On this page, you will find all the resources for the virtual group medical visit Relaxing to CHANGEpain.

Session 1

This session:

  • Provided an overview of the intention of this program
  • Defined stress management and relaxation training
  • Discussed the value of breathing practices as a relaxation tool
  • Defined optimal breathing
  • And, explored breathing practices intended to cultivate breath awareness and calm the system.

Actions for the Week

As discussed in the first session, this program has no specific asks of you between sessions. The intention is to provide you with the opportunity to do work that will help you feel calmer – and learn to be calm more often.

If you would like to do work outside of the course, a lovely goal would be to try and do something every day to support this practice of calming your system. 

This Week’s Work: Guided Breathing Practices

Guided Breathing Practice, Oval Breath – Sarah Jamieson (5:10)

Download this recording

Five Minute Mindful Breathing
Simple Counted Breath

Additional Recommended Resources

Breathing for Pain Relief, Part 1 and Breathing for Pain Relief, Part 2 (Sarah’s Blog)

 

Session 2

This session:

  • Introduced meditation practice
  • Discussed some of the pain-related benefits of practicing meditation
  • Highlighted the importance of habit change
  • Presented meditation as a tool for changing thought habits
  • And, explored a range of different breath meditation practices.

This Week’s Work: Breath Meditation

This session may have included the following breath meditations:

  • Noting In/Out Breath
  • Extended exhale breath
  • Belly Breathing
  • 3-part yogic breath
  • Alternate nostril breath

Additional Areas to Explore

Habit Change

In the long run, we will be most successful with stress management if our practices our well-established habits. When they aren’t, they tend to fall away as soon as life gets a bit more stressful.

There are a wealth of habit-change-related resources below, but here are a few key tips:

  • Consistency builds commitment. Doing a small amount of something frequently is one of the best ways to make a new habit. Taking 1-minute to do a relaxation practice might not feel like much in the moment, but it is life-changing in the big picture. 
  • Through habit tracking, you can start to learn more about what supports your success and what gets in your way. Use this knowledge to support your success.
  • Identify a habit you already have – maybe brushing your teeth? Consistently do your habit-in-making (say, 3-minutes of breathing) after your established habit (teeth brushing), and with time, brushing your teeth will remind you (or cue you) to do your breathing.

Habit-related Posts from Sarah’s Blog
What difference does a day make? 
Train Yourself to Do Yoga Everyday – Advice from a Recovering Binge Yogi 
Committing to Freedom 

Habit Change Strategies
CHANGEpain – Habit Change Strategies
How to Build a New Habit: This is Your Strategy Guide (by James Clear)
The Habits Guide: How to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones (list of habit-related posts on James Clear’s website)

Tools & Apps
Daily Practice Tracking Form
HabitShare App

Additional Recommended Resources

The Scientific Power of Meditation (3-minute online video)
How to Meditate, by Pema Chödrön (book)
Meditation for Beginners, by Jack Kornfield (book)
Mental Training – Sam Harris (6-minute online video)

 

Session 3

This session: 

  • Introduced the framework of short-term versus long-term pain relief
  • Discussed the practice and skill of mindfulness
  • Presented the eight-limbed practice of yoga and the role of mindfulness plays in the yoga practice
  • Examined the challenges of researching mindfulness 
  • And, led a longer body scan practice focused on sensations, emotions, and thoughts.

This Week’s Work: Mindfulness Meditation

Guided Mindfulness Meditation Practice – Sarah Jamieson (6:37)

Download this recording

Guided Body Scan – Sarah Jamieson (9:34)

Download this recording

Waking Up with Sam Harris – Mindfulness Meditation (9 minutes)

Additional Recommended Resources

Learning about mindfulness
What to be happier? Stay in the moment (10-minute online video)
What is Mindfulness? (website)
Why Mindfulness is a Superpower (3-minute online video)
Why we should practice mindful eating (3-minute online video)

Practicing Mindfulness
Mindfulness Coach App (free)
UCLA Mindful App (free)
Waking Up App (free to those who can’t afford it)
Ten Percent Happier Meditation App (link is for a guest pass for 30-days free access)

Preparing for Session 4

In session 4, we will do a mindful movement practice, and chair yoga is well-suited to our online context.

Here are some tips for preparing for chair yoga:

  • If possible, a simple chair without armrests is ideal.
  • Padding the chair with blankets can increase comfort.
  • You want to sit with your feet supported. If need be, put something under your feet to make this happen.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.

We will do the practice after our break, so more supportive chairs (or lying down) still work great for the first half.

 

Session 4

This session:

  • Highlighted the way our biases can limit our approach to pain rehabilitation
  • Discussed the benefits of movement
  • Explored movement as a stress management tool and a means of practicing mindfulness meditation
  • And, did a gentle chair yoga practice as an exercise in moving meditation

This Week’s Work: Chair Yoga

Guided Chair Yoga Practice

Mindful Movement, Chair Yoga – Sarah Jamieson (12:30)

Download this recording

Additional Recommended Resources

Mindful Chair Yoga – YouTube Channel
Somatic Therapy GMV at CHANGEpain

For people who would prefer to practice lying down:
Reclining Flow for Rest (25-minute yoga practice)
Hatha Yoga on the Ground (16-minute yoga practice)

 

Session 5

This session: 

  • Emphasized how the skill of mindfulness can serve us in navigating persistent pain
  • Discussed the psychophysiology of emotions and the relevance of emotion-focused work in stress management
  • Introduced the concept of “relaxation bypassing”
  • Highlighted the emotions of grief, fear, anxiety, anger, forgiveness, and compassion
  • Worked with the practice of expressive writing
  • And, practiced a traditional Loving-Kindness meditation

This Week’s Work: Attending to Emotions & Loving-Kindness Meditation

This session emphasized the importance of emotional awareness, emotion regulation, and processing our emotions. The resources below may be helpful for you if you want to dive deeper.

