Episode 126

Vidyamala Burch - Living a Full Life Despite Pain and Difficulties

Vidyamala Burch has learned to live a happy and meaningful life despite her chronic pain. Her life’s work has been to help people in similar situations. She shares how we can bring mindfulness and kindness to all of our experiences--including the difficulties we all endure--so that we can be our best selves regardless of our circumstances.

In this episode:

“Rather than being obsessed about the future, about the morning, I just knew in the very depth of my being, that I just needed to live each moment.”

“My body might be broken, but my mind can be whole.”

“I didn’t know anybody that meditated. And yet, I just had this visceral knowing that this was going to be my journey, and that this could be my gateway to freedom.”

“For many of us in the modern world, the calm-and-connect system is very under stimulated, and the threat and achieving systems are overstimulated.”

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  • Truly living in the moment means letting go of being tortured by the past.
  • It is definitely possible to deal with pain preemptively before you are broken down by it and have that much harder obstacle of finding that upward spiral towards peace.
  • Primary suffering is when you have unpleasant sensations in your body. And secondary suffering, according to Vidyamala, is caused by an unwillingness to be open to those physical sensations, the discomfort. This leads to catastrophic thinking.
  • Meditation and mindfulness is a practice and doing it consistently is imperative. That’s the hard part, but once you get a taste of the transformative nature of the practice, keeping it up is far easier.
  • We have 3 emotional regulation systems at play: the fight, flight, or freeze system; the achieving system, which has to do with our evolution and motivations for surviving on a more planned basis; and the last is the contentment and soothing system. We need them all to be balanced.
  • Mindfulness and meditation practices are not a complete substitution for pain killers, but they are an absolutely powerful supplement, which can minimize your reliance and bring you to a level of empowerment.