness (2008), Mindfulness for Health (2013), and Mindfulness for Women (2016). Mindfulness for Health was awarded first prize in Popular Medicine in the British Medical Association Books Awards in 2014, and was named the best self-help book in its category by health professionals in the UK’s Reading Well Scheme.

Vidyamala offers wise and kind guidance and through her work hopes to pass on the tools that have helped her reclaim a full, happy and meaningful life. Click here to find out more about Vidyamala Burch.