Expressive Writing
Writing about emotions may ease stress and trauma (online article)

Grief
Writing to ease grief and loss
And then there was loss… (Sarah’s blog)
Ritualizing Loss, A.K.A. Burning Things at the Beach (Sarah’s blog)

Anger
When Chronic Pain leads to Chronic Anger
How Anger Makes Pain Worse and How to Stop It

Anxiety 
Anxiety & Chronic Pain: A self-help guide for people who worry and hurt

Forgiveness
Fred Luskin Explains How to Forgive
(Other Fred Luskin resources – books, online videos, etc.)
The power of forgiveness (REACH method)

Compassion 

Loving-Kindness Meditation – Sarah Jamieson (11:13)

Download this recording

Additional Recommended Resources

What is Spiritual Bypassing?
An Introduction to Lovingkindness Meditation from Sharon Salzberg and 10% Nicer
Healing Through the Dark Emotions: The wisdom of grief, fear, and despair (book)

 

Session 6

This session:

  • Discussed how aspects of the stress response can easily lead us to forget our tools
  • Presented a “Pain Spike Plan” as a strategy to support responding more effectively
  • Explored acceptance — the practice of letting go of resistance to what is — as a foundational tool for navigating higher pain levels
  • Brainstormed, as a group, a wide range of different coping skills that could be part of a pain spike plan
  • Considered how self-compassion — the practice of being kind to ourselves in our hard moments — may be another helpful strategy
  • And, went through a reflective process to develop personal well wishes and then practiced the self-compassion meditation, Loving-Kindness for Ourselves

This Week’s Work: Pain Spike Plans, focused on acceptance, self-compassion, and coping skills

In this session, we discussed the possibility of mapping out a plan for when pain spikes. You may want to consider the role acceptance, self-compassion, and coping skills can play in this plan.

Acceptance (or accepting) 
Continued mindfulness practice – see resources above

Self-Compassion
Self-Compassion | Dr. Kristin Neff
10 Self-Compassion Practices for COVID-19
Free Online Self-Compassion Meditation practices
Center for Mindful Self-Compassion: Guided Meditations & Exercises

Coping Skills 
Coping and Soothing Reflection

 

Session 7

Login page for Socrative
ROOM: JAMIESON6984

This session:

  • Discussed the skill and practice of self-reflection
  • Emphasized how the tools we are working can increase our capacity for self-reflection
  • Highlighted the role understanding ourselves can play in persistent pain rehabilitation
  • Practiced a mindfulness meditation technique focused on developing self-awareness
  • Used Socrative.com to reflect on the work done in this program 
  • Collected participant requests for Session 8 & 9 content

This Week’s Work: Self-Reflection

Consider intentionally building a self-reflective component into your practice. Here is a list of questions to prompt self-reflection: Self-Reflection Prompts

Mindfulness practice, focused on feelings, thoughts, and sensations – Sarah Jamieson (5:12)

Download this recording

Additional Recommended Resources

How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind (book)

 

Session 8 & 9

The content of the last two classes of this program is determined by the group in Session 7 and is unique each time the program runs. 

The list below includes various topics and practices that have been explored in these sessions. You will likely see resources below related to your session content but also resources that were not discussed in your session. Explore whatever you are most curious about. 

New Topics

  • Mantra meditation

Guided Mantra Meditation – Sarah Jamieson (5:09)

Download this recording

  • Cognitive reframing

Thought Records
Exercise Template
Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life (Sarah’s Blog)

Savouring the good, challenging the negativity bias

Hardwiring happiness: Dr. Rick Hanson (14-minute online video)

  • Gratitude

Gratitude is Not an Attitude (Sarah’s blog)

  • Habit Change

Implementation Intentions
Achieve Your Goals: Research Reveals a Simple Trick That Doubles Your Chances for Success (online article)

  • Loneliness

Dr. Vivek Murthy and Brené Brown on Loneliness and Connection (podcast)
The lethality of loneliness: John Cacioppo (online video)

  • Rhythmic movement practice (moving with breath)
  • Mindful eating
  • Communication
  • Navigating self-criticism
  • Overcoming resistance
  • Managing overwhelm

Diving Deeper 

  • Body scan practice
  • Self-compassion
  • Expressive writing/journalling
  • Mindfulness
  • Breathing practices
  • Meditation
  • Coping strategies
  • Emotions
  • Forgiveness 
  • Loving Kindness

 

CHANGEpain Patient Recommended Resources

Below is a collection of related resources recommended by people who took this program.

The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World (book)
Productive Flourishings (planners and habit-tracking resources)
Passion Planner (planners and habit-tracking resources)
Body Scan Exercise, Jon Kabat-Zinn (YouTube, 30min)


Resources No Longer Used in the Program

Acknowledging COVID-19 Impact
COVID-19 Challenges and Resiliency Reflection