Meditation Resources for People Living with Chronic Illness or Pain

If your illness or life circumstances prevent you from attending meditation classes it can be very helpful to have a good book or CD course that can guide your practice. If you can’t afford to buy new books or CD’s you might be able to find them second-hand on sites like E-Bay, or at your local library.

Below are some resources that might be useful. They’re divided into two groups – the first is specifically aimed at illness/pain, and the second is a list of general resources.

Resources specifically for people with chronic illness or pain

Although the fundamentals of meditation are fairly simple – plonk yourself on a cushion and concentrate on your breath – there are many types of meditations that can help people work with different issues in their lives. If you’ve got an illness there will probably be certain issues that come up for you in meditation. These often revolve around dealing with pain and fatigue, and with the strong feelings that can surround the experience of illness. These feelings can include grief, sadness, anger and bitterness, and can be very challenging to deal with.

I’ve listed below some teachers, books, and websites that are aimed primarily at people living with illness or pain.

Darlene Cohen – a Zen teacher, who has rheumatoid arthritis. One of her books is Turning Suffering Inside Out (A Zen approach to living with physical and emotional pain). She has a website with podcasts, written talks, and more books.

Jon Kabat-Zinn – One of his books is the well-known, Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness. His website sells CD’s of his books and meditations.

Miriam GreenspanHealing Through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair, Shambhala Publications.

Pema ChodrenWhen Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, Shambhala Publications

Shinzen Youngbooks, CD’s and a website specialising in meditation for pain management. His Book/CD set Break Through Pain contains a series of guided meditations with step-by-step techniques to help with pain management.

Steven Levine – a renowned writer and meditation teacher whose work focuses on death, dying, illness and the spiritual journey. He has written many books and has a personal website which sells CD’s of his guided meditations. This is a sample of one of his pain meditations.

Vidyamal Burch – a UK teacher who lives with a spinal cord injury. She has a website, and a book, Living Well with Pain and Illness: The mindful way to free yourself from suffering.

General meditation resources

Amazon – A list of Amazon’s most popular books on meditation

Bodhipaksa – meditation teacher with a very friendly and informative website with free on-line tutorials. He will answer e-mail questions about meditation and also has an excellent CD called Guided Meditation: for Calmness, Awareness, and Love.

Meditation Oasisfree meditation podcasts and a written meditation guide. The meditation podcasts are short, simple and easy to follow. The website also sells an online meditation course (US$95) and CD’s of meditations.

Meditation Timer – Audio Dharma’s website has a series of nifty little downloads that function as meditation timers. A bell is rung once at the start of the time period and three times at the end. This allows you to do your own meditation – without looking at your watch!

Plumline – an on-line Buddhist meditation group, conducted through Yahoo Messenger. Useful for people who want to connect with other meditators, but can’t leave their home to do it. Currently they meet on Mondays at 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM US Mountain Time Zone. (The 6pm group is 11am in Australia).

Sharon Salzberg – a down-to-earth teacher focussing on insight and Loving Kindness meditation. Has a website with books and CD’s and here is an audio interview with Sharon Salzberg. One of her popular CD sets is Insight Meditation Kit: A Step By Step Course on How to Meditate.

Sounds True – on-line store selling a wide variety of meditation and spiritual CDs and downloads. Has an excellent free weekly podcast interview series called Insights at the Edge. Many of the teachers and writers listed in this article have been interviewed in this series.

Tara Brachbooks, CDs and podcasts. Tara is a psychologist and teacher of Buddhist insight meditation. She has a particular focus on dealing compassionately with issues such as shame and anger. A very gifted teacher who combines psychology and Buddhism.

Zen Habits – this is a short but very useful article giving 20 practical tips for beginning meditation.

I hope this list is useful to you. Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any more resources I could add to this list.

Photo credits to Emma Corcoran.

If you are going to buy anything from Amazon.com, please consider using these links in this article. If you do, I'll get a commission - a small percentage of the sale price. It won't cost you anything and it will help to support me and Four Walls No Limits.

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2 responses to “Meditation Resources for People Living with Chronic Illness or Pain”

  1. Alyssa

    You provide some really great advice and thoughts about disability and assistance. You should check out my blog DisCo: Disability Conversations. I am trying to form a community for people to share their experiences to help people with varying disabilities to realise that there are answers and opportunities. I am looking for guest bloggers!

  2. elaine

    i do not have fibro, but i have a chronic disability that requires me to do things spontaneously. It is almost 9 years since a facelift has caused scar tissue and adhesions on muscle and nerve. I have just had a palate graft to raise my lids which wont close from a lack of tissue. all extremities have neuropathy from compression. Then there is neuralgia, headaches,blood pressure irregularities, hoarseness, garbled speech,dysphasia. first came the doctors denial an disbelief that this could happen. finally with no other medical problems, the real cause was evident. I am short flexible tissue and my body suffers . my arms and legs are uneven and my neck is imbalanced. I am a candidate for skin grafts, like a burn victim. surgery has risks. i am almost 100 percent certain that the last surgery failed to close my lids. I dont know what will follow. I must believe that i will improve to a degree but i will never be the same. I try to do things whenever i am out of bed. some days are futile and non productive. i plant, cook, bead. decorate. I am simply sad that i am so inactive in a life that was so full. yes, i am sad and depression follows me.

    I look like i can participate, so i am pushed by others into trying to get out of the house. If i do so, I can become very ill for days. i am trying, but it is hard. i want more of life. i refuse to give up.

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