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, 24 (6), 749-760

Experiencing Wellness Within Illness: Exploring a Mindfulness-Based Approach to Chronic Back Pain

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Experiencing Wellness Within Illness: Exploring a Mindfulness-Based Approach to Chronic Back Pain

Natasha J Doran. Qual Health Res.

Abstract

In this article I explore how mindfulness-based techniques affect perceptions and management of back pain and discuss these findings in relation to embodiment theory and liminality. Sixteen volunteers attending Breathworks for persistent back pain took part in this study. The theme of "embodied awareness" formed the core category, as all participants reported a change in their experience of pain. Such embodied changes are described in relation to five subthemes: unpacking the pain experience, changing relationship to pain, letting go of the label, self-compassion and acceptance, and wellness within illness. Learning to respond rather than react, and living moment by moment enabled participants to replace a cycle of suffering with one of acceptance. Rather than fearing pain, participants found ways to move through it and live with it. Although some expressed finding a sense of wellness despite ongoing pain, all participants reported greater acceptance and a better quality of life.

Keywords: anthropology; embodiment / bodily experiences; ethnography; grounded theory; health and well-being; lived experience; longitudinal studies; pain, chronic; quality of life; self-care.

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