I have a stressful job as a social worker and my workload has been crazy lately. My local authority has been running mindfulness courses which I enrolled on. I was slightly sceptical, especially as I've tried mindfulness before but perhaps I wasn't in the right headspace at the time. Anyway, I'm writing this because I had an interesting experience in our session today during one particular exercise. We started the exercise by closing our eyes, focusing on breathing and then, going through each part of our bodies and just noticing each body part. When we got to our feet, I got a sudden flash of pain in my worst affected foot. It was very intense. I had to take my shoe off as I couldn't bear to have anything touch it. My foot went all hot and then clammy and cold. It was only temporary but quite strange. I mentioned it to the trainer afterwards who suggested that I try so hard to ignore the pain and push it away, that when I thought about it, it just flooded my pain signals. She suggested that my method might not be the best way for managing my pain and gave me some info on mindfulness courses that are targeted at people with health problems. The research seems quite good and I am seriously considering it. I'd be interested to hear other people's thoughts.

13 Replies

  • Wow. Have also tried mindfulness but didn't stick with it (too busy being miserable and navel gazing).

    I'm intrigued by your experience and impressed that you're continuing to work in such a stressful job - despite the obvious pain you're in.

    Please, please share the information she gave you on courses targeted at those with health problems.

  • Hi Reykua

    You might want to read my reply to crashdoll.

    I have found sticking at the discipline of Mindfulnes difficult. Jon Kabut-Zin (think I've spelt this right) says he tells his patients they don't have to like the meditations, they just have to do them! He has a CD which I bought as a download "Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief ". I think both this and the course I'm on are better than the Headspace app I was no longer using.

    I have a tendency to dwell on the negative and project my gloom into the future. The Mindfulness I'm currently doing says that what we dwell on we become! But it also says be gentle with yourself if it takes time to change what may be very ingrained habits.

    Hope this helps


  • She recommended a book which I've started reading "mindful leadership for dummies" and sent some video links. If you look on YouTube, there is lots of stuff. I spent a couple of hours sifting through what I did and didn't like.

  • Thank you so much. Will do.

    I'll have a go and get back to you. My sister says it's helped her with her weight management as well so definitely worth the effort.

  • Hi crashdoll

    I'm on week 5 of a Breathworks "Mindfulness for Health" course, it's targeted at people with chronic pain, fatigue, or any other health problem. It's very good but I'm having to overcome my personal barriers! There's an accompanying book, same title by Vidyamala Burch.

    You will definitely not be encouraged to ignore your pain but please don't let this put you off!

    Having worked in the NHS for many years (now retired) I have the utmost respect for social workers.


  • Hi Lynsey

    This was the course that was recommended to me. I can't see one running very close to me but I shall be keeping an eye out.

    How are you finding it, out of interest?

  • Hi crashdoll

    I think it's very good. I like the structure and sharing experience with others. In particular I like the idea that the meditations are just the training for developing awareness, and that mindfulness is only as good as your ability to incorporate what it teaches into everyday life. Our teacher is very keen on encouraging us to identify what works best for us as individuals, which is helpful.

    I've worked in mental health so the basic concepts were familiar and I'd done quite a bit of background reading which is partly my problem (in addition to the wretched pain, of course). I've always found applying what I know to myself really difficult, which is a considerable source of guilt and shame, I always imagine that when people know I have a mental health background they will think I should have sorted this pain thing out by now. So the other really helpful thing about the course is the emphasis on self compassion, which I know many of us find hard.

    Being on the course really brings the accompanying book to life, and while I'm enthusiastic about it I agree with Greymouth111 that it's another tool, not an answer, and it's going to take some time to build up. So I'm thinking of the course as a foundation and will just have to wait and see where it takes me.

    I hope that was helpful and wish you and all the others all the very best. I feel I've rambled on a bit, but if I haven't covered what you'd like to know please don't hesitate to ask.


  • Hi Crashdoll,your experience re the pain in your foot whilst doing mindfulness is common.It means you are turning towards your pain and accepting it.The idea is that as you work through mindfulness your acceptance of your pain will reduce it because you are not resisting pain as most of us do.I have done the breathworks mindfulness for health course as mentioned above .It was very good but not the golden answer.I look upon it as another tool to help me manage my facial pain and practise it daily.As others have said here mindfulness takes time and if you do do a health mindfulness course I suggest you take it lightly and go gentle on yourself as it can get all extreme if you allow it to.All the best !

  • I'm glad it's common because it was strange! I am hopeful that I may get some benefit from it. :)

  • I practised mindfulness for over a year but have lapsed since having to ,temporarily, sleep downstairs where the is no peace and quiet.

    I found it helpful and I practiced a method initially that worked with dealing with pain. I bought a book which included a cd of guided session but these sessions are available online for free. Reading the book really helped me to see where I had gone with dispair and misery and how I might be making my pain worse. Message me if you want the details.


  • I had a very - very stressful job before I retired! 80. hrs a week was nothing it was a way of life, if I wanted something for the family I had to work through the pain and stress, no it was not easy my heavy work often added to my pain, but the intense amount of work I had to get through on a daily basis in a lot of the time overridden the pain, it is now in retirement that I am paying the price.

  • This is the problem with mindfulness courses the people running them may not be experienced enough in mindfulness.

    Your experienced a reaction. It is highly likely to be due to a muscle going into cramp just at the wrong moment. You need to discuss the reaction you had with a doctor. I suspect you tweaked a nerve root in the spine.

    Mindfulness is about observation. The exercise you did is part of mindfulness. However, it is very easy to over concentrate on one body part with the result you ignore what the other body parts are doing. In mindfulness you notice what the other bodyparts are doing but notice more what a particular body part is like. So you could have over concentrated with the result that body parts you were not deemed to notice became too tense and did things that it was not advisable for them to do.

    I am not sure if I explained this very well. Language is designed for shared experienced and can be very difficult to use for experience that cannot be shared.

    Hope I have been able to be helpful.

  • I really like mindfulness, I am not particularly good at it yet but I think it's one of the best things I've tried over the last three years. I'm not good at accepting my pain and as I also have a stressful job (teacher) I tend to try and push through it most of the time rather than letting myself have a break. Maybe mindfulness will help with that eventually but mainly I like it to stay calm and try to stabilise the emotions that generally turn up in the evening after a busy day when I realise how much I hurt. I like the Headspace app, I know someone else said they didn't, but you can do ten days free to try it out.

    All the best :)

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