Chronic pain management with mindfulness courses


Chronic pain can be one of the most heart-breaking experiences in a life – seemingly leaving us with very few options of how to live with any joy or ease. Many of the initial patients that came to the first MBSR courses with Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the 1980s were people suffering from chronic pain.

Physical pain is the response of the body and the nervous system to a range of stimuli that are perceived as noxious, damaging, or dangerous. 

There are three dimensions to pain: the physical or sensory component; the emotional, or affective component - how we feel about the sensation; and the cognitive component - the meaning we attribute to our pain. The normal human response to the challenge of ongoing pain is to try to problem-solve with lots of thinking. This doesn't work when the problem is in the body. Ruminating thought processes actually trigger the danger response causing more pain.

Mindfulness offers a way to pay attention to what is happening in the body-mind - here and now. 

When an attitude of approach and curiosity is brought to the investigation, new ways of seeing the situation arise with a more accepting relationship to pain. There is less struggle and with less struggle there is a calming of the stress response, balancing of hormones and immune factors and an improved brain environment for new connections to form.


Come and explore what the eight week course can offer you.

We love giving discounts to Health Care card holders and others in genuine financial difficulty. To keep the books balanced, we appreciate you paying the full fee if you can afford it!

Course locations

Please either select a location from the dropdown or enter a location in the field to see if we have a course available.

Mondays 6.30pm - 9:00pm
The Buddhist Library
90 Church Street, Camperdown
Bondi Junction (Night)
Tuesdays 6.30pm - 9:00pm
Loft and Earth
70 Bronte Rd, Bondi Junction
Bondi Junction (Day)
Wednesday 10:00am - 12:30pm
Loft and Earth
70 Bronte Rd, Bondi Junction
Thursdays 6.30pm - 9:00pm
139 Artarmon Rd, Artarmon
Northern Beaches
Mondays 6.30pm - 9:00pm
Mona Vale Surf Life Saving Club
Surfview Road, Mona Vale
Armadale (Day)
Tuesdays 10.00am - 12:30pm
Chi Flow Yoga  
Suite 3A 727 High St, Armadale
Moonee Ponds (Night)
Wednesdays 6.30pm - 9:00pm
Moonee Ponds Mind Body Health
23 Gladstone St, Moonee Ponds
Hawthorn (Night)
Thursday 6:30pm - 9:00pm
Melbourne Centre for Mindfulness
16 Trinity Place, East Melbourne

How does mindfulness help with chronic pain?

Mindfulness offers a switch from thinking to sensing, with a tuning into the fine sensations of the body. Noticing sensations during the practices of body scan meditation, sitting meditation and mindful movement can help to shift patterns of emotional reactivity. Structural changes occur in the brain in regions responsible for attention and emotional regulatory processes, memory, self-referential processing, empathy, self-compassion and perspective taking (Holzel, B. K. et al., 2011a).

More flexible connections in the brain occur so there is less getting stuck in automatic patterns of reverberating pain and worrying thoughts (Kerr et al 2013). This offers a new perspective with space for appreciation of beauty, engagement in creative pursuits and personal empowerment.


Why would someone with pain choose to observe it finely?


It’s a good question.   Its does sound quite counter-intuitive to ask someone to inhibit their natural reaction to get away from pain.

However when we turn away from feeling our present moment physical and emotional pain we also turn away from truly feeling our full range of sensory and emotional experiences. The present moment is the space of seeing the colours of the sunrise, feeling the gentle warmth of the sun on your skin, hearing the symphony of birdsong. It is the experiencing of peace and joy.

It is the learning about personal patterns that may trigger or exacerbate the pain. It is the seeing of pain as a medley of shifting moment to moment sensations rather than being the rigid truth. It is the place of forming an accepting and compassionate relationship to oneself. Not being able to access the richness, the beauty and the full potential that life has to offer - that is cruel.

Mindfulness is certainly not an ‘easy’ path to follow but for many it’s a worthwhile journey.


Does distraction and medication have a place in looking after my pain?

Mindfulness training can give us more stability of mind and insight to really tune in to what is working best and to put us more at the helm of our choices so that we have more options and freedom.   The best practice for your pain is what helps over time, and distraction and medication are methods that can be used skilfully alongside a mindfulness practice.



What People Are Saying

I gained a lot from this course! I would definitely recommend it to friends and already have. I hadn’t been feeling ‘myself’ at the start of the course, and hadn’t been for almost a year. I had long term RSI which has gotten better in the 8 weeks – not 100% yet, but better than 6-8 months of physio beforehand! I feel myself again, and friends and work colleagues have noticed I seem happier, less stressed and I feel able to cope with stresses easier.

Tracey, 2017

Inner strength, confidence through knowing myself better, a more positive view of my future knowing that all I need is to turn into my pain and remember it will pass

Anna, 2016

It has definitely changed relationships in my life. Also it has helped me deal with confrontation a lot better. It has helped me become a lot more task focussed and given me the skill to see where my mind often wanders and why it goes to certain places. Loved the course and would recommend it to everyone.

Lacee, 2015

The course has made me feel a lot calmer in a busy life. It has reminded me to stop and smell the roses. It has taught me that awareness – is just that – not complicated! That meditation is not about stopping all thoughts but acknowledging them and letting them pass and then focussing back on the here and now.

Lisa 2016

It is hard to verbalise the surprisingly profound impact this experience (so much more than a course) has had on me. It has been so complete—spiritually, emotionally, professionally and intellectually.

Patrick 2016